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Lake Ontario boaters, please stay 500 feet from shore

Lake Ontario's high waters are causing erosion on the shoreline of Niagara County.

That is why boaters are urged to stay at least 500 feet off shore.

“We are concerned about shoreline erosion, submerged docks, and debris close to the shoreline," Sheriff James R. Voutour said. "State Navigation Law requires a 100-foot ‘no wake zone.’ However, we are asking boaters to observe a more prudent 500-foot limit.”

The county blames the water levels in part on an International Joint Commission policy called Plan 2014. The Niagara County Legislature and other Lake Ontario counties passed protest resolutions against the measure before the U.S. and Canadian governments adopted the new plan, which allows greater fluctuations in water levels.

The IJC said Plan 2014 would help the lake's birds, fish and shoreline wetlands, but critics said that it leaves lakeshore landowners vulnerable to damage.

County Legislator David E. Godfrey said last week a pier in his hometown of Wilson was underwater.

“We are urging lakeshore residents and visitors to exercise caution walking the shoreline, particularly in areas where the shoreline includes a steep hillside,” Godfrey said. “Residents should be careful walking the edge of their property, and I’d caution them against the use of heavy mowers and other equipment. We don’t know right now if the banks are stable.”

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