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Boater Impacts & Safety

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

LEA and the Maine Boating Impacts Coalition proposed legislation in 2023 to protect water quality, wildlife, and safety through common sense regulations for large wake-producing activities.

Update (7/6/23): This bill received incredible public support, with more than 120 people testifying in favor and just 10 speaking against it. A task force has been created through the committee and will hopefully propose a solution in 2024.

The bill proposed in 2023:

LD 693: An Act to Protect Inland Water Quality, Shorelines, Wildlife and Public Safety by Prohibiting Operation of a Wake Boat to Create an Enhanced Wake Close to Shore or in Shallow Water

This bill would prevent the sport of wake surfing within 500 feet of the shoreline and in waters less than 20 feet deep. This will reduce wake-caused erosion, keep lake water clean, protect fragile lakeside habitats, and keep shallow waters safe for families, swimmers, and other boaters. This is not a ban on wake surfing; it only applies when specialized wake surf boats generate excessive wakes.

How are wake boats different?  

  • Wake boats are specialized boats designed to create large wakes for the purpose of wake surfing.
  • These powerful boats are equipped with ballast tanks and often mechanical systems designed to enhance the size of the boat’s wake
  • The large wakes created by these boats allow people to surf behind them without tow ropes

How do excessive wakes close to shore put our lakes at risk?  

Large wakes erode shorelines and damage fragile wildlife habitat. 

  • The size of wakes from wake surfing activities take 500 feet or more to dissipate to levels typical of recreational boats on plane2.  Large wakes simply take longer distances to dissipate 

Wake-surfing boats stir up more sediment than other recreational boats.   

  • Wake-surfing requires the boat to plow water at slow speeds versus boats operating on-plane
  • Downward-directed propellers can disturb the lake bottom 

Clean lakes are valuable assets to local community members and recreational users.   

  • University of Maine studies have shown that property values drop with decreased water quality3
  • Income for local communities depend on clean and healthy lakes for all to use and enjoy

Wake surfing is growing in popularity

  • The wake surf industry is rapidly growing
  • Boat sales in Maine increased dramatically during the pandemic but are now tapering off with the exception of Wake Surf boats and pontoon sales

This proposed bill would protect clean water, human safety, and wildlife habitat by:

  • Promoting wake-generating activity away from shore, in deeper water where the experience is better for the wake surfer 4
  • Ensuring safe access for all people who enjoy Maine’s beautiful lakes and ponds
  • Reducing shoreline erosion from unnaturally large wakes
  • Minimizing sediment and nutrient resuspension (which causes algal blooms) in near-shore, shallow water
  • Protecting fish spawning beds and loon and waterfowl nesting sites

References and Links:

To contact the coalition, email  

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!

MBIC Wake Awareness Video

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