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    Arrival of Arizona Boating Season Brings Safety Reminders

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department wants to remind all boaters, anglers, and personal watercraft users that this year’s boating season has arrived and to please exercise safe, responsible practices when on the water.

    Safe boating recreation is a must, and everyone should take a minute and remember to check your boats, personal watercraft and all equipment before launching at your favorite lake or waterway. Make sure you have all required safety equipment, such as proper life jackets and working fire extinguishers. The Arizona Game and Fish Department is also here as a resource for education and training when it comes to water sports, including all paddle sports.

    Arizona had its first fatal boating accident in early March, when an experienced kayaker traversing a remote area on the East Verde River drowned during a tragic accident on March 9.  The incident is a reminder that weather and water conditions can present challenging circumstances for even the most experienced kayakers or paddleboaters. Visit www.americancanoe.org/?page=Top_10 for a list of helpful safety tips.

    Game and Fish also reminds boaters to not drink and operate a boat. The department will be conducting sobriety checkpoints at various lakes and waterways throughout Arizona over the next several months.

    “Impaired boat operators have been proven to increase the risk to those who want to enjoy safe boating and watercraft recreation.  42 percent of all fatal boating accidents since 1993 involve alcohol,” stated Kevin Bergersen, AZGFD Boating Law Administrator. “Although our boating officers and other agencies’ boating officers have seen an increase in the number of designated operators around the state, they also arrested 53% more impaired boat operators in 2012 than 2011..”

    Bergersen said that multi-agency sobriety checkpoints and on-the-water saturation patrol efforts are planned for this summer and will include high-traffic waterways such as Lake Pleasant and the Colorado River and its reservoirs. “Removing impaired boaters from the waterways is critical in creating a safe, enjoyable recreational environment,” he said.

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department encourages boaters to take part in a boating education class. Interested parties can look for available classes on the department website, www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/BoatingEducationCategorypage.shtml.

    Logo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department

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