County receives no-wake buoy donation

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

County commissioners approved the use of 10 new mobile no-wake buoys on the Pend Oreille River Tuesday, marking the latest in the Bonner County wake issue.

“This is part of an ongoing effort to reduce wake, and I think (placing these buoys) is a good program,” said Commissioner Glen Bailey at Tuesday’s meeting.

The county’s Waterways Advisory Committee has been working on ways to reduce the wake reaching shoreline on area waterways — an issue that’s gained traction with the popularity of wake surfing. Placing more buoys is one possible solution, Bailey said.

The Bonner County Sheriff Marine Division, with recommendations from area landowners, will place the buoys.

Funding for the 10 roving buoys, which will be regularly moved between “problem areas” on the river, comes from local man Rick Peterson. A waterfront landowner on the Pend Oreille River and avid wake surfer, Peterson has seen the effectiveness of buoys on his own property, thanks to the county placing one in front of his dock last summer. He said it happened by chance — he did not request the buoy be stationed there.

“We live in a narrow part of the river on a bend, so everybody comes by too close to our dock,” he said. “We immediately noticed all the boats were staying in front of the buoy.”

Peterson, 58, said he attended the county wake workshop back in April and was surprised to hear so much negative discourse around wake surfing. He started doing research on waves, erosion and laws in different parts of the country in hopes of finding a solution.

“I wanted to apply what I found to protect our right to surf,” he said.

For now, the 10 buoys he’s buying for the county — totaling around $3,000 — is a start. He said he plans to continue educating fellow surfers about the 200-foot no-wake zone law in Bonner County.

“I think there’s a few upset people making a stink, and luckily the commissioners are taking a measured approach,” he said. “I’m just trying to be an advocate for the sport. Education is the answer.”

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