Friday, August 19, 2022

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After Deadly Year, MN Officials Stress Boat Safety in 2022

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Monday, May 30, 2022   

Water recreation season is officially under way in Minnesota, and the Department of Natural Resources hopes to see less tragedy on lakes this year.

Boating always has been popular in Minnesota, but state officials say it has reached fever pitch in recent years - accompanied by a rise in deadly incidents on the water. The state recorded 18 boating fatalities last year, the most since 2005.

The DNR's Recreation Safety Outreach Coordinator Lisa Dugan pointed to a common theme: Most fatalities involve a male not wearing a life jacket.

"You know, as something as simple as putting on a life jacket," said Dugan. "Could be he'll be bringing people home at the end of the day, and hopefully prevent somebody from a bad situation getting worse."

The DNR says the state also is seeing more new boaters, but Dugan stressed that no matter your skill level, it's always important to keep up with safety information.

The agency offers an online education course.

In addition to checking safety equipment, boaters are urged to be mindful of higher water levels going into this season.

This year's outreach coincides with a legislative push to require boat operators born on or after July 1st of 1987 to take an education course and receive a permit.

Jeff Forester, executive director of the Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates, said potential passage comes at a crucial time for water recreation in the state.

"We've got, per-capita, the most boats in the country," said Forester. "And the boats now are faster and more powerful. They require training."

Currently, there are only requirements for those between ages 12 and 17. The language was included in an omnibus bill, but lawmakers failed to reach broader spending agreements before adjourning this month.

Supporters hope the provision will still be included if the Legislature reconvenes for a special session.



Disclosure: Minnesota Lakes and Rivers Advocates contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Public Lands/Wilderness, Sustainable Agriculture, Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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