DOMINION POST Monday 16 July 2012
In the Wake of Law Enforcement
Division of Natural Resources, local police helping to clean up
Morgantown Dominion Post
17 July 2012
It must be something in the water.
On just about any given day you can look for a what’s what and a
who’s who of alcohol-related offenses in our newspaper ... on
But on the water — Cheat Lake and the Monongahela River — not so
much. Actually, not at all this year.
And only three boating under the influence cases last year on
Cheat Lake. And boaters on the Mon River have gone dry for the
past two years.
Though Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement
officers admit it still happens on local waterways, it’s not as
prevalent or as out in the open as it once was, especially on
But make no mistake, it’s not that everyone’s decided to start
paying attention to the law while boating.
The DNR attributes this increasing compliance to more than a dozen
new boats its officers now use to patrol state waterways during
eight-hour shifts on weekends, that vary.
Morgantown’s police, who patrol the rail-trail along the Mon
River, and other officers who man the city’s boat during special
events also watch for drunken boaters.
It’s also worth noting the state requires younger boaters — age 25
and younger — to complete a boating safety course and the federal
Army Corps of Engineers is promoting a water safety program for
anyone using the pools formed by its lock and dams.
And although the decline of BUIs cannot be directly linked to
Morgantown’s designation of a no-wake zone this summer on a large
swath of the Mon River near downtown, it has definitely slowed the
We don’t have any firm numbers on the number of recreational
boaters on Cheat Lake or the Mon River, but a random survey in the
summertime would leave anyone to conclude there’s a lot.
For instance, given that the three marinas on Cheat Lake alone are
home to scores of boats that traverse the 13-mile long reservoir
daily, and a score of others who launch their boats into its
waters, there’s plenty of traffic. If the DNR cannot find cause to
issue a single BUI charge in that milieu, somebody is doing
something right. When compared to the numbers of alcohol-related
offenses on shore locally, this news is very welcome.
As the DNR can attest, a few short years ago Cheat Lake was
overrun with partiers who seemed to consider themselves immune
from the law of the land while afloat. That has clearly changed,
thanks to law enforcement and public education.
Though the DNR and others have not made any big waves about their
efforts to enforce BUI and other safe boating laws, they may have
left a lasting wake.