Life jacket exchange events taking place Saturday, July 8

PHOENIX — Have an old, worn out life jacket? Swap it for a new one. From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 8, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is holding life jacket exchange events at four locations throughout the state:

Lake Pleasant — 10-lane boat ramp
Canyon Lake — main ramp
Lake Powell — Wahweap Marina
Lake Havasu City — Windsor Beach

During the exchanges, people with old, worn and less-effective life jackets can swap them for a new life jacket, while supplies last.

It’s important that boaters check to ensure that all of their life jackets are in good condition and that they are the right size and fit for passengers. On average in Arizona, life jackets should be replaced every five years.

“While state law requires that anyone 12 and under must wear a life jacket when out on the water, it’s a good idea for all boat and watercraft users to wear one,” said Josh Hoffman, Boating Safety Education coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Wear it. Don’t just store the life jacket on your boat to check the box.”

New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling or hunting and are much cooler in the warmer weather.

The U.S. Coast Guard reported that in 2016 there were 4,463 recreational boating accidents, involving 701 deaths nationwide. In cases where the cause of death was known, 80 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned and of those, 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket. In Arizona, there were five deaths from boating accidents last year.

“Wearing a life jacket could very well save your life,” Hoffman said.

For more information on boating safety or to register for a hands-on or online safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating and click “Boating Safety Education.”

Coconino County Sheriff’s Office joins Operation Dry Water to raise awareness about dangers of boating under the influence

PAGE – The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office will be participating in Operation Dry Water as part of a nationally coordinated effort to increase knowledge about the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI). The goal is to reduce the number of accidents and deaths associated with alcohol and drug use on our waterways.

Operation Dry Water weekend, June 30-July 2, is the national weekend of amplified enforcement of boating under the influence laws and recreational boater outreach. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is reaching out to our community and to the entire recreational boating community as part of the yearlong Operation Dry Water campaign to inform and educate boaters about the hazards and negative outcomes associated with boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Recreational boating is a fun and enjoyable activity. Consuming alcohol while on the water can hinder that experience and create a dangerous scenario for you, your friends and family, and others on the water. Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time on the water just as is does when driving a car, even more so because of the added stressors of sun, heat, wind, noise and the vibrations of the boat. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office wants everyone to have a great summer on the water, and to do that you’ve got to stay safe and stay sober while underway.

As Operation Dry Water weekend and Independence Day approaches, law enforcement will be out on the water educating boaters about safe boating practices and removing impaired operators from the water. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office supports these efforts as they go a long way in ensuring the safety of recreational boaters and water sport enthusiasts.

Tips to staying safe on the water:

  • Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths*. Alcohol and drugs use impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time.
  • Wear your life jacket. 83% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket*.
  • Take a boating safety education course. 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction, where instruction was known*.

Boaters can take the pledge to boat safe and boat sober, and find more information about boating under the influence at operationdrywater.org.

Life jacket exchanges tomorrow help kick off ‘Boating Safety Week’

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department and agencies across the U.S. and Canada will join forces to promote life jacket use and boating safety as part of National Safe Boating Week.

The annual event begins Saturday, May 20 and ends Friday, May 26. To help mark the occasion, the department’s Boating Safety Education program will hold Life Jacket Exchange events from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the 10-lane boat ramp at Lake Pleasant; Canyon Lake boat ramp; Saguaro Lake boat ramps; the London Bridge Beach at Lake Havasu City and Katherine’s Landing at Lake Mohave.

During the exchanges, people with old, worn and less-effective life jackets can swap them for a new life vest, while supplies last.

“Boating in Arizona can offer great experience for everyone on the water, but only if it is done safely and responsibly,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD Boating Safety Education coordinator. “While time on the water can be fun, it can quickly turn dangerous if you’re not prepared. National Safe Boating Week serves as a reminder to all boat and watercraft users to always wear their life jacket. It could very well save your life.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also helped to kick off Safe Boating Week, by issuing a proclamation, encouraging the public to be safe while on the water.

