Reducing Boat Wake Damage

Love Your Lake?  Watch Your Wake!

Wakes from motorized watercraft have a number of impacts on our waterways.  The shoreline and the people on it, end up bearing the brunt of the energy that a wake produces.   Excessive wakes from boat motors and personal watercraft can exacerbate shoreline erosion and create an unsafe environment for swimming and wading.  In addition, boating at high speeds along the shoreline where woody debris, hidden pilings, and other hazards exist is dangerous for boaters.
Although the dams on our system offer the benefit of consistency to our summer water levels, this unnaturally sustained high water leaves our shorelines vulnerable to erosion.  Previous to the construction of Albeni Falls Dam, the water receded quickly creating wetlands or thick riparian areas that stabilized shoreline sediments and absorbed wave action more effectively.  With the current regime, the shoreline typically has little vegetative buffer to protect soils from erosion when impacted by wave action throughout the summer.  Waves on the shoreline have increased over the years and impact areas that wouldn’t normally see waves.  Recreation on our lakes and rivers continues to grow.  There are more boats, bigger boats, and boats with bigger wakes. With this has come more complaints from shoreline property owners about erosion and safety.  By Bonner County Ordinance, two hundred (200) feet of the entire shoreline perimeter of Lake Pend Oreille, Priest Lake, the Pend Oreille River and 100’ of the Clark Fork River is a “No Wake” zone.  A “No Wake” zone is defined as “a designated area where the operation of watercraft must be accomplished at not more than five miles per hour, nor with more than a six-inch wake, whichever is greater.”  This measure protects swimmers, the boater, and serves as a tool to lessen shoreline erosion.  This law is difficult to enforce and is often not distant enough from shorelines for bigger boats or boats intended to create large wakes.  The best way to lessen these impacts is to stay in the middle when surfing, skiing or cruising at wakes speeds.  “Ride the Core, Not the Shore!”  This is an easy way to reduce boating impacts helping to keep everyone safe and happy on our waters. Relieving tension between boaters and shoreline property owners is beneficial for all and can be easy if boaters choose to stay far from shore when creating a wake. Thank you!  Be safe and have fun!