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The great wake boat debate: Public to weigh in on proposed regulations

Vermont Edition explores proposed rules that would regulate the use of wake boats throughout the state.
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Wake boat regulations are currently up for public debate in Vermont.

Vermonters who want to weigh in on proposed rules for wake boats will have two chances to do so this week.

Wake boats are powerful motor boats that create a big wave for wakeboarding. And some studies show the boats damage lake ecosystems and pose safety threats to people swimming or paddling in the water.

Jim Lengel is with Responsible Wakes for Vermont Lakes, which supports stricter wake boat regulations. Speaking Tuesday on Vermont Edition, Lengel said he wants the state's Department of Environmental Conservation to tighten up its proposed rules. His group believes wake boats should be prohibited within 1,000 feet from shore. Right now the proposal is for half of that.

"If the department does what we'd like them to do, increase the distance to shore to 1000 feet, there won't be any boats on Echo Lake, or on Lake Fairlee, or on Lake Elmore, or on most of the most vulnerable lakes. We're trying to keep those prohibited from wake boats."

There's an in-person hearing on wake boats Tuesday night in Richmond, and another on Thursday at 5 p.m. that Vermonters can join remotely.

More information on the public hearings and the text of the proposed rule is at

Broadcast at noon Tuesday, August 1, 2023; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Andrea Laurion joined Vermont Public as a news producer for Vermont Edition in December 2022. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., and a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. Before getting into audio, Andrea worked as an obituary writer, a lunch lady, a wedding photographer assistant, a children’s birthday party hostess, a haunted house actor, and an admin assistant many times over.