2-stroke cops on the beat
If you’re on Lake Tahoe this busy weekend – fishing, flying along on a Jet Ski or just eating a sandwich and basking in the sun – you may want to consider what kind of an engine is on your boat.
If not, a black boat with “Tahoe Regional Planning Agency” painted on it may pull up next to you and help remind you that a ban is in effect, prohibiting – with some exceptions – watercraft powered by two-stroke engines.
Boaters likely won’t be cited – unless they’ve been warned before.
Brian Judge of TRPA’s boat patrol said the agency has issued more than 30 warnings since the ordinance went into effect June 1.
“It’s going really smooth. We’ve hired some really experienced boat people. They know how to talk to the public,” Judge said.
For the past month, two people have patrolled the lake, dividing their time at public boat ramps and being on the lake in the agency’s new patrol boat. Two patrollers started Thursday, and officials now will be out there seven days a week.
Judge said most people are receptive to the patrollers. Some aren’t.
“People have seen us coming and gone to shore,” he said. “One guy covered up his engine when we were out by his pier.”
Others think TRPA’s ban isn’t doing enough.
“Some are upset you’re too strict; some are upset you’re not strict enough,” he said.
TRPA took action to institute the ban two years ago, and it was finalized this spring. TRPA officials claim two-stroke engines cause more pollution than other engine types.
The ban eliminates most of the engines powering Jet Skis and personal watercraft. Only a couple models of acceptable watercraft are available this summer.
Besides personal watercraft, there are other exemptions. Sailboats utilizing two-stroke engines as auxiliary power and watercraft powered by two-stroke engines rated at 10 horsepower or less are exempt for three years.
Judge said there are more people in violation using outboard motors than personal watercraft.
To enforce the ban, TRPA is focusing on education. Forty-five thousand registered boat owners in the counties touching Lake Tahoe have received a mailing from TRPA. Signs are posted at marinas, docks and boat ramps.
Additionally, because of a bill passed this year, Nevada Division of Wildlife officials and sheriff’s deputies from East Shore counties have the authority to issue warnings to violators.
Judge said TRPA is focusing on providing information this year and won’t cite people unless they’re repeat offenders. Officials likely will be less lenient next summer.
TRPA officials also are informing people about a 600-foot, no-wake zone that went into effect last year.
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