We have heard recent reports about unsafe boating issues around the lake, including speeding in the Channel and unsafe jet ski operation.
So, last Saturday, we invited the Lake St. Catherine Game Warden, Justin Turner, to a Meet & Greet with the lake community. We had a great turnout with a great mix of folks from all areas around LSC, including Rutland-Bennington state house district Representative Sally Achey.
Justin listened to everyone's concerns, and answered everyone's questions.
Residents described boaters speeding through the Channel causing potential safety issues with children swimming nearby and shoreline erosion. Also discussed were reports of jet skis being operated at high speeds too close to other boaters, and operating after sundown.
Some ideas that were discussed included:
- Outreach to the Vermont State Police Marine Division
- Increased presence by the Game Warden and Vermont State Police
- During visits by Justin or VSP, prioritize speeding and unsafe boating issues
- A 'citizens patrol' in which we employ someone with enforcement capabilities
- Adding a speeding warning sign to the Fish & Wildlife Boat Launch in Wells
- Asking our Boat Launch Greeters to mention the no wake rule in the Channel when completing the vessel inspection and/or pointing out the speeding warning sign
- Timing visits by the Warden or VSP to coincide with high traffic days, fishing tournaments, etc.
- Justin explained how residents can be an 'expert witness' of unsafe boating by taking a photo or video and capturing or noting their registration number - and then reporting it to him
- Residents felt that issuing tickets with a fine would deter unsafe boating
Justin made it clear that he heard everyone's concerns.
Justin explained that he can't be here as often as he'd like, and that the Wardens are understaffed. Justin's coverage area includes 9 towns: Arlington, Sunderland, Sandgate, Manchester, Rupert, Dorset, Pawlet, Danby and Wells. Although his area does not include Poultney, he is responsible for all of Lake St. Catherine.
We thank Justin for his time to speak with us last weekend.
As a followup to this meeting with Justin, we reached out to Sergeant Trevor Carbo of the Vermont State Police who is in Special Operations, Recreation Enforcement with the attendees' concerns.
In correspondence with Sergeant Carbo, he indicated that his department is also experiencing staffing issues. He noted that they are seeing an increase in reports of unsafe boating on all bodies of water in the state, fueled by a combination of increased interest in outdoor activities and inexperienced boaters.
He also let us know that the idea of a hired citizen patrol with enforcement capabilities would not be possible. State statute, hiring, training requirements, insurance and liability concerns would make this idea prohibitive.
Sergeant Carbo stated that he would share our concerns with Fish & Wildlife, and that he'd also share our concerns with his department in the Rutland office so they can focus on these issues when they are here.
If you witness unsafe boating, and would like to report it, please call Justin on his cell: 802-595-8754.
You can read more about LSC Lake Safety including Vermont and Lake St. Catherine specific boating rules on our website here: https://lakestcatherine.org/lake-safety