Weekend effort aims to make waterways safer; conservation officers patrolling waterways over the holiday

Published 4:25 am Sunday, May 27, 2018

FRANKFORT — Boaters can feel safer during the upcoming holiday as conservation officers with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources join other law enforcement agencies for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

More than 100 conservation officers will patrol Kentucky’s waterways this weekend to watch for dangerous boaters.

“We want everyone to have a great time enjoying Kentucky’s beautiful lakes and rivers during the Memorial Day weekend,” said Maj. Shane Carrier, assistant director of law enforcement for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We also want to ensure the state’s waterways are safe places for the entire family to experience.”

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The increased law enforcement presence will serve as reminders for people not to boat impaired – the leading contributing factor in recreational boating deaths.

Conservation officers are highly trained professionals certified through the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, the police academy based in Richmond, Ky. Conservation officers have statewide arrest powers.

“Our officers are not just out there to write tickets and make arrests. They’re out there to make sure our waterways are safe for our families,” Carrier said. “We will have enhanced patrols and increased vigilance for dangerous boaters on our waterways.”

Kentucky law requires each occupant of a boat to have ready access to his or her own U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejacket (personal floatation device). Kentucky Fish and Wildlife recommends that everyone wear a lifejacket while boating, especially children and non-swimmers.

Persons younger than 12 must wear a lifejacket while in the open portion of a boat that is underway.

A person must be at least 12 years old to operate a boat with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater on public waters. This includes personal watercraft. A boat operator 12-17 years old must possess a Safe Boating Certificate Card or completion of a NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) approved boater education course.

Kentucky offers more than 100 boat ramps open to the public. To find a public ramp on any body of water, go the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov and search under the keywords, “boating access sites.”