My yearly update on Okeechobee County boating safety Laws -- To all interested parties:
After a year of efforts to understand and address the current rules here in Okeechobee County referencing our local boating laws, markers, enforcement, and education. I thought it might be interesting to look at our “progress” to date:
Laws — No change at all. They are still confusing, conflicting, and basically unknown by the public and unenforceable by the authorities.
Markers — No change at all other than the weeds were mowed. They are still confusing, conflicting and basically misunderstood and unenforced.
Enforcement — No significant change. There is still essentially none. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was able to spend a couple of hours one weekend in the “T” area around the locks but without significant results. There are still no FWC officers assigned to our local needs other than a couple of part-timers, occasionally, on loan from around the lake. They do not try to enforce any speeding anywhere else as nothing else is spelled out understandably in our local ordinances or correctly marked in our Okeechobee County waterways.
Education; No significant change. Our local boaters still have no idea what the real rules are. We did recently have local courses in town referencing the rules we need to know to pass the requirements for ID cards. However nothing was discussed referencing additional local laws which legally supercede the FWC requirements. We really missed a good opportunity there but both the FWC and BoatUS refused to add them to their brochures or curriculums.
I don’t know why it’s so difficult to affect any changes or attention on such an important issue. No one in local government seems to have the courage to address this safety problem. I know it’s a legal and political “hot potato,” but it will not go away just because elected officials refuse to address it. It’s time to act.
Be safe and God bless.