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Boaters should be cautious this Fourth of July holiday

Boaters should be cautious this Fourth of July holiday

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012 2:30 pm

Boaters should be cautious this Fourth of July holiday
This coming week will be Fourth of July on Wednesday, which is usually a big holiday for area lake-goers.
But with this holiday falling midweek, with most folks having to work the day before and the day after, this more than likely will cut down on the boat traffic on area lakes and rivers.
The heat is going to be the main factor during this holiday week coming up.
One way to stay cool is to get a Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad. This is a state-of-the-art type material that, while you keep it wet and moist, will keep you cool during very hot and humid conditions. There are a few local places to purchase these, such as Final Flight Outfitters, or you can go online at www.froggtoggs.com. These are very inexpensive and well worth every penny.
Speaking of water, with the heat wave well under way, many head to the lake on Fourth of July. And when some head to the waters, they want to mix alcohol with their water activities. This is not a good thing and is just as dangerous as drinking and driving on land, if not more dangerous.
Last weekend, a nationwide campaign took place with Operation Dry Water, a national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) education and enforcement directed toward reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities. This was where many types of law enforcements hit the water checking people for drinking and driving behind the steering wheel of a boat or personal  watercraft vessel. Tennessee and Kentucky agencies, as well as other agencies across the United States, participated in Operation Dry Water.
Many states have laws when it comes to drinking in public, Kentucky being one of them. Their law (KRS 222.202) specifically prohibits the drinking of alcoholic beverages in public places (this excludes establishments licensed to sell such beverages) and the waterways of the state are considered public places. Further, in a public place, people who are manifestly under the influence of alcoholic beverages to the extent that they may unreasonably annoy or endanger themselves or others shall be subject to arrest, according to Kentucky law.
 So, basically, any waters that are public in Kentucky mean any open containers of alcohol are prohibited. It doesn’t matter if you are driving or riding in a boat.
Tennessee laws differ some, but it is unlawful to operate any sail or powered vessel while under the influence of intoxicants or drugs in Tennessee.
Anyone operating a sail or powered vessel has given their implied consent to chemical tests to determine the alcohol or drug content of their blood. Failure to consent to testing is a separate offense and may result in suspension of vessel operating privileges for six months.
A vessel operator whose BAC tests show .08 percent or greater by weight of alcohol shall constitute a violation of this statute and is presumed under the influence and his or her ability to operate a vessel is impaired, according to the law.
Blood-alcohol content may be taken from all operators involved in an accident where death or serious injury occurred.
Conviction for operating under the influence will result in fines of up to $2,500 on the first offense, $2,500 on the second offense and $5,000 for the third offense. A jail sentence of 11 months and 29 days may also be imposed for any conviction and operating privileges may be suspended from one to 10 years. Additional federal penalties may also be charged.
TWRA boating officers will saturate high traffic areas on reservoirs across the state this coming Wednesday. Along with the use of life jackets and other safety practices, officers want boaters to be aware of the effects and ramifications of alcohol use. The TWRA will be intensifying efforts to detect and apprehend boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Also, don’t forget about the youth being able to operate a boat or personal watercraft on public waters. Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1989, must show the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate as proof of successful completion of the TWRA Boating Safety Exam. No other certificate will be accepted as meeting the requirements of the law.
Those born after Jan. 1, 1989, must take an exam administered by a representative of TWRA. The Boating Safety Education Certificate allows a person to operate a motorized vessel of more than 8.5 horsepower.
Area lakes & river levels
As we continue to need lots of rain for many reasons in our area, water levels on area bodies of waters continue to drop slowly everyday. The following levels were taken at this past mid-week time period.
Reelfoot Lake is currently sitting at 281.30 feet above sea level (normal pool level is 282.20 feet above sea level) at this time and slowly dropping everyday.
Kentucky Lake at the Kentucky Dam is still holding in the 357.50 feet above sea level mark (normal summer pool level is 359.0 feet above sea level). Kentucky Lake has been able to maintain their level in the 357.50 mark despite the lack of any rain in our area.
The Mississippi River is sitting at 12.0 feet on the Cairo, Ill., gauge and 3.7 feet at the Tiptonville gauge. A year ago, if you remember, the Mississippi River level was at 50 or above at the Cairo gauge.
Water temperatures on most area lakes have been in the lower to some middle 80’s, but by this weekend and with our very warm weather, I would be willing to say the water temps in our area will get very close to 90 degrees if not warmer.
U.S. Fish
& Wildlife Service
Reelfoot NWR has an-nounced dates and application procedures for the 2012 deer quota hunts to be held on the federal refuge Nov. 9-11.
A drawing will be used to randomly select 150 applicants for the Grassy Island and Long Point units of the refuge — 100 applicants for Long Point and 50 for Grassy Island. A permit fee of $12.50 per hunter is payable upon notification of selection for the hunt.
To apply for the drawing, applicants must submit a stamped self-addressed U.S. Postal Service postcard with the following information: Type or clearly print full legal name, address, phone number and hunt preference (Long Point or Grassy Island). The postcard can have one name on the front of the postcard and up to two names on the back. There is a limit of three names per hunting party.
Place the card in an envelope and send it to Reelfoot NWR, Attn: Refuge Ranger, 4343 Highway 157, Union City, TN 38261.
All applications must be received by the refuge office within the month of July. The submission of multiple cards and illegible or incomplete name or address will disqualify applicants. Grassy Island hunters must comply with hunting regulations for Tennessee, while Long Point hunters must comply with hunting regulations for either Tennessee of Kentucky in accordance with the state in which their license was purchased. Federal hunting regulations also apply.
The bag limit is two deer, either sex (only one may be antlered). All deer count as bonus deer. Tennessee hunters must check deer harvested on the refuge at a state-approved check station. Kentucky hunters should turn in the bonus deer tag to the refuge office. Contact the refuge office at 538-2481 or visit the website http://www.fws.gov/reelfoot for further information about refuge hunts.
I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Fourth of July holiday this coming Wednesday.
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a day in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games and family reunions, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States.
’Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks.
Brent

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