A sign was installed recently at the Chittenden Reservoir fishing access in response to an increased number of incidents in which swimmers obstructed boat launching.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department (VTF&W) reminds the public not to swim at fishing access areas due to safety concerns. The primary use of the fishing access areas is for launching and retrieving motorboats.
VTF&W maintains more than 180 developed fishing access areas on lakes and rivers. These areas have allowed uses determined by law, but swimming is not one of them.
The access areas were purchased and are maintained with funds derived from the sale of fishing licenses and motorboat registrations, as well as a federal excise tax on fishing equipment, fishing tackle, and gasoline for motorboats. These funding sources explicitly prohibit activities that are in conflict with fishing and boating.
VTF&W regulations prohibit certain uses of fishing access areas including, but not limited to — swimming, littering, camping, picnicking, making a fire, parking of vehicles not related to priority uses, and commercial activity.
“It’s great that people want to get out in the water, but a boat ramp is not the right place to go swimming,” said Mike Wichrowski who oversees the Fishing Access Area Program. “There’s a reason motorboats aren’t allowed in swimming areas, and swimming isn’t allowed at fishing access areas — it’s simply not safe.”
Game wardens have responded to several incidents in recent weeks involving people swimming at fishing access areas. In some cases people, including children, were swimming right at the boat ramps while boats were being launched, risking injury or preventing the launching of boats.
Colonel Jason Batchelder said, “Finding a safe swimming area is easy in most communities. Just ask at a general store or other place where people gather.”
The fine for swimming at an access area is $162.