This is a good time to review recently enacted laws and regulations about boating, particularly those related to boat operators and aquatic invasive species.
Life Jackets Required Until May 1
Until May 1, life jackets are required to be worn by everyone on any boat less than 21 feet in length. Unexpected immersion in water less than 70 degrees poses a much greater risk of drowning. Wearing a properly zipped and or buckled life jacket will likely keep a person’s head above water and support their body should swimming ability fail or they become unconscious due to cold water immersion. The Coast Guard estimates that 80% of all boating deaths might have been prevented had a life jacket been worn.
New Safe Boating Certificate Requirements
Beginning May 1, all boat operators born on or after May 1, 1996 are now required to obtain a Safe Boating Certificate by completing an eight-hour safe boating course. Courses may be completed and certificates obtained through State Parks, U.S. Power Squadrons, or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Previous law only required the operator of a personal watercraft or any youthful boat operator to obtain a Safe Boating Certificate. A new law signed by the Governor phases-in this existing requirement to all boaters beginning with those born on or after May 1, 1996. A list of approved courses is available on the State Parks website.
New Regulations For All DEC Boat Launches
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has enacted new regulations to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species at DEC boat launches and fishing access sites. The new regulations require boaters to remove all visible plants and animals from boats, trailers and associated equipment and to drain boats before launching at or leaving a DEC boat launch and waterway access. The full text of the new regulation can be found at the DEC website.
Warren County Invasive Species Law
The introduction and transport of aquatic invasive species into Warren County waterbodies is illegal. Violation of the Warren County Invasive Species Law is punishable with a fine up to $5,000 and up to 15 days in jail. Essex County enacted an invasive species transport law for Lake George in July, 2013. The law applies only to the portion of the Lake George basin that lies within Essex County.
Lake George Boat Inspections Now Required
The Lake George Park Commission the Commission has enacted regulations for the mandatory inspection and decontamination of boats entering Lake George. The regulations apply to all trailered vessels and will begin May 15, 2014. After May 15th, all boats entering Lake George will have to be inspected at one of six regional inspection stations. If your boat passes inspection as ‘Clean, Drained, and Dry’ then it will be sealed to your trailer and you can continue to your launch facility. Boats that do not meet the ‘Clean, Drained, and Dry’ standard will be directed to the unit on high-pressure hot water facility for decontamination before being sealed to your trailer. Learn more here.
Expect to Encounter Lake Stewards On Most Lakes
Lake steward programs continue to expand. Please cooperate with lake stewards and requests for boat inspections at all boat launches to help prevent the spread of invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels and spiny waterflea. The stewards are trained to remove any invaders they find and educate boaters on how they can help prevent the spread of invasives themselves. Boats, trailers and the equipment can spread aquatic invasive species from waterbody to waterbody and significantly harm recreational and commercial use of a waterbody while having a detrimental effect on native fish, wildlife and plants. More information about invasive species in the Adirondacks can be found here.
NYS Adventure License Available
Boat operators who have taken an approved safe boating course and received your NY Safe Boating Certificate you can choose to have your certification also reflected on your NYS Driver License, Non-Driver ID or Learner Permit as a small anchor icon. This DMV designation eliminates the need to carry your boating safety certificate. Information is available online.
The NYS Park Marine Service Unit
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Marine Service Unit is responsible for the general coordination of boating safety programs and supports marine law enforcement efforts across the state, including patrols, training and funding for local marine enforcement activities. For more information about marine recreation in New York State, visit www.nysparks.com/recreation/
Photo: The Stillwater Reservoir Boat Launch in 1973 by Anne LaBastille. Courtesy EPA’s Documerica Project.