Wake Boats: An Economic Perspective

Our state’s economy depends on outdoor recreation. Vermonters and tourists alike enjoy many activities on the slopes, in the woods, and on our common waters. No other state but Hawaii relies so much on these kinds of activities. An important part of Vermont’s economic growth derives from our lakes and ponds. Lake-based recreation and tourism contribute almost $500 million annually to Vermont’s economy. 16% of visitors to Vermont report that they come primarily for the quiet, peaceful, pursuits of kayaking canoeing, fishing, and swimming on our lakes. 

The State Division of Tourism, part of the Agency of Commerce and Economic Development, touts water sports on its website:

See https://vermontvacation.com/things-to-do/recreation/water-sports

You’ll see no wake boats in those photos. Follow the links and you’ll see more photos of quiet, clean lakes. These are the conditions that we need to preserve and protect, from an economic point of view, as well as from an environmental and recreational perspective.

The Vermont Tourism Survey conducted by UVM at the behest of the Department of Tourism reported that:

  • 16.3% of all visitors came specifically for canoeing and kayaking.
  • 41.5% of state park tourists came specifically for canoeing and kayaking.
  • Once here, 27.5% of all tourists participated in canoeing and kayaking.

When asked why they come to Vermont, respondents mentioned the following:

  • Wonderful lakes, friendly people, beautiful scenery.
  • We come to Maidstone because it’s close, it’s clean, and it’s a great lake.
  • It’s nice to get away a little bit and relax on such a beautiful, peaceful lake an enjoy the nature that surrounds you here.
  • We love to have rivers and lakes nearby camping due to loving kayaking, also hiking and bike riding!
  • You have to preserve quality of lakes.. water clean, pure.. think environment.

The Tourism Study concluded that…

Summer visitors enjoy the natural features that Vermont has to offer by backpacking, canoeing and kayaking, and wildlife viewing.

Wake sports threaten these experiences. A single wake surfer operating on a small lake precludes other forms of recreation. Kayakers, swimmers, anglers, and water skiers are endangered. The propeller wash from these boats raises long-dormant phosphorus that nourishes the growth of the blue-green algae that has already spoiled Lake Carmi and parts of Lake Champlain, and threatens Lake Morey.

Many businesses depend on the traditional qualities of Vermont lakes. For this reason Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes (RWVL) urges you to support its proposal to limit wake sports only to our largest and deepest lakes, 1000 feet from shore, and in water deeper than 20 feet. RWVL has compiled its own detailed Economic Impact Analysis demonstrating how a strong regulation of wake boats will support lake-based outdoor pursuits and their continuing contribution to our state’s economy.


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