LAKE WYLIE -- A proposal to add no wake buoys at bridges on the North Carolina side of Lake Wylie is now in the hands of the state wildlife agency, and markers could be in place before the end of summer.
Only one resident spoke at the Lake Wylie Marine Commission's public hearing held June 23 in Belmont on the resolution to create no wake zones within 50 feet on each side of North Carolina bridges.
Rusty White of Rock Hill, an avid Lake Wylie angler, said increasing law enforcement at peak times would be more effective than posting no wake zones without more enforcement. He said new wake rules will only create scenes like that at Buster Boyd Bridge where the no wake zone is "ignored more often than not."
"I think they're doing this in the name of safety, but really it's kind of a wasted effort," White said. He also is concerned the new rule could contribute to erosion problems as boaters quickly slow and quickly start on either side of the no wake zones.
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"We're going to be creating more wake and bigger wake than if the boats were going by full steam," White said.
Marine commissioners, however, said the no wake zones will ensure safety, especially at smaller bridges.
"We all felt that there is a need to make sure that there is a zone around the bridges," said vice chairman Charles "Bo" Ibach. "This is especially important on bridges like Catawba Creek and the lower Armstrong bridge."
Marine Commission Chairman Joe Stowe said before the meeting that the new wake rules are a proactive approach to safety.
"There are more people on the lake, more traffic, more people boating at night," Stowe said. "We want to do it before someone has an accident."
The marine commission unanimously approved the resolution and sent it to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission for final approval.
"Once this regulation is created, the Lake Wylie Marine Commission will post notification of these no wake zones around area bridges," said interim executive director Annette Lawing, explaining buoys likely will be illuminated and signs likely will be placed on the bridges.
The commission initially approved creating the North Carolina no wake zones earlier this year, but were asked by N.C. Wildlife to hold a public hearing before submitting a final resolution. The marine commission hopes North and South Carolina will enact consistent no wake rules at bridges, and has an agreement with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to create similar no wake zones at South Carolina bridges.
"This change should go a long way to make the lake a safer place for all boaters," Ibach said. "We've been lucky so far that there haven't been any serious accidents, but all it takes is one. Hopefully, this will help to prevent one."
Stowe said sooner is better since boating season is under way.
"There's no reason to wait," he said.
For more on the Lake Wylie Marine Commission, visit lakewyliemarinecommission.com. The marine commission is scheduled to meet the fourth Monday of the month, including the next meeting at 7 p.m. July 28 at the Red Fez Club, 16600 Red Fez Club Road, Charlotte.