“Year-round, people continue to enjoy all that our natural environment has to offer through the joy of boating. National Safe Boating Week is observed to call attention to important life-saving tips for recreational boaters so that they can have a safer, more fun experience out on the water,” the proclamation states.

National Safe Boating Week marks the launch of the 2017 North American Safe Boating Campaign. This yearlong campaign promotes safe and responsible boating and the value of voluntary, consistent life jacket wear by recreational boaters through the national theme, “Wear It!”

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2015, and that 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

“Each year hundreds of people lose their lives in boating incidences, and they might still be alive if they had been wearing a life jacket,” said Rachel Johnson, CAE, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council, the lead organization for the North American Safe Boating Campaign. “It’s not enough to just own a life jacket and store it on a boat, you must wear it,”

New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are innovative options, such as inflatable life jackets, allowing mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling or hunting and are much cooler in the warmer weather.

“Completing a boating safety course is also an important step to being a safe boater or watercraft user. Educated boaters are safe boaters,” Hoffman said. “Luckily the Arizona Game and Fish Department offers free boating safety courses.”

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a free safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating. Those registering for an online safety course through BOATERExam.com can receive $10 off during Safe Boating Week by using the promo code NSBW17.

AZGFD to participate in multi-agency OUI checkpoint on Colorado River

KINGMAN — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) will participate in a multi-agency enforcement patrol this weekend on the Colorado River, pursuing those who are operating their boats and other watercraft while under the influence (OUI) of drugs or alcohol.

AZGFD, together with the Nevada Department of Wildlife and the National Park Service, will be enforcing Arizona’s OUI legal limit of a .08 blood-alcohol content.

Throughout the weekend, boaters may be required to pass through a checkpoint and be subject to a systematic safety inspection. Operators will be checked for any sign of impairment from alcohol or drugs, and to ensure the required safety equipment, such as proper life jackets and working fire extinguishers, are aboard.

“The responsibility for boating safety among watercraft users is critically important,” said Brandon Carley, law enforcement supervisor for the department’s regional office in Kingman. “The area is growing quickly, and we share these waterways with California and Nevada. It’s becoming very congested, which lends itself to more potential hazards.”

Carley advises boaters and watercraft users should review all regulations prior to launching. That includes having a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person on board and making sure that anyone 12 and under is wearing one at all times. Boats also must be equipped with a fire extinguisher and a Type IV throwable personal flotation device (PFD).

For more information on boating in Arizona, or to sign up for a free safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.

AZGF Commission approves proposed boating and water sport rules, fees


PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission recently approved several boating and watercraft regulation changes aimed at increasing customer service and public safety on Arizona’s waterways.

The commission approved the changes at its April 7 meeting, amending the state’s Article 5 rules, which outline boating and water sports regulations and fees. The proposed changes will now be considered by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council on June 6 and, if approved, will become effective Aug. 5.

The proposed changes were recommended as part of a legally required five-year review of the department’s administrative rules. For more information or to view the complete list of proposed Article 5 changes, visit www.azgfd.com/agency and click on “Rulemaking.”

The following are among the proposed changes:

Requiring a signature be notarized/witnessed when the seller is not listed as the owner on the current registration or the signature of the buyer or seller is in question.
Allowing owners to obtain a duplicate watercraft registration/decal at www.azgfd.gov/boating.
Increasing the valid timeframe for a temporary certificate from 30 to 45 days and allowing a watercraft agent to issue a temporary certificate with the sale of a used watercraft.
Requiring liveries to affix a placard on the watercraft indicating the business name and phone number, and requiring a person who rents, leases or offers a watercraft for hire to register as a livery.
Requiring a wake surfer to wear a personal floatation device and that an operator ensure an observer is watching if a person is being towed behind the watercraft and/or surfing a wake created by the watercraft.
Prohibiting teak surfing, which is pulling a person from a vessel’s swim platform.
Requiring towing companies to notify the owner/lienholder that they have taken possession of a vessel within 15 days of obtaining the information from the department.
Authorizing a third-party vendor to process new watercraft registrations, transfers, renewals and duplicate registrations.

