Recently the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on a survey conducted by the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, an advisory body to the state’s Natural Resources Board. Survey participation has increased markedly since it moved to online responses. Participation has more than doubled in the five years since these surveys began.
Not surprisingly, the survey included several questions about wake boating. The author offered the following commentary of these survey results:
“Opponents of wake surfing have become increasingly active over the last couple years. The boating activity, which utilizes a special powerboat with ballast tanks and a strong engine to create large waves, can damage shorelines and lake bottoms and destroy bird nests, including those of common loons.
“Six WCC advisory questions calling for additional restrictions or prohibitions on wake boats were on the 2023 ballot; all were supported by a landslide. Question 64, for example, asked if wake boats would be prohibited on all lakes 1,500-acres and smaller. The result was 6,292 yes, 2,879 no and 553 no opinion.”
Here are survey results for four of the six questions:
|Do you support wake boats causing hazardous wakes on lakes larger than 1,500 acres to be more than 700 feet from shore or other water users?||6062||3019||643||62%|
|Do you support prohibiting wake boats from causing hazardous wakes on lakes less than 1,500 acres?||6292||2879||553||65%|
|Would you support the WCC and legislature creating a new state Statute that prohibits operation of a boat that intentionally creates a hazardous wake on lakes of a specific physical characteristics defined by size, depth, length and width?||6179||2874||671||64%|
|Would you support the WCC and legislature working to amend existing Statutes to prohibit methods for intentionally magnifying wakes for wake surfing on lakes less than 1,500 acres?||6207||2856||661||64%|
These data are consistent with strong —even “landslide” — support for the proposal of Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes to regulate wake surfing. Some of the questions include even stronger management of wake boating language than our proposal, such as “prohibiting wake boats from causing hazardous wakes on lakes less than 1,500 acres.” RWVL’s suspects is that Vermonters’ support for regulation is even stronger than in Wisconsin.
Vermont is not alone in seeking prudent regulation of wake surfing. We hope that the Green Mountain State can lead the national effort to preserve and protect our lakes for the enjoyment of all.