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Flags will be required on rental kayaks and canoes on Lake George in 2020

TICONDEROGA — All commercial canoes and kayaks will have safety flags for the 2020 boating season, the Lake George Park Commission decided on Tuesday.

Commissioners passed the resolution unanimously at their monthly meeting held at the Best Western in Ticonderoga. It came in response to an increasing number of kayak and motorboat collisions on the lake.

The flags, which are typically a small orange triangle on a skinny pole, must be placed off the stern of the boat and be no less than 42 inches in height. All marinas on the lake will have them on all public-use canoes and kayaks.

Private canoes and kayaks will not be required to have them, although they are encouraged.

The resolution does not include stand-up paddleboards, but Deputy Chairman Kenneth Parker said, “This resolution will contain future amendments as we move along.”

Executive Director David Wick said a consensus hadn’t been reached on paddleboards. While the idea is to stand up when using them, Wick said he was aware some folks sit or lie down on them, which could make them hard to see.

Before the resolution was passed, Robert Stegemann, regional director of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, asked commissioners if there had been any public comment or opposition to the kayak flags. Stegemann was sitting in for Marc Migliore, DEC representative to the Park Commission.

In August, an information session during a Park Commission meeting included a public forum on kayak safety. There, some spoke in favor of a flag or reflective sticker on kayaks.

Wick said comments he has heard against flags have come from individuals with their own kayaks, concerned that the flag would impede their ability to roll.

It was the Park Commission’s idea to start with regulated entities, like marinas, and focus on more inexperienced kayakers, Wick said.

“Are we done with this very issue now? I don’t believe we are,” Wick said. “But I think this is a very good starting spot to have those commercial operations have them in place.”

Parker joked that “in a perfect world, we’d outlaw all kayaks except for those that are neon yellow or green.”

People laughed.

“But we don’t live in a perfect world, yet,” Parker said.

The resolution was encouraging for Steve Ramant, deputy supervisor for the town of Hague.

Ramant has become the face of kayak safety over the last few years, concerned that waves and wakes can make kayakers on Lake George hard to spot.

“I appreciate what you’ve guys have just done,” Ramant said. “I think that’s a really important step for the safety of people on the lake.”