Officials warn of no-wake zones


Published: Friday, April 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 31, 2005 at 11:39 p.m.
Anyone planning to go near Florida's freshwater this weekend should keep two things in mind.
Rising river levels are expected to result in no-wake zones being declared in some areas, and there will likely be more people on the water in many places because this is the weekend when licenses are not required for freshwater fishing.
Under an agreement between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Suwannee River Water Management District, no-wake zones are automatically established on the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers when water levels reach predetermined points. When the Suwannee River water level at Branford reaches 26 feet, the no-wake zone takes effect from the U.S. 27 Bridge in Branford south to Fowlers Bluff, and on the Santa Fe River from the mouth north to High Springs. The National Weather Service has predicted the river will rise to 26.2 feet at Branford by Monday.
In a prepared statement issued Thursday, commission Capt. Roy Brown said, "We're asking boaters to stay off the rivers in these affected areas until conditions improve and the water levels decrease. Even though there are no zones in effect today, the wakes caused by the boaters running through the areas can still cause damage to the property along the riverfront."
Brown's statement also noted that boaters are responsible for the wake their boats make. Officers patrolling the rivers can cite boaters for careless operation if their wake damages property.
More people than usual are expected to be enjoying Florida's rivers and other freshwater because it is Free Fishing Weekend.
The state Legislature established the annual event so that residents and visitors would be able to fish in freshwater without a license two days each year.
Freshwater fishing without a license will be allowed statewide on Saturday and Sunday. However, commission officials said anglers will have to follow all other state fishing laws over the weekend.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@gvillesun.com.

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