Here’s Why It’s So Important to Follow the No-Wake River Rule

Earlier this week, ND game & fish restricted boaters on the Missouri river to idle-speed-only within 200 feet of the shoreline.

They did so after meeting with officials from Burleigh and Morton county, along with some landowners along the water.

Emily Medalen put North Dakota first and got an exclusive, close up look at why they felt this rule needed to be put in place.


I spent the day with law enforcement and game & fish to really get the lowdown on how important it is that boaters follow this rule.

They told me they haven’t put bans or restrictions in place like this since 2011 – 
In fact, they couldn’t remember a time they ever had to do it before that, either.
If you plan to go out on a boat in the next few weeks, here are some crucial pieces of advice for you to remember.

“The last time we’ve seen this level of concern was 2011,” says Major Kelly Leben, Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department.

A high level of water has brought an even higher level of worry to many who live along the Missouri River.

“Property owners are very concerned about it, rightfully so,” says Cory Erck, Game Warden, ND Game & Fish.

On Tuesday, ND game & fish put a restriction on the river – saying boaters must be at idle speed if they’re within 200 feet of ANY shore of this 40 mile stretch.
This is to try to avoid any more erosion to the land.

“When you’re in those areas close to shore – we understand that the current is strong and you have to apply some power to motor the boat and be able to steer it – but just be considerate of that wake,” says Maj. Leben.

So how do boaters know exactly how close is too close?
“Look at the shoreline, and look at your wake, and just be reasonable,” says Maj. Leben.

I hopped on a game & fish patrol boat to get a real-life example.
So what is the exact definition of idle?
“The slowest speed that you can go and still maintain your vessel steerage,” says Erck.

He says if you’re outside that 200-foot range and going above idle, the faster the better – because if you’re somewhere in the middle, your wake is actually larger.
They say they don’t expect to put any more restrictions on the river this year – but they can never be sure.

“We’re at the mercy of, essentially, mother nature, and what the Corps puts through the dam,” says Robert Timian, Chief Game Warden, ND Game & Fish.

These are some good things to keep in mind as we get closer to the 4th of July…
Another thing to remember – even though there’s no real ban on taking your boat out after sunset – game & Fish highly recommend that you don’t – because there is so much debris and you could easily hit something.

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