Update: May 10, 2019 - Valley County commissioners decided to scrap a proposed waterways ordinance that would have bumped the no-wake zone from 300 to 1,000 feet on area lakes. The McCall Star-News reports that commissioners decided not to vote on the proposed ordinance at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, instead choosing to start fresh on drafting a waterways ordinance to better regulate motorized boat use in the region.
Original post: Valley County commissioners heard public testimony this week on whether or not to adopt a new waterways ordinance that would triple the no-wake zone on area lakes from 300 to 1,000 feet offshore.
One thousand feet is nearly the length of three football fields. Representatives from the motorsports industry arrived from out-of-state to ask county commissioners for the science justifying what they thought was an extraordinarily large buffer.
Donnelly resident Henry Rudolph says the proposed ordinance would mean boat owners would have to travel 20 minutes or more to clear the no-wake zone before they could operate their boats at speed.
"I bought this house so I could boat in front of my house. If I can no longer boat, the value of my property goes down," Rudolph said, with a joking innuendo to commissioners that lower property values means lower property tax revenue.
Public testimony heard in at the American Legion in Cascade on Monday night was overwhelmingly against extending the no-wake zone.
Many who spoke traveled up from the Treasure Valley, saying lake recreation was the reason they bought homes here. Some, like Korey Pukash, said owning a lake house is something he worked very hard for.
"I've waterskied on that lake since I was 12," Pukash said. "My dream was to buy a cabin on that cove after my friend took me there. That's why I bought on that lake."
Part of the rub is something called wave enhancement technology. New boats are designed to make bigger wakes for bigger watersports fun.
Supporters of extending the no-wake zone were concerned about shoreline erosion and public safety.
“There are a lot of users of the lake, myself included, who cannot use our lakes during certain times of the day, um, especially on busy watercraft days because it’s too dangerous," said Jim Pace of McCall.
In a region whose economy is increasingly defined by recreation, the no-wake issue highlights the conflict of whether or not there’s enough room for everyone’s favorite way to enjoy a lake.
Valley County commissioners have not yet said when they'll make a decision. If passed, the Valley County Sheriff's Office will be charged with enforcing the new ordinance.
The following maps show the changes in no-wake zone:
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