WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — After seven years, Boone Lake’s water is rising, swallowing up an ever-changing shoreline and sweeping debris into the lake.
As boaters return to Boone Lake this summer, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency plans to have a high volume of patrols out. The agency knows many boaters will be navigating the waterway for the first time.
This summer will be TWRA Wildlife Officer David Crum’s 20th patroling Boone. He’s seen the lake at its highest and lowest levels.
“There are people that are going to start coming out to Boone Lake that do not understand what Boone Lake is like, and there are going to be a lot of first-time boaters out,” said Crum.
He says boaters need to know what to look out for. Riding around Boone, a boat will slice through both clear water and debris fields, with depth levels that change rapidly.
Crum says to be aware of the iceberg effect. Boaters may come across wood pieces that appear to be small logs, but are actually the tips of submerged trees.
“If you were to hit it, it could take out a lower unit, it could damage your boat, it could actually put a hole in your boat,” Crum said, pointing out a submerged tree.
Lake-goers can also expect extra debris in the lake after it rains.
“Any time that you have extra debris out on the water, I would not advise anyone to water ski or tube while there’s extra debris. But that’s also a personal judgment idea,” said Crum.
The TWRA also wants people to have a designated boat operator and be extremely careful with alcohol. Extra stressors like wind, waves, and boat vibration amplify alcohol’s effects on the water.
“I’ve worked a lot of fatalities on Boone Lake. Some people knew what they were doing, some people didn’t know what they were doing. And I just want people to be very careful while they’re out on the water. It’s not just a free for all,” he said.
Crum issued another reminder: to drive a boat in Tennessee, anyone born after January 1, 1989 must have a boat operator’s license, which can be obtained through the TWRA.