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RBC I Boating season has begun across the state, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding everyone heading to their favorite lakes or reservoirs to be safe this year. Following the state’s boating laws can not only help prevent deaths and injuries, it will help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species, a serious threat to Colorado’s waters.
In Northwest Colorado, several boating areas have officially opened for the season with more to open as the weather warms-up. At Highline Lake State Park northwest of Grand Junction, a dredging operation to remove a buildup of silt has been completed. The popular lake opened to boating and other water recreation on April 14, a few weeks later than usual.
“We encourage the public to enjoy the great boating opportunities we have in this part of Colorado,” said Northwest Region Deputy Regional Manager Aaron Fero. “But the priority is safety and responsibility. A fun day on the water can quickly turn tragic if you don’t follow a few rules and recommendations and have the proper safety gear onboard.”
The required equipment may vary depending on the type watercraft. At a minimum, boats must have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) per person on board. Youth 12 years and younger are required to wear an approved PFD at all times while on a boat.
Other required equipment includes an approved sound producing device, a Type IV throwable device and a fire extinguisher on some motorboats. For a detailed list of required boating equipment, go to www.cpw.state.co.us/Documents/Boating/SafetyEquipment.pdf
Officials remind boaters to inspect all equipment before launching to ensure that it remains in serviceable condition. Rather than heading out on the water without a PFD or other gear and risking a citation, or worse, make sure to do a complete run through of all of the required safety equipment before leaving home,” Fero said. “If you find yourself short a flotation device, many of our parks have loaners that you can use for the day.”
In addition, park personnel will provide a free inspection to ensure the required safety equipment is on board. Other safety tips include making sure all PFDs fit properly, keeping an eye on the weather and avoiding alcohol. In 2013, 20 percent of all boat accidents involved the use of alcohol, drugs or both.
“Boating while intoxicated is very dangerous and our officers will be enforcing the law,” Fero added.