Let the ban begin! | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Let the ban begin!

Some people have dreaded it.

Some people have looked forward to it.

Some people never cared about it.

Virtually everyone in the Lake Tahoe Basin, however, surely must have heard about it.

And now it’s here – THE BAN.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s imminent ban on certain types of motorized watercraft is only days from going into effect. June 1 is the big day.

“We’re delighted (the ban is about to go into effect). It’s been a long haul,” said Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, an environmental organization which has supported the ordinance all along. “It’s overdue. We think most boaters know about the situation, and most of them we have talked to are eager to comply.”

While the date the ban goes into effect was established years ago, TRPA’s governing board finalized the details of the ban in March. Since then, TRPA staff has been working to let the boating public know what the new ordinance allows and doesn’t allow.

“We’re optimistic that most people who are aware of the ordinance are going to respond by purchasing a new engine, if they haven’t already,” said Pam Drum, TRPA public affairs coordinator.

Essentially, TRPA’s ordinance is a prohibition of all watercraft powered by two-stroke engines, with a few exceptions.

The ban eliminates most of the engines powering Jet Skis and personal watercraft. Only a couple models of watercraft will be available this summer.

Polaris Industries in April unveiled a new model which currently is the only craft available allowed on the lake indefinitely. An Arctic Cat Tigershark is supposed to be available soon that also will satisfy all of TRPA’s requirements.

Other crafts, a Bombardier Sea-Doo and a Yamaha model, meet certain requirements allowing them to have a three-year exemption.

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.

Is it clear now? If not, there is a good chance people will have an opportunity to learn what’s up this summer.

To enforce the ban, TRPA is going to focus on education. Forty-five thousand registered boat owners in the counties touching Lake Tahoe already should have received a mailing from TRPA. Signs will be posted at marinas, docks and boat ramps. Newly hired TRPA enforcement personnel will be patrolling the lake, informing residents about the regulation.

Additionally, because of a bill recently signed by Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, Nevada Division of Wildlife officials and sheriff’s deputies from the East Shore counties have the authority to issue warnings to violators. TRPA hopes next year both states will adopt laws allowing their officials to issue citations, too.

“We’re obviously emphasizing public education. It is our responsibility to get the word out to all boat owners about the new ordinance,” Drum said.

However, repeat violators could be cited.

“If we continue to run into the same people, and it’s obvious they’re ignoring us, there is no excuse for that. Then we will issue a civil citation,” Drum said.

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