Wakesports Environmental Bills Tabled

Concord—April 1, 2024—The N.H. House of Representatives last week tabled two bills designed to reduce the environmental impact of wake boats on state lakes.

HB 1301 proposed creating a public petition process to restrict wake surfing in environmentally vulnerable areas, and HB 1390 proposed a 300-foot shoreline setback for wake sports, double the setback for other types of power boats.

Both bills were “laid on the table” by the House, meaning they were set aside for potential later discussion. If a bill is not subsequently taken “off the table” before the end of the legislative session, it dies.

Opposition to the bills was led by State Representative Joe Sweeney (R-Salem), who successfully made a motion to table them as soon as they were introduced, according to an account of the session by NH LAKES. As a result, there was no discussion.

After the bills were set aside, Representative Dan Wolf (R-New London/Newbury) made a motion to take HB 1390 off the table to discuss an amendment that would have added an average 10-foot lake depth requirement and extend the effective date from this summer to next year.

Representative Sweeney urged the House members to reject Wolf’s motion, saying HB 1390 would “destroy the culture present on countless New Hampshire lakes” and that the “awful bill” should remain on the table.

Wolf’s motion failed on a 165 to 188 vote, ending its consideration for this year’s legislative session.

The votes to table the bills were “Division Votes,” meaning legislators could have their vote recorded verbally without sharing their name.

Ossipee Lake Alliance reached out to local state representatives to comment on their votes. Representative Michael Costable did not respond, but Representative Jonathan Smith did.

Smith said that after speaking with lake residents, he could not support HB 1301. But he said he voted in favor of HB 1390, which he said was a “reasonable compromise to protect the shoreline and shallow bodies of water on the lake.”

Representative Mark McConkey also responded. He said he voted with the majority to table both bills after reviewing correspondence he received, and after discussing the bills with House members representing the lakes region.

McConkey said the difficulty of enforcing the bills was a key factor in his vote, and he noted that neither bill was supported by the Commissioner of Safety Services.

“I suggest that greater education to the public this summer might be an interim step ahead of next year’s LSR submission,” he wrote.

2 Comments

  1. Steve B 2 months ago April 2, 2024

    Wake boarding in Leavitt and Berry Bay impact those of us who enjoy fishing. The large waves created by wake boarding are dangerous to smaller craft.

    REPLY
  2. tj236 2 months ago April 2, 2024

    What are you saying? Should smaller boats have priority?

    REPLY

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