Support for Idle Only on Cowan Lake
The signers of this petition are requesting that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources begin an Idle Only program on Cowan Lake. The purpose of this organized petition is to list the facts supporting our efforts and the facts on the current conditions of the lake.
Ohio ranks as one of the highest states for lake restrictions. The State of Ohio has approximately 50% of the waterways restricted by 10 HP or less. Currently Southern Ohio has the largest amount of lake restrictions in all five regions of the state as classified by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. As you can see below, Southern Ohio has an overwhelming number of its waterways restricted totaling 77%! The regions are outlined below.
Northeast Ohio Lakes Restricted: 7 out of 13 (54%)
Northwest Ohio Lakes Restricted: 3 out of 15 (20%)
Central Ohio Lakes Restricted: 3 out of 7 (43%)
Southeast Ohio Lakes Restricted: 8 out of 14 (57%)
Southwest Ohio Lakes Restricted: 10 out of 13 (77%)
Source: "Ohio.gov / Search." Ohio's Inland Boating Lakes. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2015.
We are driving Ohio boaters to other states by not allowing them to operate their motors, even at an idle speed, on a large portion of the waters that they are currently paying for. Tax payers have a right to use safely and efficiently use the waters of this state.
The Ohio Waterways Safety Fund, (WWSF), which is Ohio’s boating fund administered by the Ohio Division of Watercraft, has three main funding sources. They are listed in order from largest to smallest of the three main funding sources:
1. 7/8’s of 1% of Ohio’s Motor Fuel Tax. (Division of Wildlife receives the same)
2. Ohio Watercraft Registrations (NOTE: State Parks does not receive this funding nor fishing license funds)
3. U.S. Coast Guard grant money (calculated in part by the amount of registered boats)
Ohio’s watercraft registration fees are based off of the length of the vessel, not the motor size. Therefore an 18’ boat with a 9.9HP will pay an equal amount of registration fees to Ohio’s boating fund as an 18’ bass boat with a 115 HP motor. However, the boater with the 115 HP motor will fund the WWSF with a much larger amount due to the amount of fuel they buy in the boat and the vehicle to haul it. Keep in mind, if they were allowed to idle this would cause them to purchase more fuel therefore adding even more value into Ohio’s boating fund. As you can see the majority of the registered boaters are paying for the majority of the Waterways Safety Fund yet they are being denied access to 77% of the lakes in Southern Ohio.
Approximately 70+% of the registered boats in the state of ohio are 16’ or longer. It is safe to say that the majority of these registered vessels have an engine larger than 10HP. This means that over 70% of the registered boaters are restricted from operating their motors on over 50% of the lakes that they are funding. Of course, Southern Ohio is restricting 77% of the lakes from the tax paying voters.
Source: Ohio Division of Watercraft, Registered Boats Reports
The current 10HP restriction on Cowan Lake requires fisherman to operate with a trolling motor or a kicker motor. The prices of the kicker motors have risen to over $3,000 . In addition, using the electric trolling motor all day on the lake will cause the batteries to completely drain.
Operating with electric trolling motor power raises many safety concerns as well for ohio boaters. The boats have less control and handling when under power of electric motors. In times of severe weather, it poses a safety risk when not being under the power of a stronger gas powered engine. Even at idle speeds the operator has more safe control of the vessel.
Larger fishing boats need to use the main engine to load and unload. The current Rules in place for 10HP restrictions restricts this ability and can cause an operator to be cited for loading his or her boat with the main engine. However, trying to load a larger bass boat with just a trolling motor requires the operator to have to get out and winch the boat on to the trailer, further allowing the chance for personal injury to incur.
Speeds on a trolling motor will be within 2-4 MPH of speeds at idle. this would mean that the speeds of the boats on Cowan Lake currently operating on trolling motor power will not have a negative impact on the lake. It will however allow safer operations and less battery drain.
During an open meeting held in Wilmington, Ohio, there was approximately 100 citizens that showed up to hear the State’s plan on Idle Only for Cowan Lake. Over 80% of the members that attended the open meeting supported the plan. Included in this support was the ODNR - Division of Watercraft. They pledged funds to build a new ramp on Cowan Lake if the plan was adopted allowing for ram relief at the marina facility. this would allow year round use of the lake, including duck hunters and would free up parking at the marina for seasonal dock holders and marina customers.
ODNR-Watercraft has also had a steady commitment to enforcement on the lakes that have idle only programs. In 2014 the Watercraft Officers logged over 234 hours of patrol time on Cowan Lake.
Watercraft Officers have maintained that they have the man power to enforce the program. In addition the lakes that have been test lakes for the idle only program have reported no issues with violations or overcrowding.
SOURCE: ODNR - Division of Watercraft
Vessels with motors 10 HP or less wold continue to operate with no changes.
The parking lots on the lakes will only allow so many on the lake. Even with the addition of a new deep water ramp the lake would not experience and over crowding event.
Supporters of the idle only program would agree to restrict PWC’s from the waters. However, we feel that the PWC boaters will not want to come to Cowan Lake and idle around anyways.
The history of the lakes with 10 HP restrictions actually were developed to eliminate loud noise caused by the larger motors of the 40’s and 50’s era. the largest motor made in these days was a 75HP. the engines manufactured today are so quiet you can not hear them run at idle. Noise is not an issue anymore.
Sailing races conducted on Cowan Lake are largely conducted in the middle of the lake in one region. Most of the fishing will be conducted around the shoreline. Larger fishing boats trying to get across the lake to the ramps are actually transiting very unsafely when under electric power. having the ability to operate under full control of the main engine is a safer application