Boating season has begun across the state and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding everyone heading to their favorite lakes or reservoirs to be safe this year. Following the state’s boating laws can not only help prevent deaths and injuries, it will help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species, a serious threat to Colorado’s waters.
We encourage the public to enjoy the great boating opportunities we have in this part of Colorado,” said Northwest Region Deputy Regional Manager Aaron Fero. “But the priority is safety and responsibility. A fun day on the water can quickly turn tragic if you don’t follow a few rules and recommendations and have the proper safety gear onboard.”
The required equipment may vary depending on the type watercraft. At a minimum, boats must have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device per person on board. Youth 12 years and younger are required to wear an approved PFD at all times while on a boat. Other required equipment includes an approved sound producing device, a Type IV throwable device and a fire extinguisher on some motorboats.
For a detailed list of required boating equipment, go to www.cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Boating/SafetyEquipment.pdf
Officials remind boaters to inspect all equipment before launching to ensure that it remains in serviceable condition.
“Rather than heading out on the water without a PFD or other gear and risking a citation, or worse, make sure to do a complete run through of all of the required safety equipment before leaving home,” added Fero. “If you find yourself short a flotation device, many of our parks have loaners that you can use for the day.”
In addition, park personnel will provide a free inspection to ensure the required safety equipment is on board.
Don’t drink and boat
Other safety tips include making sure all PFDs fit properly, keeping an eye on the weather and avoiding alcohol. In 2013, 20 percent of all boat accidents involved the use of alcohol, drugs or both.
“Boating while intoxicated is very dangerous and our officers will be enforcing the law,” added Fero. “We take this very seriously. Our officers want to see everyone have a fun and safe day on the lake.”
Fero adds that Boating Under the Influence can be punishable by a year in jail, a loss of boating privileges for three months, fines up to $1,000 and 96 hours of community service.
Don’t spread aquatic hitchhikers
In addition to boating safety, officials remind the public about the serious consequences of skirting the required Aquatic Nuisance Species boat inspections, legally required of all motorized and trailered vessels prior to launching.
Failure to comply with ANS inspection requirements can result in fines of $50, plus surcharges.
The inspections continue to be the primary method of stopping the spread of harmful invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels. The mussels have infested waters in many areas of the country outside of Colorado, clogging water supply infrastructure, harming the ecological balance of fisheries and causing millions in damage. Officials ask for the public’s cooperation to prevent the potential infestation of our waters.
For a current list of Statewide Watercraft Inspection & Decontamination Stations, vistit www.cpw.state.co.us/Documents/ANS/WatercraftInspectionStationList.pdf or call your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office for the most current inspection times, locations and other questions regarding ANS rules and regulations.
In 2014, new regulations require any vessel with an inboard/outboard or inboard motor that does not have a valid seal and matching receipt to first undergo a decontamination process before it can launch in Colorado waters.
In addition, eight vessels are exempt from inspections: rafts, kayaks, belly boats, float tubes, canoes, windsurfer boards/stand-up paddle boards, sail boards and inner tubes. Hand launched and non-gas powered motor/ electric motor are also exempt.
To find boating opportunities near you, visit www.cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/Pages/default.aspx
For general information about boating in Colorado, visit www.cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/boat.aspx