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Wakeboating and Wakesports in Vermont

Beginning on April 15, 2024, a new rule impacting wakeboats and wakesports takes effect under Vermont’s Use of Public Waters (UPW) Rules. The Wakeboat Rule regulates wakeboating and wakesports on Vermont’s inland lakes. Vermont's Use of Public Waters Rules were developed to avoid and resolve recreational conflicts, to protect normal or designated uses on all lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, and to ensure that natural resource values of public waters are fully protected.

What is the wakeboat rule and who does it apply to?

Wakesports using a wakeboat shall only occur within defined wakesport zones. This rule only applies to those who operate a wakeboat in Vermont’s lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. (This does not apply to Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog, the Connecticut River reservoirs, and Wallace Pond). The new rules were added under Section 3 of the Use of Public Waters Rules.

As defined under the UPW Rules:

“Wakeboat” means a motorboat that has one or more ballast tanks, ballast bags or other devices or design features used to increase the size of the motorboat’s wake.

“Wakesports” means:

A. to operate a wakeboat with ballast tanks, bags, or other devices or design features engaged to increase the size of the boat’s wake; or

B. to use a surfboard, wakeboard, hydrofoil, or similar device to ride on or in the wake:

i. directly behind a wakeboat without a rope; or

ii. directly behind a wakeboat with or without a rope, when the wakeboat has ballast tanks, bags, or other devices or design features engaged as described in Section A. above.

“Wakesports zone” means an area of a lake, pond, or reservoir that has a minimum of 50 contiguous acres that are at least 500 feet from shore on all sides, at least 20 feet deep, and at least 200 feet wide.

NOTE: Wakesports zones are open to all uses permitted on the subject waterbody.

Where can wakesports occur?

Wakesports can only occur within the defined wakesports zones of the following Vermont inland lakes or ponds. 

Lake Name and Location Total Acres Size (acres) of Eligible Wakesport Zones
(500' from shore, 20'depth, >200' wide) 
SUNSET (Benson) 205.1 74.0
SHADOW (Glover) 217.3 86.2
MILES (Concord) 221.1 66.3
IROQUOIS (Hinseburg / Williston) 247.0 51
PARKER (West Glover) 253.1 88.4
HOLLAND (Holland) 329.1 90.2
PEACHAM (Peacham) 347.4 94.9
HARVEYS (Barnet) 357.2 133.0
MOLLYS FALLS (Cabot/Marshfield) 402.4 52.0
JOES (Danville) 405.0 54.1
FAIRLEE (Fairlee) 461.8 96.8
FAIRFIELD (Fairfield) 463.3 170.0
LITTLE AVERILL (Averill) 470.2 261.3
HORTONIA (Sudbury/Hubbardton) 500.9 56.8
ECHO (Charleston) 546.5 315.0
MOREY (Fairlee) 549.8 384.1
ISLAND POND (Brighton) 614.2 261.0
MAIDSTONE (Maidstone) 755.8 399.4
CRYSTAL (Barton) 771.6 420.5
SALEM (Derby) 776.4 301.8
CASPIAN (Greensboro) 789.8 437.1
GREAT AVERILL (Averill/Norton) 835.0 422
WATERBURY (Waterbury) 869.2 56.1
ST. CATHERINE (Wells/Poultney) 885.4 391.2
DUNMORE (Leicester/Salisbury) 1039.6 330.5
CARMI (Franklin) 1415.2 755.2
WILLOUGHBY (Westmore) 1733.6 1079.3
SEYMOUR (Morgan) 1777.2 1,150.3
HARRIMAN (Whitingham) 1949.4 465.2 (2 separate zones)
BOMOSEEN (Castleton/Hubbardton) 2415.1 1122.5
Wakesports can also occur within Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog, the Connecticut River reservoirs, and Wallace Pond. These bodies of water do not have a defined wakesports zone.

Where can I find the boundaries of a wakesports zone?

What is the Home Lake Rule? How do I help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species?

A wakeboat must have one "Home Lake" for a given calendar year and display on the wakeboat’s port side bow a current Vermont Agency of Natural Resources issued decal identifying the wakeboat’s Home Lake for the calendar year.
A wakeboat’s Home Lake is the only lake, pond, or reservoir at which that wakeboat will be used for the calendar year.
However, a wakeboat can be used in a body of water other than the identified Home Lake only after that wakeboat has been properly decontaminated to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Prior to entering a Vermont waterbody other than the wakeboat’s Home Lake, and prior to reentering the waters of the Home Lake after use of the wakeboat at any other waterbody, the wakeboat must be decontaminated at a Vermont Agency of Natural Resources approved decontamination service provider. A wakeboat user may be requested to provide proof of decontamination at public access areas.
The Home Lake Rule applies to all wakeboats on Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog, Wallace Pond, the Connecticut River Reservoirs, and the waterbodies with a defined wakesports zone as listed above (see also Appendix E of the UPW Rules).
In addition, all wakeboats must follow all aquatic nuisance species spread prevention laws (10 V.S.A. § 1454). Wakeboat users shall drain the ballast tanks of their boats to the fullest extent practicable after leaving a body of water.
While the wakeboat rule is in effect for the 2024 boating season, the Agency of Natural Resources is currently developing the materials and processes for implementing the Home Lake Rule. Please check back for updates on how to follow the Home Lake Rule.

