PWC ban considered for Vermont lake

WESTMORE, Vt. – A recent decision by Vermont’s Water Resources Board to propose a personal watercraft ban on Lake Willoughby must still be submitted to the secretary of state and the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules for final approval, the Caledonian Record reported in a story this morning.

The committee can approve or reject the board's proposal, respectfully disagreeing based on statutory reasons. However, most of the time, the board's suggestions are accepted by the committee, Kristina Bielenberg, associate general counsel for the Water Resources Board, told the newspaper.

The use of personal watercraft has been controversial for years with people who live along the shores of Lake Willoughby. The Water Resources Board held a public hearing this August in response to a petition signed by over 200 people from a local association asking for a ban on PWC in order to maintain public safety, peace and quiet of the lake area and to protect wildlife on the lake.

In its decision, the board addressed a concern that a ban on PWCs on Lake Willoughby would send these craft to other, smaller lakes in the area. "This is a legitimate concern," the decision states. But given "the lack of legislative leadership," the board adopted rules which prohibited PWCs on lakes, ponds and reservoirs that have a surface area less than 300 acres, the newspaper reported.

These rules went into effect in 1997. A ban of PWCs on larger lakes has also been imposed throughout the state. In this area, those include Caspian Lake in Greensboro, Great Averill Lake in Norton and Lake Morey in Fairlee.

Westmore resident Andy Berley said he was surprised by the decision to ban the craft from a lake the size of Willoughby. Berley, who said he does not own a personal watercraft, is opposed to the ban. He said the problem is with the lack of enforcement of state laws regarding boating.

"Fix the enforcement," Berley told the Record. "Anyone can put any size speedboat on the lake. Are we going to ban them too? It just doesn't seem right to me."

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