The following fee changes are also proposed:

Watercraft transfer fee to $13
Duplicate decal and certificate number fee to $8
Dealer certificate of number fee to $20
Establish an abandoned/unreleased watercraft application fee of $100
Transfer of ownership of a towed watercraft application fee to $100

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.

Multiple quagga mussel-fouled watercraft from Arizona intercepted out of state

PHOENIX — Following the recent interception and impoundment of multiple quagga mussel-fouled watercraft that had been in Lake Powell or Lake Havasu for extended periods, the Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds boaters to “clean, drain and dry” – and especially decontaminate — their watercraft and equipment before exiting waters designated as having aquatic invasive species.

Five vessels from Arizona waters have been impounded during the past month — three in Idaho and two in Colorado.

“There is absolutely no reason why boaters are not decontaminating moored boats before leaving a quagga mussel-infected water,” said Chris Cantrell, AZGFD’s Aquatic Wildlife Branch Chief.

AZGFD recently contracted with a local business to provide free decontaminations for those with boats that have been on a quagga mussel-infected water for more than five consecutive days.

If a boater plans on selling or moving a boat from one of the infected waters, please call AZGFD at (623) 236-7608 or Woods to Water Wildlife Solutions, LLC at (602) 920-4891.

“This way, we can help assist you with the required decontamination to ensure you stay compliant with multiple state and federal laws,” Cantrell said.

Quagga mussels colonize rapidly on hard surfaces and can ruin recreational watercraft motors, alter water quality for aquatic wildlife, and clog water intake structures such as pipes and screens, thereby impacting pumping capabilities for power and water treatment plants.

Under Arizona law, boaters and all recreationists who take watercraft and other equipment out of waters designated as having aquatic invasive species must use the following steps when leaving that listed water:

  • CLEAN. Clean/remove any clinging material from the anchor, boat, motor and hull, trailer (all plants, animals and mud).
  • DRAIN. Remove all water drainage plugs (and keep them out during transport). Drain the water from the bilge, live-well and any other compartments that holds water. Drain the water from the engine and engine cooling system(s). You can do this by lowering the outboard, while on the ramp, until the water is removed.
  • DRY. Ensure the watercraft, vehicle, equipment, or conveyance is allowed to dry completely before placing in another water in Arizona. Leaving your plugs out during transport will assist in ventilating and speeding the drying time of those difficult-to-dry areas of your boat.

See a flyer of how to clean, drain and dry.

There are additional steps to complete for watercraft that have been on AIS-listed waters for six or more consecutive days. See more information on all statewide decontamination protocols, how to schedule a no-fee decontamination, an intro to invasive quagga mussels, and the Director’s Orders lists of aquatic invasive species and waters.

If you are in need of decontaminating your moored boat before transporting from an AIS-affected water, please contact AZGFD at (623) 236-7608.

Arizona temperatures are warm, but the water’s still cold

Dogtown Lake – NAG Photo

PHOENIX — Arizona’s rising temperatures are signaling that the summer heat isn’t far off and some residents are already eyeing area lakes, looking to hit the water. With that in mind, the Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds watercraft users that while temperatures may be warm, water temperatures remain between the 50s and 60s at many of Arizona’s boating havens.

“Undoubtedly, we have seen phenomenally beautiful weather lately, but that hasn’t done much to warm up our lakes,” said AZGFD Boating Safety Education coordinator Josh Hoffman. “The current lake temperatures would be quite a shock on the system if you were to fall overboard right now. Such a shock can lead to gasping for air, which if you aren’t wearing a life jacket could prove to be your last gasp.”

Even in a healthy person, cold-water immersion can impact muscle movement, breathing and a person’s heart rate. Prolonged exposure to the water can lead to hypothermia, cardiac arrest and death. If you fall overboard, climb back into or on top of the boat. If you cannot, stay near the vessel and use oars or anything floating nearby to help stay afloat.

