FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CH. 107]
Boating; Boating Restrictions
[52 Pa.B. 5651]
[Saturday, September 3, 2022]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapter 107 (relating to boating restrictions). The Commission is publishing this proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed amendments update the Commission's regulations pertaining to allowable electric motor speeds and clarify horsepower restrictions.
A. Effective Date
This proposed rulemaking, if approved on final-form rulemaking, will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
B. Contact Person
For further information on this proposed rulemaking, contact Wayne Melnick, Esq., P.O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7810. This proposed rulemaking is available on the Commission's web site at www.fishandboat.com.
C. Statutory Authority
The proposed amendments to §§ 107.1 and 107.2 (relating to horsepower restrictions; and electric motors) are published under the statutory authority of section 5124(a) of the code (relating to particular areas of water).
D. Purpose and Background
The specific purpose and background of the proposed amendments are described in more detail under the summary of proposal.
E. Summary of Proposal
Current regulations limit boat propulsion to electric motors only on Commission owned or controlled lakes, some State Park lakes, and water bodies specified in Chapter 111 (relating to special regulations counties). These regulations were originally intended to reduce noise, excessive wakes, shoreline erosion and property damage, and reduce the risk of petroleum-based water pollution on certain water bodies. Boats powered by small electric motors (such as trolling motors) and unpowered boats are popular on Commonwealth bodies of water with electric motor only restrictions.
Some exceptions exist for State Park lakes and certain other waters specified in Chapter 111 where internal combustion motors are permitted but with horsepower limitations. Boats propelled by small gas outboard motors and unpowered boats are popular on these waterways.
Recent technological advancements with battery-powered electric boat motors have produced a variety of higher-powered options up to 180 horsepower and 60 miles per hour. While these new units are currently expensive and have limited battery capacity, it is anticipated they will become more affordable and widely available in the future. Boating stakeholders, partner organizations, other State agencies and staff have expressed concern about the potential increased availability and popularity of high-powered electric motors, which would be legal to be operated on waters under current regulations that allow electric motors only. Additionally, law enforcement staff have expressed concern about the complexity of enforcing horsepower limitations for electric motors to meet the original intent of current regulations.
To address these issues, the Commission recommends amending Chapter 107 to limit the speed at which electric motors may be operated and clarify that horsepower restrictions apply to internal combustion motors only. These amendments set the conditions by which Chapter 111 regulations are qualified, as noted in § 111.71 (relating to general requirements).
The Commission proposes that §§ 107.1 and 107.2 be amended to read as set forth in Annex A.
This proposed rulemaking will not increase paperwork and will not create new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
This proposed rulemaking will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions.
H. Public Comments
Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, objections or suggestions about this proposed rulemaking to the Executive Director, Fish and Boat Commission, P.O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, within 30 days after publication of this notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.
Comments also may be submitted electronically by completing the form at www.fishandboat.com/regcomments. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt. Electronic comments submitted in any other manner will not be accepted.
TIMOTHY D. SCHAEFFER,
Fiscal Note: 48A-336. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART II. FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
Subpart C. BOATING
CHAPTER 107. BOATING RESTRICTIONS
§ 107.1. Horsepower restrictions.
On waters where horsepower limitations are prescribed, as set forth in Chapter 111 (relating to special regulations counties), [boats with motors larger than the maximum horsepower shall be permitted but the motors may not be used] the use of internal combustion motors in excess of the prescribed horsepower limitation is prohibited.
§ 107.2. Electric motors.
Except as otherwise specified in Chapter 111 (relating to special regulations counties):
(1) Electric motors are permitted on Commission owned or controlled lakes and on State Park lakes where boating is permitted.
(1.1) Boats propelled by electric motors on Commission owned or controlled lakes, State Park lakes and water bodies specified in Chapter 111 may not be operated at greater than slow, no-wake speed.
(2) On Commission and State Park owned or controlled lakes, internal combustion motors attached to or installed in boats need not be removed, but the operation of engines is specifically prohibited.
(3) Officers authorized to enforce the code and this part and, in the case of State Park lakes, officers and officials of the Bureau of State Parks and operators of emergency vessels may operate boats powered by internal combustion motors in the performance of their official duties on waters otherwise restricted to electric motors only.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 22-1347. Filed for public inspection September 2, 2022, 9:00 a.m.]
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