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Possible wake ban sparks controversy

Posted at 10:39 PM, Jun 19, 2024

DAYTON (NBC 26) — People share their opinions on a possible law regulating wake boats in Dayton and Farmington at a public hearing Wednesday.

  • Local officials listened to people speak in favor of and against regulating boats that create wakes at Dayton town hall
  • As we've previously reported, the town of Farmington passed a wake ban earlier this year and later rescinded it in order to collaborate with Dayton
  • People who are against allowing enhanced wakes say they are causing erosion and disrupting people from using the lakes for swimming or other activities
  • People who are for it say users are being unfairly blamed.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

People speak their minds on a hot topic in Dayton Wednesday. I'm Pari Apostolakos and I attended the meeting where people shared their opinions on a possible law regulating wake boats.

People filled Dayton town hall for the public hearing on an ordinance to restrict boats which create wakes, or waves, on lakes within Dayton and Farmington.

As we've previously reported, the town of Farmington passed a wake ban earlier this year and later rescinded it in order to collaborate with Dayton.

Laura McGourthy says she owns a home on Long Lake and an ordinance like this would negatively impact the local economy by discouraging people who want to use boats for water sports to come to the Chain O Lakes area.

"I don't think that people who don't have property on the chain have any place to say what we should be doing with our chain and it's unnecessary to have them speak," McGourthy said.

Presque Isle resident Richard Phillips said in the meeting that under state law, the lakes are owned by everyone, not just people with shoreline property, and that laws like this have held up in other places throughout Wisconsin.

"It is a fallacy that Dayton and Farmington don't have the right to do this," Phillips said. "Dayton and Farmington have the duty to operate in the health, safety, and welfare of the people and the environment of the towns to which they're responsible."

People who are against allowing enhanced wakes say they are causing erosion and disrupting people from using the lakes for swimming or other activities.

People who are for it say users are being unfairly blamed.

"The impacts that they attribute to wake surfing are attributable to all boats that have a bilge system or that operate on the lakes," Waupaca resident Dave Park said.

Some people said the hours for water skiing and other types of recreation should be extended to make the lake safer, and spread out the amount of people using wakes at any given time, instead of banning wake boats entirely.

Dayton resident Casey Plunkett heads the Spencer Lake Association. He helped organize a petition that 670 people had signed to prohibit enhanced wake devices.

26 people signed against that petition.

"People are spending a lot of money to reinforce the shoreline and you can't get that shoreline back," Plunkett said. "The damage being done to spawning habitat, you can't rehab that, and so that's the impetus to do something sooner than later."

A decision will be made by the towns within a month.

Next Tuesday another meeting will happen here for the town of Dayton and the town of Lind to discuss possibly prohibiting wake enhancements on Spencer Lake. In Dayton, Pari Apostolakos NBC 26.