Grassroots Support Keeps Lake Lowell Alive

Ballasted Boats Remain Active Despite Attempt To Ban

In February, new restrictions were proposed on Lake Lowell in Idaho to ban the usage of ballasted boats, due to the claim that wakes were damaging to nesting bird habitats.

Furthermore, these aren’t just your average birds. Lake Lowell is one of only three locations in Idaho that is home to both Western and Clark’s grebes, known for their spectacular mating rituals, involving the pair dashing across the water in perfect symmetry. The threat to their nests could not be proved, but as you can imagine, the story made for some decent press coverage in the area.


As seen in this news piece, banning ballasted boats would greatly affect the local water sports retailers, leaving them unable to recover. Also, the lake’s wakeboarders (and growing number of wakesurfing participants) would have to find a new place to live to enjoy their passion.


This is when the grassroots water sports squadron united, including local county commissioners, as well as Gordon and Justin Hanson of Idaho Water Sports. “If they’re going to tell people, ‘you aren’t going to be able to use your boat you just paid $100,000 for,’ then that’s really going to affect our sales,” Justin Hanson said.

If February, Hanson also said, “We’ve seen new writing in the final draft that is very direct and written to the specific type of boating that has sustained our business for the last five years.”

That type of boating he refers to is (take a guess… you got it) wakesurfing.

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Conversations began and communication traveled all the way to the federal level. The WSIA began talking to and educating Idaho Boating Law Administrator David Doms, providing him with practical facts to present to the federal government.

A multi-year process to decide on a final plan grew contentious as Fish and Wildlife attempted to balance its responsibility of managing a wildlife refuge with the recreational desires of local residents. Deer Flat Refuge Manager, Annette DeKnijf stated, “Our main mission is protecting wildlife for present and future generations of Americans.”

The final plan issued April 3 by Fish and Wildlife, applied a brilliant compromise, considered to be a huge victory for towed water sports and local businesses alike. The plan allows ballasted boats, but created specific no-wake zones. The plan also says filtering systems in the boats that take on water for ballast can help eliminate the potential of transporting invasive species into the lake.

DeKnijf said the plan took into account local input. “Our final management plan reflects what we heard from you, the public. It reflects our responsibility to protect wildlife with the many recreational activities that we all enjoy here.”


The WSIA would like to applaud the local action taken in this case and encourages you to take such action when you hear of a threat to your own waterway.

The WSIA is here to help you. Call 508-507-WSIA(9742)


More on Lake Lowell here:

“Under that plan, there will be some seasonal restrictions on boating, but a previously controversial part of the plan — restricting boat wakes — was removed.”


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