Georgia, South Carolina take steps in new boating law agreement

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Georgia and South Carolina moved one step closer last week to an interstate boating law compact that will allow non-resident violators in both states to receive written citations instead of being taken to jail until bond can be posted.

“For in-state residents, they normally just write a ticket for minor violations,” said Law Enforcement Division Capt. Mike England of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Non residents, however, often face arrest for the same types of infractions, which can ruin a day on the water and increase
the workload for law enforcement officials who need to be out on the water enforcing boating safety rules.

Last Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the new Interstate Boating Violator Compact into law.

The compact, modeled after similar compacts for driving violations and game and fish matters, will allow Georgia and South Carolina residents to receive the same treatment anywhere in either state, not just on Savannah River waters along the shared border, England said.

The compact still requires final passage by South Carolina lawmakers, which is expected in the coming weeks.

Once formally adopted by both states, the compact will create a mutual agreement under which anyone who fails to pay their fine or show up for court in the other state will have their boating privileges suspended by their home state.

GATOR ATTACKS: I got an e-mail last week from Marci Cannon, the development director at the local Savannah Riverkeeper office, with an unusual request.

“We doing a swim event on June 14th,” she wrote “Can you write something that I can post that will encourage the swimmers and let them know they will not be eaten by the alligators in the river?”

It’s a question that comes up frequently, especially during Georgia’s fall gator season, when some hefty reptiles are hauled from the river, mostly downstream from Augusta.

As fearsome as gators can be, swimmers need not worry about them – at least, not much.

According to Georgia DNR records, gator attacks in our state are rare, with just one fatality documented in the past 40 years.

That case occurred in 2007 and involved an elderly woman whose body was found in a lagoon at Skidaway Island, near Savannah.

The attack was unrelated to gator hunting activity.

Since 1980, state authorities have recorded at least eight non-fatal gator incidents that caused injuries to humans, including a Jekyll Island golfer bitten on the hand while retrieving a golf ball in 1994; and a man wading in Lake Seminole in 2000 who stepped on a submerged gator and was bitten in the thigh.

Georgia’s popular gator season also helps remove older, larger animals from state waters, which further reduces the likelihood of dangerous encounters.

GOODBOATS FOR GOODWILL: The third annual GoodBoats for Goodwill competition is May 3.

The event, held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is a fundraiser for Goodwill’s job training and career development services, and for Helms College.

The festival celebrating Asian culture takes place at Lake Olmstead park, while teams of 20 paddlers compete on dragon boats
on the lake.

Goodwill supplies the boats and all safety equipment. Complete details can be found online at www.goodboats.org.

CSRA FLY FISHERS: The CSRA Fly Fishers will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the River Island community clubhouse in Evans.

The program includes a presentation by the Augusta Canal Authority on recreation opportunities up and down the canal.

Visitors are welcome. For more information see www.csraflyfishers.org.


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