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Help with Public Water


skinut
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Ok, we have a course on a public lake. The lake was a gravel pit that the DOT used to build the freeways 50 years ago. They told the city they could use it as a lake. Over time the lake was developed and a portion of the lake became used for slalom skiing. There is an open bay for everything, i.e. skiing, boarding, jetskiing, and tubing. On the north end of the lake a bridge and berm were built to create a slalom lake. It is about 2,000 feet long and 180 feet wide(the ski lake). http://maps.google.com/?ll=43.207084,-112.352221&spn=0.014936,0.017788&t=h&z=16

 

I have a couple of questions about some rules we could bring before the city to try and reduce the amount course damage. In a single day we lost over 12 buoys, no I don't think it was malicious, just retards on the water. We tend to get wake boarders, tubers, and general walleys in the course and they don't seem to give a ___ about the buoys being ripped up or pvc pipes(portable course) that are broken. I know, I know, everyone on public water has the same problem. Currently, the only rules in place are; No jet skis in the course and one boat at a time.

 

I am pretty sure that we can't get wake boarders banned from the course, unless I can prove it's unsafe, but that could back fire on the skiers as well. So my strategy is to have the city implement some rules that might discourage anyone that isn't willing to fix the course after they break it. What do you think if I ask the city to require anyone using the course to pay a maintenance fee to ski, board, etc. in the designated skiing area? These funds would be used by the local ski club to distribute buoys, buoy lines, zip ties, etc. to the members and teach them how to fix the course if they break it. We have attempted to teach some of them how to fix things, but apparently when you strap on a board your brain falls out and you can't quite comprehend how to use a zip tie.

 

Would I be better off trying to limit only skiing in the course? I could make the argument that there should be designated areas for different activities. Wake boarding, tubing, skiing, jet skiing, and general boating in the main bay and skiing only in the course. How would I recommend it be policed? The city does have the lake patrolled.

 

Thanks in advance.

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That's a slippery slope your treading. Keeping the peace is paramount on public water I've found. The few places that allow a ski course do so only as a public service, "fun for all boaters". It's beyond me why these folks run buoys over. Why would you run anything over that is sitting in the water? My fear is that if you go to the city and ask to make rules concerning the course, it becomes a problem and getting rid of it is the easier answer.
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The diplomatic approach is always the best. We have a big issue w/ jetskis and with some effort every year it gets a little better. I always open up with " hey guys where training for a tournament would you mind not blah blah blah" you get the idea. The other is educating the morons. Most people, believe it or not, have no idea what a slalom course is and the time & effort that goes into maintaining one. How about a friendly flier to hand out with proper etiquette for all watersports with safety being paramount? The wally you encounter today could possibly be turned into Joe Boater in a few years w/ the proper guidance. I know, a small % of success but I was a wally once back in the day! Good Luck.
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Unfortunately IMO @skiboyny is correct. In my experience the main reason there aren't more public lake slalom courses is due exactly to what you're wanting to do - you want to limit access to something that by law is public domain (put a course on public water, by law it's available to anyone/everyone on the lake, like it or not). You bitch about the wally's, the wallys cry foul, the Powers-That-Be decide it's more trouble than it's worth (the attitude is "I don't get paid to have to listen to this crap so I'm not listening to it) and the permit gets pulled. I hear it all the time.

 

My suggestions, for whatever they're worth to you - 1) lengthen your buoy lines so the mainline and arms set deeper in the water, 8' isn't too deep i.e.; 2) use foam boat guides for the boat lanes rather than inflatable balls, they take the abuse much better (use smaller 5 x 11" on a floating course, on a floater they set down way better than the larger standard 6 x 14" variety); 3) like @PTMike said diplomacy goes a long way. We've had pretty decent luck talking calmly with offending wallys and jet skiers about what we're doing and why we're doing it. You always get a couple a-holes but most honestly don't mean to offend, they're just clueless; 4) you want good water, do the dawn patrol thing. It is after all a public lake; 5) suck it up and deal with it, and be glad you're even allowed to have a course on a public lake at all. Many don't, can't get permission, have had long standing permits pulled etc. Half a loaf is better than nothing. My $0.02 FWIW.

 

Cheers, Ed

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Maybe invite some of these wallies to join you or ask them if they'd like to ride with and watch. Maybe a learn to ski the course day or just a fun day where your club barbecues and invites the wallies over for burgers and beers. This approach could win you alot of respect and might get you some more buoy chasers. This sure isn't in Idaho is it?
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Steve Haines idea sounds good. I spent a while separating myself from a guy on the lake that was always trying to control others behavior on the water through his rules. I was guilty by association of skiing the course, never skied with the guy. He was known as that a..hole on the lake. Kinda still is. Did not want that reputation just because I skied the course. Spent lots of time talking to as many water folks as I could to let them know that with understanding and a relationship of mutual interest and respect on the water was where I was coming from. Educated as many as to what I do on the lake and why. Worked wonders. I also started a lake association for the preservation of the waters QUALITY (not regulating behavior) and began testing the lake quality once a month in partnership with a University. That sealed the deal. Everyone is interested in pristine lake quality including local government officials. If you can implement or have a plan to periodically test for water quality, including clarity, trophic state, storm water run off, vegetation analysis etc... on a monthly or quarterly basis, you will have a big advantage in calling some of the shots on the lake and getting many involved from fisherman to jetskiers. Safey as stated above can then be brought up once water quality testing is established and folks understand your commitment to everyone's interests. But if that's not an option, go for safety. But becarful not to shoot yourself in the foot. Believe it or not, jetskies are consider inboards so watch how you word rules or regulations.
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Wow... That's pretty unique to have a public lake so closely shaped like a slalom lake. At least you have a physical divider (berm/bridge) between it and the main lake. Maybe that's the gateway for education. Use this for signage and flyers, etc.

