The recent installation of buoys to designate a no wake zone near the Angel Island Marina on Bull Lake has created some confusion for local boaters.
Jason Williams, co-owner of the Halfway House Bar & Grill near the lake said a number of his regular patrons asked him about the new buoys.
Taylor Rockafellow, Troy-area game warden for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, said the placement of the buoys doesn’t denote any change to existing regulations regarding no wake zones on Bull Lake.
“A no wake zone has not been specifically designated,” Rockafellow said. “The buoys just mark compliance with existing Montana law that declare a 200 foot zone from shore as no wake.”
The law to which Rockafellow referred is the Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) 12.11.115, which states “All watercraft on public lakes or reservoirs greater than 35 surface acres within the western fishing district are limited to controlled no wake speed as defined in ARM 12.11.101 from shoreline to 200 feet from shoreline.”
Rockafellow said he had previously met with homeowners on Angel Island who had expressed concerns about boaters speeding through the channel near the marina and decided to take a proactive approach to the situation.
“The residents there have legitimate concerns about people speeding by and getting too close to the shore and docks, and general concerns about erosion and other damage from wakes,” he said.
Rockafellow’s proactive approach was to strike a deal with the concerned homeowners. If they would purchase and maintain U.S. Coast Guard-approved buoys, he would measure and place the buoys in order to ensure compliance with state law. The homeowners agreed and purchased the four buoys, which Rockafellow then placed to delineate the existing no wake zones along the east and west lake shorelines near the Angel Island Marina.
The confusion, Williams said, came from how the buoys were situated. Because the channel near the marina is narrow, the buoys led many to believe the entire channel had been designated as a no wake zone.
The real no wake zone, Rockafellow said, extends east from the two eastern buoys to the shoreline, a 200-ft zone. The two on the west side mark the 200-ft no wake zone on the western shoreline.
Rockafellow said he understands how the placement of the buoys could have fostered the confusion, especially since the property on the west shoreline is owned by the United States Forest Service and there are no homes or docks to create damage concerns. Given the confusion, Rockafellow said he is considering moving the western shoreline buoys to points either north or south of the western buoys to provide greater notice of the no wake zone on the occupied shoreline.