Odd Bedfellows?

PWC group, states and feds align for safety initiative

Published online: Jan 31, 2006 News

California, Nevada and Arizona all have their fair share of houseboats, but also many personal watercraft. Often PWC interests have been at odds with some boating groups, environmentalists and government regulators. Now these three states and the National Park Service have teamed up with the Personal Watercraft Industry Association to form the "Lake Mead Safe Boating Partnership."

The program is aimed at improving safety and reducing boating accidents and fatalities at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  The creation of the partnership" was announced recently at the Los Angeles Boat Show.  The National Park Service (NPS), the California Department of Boating and Waterways, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Arizona Game and Fish Department, and the Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA) created the partnership to promote safe boating practices among boaters who visit Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.  The National Park Service reported 149 boating accidents and 4 boating fatalities on Lake Mead and Lake Mohave in 2005; the Lake Mead Safe Boating Partnership aims to bring these numbers down.

"Approximately 8-10 million visitors come to Lake Mead National Recreation Area each year," said Lake Mead National Recreation Area Superintendent Bill Dickinson.  "Fortunately most boaters have an enjoyable time free of any incidents but even one boating tragedy is one too many, especially because most boating accidents are completely avoidable.  Because so many of our boaters are from California, Arizona, and Nevada, it made perfect sense for all of us to join forces."  

About half of all visitors at Lake Mead National Recreation Area come from out-of-state, particularly California. Because each state has its own set of boating laws, the Lake Mead Safe Boating Partnership advises boaters to "play it safe" by following the strictest of guidelines, which include wearing a lifejacket at all times, always taking a boating safety course before leaving the dock or marina, and never operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  These are guidelines the partnership advises all boaters to follow.  In some cases, they might be required by law.  Boating laws for California, Nevada, and Arizona are summarized and can be reviewed at www.boatcoloradoriver.com and www.boatlakemead.com.   

For instance, anyone born after January 1, 1983 must carry proof of having passed a boating safety course to operate a boat in the state of Nevada (Lake Mead).  In other cases, any boater 12 years or younger must wear a lifejacket at all times and anyone riding a personal watercraft (PWC) regardless of age must wear a lifejacket at all times.  Additionally, most drownings involve boaters who aren't wearing a life jacket and who have not taken a boating safety course.  For this reason, the partnership wants boaters of all ages and boating experience to follow its guidelines and treat them as the "rules of the road."    

"Many Californians would consider Lake Mead and Lake Mohave amo

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