Nevada Department of Wildlife: Upcoming boating season poses concerns |

Nevada Department of Wildlife: Upcoming boating season poses concerns

Game wardens at the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) are urging boaters to take extra precautions before going on the water.
Jim Grant / Tribune File Photo

Memorial Day is the traditional kickoff to boating season in Northern Nevada, and game wardens at the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) are urging boaters to take extra precautions before going on the water. Although it is shaping up as one of the best boating seasons in more than a decade, officials worry about the state of boats and equipment perhaps neglected over years of drought, the onslaught of dangerous cold water on lakes and rivers, and drastic changes to navigation on Nevada’s newly filled waterways.

“It’s going to be a great year on the water, especially in Northern Nevada,” said Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed. “We want to make sure people have the right gear and that they are aware of so many changes on Nevada’s waterways”

NDOW has taken steps to warn boaters, swimmers and anglers about conditions by launching new public service announcements and adding signs to some lakes and rivers. NDOW, with other state and local entities, have installed several life jacket “loaner stations” at some waterways in Nevada. These stations are static billboards with life jackets hanging on them for boaters to borrow. Life jackets remain the most important piece of equipment for boaters. There are two new stations at Lake Tahoe with more planned for installation near the Truckee River over the next month.

“Statistics show that loaner life jacket stations work,” said Game Warden Captain David Pfiffner, Nevada’s boating law administrator. “People borrow life jackets when they forget them, and boaters are more likely to wear a life jacket when they see the life jacket kiosks.”

This week was National Safe Boating Week, and nationally many states and regional boating agencies are stressing life jackets. It’s not enough to just carry a life jacket, according to Pfiffner, you have to wear it. “We see around six fatal boating accidents in Nevada every year. In my experience more than half of those people would be alive if only they had worn a life jacket,” he said.

Even with Memorial Day, game wardens and other boating officials are urging boaters, swimmers and anglers to stay completely off Nevada’s swollen rivers, such as the Truckee River. Other than the most professional competitive kayakers, the runoff is far too fast and cold for people to get near the river at all.

“We worry about the Truckee River, but we also have concerns about other rivers in Northern Nevada,” said Turnipseed. “The best way to stay safe is just to avoid going on any river until the snow melt subsides. Getting out there early isn’t worth dying for.”

NDOW posted a podcast that details the dangers of this year’s boating season that’s available at

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at

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