Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

June 23, 2017

State Parks Press Office:
Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 |

New York State Parks Reminds Boaters of 5 MPH Speed Limit along Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence Coastlines

Peak summer boating season arrives in flood-impacted regions

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) reminds all boating operators along Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River to observe the five mile per hour speed limit within 600 feet of the shore as a result of the prolonged flooding in the region. Under the Governor's direction, implementing this speed limit will help control wakes and help reduce the impacts to shorelines and infrastructures.

"As schools let out for the summer, many boaters are heading to their favorite destinations on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River for the first time. State Parks reminds those operators to follow the reduced speeds to help prevent more erosion along the coastline and ensure the safety of all boaters from any potential accidents." said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey.

Reduced speeds are necessary to ensure safe boating, as many hidden hazards and debris have been covered by elevated water levels and can threaten boaters. Waves created by boat wakes can exacerbate shoreline erosion, further threatening residential and municipal infrastructure. Reducing speeds will also result in reduced boat wakes and lessen the wave action along the Lake Ontario and St Lawrence shores.

Last month, Governor Cuomo directed State Parks to implement a five mile per hour speed limit to control wakes within 600 feet of the Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River shoreline as part of the state's ongoing response to coastal flooding in the region. With the summer season underway, it is vital that boaters continue to follow these restrictions as water levels remain at a historic high throughout the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River system. State agencies are continuing to work with municipalities to educate boaters and have positioned digital message boards at strategic locations throughout the region.

Under normal conditions, boaters are required to obey the five mile per hour speed limit within 100 feet of the shore, dock, pier, raft, float, or anchored boat. When no speed limit is posted, vessels must always be operated in such a fashion so as not to endanger others. A vessel must be able to stop safely within the clear space ahead and a vessel operator is always responsible for any damage caused by the vessel's wake.

In addition to a vessel's speed, the one piece of safety equipment that all boats must carry is the life jacket. All life jackets carried on board your vessel must be serviceable, readily accessible, and of the appropriate size for the wearer. A serviceable life jacket must be free of rot, tears, punctures, or waterlogging. All straps and buckles must be attached and fully functional. Readily accessible means the PFD must be quickly reachable in an emergency situation.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 69 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.