Boating Boom…erang

Many lakes suffer from a “boomerang” affliction: they attract boaters and personal watercraft because of their beauty, but too many watercraft and careless boating decreases their attractiveness. Boating has always been part of the Montana lake experience. However, as use of motorized watercraft has grown, problems have increased. The most serious boating problems are safety, congestion, noise pollution, accelerated shoreline erosion and sedimentation from larger wakes. Air and water pollution can also result from poorly tuned engines, and wildlife harassment, gas spills and human waste add to the problems related to boating. It is important to take responsibility for our actions and work together to ensure the safety of all recreationists.

Practice Responsible Boating

  • Drive at safe, fuel-efficient speeds.
  • Watch your wake and slow down if it gets too big. Large wakes erode the shoreline and damage wildlife habitat.
  • Observe no wake speeds within 200 feet of all shorelines.
  • Stay away from shallow areas. Motors churn up bottom areas and re-suspend nutrient rich sediments.Keep a trash bag handy to collect and store all trash, including cut fishing line.
  • NEVER dispose of sewage overboard – it is ILLEGAL. Keep all sewage sealed in a holding tank for appropriate disposal at a marina.
  • Plan ahead; sewage-dumping stations near lakes are extremely limited.
  • Enjoy the natural quiet of the lake. Consider canoeing, rowing sailing or paddleboarding. Avoid playing loud music because sound carries easily over water.
  • Stay away from birds and their nests, as well as other animals. It is illegal to harass wildlife and your actions may separate the young from their parents or chase them out of their natural habitat.
  • Operate watercraft safely and courteously. Avoid congested areas when possible.
  • Obtain a copy of and abide by Montana’s boating laws.

Return to Chapter 4 Table of Contents