Petition seeks wake boat regulation

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SANDPOINT — Bonner County commissioners were presented with a petition on Nov. 27 calling for parts of Priest Lake to be off limits to wake boats.

The petition, signed by more than 60 citizens, asks commissioners to prohibit wake boats at Cavanaugh and Outlet bays, in addition to the Narrows, a pinch point halfway up the lake. It also seeks the prohibition of ballast-enhanced powerboats from operating in front of the Bishop, Blue Diamond, Cavanaugh, Elkins, Grandview and Lowes resorts.

Carolyn Deshler of Blue Diamond said in remarks to commissioners that the Ride the Core campaign, which encourages wake boat operators to utilize the center portion of the lake, appears to be working on the lake, but not in constricted areas.

Deshler told commissioners there is not enough distance in narrow sections of lake for large wakes to dissipate before reaching shore. Boats at Blue Diamond have been rocked sideways by as much as 5 feet, snapping mooring lines and riping cleats out of docks. Boaters and objects have also been thrown to the deck, and docks have been inundated by incoming waves cast off by boats specifically designed to generate ample wakes for boarders and surfers.

The wakes are large enough to resemble cresting waves in ocean environments, Deshler said.

“The chamber of commerce advertises that Priest Lake has ‘sandy beaches.’ I am concerned they will become ‘rocky beaches,’ Deshler said in a statement to commissioners.

The petition comes on the heels of a request by Sheriff Daryl Wheeler for the county to begin the process of regulating wake boats on the Pend Oreille River because damaging waves are wreaking havoc on boats, infrastructure and shoreline.

Commissioners have taken both requests under advisement.

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