From Enterprise Staff
Texas Game Wardens issued fewer boating-related citations over Memorial Day weekend than they did in 2021. They cited increased boating safety awareness and patrols by game wardens and other marine safety officers as contributors to a drop in incidents.
Between Friday and Monday, 352 game wardens conducted 10,218 safety checks on vessels, issuing 62 fewer citations than they did the year before. Texas Game Warden Colonel Chad Jones attributed this decrease to factors including expansion of boating safety awareness outreach.
“First off, I want to commend those who conducted themselves safely and responsibly over what is always a busy weekend,” he said. “Our game wardens have really focused on increasing boating safety awareness over the past year, and I think we are starting to see the fruits of that effort. Combined with our patrols on Texas rivers, lakes and coastal bays, we saw a general reduction in cases over the weekend.”
Game wardens did, however, respond to 15 boating accidents and six drownings that occurred on waterbodies including the Rio Grande, Lake Sommerville, Grapevine, Blanco River, Cedar Creek Lake and Lake Buchanan.
“Unfortunately, drownings and deaths on the water are a painful reality our game wardens must contend with over holiday weekends,” Jones said. “So, while we are proud of the progress we’ve made in awareness of safe boating practices, we know we must continue our work to see people return home safely.”
This year, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department launched new social media channels focused on water safety. Game wardens attended outreach events including Houston Boat Show, Poteet Strawberry Festival, Duck’s Unlimited and Mayfest, and used other digital media tactics to broaden awareness, said Boater Education Manager Kimberly Sorensen.
“With boating season in full swing, we encourage all boaters to take the boater education course,” Sorensen said. “Boater education is required for anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993. If you are a new boater, learn the required safety equipment for your boat, use your engine cut off switch, avoid alcohol while boating and be aware of carbon monoxide even on open-air motorboats.”
Over the weekend, game wardens rescued capsized boaters, including at Lake Nasworthy, where they pulled 13 people from the water, and Lake Lewis, where some of the 16 rescued from choppy waters were not wearing life jackets, and instead were clinging to their overturned boat while waiting for help.
They also worked a cliff-jumping injury that resulted in a broken femur, broke up a fight at a swimming area and a hunting without consent case for a pronghorn killed in Sherman County, among other incidents.
For more information about water safety, visit www.tpwd.texas.gov.