No-Wake Zone

Mon River violators could face fines, jail time

Morgantown Dominion Post
9 July 2012
By Amanda DeProspero

Boaters who don’t obey the no-wake zone between the Morgantown Lock and Dam and just below the Westover Bridge may be subject to a fine or even a jail sentence depending on the severity of the infraction, said a representative of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement.

“It can be anywhere from $20 to $300, plus jail sentence, depending on the magistrate’s decision,” said Capt. Bill Persinger, with the DNR.

The no-wake zone, which means boats can only move at idle speed, Persinger said, was officially put into effect when the buoys were placed a couple weeks ago. The zone extends from the lock and dam, where one white and orange buoy sits, to the area of Walnut Street, where a second buoy alerts boaters to the change. There also is a sign painted on a pier under the Westover Bridge.

DNR, Morgantown Police and other law enforcement officers can cite boaters who create too many waves.

“It’s a judgment call on the officer,” Persinger said, adding any boaters who produce a wake that affects “people or property” can be cited.

The no-wake zone was proposed last year because of the abundance of activity in Morgantown’s riverfront area. Morgantown City Council, the BOPARC board and DNR were involved in the process. Tim Terman, a boater who helped rally support for the no-wake zone, said this particular part of the river is a “multi-use recreational area,” with swimmers, kayakers, rowers and others often sharing the water with boats.

“On top of that, you’ve got the fountain. You’ve got two BOPARC docks there, so it seemed like a reasonable thing to say that we want the area under control so that everyone can enjoy this without any trepidation,” Terman said.

“How do you argue safety? You’ve got people out there congregated ...” Persinger said. “I think it’s a good move for safety purposes.”

David and Barbara Linn, members of the Monongahela Rowing Association, are excited about the no-wake zone, as they often have trouble steering and balancing their watercrafts through wakes.

“Before, when people went by in fishing boats really quickly, everything at the dock is going up and down and crashing onto each other. That’s not something you think about when you’re in the motor boat, but it really affects the shells that we use,” Barbara said.

David agreed. “Rowing is magical, until a bass boat goes by at 35 knots,” he said.

For the most part, Terman said, people have been obeying the no-wake zone, especially during a recent bass fishing tournament when several boats came out of the lock at one time.

“The bass fishermen have been just marvelous,” Terman said. “They came out and just glided down there in formation almost. It was just a beautiful sight.”