<strong>GARDEN CITY—</strong> A bill under consideration at the state legislature is designed to deal with the use of beaches at Bear Lake. Chief sponsor of HB 333 is Rep. Rhonda Menlove, R-Box Elder County.
“The purposes of the bill are good,” said Claudia Cottle, Executive Director of Bear Lake Watch. “There may be some of our membership that still have some questions about wording and possibly other concerns.”
Cottle said it appears this new legislation is designed to make it easier for authorities to enforce laws already in place. Beach launching, also called “tractor launching,” has been a long-standing practice of lake-front property owners at Bear Lake.
“In the first writing it said it would be illegal to launch a boat unless you had special permission,” said Cottle. “So property owners around Bear Lake were concerned that maybe the authorities were trying to prohibit them from launching in front of their own property, as they have done for 50 to 75 years.”
That concern led Rep. Menlove to amend the bill providing exceptions for private property owners launching from their property along the beach.
“I think that quells the fears of most people,” said Cottle. “But it does state you would have to have a permit to launch from your own property. But the permit process hasn’t been defined. However, permits have been required in the past.”
One of the concerns in attempting to limit sites for launching boats in some open public areas is that it will close opportunities and prevent invasive aquatic species from contaminating Bear Lake.
“Still, the state policy regardless of where you launch around the lake, is only to sign a self-certification form. So just because you go through the marina doesn’t mean that you’re not required to be inspected there.
“It is one of the issues, one of the reasons they are doing the bill this year. I definitely don’t think it makes us all that much safer from aquatic invasive species, but it does plug one of the holes.”