Idaho county to restrict towed-sports along Spokane River

With new technologies, ski boats can produce large, asymmetric waves ideal for surfing. (Photo courtesy of Nautique)

Last week, an ordinance prohibiting boaters from engaging in activities that create “excessive wakes” was passed by the Kootenai County Commission. After three months of public hearings, amendments, and strong opposition from the recreational boating community, the Commission adopted the ordinance by a 2-1 vote.

The ordinance defines “excessive wake” as “plowing or using any enhancement to increase a wake size including use of ballast, mechanical hydrofoils or uneven loading.” Kootenai County passed an ordinance in 2020 which instituted a 150-foot setback for excessive wake. The Kootenai County Sheriff has been educating boaters about the new ordinance since implementation in 2020 and found there to be minimal violations and no accidents related to wake surfing. The County Commissioners asked the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office to use “discretion” when enforcing the new ordinance.

Several local property owners affected by the ordinance have filed a lawsuit against the Commission to overturn the ordinance.

NMMA said it will continue to monitor the situation and engage with local stakeholders.

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