Dry-dock inspections could draw 500 boats

Jackson County Sheriff's marine deputies over two upcoming weekends will give boaters the chance to have their powerboats and driftboats checked for the requisite safety gear.

The annual dry-dock inspections will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and again on March 29-30, at the Jackson County Marine headquarters, 620 Antelope Road, White City.

The inspections give fishing guides and other boaters a chance to have their crafts' safety features verified with the boat on the trailer instead of during an inspection by police on a river or lake this summer.

The dry-dock inspections typically draw anywhere from 300 to 500 boats.

Different safety requirements are in place for different-sized boats and motors. For details about exactly what safety equipment is needed for your boat, see www.oregon.gov/osmb/boatlaws/pages/requirements.aspx.

Sheriff's deputies generally conduct more than 4,000 boat inspections annually. Those who pass during the dry-dock checks will get a transom sticker that signifies the boat has already been checked this year. Boats with the stickers generally are not stopped for inspections while on area rivers and lakes, but it does not render them immune to future inspections.

Boaters whose crafts fail the dry-dock inspections are told what items they need — such as better life jackets or a new state registration. An encounter on the Rogue River or a local lake without the requisite gear could lead to a citation.

Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be present to conduct inspections on boats used in coastal waters. Boats will be checked also for invasive species, such as grasses, mosses and zebra mussels.

It is illegal in Oregon to launch a boat with any aquatic species on it. At the inspections, marine deputies will pass out literature about the inspection program and the dangers of invasives.

A series of Rogue Valley wildlife lectures will resume Tuesday in Central Point when a state wildlife biologist discusses state and federal efforts to better understand the region's Pacific fishers.

Steve Niemela, a wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, will talk about the natural history of the Pacific fisher and recent studies by his agency, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

The presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be at the Bob and Phyllis Mace Watchable Wildlife Memorial Center on the grounds of The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point.

This is the last of a three-lecture series put on by Oregon Wildlife in conjunction with ODFW.

To learn more register for space, see http://bit.ly/1kMaxsq

The presentation costs $5; free for Oregon Wildlife supporters who make a $50 annual gift.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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