A Win-Win, Simple, Low-Cost, Low-Effort Solution To the Wake Boat Home Rule Provision

As a RWVL newsletter reader, it’s likely you’re well aware the Agency of Natural Resources’ new wake boat/wake sport rules that went into effect on April 15th.  It’s also likely you’re wondering – as we are – how smoothly the rollout of the new regulations will be. 

The DEC, charged with implementation of the new rule, has been hard at work since mid-February gearing up for the summer season.  New signs will be posted soon on state owned boat launches indicating whether wake sports are prohibited or permitted.  On the 30 lakes allowing wake sports, the sign will delineate the wake sports zone, and a QR code on the sign will provide access to an app that will display the zone on a cell phone.  Cell coverage will not be required to use the app.  A separate QR code will provide access to a DEC website where incidents, concerns, and suggestions can be reported.  This information will be critical as the DEC evaluates how well the new rules are working after a season in place.

A Home Lake provision requiring certified decontamination of ballast tanks before moving wake boats from one body of water to another was included in the new rule to address the potential spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Unfortunately, there was insufficient lead time to implement two major components of the Home Lake rule for this season: 1) a decal system to identify home lakes; and 2) a network of certified decontamination stations throughout the state. RWVL has contacted the DEC and proposed the following stopgap plan to address spread of aquatic invasive species for the current summer boating season: 

  • During 2024, on lakes permitting wake sport activities, wake boats owned and operated by lake residents are allowed to operate in wake sports mode only on their resident, i.e., home lakes. 
  • Non-resident wake boats may declare one and only one home lake and operate in wake sports mode but cannot be moved between lakes at any time
  • Resident and non-resident wake boat owners declaring a home lake must register with the local lake association or other DEC authorized group. These local groups would provide their greeter program and the DEC with their list of registered wake boats. 
  • Since state law (10 V.S.A. § 1454) prohibits lake-to-lake transport of “an aquatic plant, aquatic plant part, or aquatic nuisance species to or from any Vermont water,” registered wake boat owners must attest that their boat has not been in any other body of water during the current boating season before launching (this requirement will sunset once the DEC’s Home Lake decal program is in place, and a network of certified decontamination stations throughout the state has been identified). 

We are all justifiably concerned about the potential spread of AIS. If you support this RWVL suggestion, it is important that you let the DEC know by emailing Laura Dlugolecki (Laura.Dlugolecki@vermont.gov) to register your support for our proposal.  Please include “Home Lake Rule Recommendation” in the subject line.

Implementing this plan would be easy, inexpensive, effective, and managed locally with significantly less effort needed by the DEC for this season.  Moreover, there would be no need for wake boat decontamination and the certification of decontamination stations this summer. Importantly, existing boat wash stations at our lakes would not be overwhelmed by demand for services. Adoption of this recommendation would provide the DEC a full year to develop an effective Home Lake decal program and to identify and certify decontamination stations throughout the state. 

RWVL will only use the information you send us here to send you news about Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes. We never share this information with anyone else. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply