Snow or not, boating season arrives | NevadaAppeal.com

Snow or not, boating season arrives

Matthew Renda
Nevada Appeal News Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Memorial Day weekend unofficially marks the inauguration of boating season at Lake Tahoe. While Tahoe’s crystalline waters may have seen a few solitary boats through late April and early May, the boating season begins in earnest once the month of June arrives with warmer temperatures (theoretically) in tow.

This year, boaters will be subjected to new Tahoe Regional Planning Agency rules to keep the lake blue, quiet and in the clear.

Under the new guidelines, boaters will be asked to comply with no-wake zone standards in marinas and heavily trafficked areas like Emerald Bay.

Californian and Nevada laws stipulate that boaters cannot use exhaust cut-outs to artificially increase the noise of their engines. However, the TRPA will not turn away boaters this year with exhaust cut-outs. Next year, boats will not be allowed to launch with the exhaust cut-out in operation.

All boats must have a clean bilge – the lowest compartment on a ship where chemicals, oil, gasoline and contaminated water usually gathers. Vessels must also have proper sewage management equipment.

Boats that comply with these standards will be given a sticker with a requirement to display it prominently. During the upcoming 2010 boating season, those caught without stickers will be issued a warning. However, repeat offenders will be subject to fines. As public awareness about the program increases in years following 2010, fines will replace warnings, according to TRPA spokesman Dennis Oliver.

“We want to have the cleanest lake we have while allowing for boating, which is certainly an important recreational component on Lake Tahoe,” said board member Mara Bresnick, the California Assembly Speaker’s appointee.

Invasive Species

The new Blue Boating Program policies dovetail with the TRPA’s existing restrictions regarding inspections for aquatic invasive species.

Fear of the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels is increasing. The environmentally detrimental species established a stronghold in Lake Mead in Southern Nevada in 2008 and continue to procreate at an alarming rate.

Zebra and quagga mussels have become a huge problem in the Great Lakes.

Fees

The program mandates that TRPA install an annual fee system instead of the current per-use fee structure.

Annual fees for the Blue Boating Program will range from $20 to $60 dollars. When combined with aquatic invasive species inspection fees, boaters will be charged $30 – $125 depending on if the boat is used exclusively in Lake Tahoe, or if it travels to other lakes, thereby necessitating further invasive species checks.

The owner of an average size and horsepower boat would typically pay $65 to $75 for one full year of boating, or $30 to $40 if the boat is Lake Tahoe only.