Enforcement of the wakeboat rule

The Use of Public Waters rules are enforced by the Vermont State Police, Marine Division. Issues or concerns relating to violations of these rules should be reported to the Vermont State Police. You may also contact the local game warden, as they partner with the police on these issues. Game wardens and police suggest documenting and reporting suspected violations of the UPW rules with video and photos, registration numbers of boats, a description of the activity in conflict with the UPW rules, and the date and time.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. How does this new rule impact traditional water skiing, tubing, and other recreational watersports?

A. The wakesports rule only applies to wakesports conducted with a wakeboat (as defined above). Sports like water skiing and tubing from a traditional power boat or a wakeboat that is not engaged in wakesports mode may occur in accordance with all other boating rules for that waterbody. These activities are not defined as wakesports and may occur outside of a wakesports zone. 

Q. Can I operate a wakeboat outside of the wakesports zone?

A.  A wakeboat may be operated in "non-wakesports mode," i.e., not generating large wakes, outside of a wakesports zone, in accordance with all other applicable boating rules for that waterbody. 

Q. Can other forms of recreation (paddling, swimming, paddle baording, traditional water skiing, tubing, etc.) occur in the wakesports zone?

A. Yes. The wakesports zone is not exclusive to wakesports only. 

Q. What other boating rules apply to boating in lakes and ponds?

A. There are several rules that apply to boating operation in Vermont, including:

  • The operation of vessels, regulated under: 23 V.S.A. § 3311
  • The Use of Public Waters Rules which regulate speed limits, vessels allowed on specific waterbodies, and establishes a shoreline safety zone within 200 feet of the shoreline in which speeds over 5mph are prohibited. 

    See the Vermont Boating Handbook for more information. 

Q. How do I report suspected violations of the new wakesports rule?

AThe Use of Public Waters rules are enforced by the Vermont State Police, Marine Division. Issues or concerns relating to violations of these rules should be reported to the Vermont State Police. You may also contact the local game warden, as they partner with the police on these issues.

Q. How does a wakeboat operator know if they are in a wakesports zone?

A. A wakeboat operator should study the maps linked above to be familar with the boundaries of the wakesport zone. Additionally, prior to entering a waterbody, GPS-enabled wakesport zone maps can be downloaded for free from the Avenza app. These maps may be used offline and can geo-reference a boater's location to determine whether or not the boat is in the wakesports zone. 

 

Wakeboat Rule

The Use of Public Waters Rules were amended to add the following requirements for wakeboating and wakesports. The new rules were added under Section 3 of the Use of Public Waters Rules: 

3.8 Wakesports  

a. Wakesports are prohibited on lakes, ponds, and reservoirs that do not have a defined wakesports zone as defined at Section 5.18 and listed in Appendix E.  

b. Wakesports shall not take place outside the boundaries of a wakesports zone listed in 10 Appendix E. 

c. A wakeboat must have one home lake for a given calendar year and display on the wakeboat’s port side bow a current Agency-issued decal identifying the wakeboat’s home lake for the calendar year. A wakeboat’s home lake is the only lake, pond, or reservoir at which that wakeboat will be used for the calendar year, except when the decontamination requirement of Section 3.8.d. has been satisfied. This subsection 3.8.c. applies to Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog, Wallace Pond, the Connecticut River Reservoirs, and the waterbodies with a defined wakesports zone listed in Appendix E.  

d. Prior to entering a Vermont waterbody other than the wakeboat’s home lake, and prior to reentering the waters of the home lake after use of the wakeboat at any other waterbody, the wakeboat must be decontaminated at an Agency-approved decontamination service provider.  A wakeboat user may be requested to provide proof of decontamination at public access areas. This subsection 3.8.d. applies to Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog, Wallace Pond, the Connecticut River Reservoirs, and the waterbodies with a defined wakesports zone listed in Appendix E.  

e. All provisions of 10 V.S.A. § 1454 regarding aquatic nuisance species inspection apply to wakeboats, and wakeboat users shall drain the ballast tanks of their boats to the fullest extent practicable after leaving waters of the state. This subsection 3.8.e. applies to Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog, Wallace Pond, the Connecticut River Reservoirs, and the waterbodies with a defined wakesports zone listed in Appendix E.  

f. The above prohibition on wakesports (subsection 3.8.a.) may be modified on a case-by-case basis in response to petitions filed pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 1424.