Wake scofflaws warned

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SANDPOINT — The Bonner County Sheriff’s Marine Division is giving no-wake zone scofflaws fair warning.

The unit will be conducting emphasis patrols targeting wake zone violators on the Pend Oreille River. Moreover, deputies may be in plainclothes and aboard unmarked vessels while they document violations on video.

A no-wake zone violation is an infraction punishable by a $300 fine, according to Bonner County Revised Code.

Wake zones on the river and Lake Pend Oreille extend 200 feet from any shoreline, dock, bridge, structure or person in the water. Officials recommend that wakeboarding and wake surfing vessels stay 500 feet or more aware from shore because some of those boats can take on ballast water in order to generate larger wakes, which can amplify the damaging effects on the shoreline.

The “Ride the Core Not the Shore” campaign was developed in response to complaints from shoreline landowners who are experiencing damages to docks, retaining walls and moored boats because of inconsiderate boaters, according to the marine division.

The move comes after a group of landowners appealed to Bonner County officials to prohibit wake-centric sports on the Pend Oreille River to the Washington state line, which would have forced wake sports enthusiasts onto Lake Pend Oreille, where wakes would have more time to dissipate before making land. County officials declined to adopt the ban, however.

Instead, the county and the Idaho Lakes Commission partnered on a boater-education approach.

No-wake zones extend 100 feet from the banks of the Clark Fork and Priest rivers, in addition to Comeback Bay and Johnson Creek on Lake Pend Oreille.

The Pack River Flats, from the Highway 200 to the BSNF Railway span, is also a no-wake zone.

The wake zone regulations do not apply to resource and law enforcement officials acting in emergency capacities, according to county code.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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