Don't know how many of you have seen this, but there was an article in the Danbury News-Times about the Candlewood Lake Board mulling over a plan to institute boat stickers (at a cost of course) to use the lake. Here is the article:
Lake board weighs boat stickers Proposal requires anyone who boats on Candlewood to pay in attempt to bolster patrols
By Robert Miller THE NEWS-TIMES
Jason Hanakahi works on a motor at Echo Bay Marina on Candlewood Lake. In the summer, the state boat ramps at Lattin Cove and at Squantz Pond fill up early. By midday, all of Candlewood Lake is buzzing. On a busy holiday weekend, there can be 500 or more boats on the water at once. On those weekend, the people who live along the lake stay off it. They know better.
"There are four arms to the lake,'' said Thomas Morrissey, bureau chief of the Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. "When all the boats meet in the center, it's a madhouse.''
It's an unequal world out there.
The people who use the boat ramps -- and the lake's marinas -- don't live on the lake. They pay nothing to help patrol it, other than the small portion of state taxes that goes to pay for the DEP Conservation officers who work there in the summer.
But other than the swarm of weekend boating, it's unclear how much they contribute to the lake's overcrowding.
The people who live along Candlewood's 60 miles of shoreline pay for the Candlewood Lake Authority through their local taxes -- each of the five towns pays an equal share.
And with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expected to approve a complex shoreline management plan, lake residents will be paying more -- perhaps $100 a year or more each -- in administrative and licensing fees to NE Energy, which now owns the lake.
The people who live on the lake own the armada that fills Candlewood on regular days. In all, counting cabin cruisers, bass boats, Jet Skis and sailboats, lake residents own some 6,000 boats.
There's now a move under way -- one that's been touted in the past, but is gathering steam this year -- to level out this inequity: a boat sticker program.
Under this proposal, everyone who puts a boat in the water -- even once a year -- has to buy a sticker. People who live out-of-state would pay more for these stickers. It's possible Connecticut residents who don't live on the lake would pay more as well.
The money raised by the sale of stickers would go to the Candlewood Lake Authority to support and enhance its lake patrols, which cost about $120,000 a year -- more than a third of the authority's $350,000 annual budget.
The stickers would help the authority in a number of ways. Its staff could actually track the number of boats on the lake, instead of estimating them. Better numbers means better science and better planning.
"It would be great to have that kind of data,'' said Larry Marsicano, the authority's executive director.
And the money stickers raise -- perhaps as much as $180,000 -- could bolster the number of patrols the authority puts on the lake, improving safety.
"There a perceived sense of overcrowding on Candlewood,'' said R. Michael Payton, supervisor of maritime safety and boating access for the DEP's boating division. "There's also a sense of an increased need for enforcement.''
But there are a long series of hoops and hurdles to get through, over and around before such a program comes to be. If the towns and the authority can agree on the outline of such a program, the General Assembly would have to approve it because there's no law allowing boat sticker programs in Connecticut's General Statutes.
If the legislators approved a law and Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed it, then the DEP would have to write the actual regulations. If it charged out-of-state boaters more, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would have to sign off on the law.
It could take years before all that happens. And it's not clear everyone thinks it's such a great idea.
George Poodiack, one of the owners of Echo Bay Marina in Brookfield, does.
"I've been telling people for years they should do that,'' said Poodiak. "I think for the most part, the community will support it."
George Bozzuti of Bethel -- commodore of the Candlewood Yacht Club -- won't.
"If it was part of a comprehensive package, it might be all right,'' he said. "But this just seems like a piecemeal thing.''
And, Bozzutti said, people on the lake will already be paying a substantial amount of money to fund the shoreline management plan.
"We're already paying the state for our boat registration,'' he said. "If just the people who are from out of state had to pay, that would be fair. But we're already paying for the lake authority.
Let the people who use the boat ramps pay for the stickers.''
There have been several attempts to create a boat sticker program on Candlewood Lake in the past. None succeeded.
"I remember a boat sticker program being discussed in 1996,'' said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who served in the General Assembly before becoming mayor in 2003.
"We discussed it in 1998 and the DEP said they felt it went against the spirit of the lake, because not everyone would be able to afford a sticker.''
"I'll support it,'' said Morrissey after being pressed by New Fairfield First Selectman John Hodge for some unambiguous enthusiasm for the program. "But I'll tell you. We have a long way to go.''
