By: Joanne M. Haas/WDNR Bureau of Law Enforcement
Heading to the water this weekend? Sounds like fun, but please be aware the recent June storms dropped some heavy downpours that pushed lake and river levels into flood stages, shoved debris into waterways and accelerated currents statewide.
These changes have your WDNR wardens reminding all water users to think safety by checking local water conditions and always wear a life jacket when on the water. (See photo: Warden Ben Mott's K9 Grizzly has the right idea about life jackets!)
Capt. April Dombrowski, head of the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement's Recreational Safety and Outdoor Skills Section, says the heavy rain and rapid onset of flash floods in many areas of Wisconsin also resulted in road wash-outs, closures and sinkholes.
This means you should be aware of issues that may affect your travel to your favorite lake or river -- and may affect your water-based recreational activities.
Capt. April says this severe weather is a reminder for all to check your local water conditions before boating or paddling, swimming or any water activity. Good places to check are local tourism offices, DNR offices, local bait shops, sporting goods stores or the U.S. Geological Survey, too.
"One quick safety tip is to always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket," she said. "Today's models are comfortable versions. Wearing one just might save your life."
Some of these storms and heavy rains have pushed trees and other debris in the water which creates another danger to keep watch. High water levels also increase the shoreline and erosion impacts of your boat wake. Some areas have implemented lake-wide slow-no-wake requirements. Remember to always be aware of your boat wake and impact on others and check the signage prior to launching, she says.
Here are some other safety tips from Capt. April as you enjoy your weekend:
If you have information regarding natural resource violations, you may confidentially report by calling or texting: VIOLATION HOTLINE: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained staff relay report information to conservation wardens.