Tag: wake boats

Enhanced wakes are stirring things up

drawing showing woman on a wakesurf board

There is much happening around the country regarding enhanced wakes. The Phase 2 wake research from the St. Anthony Falls Lab at the University of Minnesota should be released sometime soon. Minnesota is readying the best practice education to accompany the new Watercraft Operators License. Michigan and Wisconsin have proposed legislation for regulating wakes. The State of Vermont has defined new rules addressing wake surf areas along with a new program to reduce the spread of AIS from ballast water. And on top of all that, new data from the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association showed that new “tow boat” sales dropped 20% from 2022 to 2023.

Follow the More information link for more details.

Vermont wakesports regulation moves a step closer

drawing showing woman on a wakesurf board

Vermont ’s Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) recently filed its “Final Proposed Rule” for regulating wakesports on the state’s inland lakes under the heading “Final Rule Documents Submitted to LCAR.” The filing triggers another step in the process whereby the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) reviews the proposed rule. The Committee will be considering this proposed rule on February 1, 2024. If “adopted” the proposed rule will be filed with the secretary of State to become effective on the “effective date”.

The final version of the proposed rule retained the requirement for wake boarding to be done a minimum of 500’ from shore despite overwhelming public comments asking for a 1,000’ minimum. If the LCAR votes to adopt the rule, Vermont will have the most restrictive regulations in the country for wakesports. The final proposed rule includes a 500’ minimum distance from shore, a minimum depth of 20’, a ‘wakesports zone’ as having a minimum of 50 contiguous acres, and a “home lake” approach to help reduce the potential for wake boats to spread AIS from residual water in their ballast tanks.

Stay tuned!

Metro legislators rocked by surfing

MN COLA President Joe Shneider along with MLR Executive Director Jeff Forester and Marina owner Gabe Jabbour took several legislative leaders out on Lake Minnetonka in late August to see wakesurfing in action. From left to right are MN COLA President Joe Shneider, Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Rick Hansen, Rep. Larry Kraft, Sen. Kelly Morrison, MLRA’s Jeff Forester, and Marina owner Gabe Jabbour.

Michigan Fisheries Division releases report on wake impacts

The Fisheries Division of the Michigan DNR released a literature review and recommendations regarding the effects of wake boats on aquatic habitat. An earlier version sparked controversy and it was relabeled as a draft. This July, the final report was released.

Recommendations in the report were couched as “voluntary best operating practices in support of the continued use of wake boats while minimizing the effects on natural resources. Their recommendations are copied below:

  1. Boats operating in wake-surfing mode or wake-boarding mode, during which boat speed, wave shapers, and/or ballast are used to increase wave height, are recommended to operate at least 500 feet from docks or the shoreline, regardless of water depth.
  2. Boats operating in wake-surfing or wake-boarding modes are recommended to operate in water at least 15 feet deep.
  3. Ballast tanks should be completely drained prior to transporting the watercraft over land.

Further, the Michigan report “recommended that awareness and voluntary adoption of these best operating practices be encouraged through outreach actions and materials to educate wake boat operators.”

MN COLA builds consensus for passage of Watercraft Operator License bill

The Minnesota Legislature in the 2023 session expanded Minnesota’s existing Boater Education requirements to all boat operators aged 12 and up, born on or after July 1, 1987.  MN COLA was a leader in building consensus across a diverse group of stakeholders to help make the law reality.

Click here for more information about this great step forward for safer boating on Minnesota waters.


The Minnesota Legislature in the 2023 session expanded Minnesota’s existing Boater Education Program to all boat operators aged 12 and up, born on or after July 1, 1987. Minnesota’s previous boater education requirement was for youth (ages 12-17).

A watercraft operator’s license has been a cornerstone of MN COLA’s Legislative Agenda for years. MN COLA’s consensus building throughout the water community over numerous legislative sessions helped make this law reality.


The MN DNR will be establishing a working group to create and implement the program. The program will cover core safety education in the areas of waterway rules, user conflict reduction, and towing responsibility. It will also provide important lake ecology education on preventing the spread of AIS and understanding how excessive wake height and powerful propeller thrust can negatively impact shoreline erosion, lake bottom habitat, and water quality—all of which are pressing issues for most lakeshore owners. The required boater operator education will help calibrate all Minnesota boaters’ knowledge with

current information and research, and increase the likelihood that users operate their watercraft in an informed, responsible, and respectful manner.

The requirement is phased in and effective:

  • July 1, 2025, if born on or after July 1, 2004;
  • July 1, 2026, if born on or after July 1, 2000;
  • July 1, 2027, if born on or after July 1, 1996;
  • July 1, 2028, if born on or after July 1, 1987.

Other details of the requirement include:

  • Boats with a 25hp or less do not require Boater Education and Certification to operate;
  • Youth Boaters (ages 12-17) limited to 75 hp motors;
  • Watercraft owner is responsible for operation of watercraft;
  • Rental business requirements which include administering a “short boater safety exam” to operators without a MN certification;
  • Program can be administered electronically or on paper.

Vermont proposes rules for use of wake boats

Vermont may soon have the toughest rules in the US for managing wake boats and their activities. Vermont’s rulemaking process is different than Minnesota’s as petitions by the public must be considered. These proposed rule changes were developed by the state in response to a petition submitted in March 2022 from an organization called Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes. The Phase 1 wake research done by the St. Anthony Falls Lab at the U of MN was part of the basis for the petition and the state’s proposed rule.

The proposed rule defines a ‘wakesports zone’ as having a minimum of 50 contiguous acres that are at least 500 feet from shore and at least 20 feet deep. The proposed rule also includes a “home lake” approach to help reduce the potential for wake boats to spread AIS from residual water in their ballast tanks.

The petitioners are pleased with the proposed rule but note that the distance from shore is not sufficient as per the U of MN’s peer-reviewed research to reduce the ecological and safety impacts.

MN COLA is proud to have provide input and support for the petition.

Video highlights extra challenges from multiple wake boats

Bert Krages lives in Oregon and has developed a series of videos highlighting safety and environmental challenges from wake surfing. In his most recent video Bert focuses on the issues related to multiple boats wake surfing at the same time when considering measures to protect aquatic environments, shorelines, and other boaters from the damage.

Wake research highlighted on KAXE’s Morning Show on May 31

If you only have 15 minutes to get caught up on the issues around wake surfing and the wake research being done at the University of Minnesota, the interview that Jeff Marr did on the KAXE Morning Show is what you need! We think it is great.

If you have more time available, register for the upcoming webinar with Jeff Marr on May 31 being hosted by Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, or watch the recent video from Jeff’s Marr’s Zoom session at the Itasca Waters Practical Water Wisdom series. Information on these other sessions is provided in the “News of Interest” section of this newsletter.

Jeff Marr headlined the May Practical Water Wisdom event hosted by Itasca Waters

Jeff Marr spoke about the recent, in-progress, and future wake research being done at the University of Minnesota’s St. Anthony Falls Laboratory.

Please note that if you can’t attend the May 31 webinar hosted by Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, the Zoom session and the slide presentation from the Itasca Waters session are available.

LCCMR recommends funding 3rd phase of wake research

The 3rd phase of wake research will expand the U of MN’s existing research on boat generated waves and prop wash impacts, and will also research wind generated waves to parse out similarities and differences to boat generated waves.

The project was recommended by the LCCMR for approval by the MN Legislature in the Legacy funding bill in the session that started this month.

“It appears that the wake research team will receive funding for a Phase 3 study” said Andy Riesgraf, the Project Manager/Researcher for the Phase 2 wake study at the U of MN’s St. Anthony Falls Lab.

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