The horsepower limit on Charles Mill Lake continues to create a wave of controversy.
Supporters of a higher horsepower limit say a change will make boating safer.
Opponents contend more powerful motors will disturb the tranquility of the area and endanger the lake itself.
The Ohio Department of Natural ResourcesDivision of Watercraft is considering a petition containing about 250 signatures that was filed earlier this year seeking to raise the limit from the current 9.9 horsepower to 30 horsepower. An estimated 100 people attended a public meeting Nov. 6 at the Pleasant Hill Lake Park activity center.
Division regulatory coordinator Deb Green said the petitioners want the horsepower change for longer and heavier pontoon boats that carry more people and equipment.
"Twenty-foot, 24-foot and up pontoon boats have problems getting into the docks with the smaller motors," she said. "They (smaller motors) don't give you good control coming in if the lake isrough."
Those against the change also filed petitions with about 75 signatures. During the public meeting they expressed concerns about noise from the larger motors, speed, shore erosion and disrupting fishing.
Green said while opponents have valid concerns, some are "blown out of proportion." She pointed out the new four-stroke motors are quieter and the more powerful motors produce less wake because they get a boat "on plane" faster. Most of the erosion on Charles Mill Lake is the result of the seasonal raising and lowering of the water level, not from the wake from boats.
Green pointed out that Atwood Lake, which also is Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District facility, has a 25 horsepower limit that allows personal watercraft and older jet skis with less powerful engines. The Division of Watercraft also has approved a pilot project at Knox Lake that allows higher horsepower but requires craft with larger motors to operate at a "no wake" speed.
Opponents of change at Charles Mill are concerned about enforcing any new limit. Green says self-policing by boaters has been effective at Atwood, Knox Lake and at Clear Fork Reservoir. She also said the BASS Federation, which is interested in expanding fishing Charles Mill, is "quite strict" about self-policing members.
"The Mohican Watershed Conservancy District itself is in a slightly better position than other agencies, because of its assessment, and could be in a position to hire seasonal enforcement," Green said.
Another option includes expanding an exemption that is in place for houseboats on Charles Mill Lake.
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