 

Just BS-ing here, but wouldn't it be nice if there was a security cam taking pics of everyone who crossed under the bridge. The sign could list "safety" rules, Picture of a slalom course, info about what it is used for, invitation to inquire about the slalom course usage via web site link or email address, and a subtle warning that vandalism costs to the course will be pursued... I hate the punitive approach, but people behave when they think they could be caught.

 

I much prefer the suggestion of scheduling a monthly "Learn about the Slalom Course BBQ" event. Publicize the even well in advance, or make it a regular event. Put this on a sign visible when people idle under the bridge. Make the information available 24-7. Use the threshold into that part of the lake as a way to distribute info.

 

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I agree the ski portion of your lake looks dangerous for tubing- any chance you can work it so anybody using the slalom course has to join your club or USA Waterski for liability reasons? Pitch it to the city that skiing the course caries unique risks and you want to help isolate the city from damages. Nothing will get the whole thing shut down quicker than a tuber crashing into the shore.
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The course I ski is on a very busy public lake and the outside of the course is marked by these marker bouys with "ski course area" on them. They're not meant to stop people, but they seem to do a pretty good job of informing people who don't know any better and makes them a little more courteous. We have to replace very few bouys over a season. Maybe a couple of these at the end of the course might help? http://www.boatersland.com/surmark1.html

 

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I like Wish' idea about the water quality! Its something that everyone is concerned with and also puts you in a better light with everyone rather than taking the selfish approach. My opinion has always been that its always better to have friends than enemies! As for signage, here in Canyon Lake no one reads it and it always ends up a target for vandalism. I've driven past that site a bunch of times. It looks nice! Saw JP' site on monday. Also a very nice site!
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With 180 feet of width, it is impossible for a boat to maintain a distance of 100 feet from shore while exceeding 5 mph. This speed control rule is pretty common on public water. If this is the rule in your jurisdiction, you might want to keep your head down. Also, in many states, the ability to regulate navigation rests exclusively with the state. You might want to research whether the city has the lawful authority to regulate anything before you ask it to do so.

Lpskier

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@ Steven Haines-the lake is in Blackfoot, ID. It is right off of I-15.

 

Thanks for all of your input. When I think about the P.I.A. factor of all the course maintenance it really boils my blood. But, when I consider that we pretty much have a private ski lake that I didn't have to dig, it puts it all in perspective. Maybe the best course of action(no pun intended) is to keep my head down and try and show others that use the ski portion of the lake the impact of their actions when they don't pay attention to what they are doing. There are those that will never give a __ about the damage they do.

 

BTW- the ski course is set in a portion that was specifically designed for slalom skiing. It isn't a chance occurrence. The city was instrumental in helping the ski club design the site when the city was reworking the inlet to the lake. The slalom sight use to be a canal that fed the lake.

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@Crashman-That's part of the headache. I am always gripping about what I am going to find on Monday after a weekend of walleys. She absolutely hates me by the end of the weekend. To make matters worse you can see the course from the freeway so every time we drive by it I totally rubber neck and freak out if I see a boat I don't recognize out in the course. I can see her tense up when she sees another boat out there because she knows what I am about to say. It usually puts me in a foul mood.
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What normally breaks? We have issues with wake boarders in or course. I'm not sure who came up with the idea because it was built this way before I got there. All of the pvc used on our course is 6" schedule 80. Its pretty expensive but since I've been there we've only had to fix the pvc once.
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@skinut Here in Michigan our permit requires us to put corner markers on the four corners of the course and remove the course at noon on Saturday and can put back up on Monday at sunrise. We just sink the course by removing the buoys. DNR allows us to leave corner markers up all season. Since we've installed these corner markers we have less damage. Usually just a buoy missing once or twice a week.

 

I do not recommend complaining to anyone. We are always threaten by the DNR any time a walley complains. If I ask for some help from the DNR, they recommend keeping quite or they will not renew the course permit. Our course has been on the lake for at least 30+ years but those walleys take precedence over us. It is a public lake.

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skinut, We have run into the same problems. 4 years ago we started a ski club on our public lake. The club has learn to ski days, lake clean up days and members are present on other association boards. Its work but worth all the effort. So far so good, were even discussing spending the bucks on the Goode safe bouys this coming season. I agree with most use diplomacy make peace not war! In the end we all have to suck it up some useing public water. I guess we just get use to getting up and jumpin in the glass water for a set at 7 am at 50 degrees ! Good luck.
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We mostly lose buoys and buoy lines. Once or twice a year we'll have to replace pipes. One weekend this last summer i had to replace 12 bouys that had been knocked lose or cut by a boat prop. I believe that it was done by one boat. I don't think it was malicious just cluelessness and irresponsibility.

 

The course has been in one place or another for the past 40 years or more. It is a fixture on that lake. The northern portion was specifically dug for slalom skiing. As you can see this isn't your typical public lake.

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Ask yourself which will be easier on the government entity that has the authority to regulate behavior on the lake... Will they go the easy route and just eliminate the source of controversy (the course) and just open it to all, or go through the time, effort and cost of drafting and implementing rules for a body of water that is used by few (as compared to disitions affecting thousands of constituents). On the lake in MN I grew up on, one guy complained on a lake of houndreds of home owners to have a course removed that had been established for well over a decade. Initially he won in the eyes of the governing bodies and the course had to be removed. Wasnt untill a compromise was reached by the home owner and skiers did the course get put back in. Buoys must all be removed on weekends now. BTW, the closest home to the course was just under a 1 mile away on a lake a mile wide and 3 miles long. It doesn't take much IMHO for a governing body to wash it's hands and eliminate what they see as the problem and take the easy way out.
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