Wakesports In Danger on Willamette

Some watercraft may be banned

Newberg Pool Congested Zone of the Willamette River has long been a contentious issue between property owners and boaters. The 20 river miles has some of the most unique boating regulations in the state due to it popularity in the summer and shoreline development.

From 2010 to 2019 the Marine Board held unlimited number of hearing and discussions with stakeholders on both sides to come to an agreed plan and adopt administrative rules. The rules restrict wakesports to approximately 3 miles with various distances from docks for wake surfing and waterskiing.

In 2019, legislation passed requiring wakesports to complete an education course and maintain a Towed Watersports Education Endorsement and a Towed Watersports Motorboat Certificate decal. Additionally, rules set a maximum loading weight of motorboats at 10,000 pounds for applicants seeking the certification decal.

Boats over that weight cannot be used for wakesports in the Newberg Pool. The Board has issued 631 Towed Watersports Education Endorsement and 406 are issued a Towed Watersports Motorboat Certificate. The average loading weight of these boats is 5,079 lbs.

Just when boaters thought they had an agreement to enjoy their sport, Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) introduces HB 2725 and Represnetative Mark Meek (D-Clackamas) introduces HB 2555 that reduces the maximum loading weight of motorboat to 4,000 pounds to obtain a Towed Watersports Motorboat Certificate. The bills authorizes the State Marine Board to conduct a study related to increasing prescribed maximum loading weight.

Representatives Witt and Meek didn’t do their research before proposing these bills.

Manufactures are not required to specify the weight of boats they build. Boats specifically designed for wakesports typically provide the weight, but other watercraft that is often used for wakesports don’t have a factory loading weight. It will make it a guessing game to register.

Shouldn’t the study come first to justify reducing the weight?

Out of the 406 certificates issued about 188 are 4,000 pounds or less. Wakesports is limited to a three mile stretch with strict distant limitations from residential docks. There is no justification for banning 218 legally permitted craft from wakesports.

If the State Marine Board conducts a study on increasing the maximum loading weight, the 218 boat owners would have an opportunity to be a part of the discussion and not be blindsided by these bills.

As it stands now, both bills have amendments that virtually ban all water craft from the 26-55 mile markers on the river.

https://www.northwestobserver.com/index.php?ArticleId=1048

Date: 2021-03-05 05:05

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