Active Water Sports worries about new version of House Bill 4099 to prohibit wake-enhancing devices between river mile 30 and 50 of the Willamette

With the weather improving for the season, local river-recreation enthusiasts are seeking to keep the spotlight on a failed effort in the past legislative session to ban wake-enhancing devices along a popular stretch of the Willamette River.

VERN UYETAKE - A bill is currently dead that proposed new rules for a section of the Willamette aiming to protect river banks from excessive wakes.House Bill 4099 would have prohibited wake-enhancing devices between river mile 30 and 50 of the Willamette. The stretch of the river runs from Newberg through Aurora, Butteville and Canby and ends a mile away from 10th street in West Linn.

Greg Waters, an Oregon City-based Active Water Sports employee of more than 13 years, is concerned that the bill could come back to the Oregon Legislature.

"This would affect all my neighbors across the street and especially that live on the water. They don't just sit and look at the river, they are on their docks and on their boats every chance they can during our very short season," Waters said.

Wilsonville community members had asked State Rep. Richard Vial to do something about the increasing amounts of erosion due to the increasing size of boats and their wakes. Surrounding community members rallied and also made claims that damage has been done to their docks because of the erosion caused by the volume of the wakes.

HB 4099 especially targeted wakeboarding, which involves riding a small, rectangular board behind a motorboat at speeds over 20 mph. Wakeboarding was featured as a primary event in summer X-Games from 1996 up until 2005. Since the 2008 economic downturn, wake-surfing has made big strides to take over. Wake-surfing is lower impact, as the boat is only traveling 10 mph.

On Feb. 12, members of a House committee held a public hearing on HB 4099 at the state capitol. A representative of the Oregon State Marine Board stated, "There has been no correlation in the research that we have conducted of erosion being caused by wake-enhancing technology used by these wakeboard/wake-surf boats."

If such a bill were to pass within the next year, no law would be put into immediate place. Rather the plan would be for the Oregon State Marine Board to assign as task force to further study the impact of wakes and the claimed erosion.

By distributing tutorial videos across its social media platforms, Active Water Sports hopes bring attention to make the river a place everyone can continue to utilize.

Dan Lay, the company's creative director, noted there are no signs informing boaters as they approach 10th Street in West Linn.

"There aren't any No-Wake-Zone signs near the dock or anything," Lay said. "Yes, it does end up with the expense of tax dollars to put up these signs, but it would help boaters stay the recommended 200 feet away. If they actually knew where they should be, it would be a huge benefit for everyone."

Matt Radich, Active Water Sports president, is working with the Oregon State Marine Board in order to further educate boaters and homeowners about the boats on the water and the impact they can carry. Oregon City and West Linn community members have expressed their concern for the business being affected if a bill such as HB 4099 came back and was passed.

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