Vermont Lakes Speak Up

Vermonters showed their depth of support for wake boat regulation on February 15 in Greensboro when a wave of citizens flowed into the hearing where the Department of Environmental Conservation heard comments on their draft rule to regulate wake boats on Vermont lakes. A deluge of 100 participated on-site, while 170 streamed online. Of the 58 speakers, only five wanted to sink the rule, while 53 buoyed it up. Of those, 36 asked for the rule to be made stronger, by banning wake boats completely, or by extending the distance from shore to 1000 feet.

Supporters poured in from 27 different lakes: from Raponda, in the south, to Averill in the north; from Iroquois in the west to Fairlee in the east; from small lakes like Sunset, to large lakes like Memphremagog. Their grass-roots organization, Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes, gathered these Vermonters and precipitated the rule-making process more than a year ago. They are looking to foment a watershed moment in Vermont’s environmental stewardship, taking action now to dam up this new wave of machinery before it surges into a tsunami of harm to our common waters. 

Several speakers pointed out that the 500-foot distance-from-shore in the DEC’s draft rule is not anchored in science. Four respectable studies have been conducted in the last six years, in which both wakeboats and normal boats were propelled on a lake at their operating speeds, and the power of their wakes measured by precision equipment. All four studies showed that at 500 feet, the wake boats exerted twice the power of a normal boat wake. The authors of two of the studies recommended a safe distance from shore of 300 meters, or 986 feet; while a third recommended over 600 feet. (You may learn more about this science on the RWVL web site.)

The DEC will compile the comments from the February 15 session as it prepares a formal rule over the next few weeks. 

Press coverage of the February 15 meeting:

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