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A guide to responsible boating

Getting out on the open water is a great way to enjoy nature in all its glory. As a boater, you also have the responsibility to make sure others have the opportunity to enjoy the same clean waters for years to come.

In addition to following basic water safety rules and making sure you have the appropriate boating license for the waters you’ll be navigating, it’s also important to make sure you take the right precautions to protect the bodies of water you use. Here are a few ways to make sure you have a minimal impact on the environment while you enjoy the “high seas.”

* Avoid the transfer of invasive species. After removing your boat from one body of water, it’s extremely important that you remove all plants and animals from your boat and rinse it thoroughly with clean water before launching elsewhere. Drain all water from your boat, including from your motor and live wells. In addition to providing boating safety tips, your state’s department of natural resources website can also provide information on the types of species that are particularly problematic and what they look like.

* Never throw garbage into the water, especially non-biodegradable items. It’s not only in poor environmental taste to throw plastic into the water, it’s illegal in all U.S. waters. Remove everything you packed on your boat and make sure garbage is secured on your watercraft.

* Use caution in shallow waters and near the shore. If you get stuck in shallow water, do not attempt to use your motor to get out. It can damage both your propeller and the ocean/lake/river floor and its native vegetation. Avoid traveling at high speeds near shore, as the waves caused by your wake can damage vegetation on the shoreline, which plays an important role in keeping lakes and rivers clean.

By helping to keep your waterways clean and free of invasive species, you’ll help ensure many years of enjoyable boating for future generations.

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