Crowd Turns Out for Bill To Limit Wakesurfing On Inland Waters

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Paula Tracy,

State Rep. Linda Tanner, D-Sunapee, testifies in support of her bill to limit wakeboard boating.


CONCORD – A bill that would limit wakeboard boats from operating with wakesurfers in New Hampshire’s inland waters generated a crowd of about 150 people in Representatives Hall Wednesday with many opposed to the measure.

The bill would limit wakeboard operation to at least 500 feet from shore, in depths of water of at least 20 feet and on bodies of water greater than 50 contiguous acres in size. 

The measure was heard by the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee.

Supporters, including the bill’s sponsor Rep. Linda Tanner, D-Sunapee, said the bill is necessary to protect shoreline from erosion and other negative impacts to the state’s water.

John Whalley, president of the New Hampshire Marine Trades Association opposed House Bill 1390, noting this is the fifth year the issue has been debated.

The organization has recommended 200-foot setbacks and invested tens of thousands of dollars in education on the subject, he said.

Whalley added the bill, if made law, would be unenforceable, particularly related to lake depth. 

He added it would create congestion in the area where wakesurfing would be allowed.

The average cost of a new wakeboard boat is $100,000. The boats are different from others in that they are designed to create an ocean-like wave to surf off by filling the hulls with water.

Carol Foss, senior advisor for policy for the New Hampshire Audubon Society, said the organization strongly supports the bill. While there are many responsible boaters who will voluntarily abide by guidelines, a few bad actors can do a lot of damage. This is about the economy and tourism. Turbidity and shoreline damage can impact birds and animals that need to see their prey.

Foss was among 11 who signed up to support the bill.

There were 53 who signed up in opposition including Amy Landers, executive director of the Lakes Region Tourism Association.

Recreational boating is an important part of the state’s economy, in fact, she said $1.4 billion comes into the economy from tourism and it supports over 6,000 jobs.

She said the bill would severely restrict the ability to enjoy these boats and is not good for the summer tourism economy.

Online just as the hearing began, there were 1,600 who signed up in opposition to the bill while 1,095 signed up in support of the measure.

Paula Tracy is’s senior writer. She has three decades of reporting experience.

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