City OKs No-Wake Zone on Mon River

Ban will be enforced once buoys in place

Morgantown Dominion Post
6 August 2011
By Amanda DeProspero

A new rule is making waves — or rather stopping them — on the Monongahela River along Morgantown’s riverfront park.

As soon as the buoys are in place, a no-wake zone will be in effect and will be enforceable for the section of river between Morgantown’s Lock and Dam and 500 feet below the Westover Bridge, said Lt. Jon Cogar with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR).

The WVDNR and the Morgantown Police Department will have the authority to enforce the idling no-wake zone, which means watercraft in that area can make no wake at all, he said.

Tim Terman, who spends many of his weekends cleaning up trash in the river, was one of the main forces behind the no-wake zone. He brought the proposal before Morgantown City Council, which passed the resolution April 19. The paperwork was then passed through the DNR.

“I’ve seen too many dangerous incidents on the river already, and at this point, there aren’t really that many boaters. But we’re seeing more kayaks, rowers, swimmers, and having in that mix boats running full throttle through the Wharf District presents a danger to everyone,” Terman said via email. “So, having a no-wake zone will slow boats — just from the Westover Bridge through the Wharf District, to the lock. It won’t be such a bother, really, for such a short distance. But we may have saved a life or prevented serious injury.”

In addition to protection for kayakers, swimmers, rowers and those on non-motorized boats, the no-wake zone will help protect the boats that are docked or in rented spaces at the Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners (BOPARC) docks in the Wharf District and riverfront park. Heavy wakes can jostle boats and injure boaters, he said.

Towboats, Terman said, aren’t a concern as they move very slowly through the water already.

“But boats with huge motors can come around the bend below the bridge and be upon a kayaker or swimmer very quickly,” he said. “And if the sun is in the operator’s eyes, there could be an accident.”

Jimmy King, WVU’s head rowing coach, said he supports the no-wake zone both for the rowing teams and any regular river users.

“Recreational use of the river has increased substantially in the four years that I have been coaching at WVU,” King said via email. “In addition to the fishermen and the rowers, we now commonly see tri-athletes swimming in the river, canoeists, kayakers and recreational boaters including those riding PWCs (personal watercrafts, such as waverunners). Whereas the lock and dam has always been a prime fishing area, the BOPARC docks have made the Wharf District a destination point for all.”

“I spoke to two yacht owners who were up here docking at the marina from around Pittsburgh,” Terman said. “They said they come up here to visit because it’s peaceful and quiet. So, a no-wake zone will help preserve that.”

BOPARC director Mark Wise could not be reached for comment in time for this report.