Dry-dock inspections are set to go

    Jackson County Sheriff's marine deputies over the next two weekends will hold their annual dry-dock inspections to give boaters the chance to have their powerboats and driftboats checked for the requisite safety gear.

    The checks can help boaters avoid interruptions on the water during the season.

    The free inspections will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 1-2, and April 8-9, at the Jackson County Marine headquarters, 620 Antelope Road, White City.

    This year's inspections were delayed until now because of the weather, says Sgt. Shawn Richards of the sheriff's marine program.

    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 inspections are on a first-come, first-served basis and no reservations are required.

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

    Different safety requirements are in place for different-sized boats and motors. For details about what safety equipment is needed for your boat, see www.oregon.gov/OSMB/boater-info/Pages/Required-Equipment.aspx

    Sheriff's deputies generally conduct more than 4,000 boat inspections annually. Those who pass their dry-dock checks will get a blue 2017 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 where federal boating regulations are in place.

    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.

    BLM hosts Lek trek

    Bureau of Land Management biologists are inviting the public to a free hike April 8 to witness the spring courtship rituals of greater sage grouse.

    The field trip will leave at 6 a.m. from the BLM's Lakeview Office, at 1301 S. G St., in Lakeview.

    Sage-grouse breeding, also known as “lekking,” occurs during four to six weeks in early spring at gathering sites called “leks,” where they do their courtship dancing. There are about 100 lek sites across Lake County, according to BLM.

    The field trip is limited to 20 people to minimize potential disturbances to the lekking. Reservations are first-come, first-served. To reserve a spot, call Larisa Bogardus at 541-947-6237 or email her at lbogardus@blm.gov by noon April 7.

    Carpooling is encouraged, and participants should dress for sagebrush trekking up to a half-mile. Bring water and food, and dress for the weather.

    — Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtfribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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