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Lake lovers raise concerns about harmful effects of wake boats

Michigan United Conservation Clubs say wake boats in shallow waters can disrupt fish habitats, and even damage on-shore structures like beaches and docks.

A report from the Department of Natural Resources recommends wake-boats operate at least 500 feet from docks or short lines in a depth of at least 15 feet.

The report detailed concerns of anglers and lake lovers, who say wake-boats in shallow waters can disrupt fish habitats.

Amy Trotter, the Executive Director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said large recreational wakes are created by using a water tank to weigh down the back of the boat.

“That wake and that wave action created are unnatural to our environmental systems, and can cause disruptions in our fish communities and the habitats they rely on, which ultimately causes a problem for anglers long term as well,” she said.

Trotter said wakes from these boats can even damage some on-shore structures like docks and beaches. She said the MUCC would support examining further regulations on wake boats, but education and outreach should be a first step.

Tom Ervin, the Vice Chair of Michigan Boating Industries Association, said placing further restrictions on wake-boats is unnecessary.

“Boaters are our courteous, conscientious folks who appreciate the environment, because without the environment, they can’t enjoy their sport,” Ervin said.

Ervin said he has worked in the boating industry for more than 30 years, and hasn’t heard any concerns about the potentially harmful effects of wake-boating.

Jill Harrington is a senior at CMU majoring in journalism and minoring in theatre and interpretation. Jill grew up in Novi, Michigan and started reporting for WCMU in summer 2022.