ACTION ALERT: PROPOSED WAKESPORTS BILL FALLS SHORT
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TO LET THEM KNOW LRB-3518 IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO PROTECT WISCONSIN’S LAKES AND THOSE THAT USE THEM
A bill proposed by Rep. Robert Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) and Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) to regulate wakesurfing and wakeboarding fails to provide any meaningful protection against the activities’ impacts. While Wisconsin Lakes is pleased to see this issue being addressed, the bill falls far short of what is needed and even makes things worse by undercutting local efforts to manage impacts to lakes and streams. Rather than setting minimum levels or protection for Wisconsin, the bill as written would actually limit the regulation of wakesports.
Wisconsin Lakes encourages everyone to let your legislators know that this bill, LRB-3518, fails at what it claims to do and does not deserve their support (Find your legislators here). This is true even as we should be, as a state, considering meaningful legislation to protect private property, public safety and enjoyment, and aquatic environments from the impacts of wakesports while balancing the rights of everyone to recreate on our waters.
The bill as currently written fails on several grounds:
- Despite setting standards, the bill fails to protect private property, public safety and enjoyment, and aquatic environments by allowing local governments to set their own weaker standards. Rather than set minimum standards for protection the bill sets maximum standards allowed to regulate wakesports. Wisconsin’s local governments deserve local control to set their own standards for protection beyond state minimums
- The bill prohibits wakesurfing and wakeboarding within 200 feet of the shore or structures like piers and swim rafts. The overwhelming majority of studies say that at least 500 feet is required for these “enhanced wakes” to lose their size and power. The minimum standard for Wisconsin should prohibit enhanced wake creation within 500 feet of the shore
- Current studies are showing that impacts from the creation of enhanced wakes are seen to lakebeds to depths of at least 20 feet. Lakes across Wisconsin are seeing pollutants in the lakebed kicked up into the water column and aquatic vegetation being scoured. The bill fails to include a standard related to depth. The minimum standard for Wisconsin should prohibit enhanced wake creation in waters shallower than at least 30 feet
- The bill simply repeats standards already in place in other statutes. For instance, it prohibits wakesports on lakes of 50 acres or less, but all boats are prohibited from creating wakes on most lakes that are of that size in Wisconsin already.
Rather than support a bill that undercuts protection for private property, public safety and enjoyment, and aquatic environments from the impacts of wakesports, Wisconsin Lakes encourages our lawmakers to engage in meaningful discussion to pass minimum state standards that balance the right of everyone to recreate on our waters.