The idea is, however, slowly gaining support. Bill Hyatt, the DEP's director of inland fisheries said he and others held a series of five meetings in recent years with anglers to discuss issues on Candlewood Lake.
"We talked to both bass fishermen and trout fishermen,'' he said. "The end result was that both groups said they'd support a boat sticker program if it applied to everyone and if the stickers were readily available.''
But the often tumultuous debate over the proposed shoreline management plan over the past 18 months has also brought the issue to the fore.
If, as expected, the FERC approves the shoreline management plan, it will force the new owner, NE Energy, to more carefully monitor and license development around the lake.
To pay for it, FERC will give NE Energy permission to charge both licensing fees for new work, plus an annual administrative fee to anyone who lives around the lake.
"There's been an outcry, saying that all the people who use the lake should support it,'' said state Rep. Mary Ann Carson, R-New Fairfield.
What was apparent at last week's meeting was that the DEP will support a boat sticker program if everyone who uses the lake -- resident or not -- has to buy one.
"It has to be equitable,'' Morrissey of the DEP said. He insisted that what people pay NE Energy in shoreline management fees must not be confused with a boat sticker plan.
Residents are going to pay NE Energy fees for the privilege of living on the lake, and having decks and docks and boathouses on power company land, not for boating, he said.
But the DEP staff at the meeting pointed out the complexities of the project. The legislation, they said would have to be written very specifically, so that it applies only to Candlewood Lake.
It would also have to specify the money raised by the stickers would be routed to the Candlewood Lake Authority's budget, not the state's General Fund.
Eleanor Marianai, the DEP's boating law administrator, said she fears if Candlewood Lake gets the right to charge for boat stickers, other busy lakes -- Bantam Lake in Litchfield, Highland Lake in Winsted -- will soon clamor for their own programs. Then boaters might have to buy two or three stickers if they used more than one lake.
"I don't like it,'' she said.
And Capt. Raul Camejo, the officer in charge of DEP conservation officers for western Connecticut, said it might be hard to enforce the program simply because there are so many people using the lake and so few officers watching them.
"Who do you go after?'' Camejo said. "The guy without a sticker on his boat? Or the guy who is operating his boat recklessly or is driving under the influence?"
Checking for boat stickers, he said, "won't be high on my list of priorities.''
Others at the meeting said Candlewood's size -- at 5,420 acres, it's the biggest inland body of water in the state and nearly three times the size of the second-biggest, 1,900-acre Lake Lillinonah -- speaks in its favor.
It has far more boat traffic than other lakes in the state, and, the DEP's Mariani said, about a third of all boating accidents on Connecticut lakes.
"Programs like this tend to be self-limiting,'' said the DEP's Bill Hyatt. "To pay for its administration, you have to have to have a certain amount of traffic. It won't work on a smaller lake.''
The group that met Thursday asked the Candlewood Lake Authority to write a draft proposal -- with an actual fee structure -- and have it ready in about a month.
One model Morrissey praised is used on 28,000-acre Lake George in New York state, where people can get daily, weekly and seasonal stickers. The seasonal stickers run $30 to $127.50, with the price of the sticker based on the size of the boat.
The DEP's Payton said, however, that if the program could be put in place and the authority's lake patrols increased, the main benefit will be for people who live on the lake.
"Who notices problems on the lake?'' Payton said. "Is it the guy pulling away from a boat launch? Or is it the people sitting on their front porches and decks?
"Of the complaints we get, 90 percent are from residents about passing boaters interfering with their property.
"If people know there's more enforcement, more patrols, out there, they'll feel more comfortable,'' he said. "Then they'll go out on the lake on weekends.''
Once again the assumption is that the "problems" are cause by non-residents. This is absurd considering that resident make up the bulk of boat traffic on the lake. The numbers are self evident, 6000 boats linked to residents. And if they think for a second that I'm going to be happy to pay for a sticker to help fund CLA they're nuts. On top of that, this will open the door to other lakes following suit which probably means nothing to the guy pulling a tube every weekend at the same lake but as an angler, I'd have to get stickers for multiple lakes.
I really can't see the article pointing the fingers at out of towners causing the problems. The simple fact is that the residents pay higher taxes to support the lake and people that just launch on it don't pay squat, plus New York residents don't even need a boaters certificate. There is far from enough patrols on the lake because there simply isn't the money. Alot f other places charge a fee at the ramp 24/7 to generate $. Cwood doesn't. So why should the residents be the only ones responsible to financially support the lake?
cuz you guys all have too much money anyways! :p I personally have NO IDEA why they don't have ramp fees. 10 a boat everyday would put some money in their pockets! The place is a zoo, no question but the sticker idea is ludicrous. Ramp fees yes, boat stickers????
NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE,..DESTROYING FISHERMAN AND THEIR FAMILIES SINCE 1978......... www.ocearch.org
I guess they forget all the money non residents pour into the community in other ways like purchasing fuel, food, ice, slips, marine services, and other supplies.
Genuine adventure isn't available mail order. It isn't delivered to your door like pizza. You have to apply imagination and actively seek the extraordinary if you want great barroom stories Almost everyone has a golden recollection in their past, from which they draw to refuel life in the present. Very often, those memories are the product of instinctive initiative and some stretch of their imagination- a few moments in their life when they chose to believe in the impossible. ~ Kansas Stamps
this is my opinion and im sure i'm gonna get slammed for this. i don't mean to offend anyone, but here it goes... --CWood Man-- "Why should residents be the only ones responsible to finacially support the the lake?" because...you live on the lake. that comes at a cost. you house costs more to begin with simply because its lake front. thats true for candlewood or any other lake. thats why i and many other cant afford to live on a lake. but, thats why i can't look out my window 365 days a year and see a beautiful lake view and have water access any day i want without worrying about how packed the launch is. in my opinion, its simply "the cost of doing business" if you choose to live on a lake. this just sounds like another step to privitize lake giving only residents access which i'm sure most residents would love! besides, non residents support the businesses in the area. bait shops, gas stations, convenience stores and the like all get extra $$$ from the EVIL non-residents.
My big concern is the bleed of this program to other lakes in Ct. and retaliation by other states imposing the same regs on their big lakes. I live in New Fairfield which has more shoreline of Candlewood Lake than any other town. As a town we spend more money supporting Squantz Pond State Park than we do anything on Candlewood other than the CLA which is funded by the five towns surrounding Candlewood. The CLA does nothing on Squantz. What is missed is that these five towns have a ton of boaters who do not use the lake often but when they do need a place to launch, which is for a fee, they would have to pay for a sticker too. This is similar to the Lake Waramaug launch fiasco of two years ago. Those residents who now had to wait for a town of Washington ramp instead of the double ramp at the state park got screwed. So the towns think they are looking out for their own residents with this sticker deal but it is their residents who are most negatively affected by it. Further, when a boater launches from any ramp around the lake, on a weekend especially, they already pay a fee. Private marinas charge, the towns have launch fees, and the two state launches, three if you count Squantz Pond which is part of Candlewood, also charge after 8am or so. So fees are already collected along with registration fees on your boat. The sticker program will bleed to other lakes and it will be impossible to be a mobile fisherman in a few years. It is a classic example of starting a government agency, like the CLA, and now the beauracracy needs to be fed. Expect something like this to be passed. Gov. Rell lives in Brookfield near the lake, the DEP Commissioner works for Rell, the DEP comments seem to support the effort though with limited enthusiasm. Our freedom to boat and fish across the northeast with ease took a major step backwards with this FERQ required shore management plan and the boat sticker requirement. It will take years but it could eventually make bass tournaments an event of the past.
Originally posted by chris med: I personally have NO IDEA why they don't have ramp fees. 10 a boat everyday would put some money in their pockets! The place is a zoo, no question but the sticker idea is ludicrous. Ramp fees yes, boat stickers????
I totally agree with this. I don't go to Candlewood too often because it is a zoo, and quite often many folks out there have had a few too many. For the few times I do venture out there, paying a yearly fee is not worth it and Candlewood then goes off my list of places to go. A ramp fee is a much better idea. But, a ramp fee doesn't get a lot of the lakefront property owners what they want, exclusive rights to use the lake with no outsiders. Guess I'll stay in the salt.
It is bogus to say there are no ramp fees on Candlewood. Every town charges a fee to their residents to use the town ramp for launching. The last year I bought a town launch pass in New Fairfield it was $60 bucks. It is probably a $100 bucks now. I now buy the annual state launch pass which allows me to use any state launch without paying the daily fee. The Squantz and Lattins Cove launches both collect money though they have a flawed system of not collecting for early launchers who are there before the gate house opens up. There are easy fixes to that, a window pass so if you launched early you pay on the way out. Any marina will also charge for daily launching and yearly launching is built into your slip fee. The only "free" launching on Candlewood or Squantz Pond is the early bird who beats the gate house fee collector and that is easily fixed.