“Area lakes offer year-round family fun even during winter months, but it’s critical for everyone to wear a life jacket,” Hoffman said. “Should someone fall or be thrown overboard, that life jacket – regardless of water temperature – could very well save your life.”

Life jackets aren’t just a good idea, they are required by state law for anybody 12 years old and younger when the boat is underway. There must also be at least one life jacket available for everyone aboard.

To ensure watercraft users have life jackets available, the department has installed 15 Life Jacket Loaner Stations at lakes across the state including Lake Pleasant, Lake Havasu, Lake Mohave, Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, Apache Lake, Bartlett Lake, and Patagonia Lake. Boaters needing a life jacket can borrow one, use it on the lake and return it once done.

Boaters are also encouraged to learn how to practice safe boating techniques and to respond in the event of an emergency by completing a boating safety course. To register for a free course or for more information on boating in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.

AZGFD, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to target impaired boat, OHV operators

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) will enhance its efforts to target removal of impaired watercraft and off-highway vehicle (OHV) operators from Arizona’s recreation areas through a partnership with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

AGFD was awarded nearly $46,000 in grant funding for officers to target DUI/OUI offenders on the state’s waterways and those riding OHVs. In addition to funding overtime for increased DUI/OUI patrols, officers will also target helmet, seat belt and child restraint compliance when required while riding in a UTV, an ATV or motorcycle.

“AZGFD has a strong relationship with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, which has always supported our efforts to keep our waterways and recreation areas safe for families to enjoy Arizona’s beautiful landscapes,” said Tim Baumgarten, AZGFD boating law administrator. “Safe recreation means taking care of your friends or family by designating a sober operator and wearing proper safety equipment, including a life jacket while on the water and a helmet when on trials.”

Drowning was the reported number-one cause of death in approximately 76 percent of 626 boating fatalities in 2015 and alcohol use was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents nationwide, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s most-recent statistics. Additionally, approximately 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

In Arizona, anyone under 12 years old must wear a life jacket while aboard and the vessel must have one life jacket available for every passenger. Those under 18 years old riding an ATV, UTV or motorcycle are required to wear a helmet.

In addition, under the grant funding, AZGFD will deploy its cadre of drug recognition experts to assist in the DUI/OUI checkpoints statewide. This will allow officers to perform additional enforcement without taking manpower and funding away from other AZGFD patrol responsibilities.

For more information on boating in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating. For more information on OHVs in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

AZGFD, ‘Spring Aboard’ campaign encourages watercraft users to complete boating safety course

PHOENIX — Safe boaters are educated boaters, that’s why the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is encouraging all watergoers to take a boating safety course during the national Spring Aboard campaign March 19 to 25.

Those who complete one of AZGFD’s two classroom courses March 18 or an online course during the Spring Aboard campaign, will be entered in a drawing to receive a free watercraft rental generously donated by one of the following businesses:

• Phoenix ATV and Jet Ski Rental
• Jet Action Rentals in Tempe
• Havasu Adventure Company in Lake Havasu City
• Laughlin Watercraft Rentals in Bullhead City
• Parker Canyon Lake in Elgin

“This is an exciting time of year for our boating community,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD Boating Safety Education program coordinator. “Another great boating season is on the horizon and everyone is looking forward to when they can get out on the water. Before doing so, people should make sure they are prepared by taking a boating safety course.”

AZGFD offers free monthly classroom courses in Phoenix and Lake Havasu City to provide water users the information and tips needed to stay safe while on the water. The department also offers pay and free online courses. Below is a list of classroom boating safety courses scheduled for March:

Arizona Boater Education Course
• 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. March 18, Apex Arms Facility – Green Building, 2176 McCulloch Blvd. N. Suite 8, Lake Havasu City
• 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. March 18, Arizona Game and Fish Headquarters, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix

Courses cover basic skills needed to safely operate a boat or personal watercraft, trailering your vessel, navigational rules, buoys, anchoring, legal requirements, boating emergencies, watersports and paddling. In addition, most insurance companies offer a discount on boat or watercraft insurance rates for completing a course.

