Donate and Join LEA Today!

Boater Impacts & Safety

How we behave on our lakes and ponds affects not only other people, but wildlife, shorelines, and water quality. Check out these resources to learn about how to lessen your impact on the lakes!

Jump to:

Boaters Safety Course

Wake Impacts

Watch Your Wakes

Wake surfing and wake boarding sports have increased substantially in recent years. While the excitement of these wake sports is undeniable, they do require large wakes (3 feet or more) that can have serious side effects on Maine lakes. These waves can be created inadvertently by boats plowing through the water (low speed boating with the bow of the boat elevated) or on purpose by uniquely designed wakeboats.  

The waves generated by these boats are much greater than those of typical boats and have impacts on other lake users, shorefront property, wildlife, the environment and the spread of invasive species.  To help ensure Maine’s lakes remain clean and clear for generations to come and where all people can continue to enjoy them, some limitations on large wake creating activities need to be put in place.   

A group of concerned citizens, The Maine Boating Impacts Coalition (MBIC) was recently formed to address these boating issues.  MBIC is made up of individuals and organizational representatives with knowledge of Maine lakes, boating, wakeboats, lake science, and wildlife. MBIC has developed the following recommendations to help mitigate the adverse effects of large wakes and other side effects of these wake sports. 

  • Increase the 200 ft safety zone distance from shore to 500 ft for large wake producing activities. 
  • Participate in wakesports in depths greater than 20 ft  

MBIC reasons for these recommendations are: 

  • Research from multiple studies have shown that the types of waves generated during wake surfing activities need more than 500ft to dissipate to levels similar to those produced by boats on plane to avoid: 
  • Shoreline erosion 
  • Damage to docks and moored boats 
  • Harm to nesting loons and other vulnerable wildlife 
  • Studies have also shown that the propeller jet of water directed to the bottom needs to be in more than 20 feet of water to avoid: 
  • Stirring up sediment, especially phosphorous that creates algae blooms 
  • Destroying bottom plant and animal habitat 
  • A serious problem exists with wake boats that have ballast tanks because they can transport invasive species from an invested lake to a clean lake in those tanks since they are difficult or impossible to completely drain or inspect. There is no good solution to this problem at this time. 

Comments of support or concern about wake sport activities on Maine lakes or with the MBIC recommendations or a request for more information can be sent to:  

Dropbox link to studies

Boaters Safety Course

Safe boating is good for people, wildlife, and the ecosystem! Take the boating safety course, offered for FREE by the BoatU.S. Foundation. Recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, approved by NASBLA and the Maine boating license agency.

  • FREE
  • Complete the course at your own pace (stop and start over multiple days/weeks)
  • The estimated course time is 4 – 8 Hours
  • 6 Lessons, each lesson contains a 10-question quiz
  • Final exam, 60 questions are pulled randomly

Choose when and where to take your course. Take it on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone. Stop and start anytime!

[mc4wp_form id="2536"]