Boat Traffic Expected To Increase For Holiday Weekend - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Boat Traffic Expected To Increase For Holiday Weekend

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It's the unofficial start of summer and that means places like Sand Harbor are expecting large crowds. Not just people on the beaches but also on the water. For avid boaters like Incline Village resident, John Causey, there's no better place than on a boat in Lake Tahoe.

"Just the scenery and the mountains around you and being out in nature and the clear waters, it's one of the best lakes in the world, I think," Causey said.

But the lake can also be deadly if precautions aren't taken, like inspecting your boat and carrying your life vest.

"Have your PFDs with you and your fire extinguishers," Jay Howard, Lake Tahoe - Nevada State Park Supervisor said. "Just everything that's required to have, safety-wise, in your boat when you're out here."

Six people were killed in Nevada boating accidents, last year, including two at Lake Tahoe. Three have already died this year, in southern Nevada.

After three years of drought, low water levels in area lakes and reservoirs are adding to the dangers. Lake Tahoe is only about a foot above its natural rim.

"This is the lowest I've seen it in several years," Causey said. "It keeps getting lower and lower. A lot of rocks and dangers that you're not used to. So, it concerns all the boaters."

Those same dangers may be affecting jet skiers even more because they can pass closer to the shore.

"With the lake being this level, you've got to watch out for obstacles out there, rocks," Howard said. "Especially, if you're close to the shoreline. Be very careful about hitting rocks."

Five years ago, there were five motor boats for every paddle craft. Now, that number has flip-flopped, with the growing popularity of kayaks and paddleboards. People on those can also be vulnerable, especially in windy conditions. While low lake levels may eventually close some boat ramps, it's not likely that it will decrease the amount of visitors.

"During these low years like this, we typically see a lot of canoes and kayaks and stand-up paddleboards that kind of take over," Howard said.

Howard says that by the time July rolls around, it's likely that boats will not be able to launch from the Sand Harbor boat ramp, as lake levels drop. Other ramps, like Cave Rock will likely remain open.

Written by Paul Nelson
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