The department also reminds watercraft users that all boats, including paddleboards, must have a wearable life jacket for every passenger aboard and those 12 years old and younger must wear a life jacket at all times, under state law. Users should also check to make sure a life jacket fits properly by ensuring there is no excess room above the openings of the jacket and that it does not ride up over the chin or face.

Spring Aboard is a national campaign coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) to encourage the state’s boating and watercraft users to complete a safety education course.

In 2015 nationwide, 71 percent of the 626 watercraft-related deaths involved a vessel where the operator had never taken a safety course, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics. It’s with that statistic in mind that NASBLA developed and produced Spring Aboard, utilizing a grant from the U.S. Coast Guard.

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating and click “Boating Safety Education.” To learn more about Spring Aboard, visit www.nasbla.org/spring.

Boaters, watercraft users urged to ‘Spring Aboard’ with boating safety course

Boaters, watercraft users urged to ‘Spring Aboard’ with boating safety coursePHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD), in partnership with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), is encouraging the state’s boating and watercraft users to Spring Aboard and prepare for the boating season by enrolling in a safety education course.

Spring Aboard is a national campaign that runs from March 19 to 25 and encourages boaters to protect themselves and their passengers by taking a safety course before stepping onto a boat or watercraft. This year, those who complete one of AZGFD’s free boating safety courses will be eligible to receive a free watercraft rental.

“Boating is a great family friendly activity, but only if it’s done safely and responsibly,” said Josh Hoffman, AZGFD Boating Safety Education coordinator. “The best way to ensure everyone on the water is having a great time is by taking a boating safety course. And because the Arizona Game and Fish Department offers them free of charge, there’s really no reason not to sign up for one today.”

Additionally, those who successfully complete a course are better informed on how to avoid an accident or tragedy on the water.

In 2015 nationwide, 71 percent of the 626 watercraft-related deaths involved a vessel where the operator had never taken a safety course, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics. It’s with that statistic in mind that NASBLA developed and produced Spring Aboard, utilizing a grant from the U.S. Coast Guard.

“We know that an educated boater is safer on the water,” NASBLA President Stephanie Weatherington said. “If a boater has taken a boating safety education course, the likelihood of their time spent on the water being a safe and enjoyable experience is much greater.”

Most states require proof of completion of a boating education course for operators of some powered vessels. During the Spring Aboard campaign, many course providers, including AZGFD, will offer incentives or course discounts for students who enroll in or complete a course.

“With today’s wide variety of courses available, there’s a course for everyone’s schedule,” Weatherington said. “Boaters have many ways to get educated, from classroom courses offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons to online offerings available anytime day or night. There’s no reason to head out on the water without knowing what you’re doing.”

AZGFD offers free courses in Phoenix and Lake Havasu City monthly to provide water users the information and tips needed to stay safe while on the water. Each year many deaths and injuries on Arizona’s waterways are the result of people who don’t know how to operate a watercraft properly or how to act to avoid placing themselves in danger.

For more information on boating safety or to register for a hands-on or online safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating and click “Boating Safety Education.” Below is a list of hands-on boating safety courses scheduled for April:

Arizona Boater Education Course

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. March 18, Apex Arms Facility, Green Building in Lake Havasu City
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. March, 18, Arizona Game and Fish Headquarters in Phoenix

Arizona Paddlesports Education Course

10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. March 11, Biscuit Tank at Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix

The department’s courses include instruction on the basic skills needed to safely operate a boat or personal watercraft, trailering your vessel, navigational rules, buoys, anchoring, legal requirements, boating emergencies, watersports and paddling. In addition, most insurance companies offer a discount on boat or watercraft insurance rates for completing a course.

The department also reminds watercraft users that all boats, including paddleboards, must have a wearable life jacket for every passenger onboard and those 12 years old and younger must wear a life jacket at all times, under state law. Users should also check to make sure a life jacket fits properly by ensuring there is no excess room above the openings of the jacket and that it does not ride up over the chin or face.

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating. To learn more about Spring Aboard, visit www.nasbla.org/spring.