Sounding off on the Newberg Pool
I attended the recent Oregon legislative committee meeting about the proposed bills directed toward reducing the environmental impact of wake sport boats. I found the arguments against further restricting wake sport boats during that meeting and reported in the follow up article, "Public, legislators sound off on Newberg Pool," to be less than compelling.
Wake boaters say, "There haven't been any studies done to show our wakes are damaging." The onus should be on the wake boat industry and boat owners to provide evidence that their wakes/waves somehow defy the laws of physics. These boats as designed and marketed to make the biggest wakes/waves possible. We know waves cause damage and erosion. Just ask the Lincoln City homeowners who are in danger of losing their beach houses. Waves have destructive power whether in the ocean, a lake or a river.
Instead of providing any evidence that wake boat waves are somehow benign, the justifications for this type of boating activity, jumping and surfing wakes, came down to family fun, keeping kids off electronics, keeping jobs and protecting the vitality of the watercraft industry.
Yes, boating is a great family activity. Jumping and surfing waves is fun; one can do plenty of that in Hood River or along our beautiful coast. Why do you need a costly, 600 HP, heavy boat made heavier by up to 2,400 pounds of water ballast to jump and surf waves?
I doubt that these wake sports boats make up a large percentage of overall boating sales and jobs as they are expensive. Even used wake boats are selling for over $150,000. That is not an "everyone" price point. The spectrum of boating is wide and there will remain plenty of sales opportunities and jobs even if wake boat sales are reduced by restricting where they can be used.
Ironically, the demographic whose income could support the purchase of the top end, largest and heaviest wake boat is the group in Oregon that prevents their use on their waterway. Oswego Lake, a private waterway, limits wake boats to under 21 feet in length and 3,500 pounds dry weight. Both specifications mean smaller wakes. You can buy a "Lake Oswego Approved Wake Boat." Apparently, the lake front homeowners recognize, without a formal scientific study, the damage that will occur to their shoreline and properties from larger boats producing larger wakes.
Wake boat owners cry foul at being "singled out". Why is it unfair to be singled out when your activity is uniquely different than all the other boaters? You have boats that are designed and marketed with the sole purpose of making the biggest waves possible. Yours is a singular activity — making waves.
Our waterways are community property just like our parks and plazas. We have restrictions on skateboarders, mountain bikers and off-roaders to protect our common property from activities that can degrade them. The people of Oregon need to restrict these wave producing boats like private Lake Oswego has at 3,500 pounds and not at a 6,000 pound compromise. Otherwise, the public bears the costs of the damage and the individual manufacturers and owners get to enjoy the benefits without responsibility for their actions.
Joe Leben is a West Linn resident.
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