Oregon State Marine Board now requires decals for towed water sports boats and prohibits wake surfing
The Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) has announced new rules for powerboat activities in the Newberg Pool, the stretch of the Willamette River roughly from its confluence with the Yamhill River near McMinnville downstream to ‘at Willamette Falls in Oregon City.
In recognition of Senate Bill 1589, passed by the Legislative Assembly in April, the so-called congested area of Newberg Pool now has different boating regulations than other waterways in the state.
“These laws require additional credentials for all participants in towed water sports, restrict certain boating-related activities near structures, and prohibit wake surfing,” a council statement said.
The state defines wake surfing as “propelling an individual forward on equipment such as a surfboard using the wake of a boat. The person may hold a rope or freeride.” Included are wake surfboards, wakeboards, stand-up paddleboards and hydrofoils.
The Newberg Pool was targeted by the state due to the width of the river, density of docks, and a history of high boater use. Therefore, boat owners who plan to recreate in the area must apply for a Towed Watersports Approval and a Towed Watersports Motorboat Certificate. The documents show that the loading weight of the boat is less than 5,500 pounds, costs $20 for two calendar years and is not transferable from one boat to another.
“Boats above this weight limit are not permitted to engage in towed water activities,” the statement read.
Boat owners who meet the new requirements will receive boat decals that will be placed on each side of the bow of the boat.
SB 1589 was originally drafted to address safety concerns, water quality issues and increased erosion of river banks – which the legislation’s proponents say was largely partly due to sports like wake surfing and wakeboarding. As the bill passed through committee and the Senate, several aspects were changed, including increasing the maximum cargo weight for wake sports from 4,000 pounds to 5,500 pounds (the former maximum was 10,000 pounds), extending the length of the Newberg Pool, banning wake surfing, and adding restrictions on wake-enhancing devices, such as adding ballast to boats.
The legislation proved unpopular with some boating enthusiasts, many of whom testified against the bill at committee level that it was too restrictive and unfairly blamed boaters for their activities on the river.
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