Lake Erie

Lake Erie is on the east side of Fidalgo Island.

The Skagit County Board of Commissioners approved a 30 mph speed limit Tuesday on Lake Erie, striking a compromise between boaters and residents who live along the lake.

At the public hearing, the commissioners agreed that a reduced speed limit, better education and better enforcement of the rules would alleviate concerns residents have with noise.

Lake Erie, a small lake on the eastern side of Fidalgo Island, had been governed by the county’s default 40 mph speed limit for lakes, but residents objected to noise generated by speeding boats and personal watercraft, county Parks and Recreation Director Brian Adams said.

A petition from residents suggested a 5 mph speed limit. Through discussions with the county’s Park Advisory Board, a compromise was reached.

“We believe a reduction is justified and reasonable,” board member Tim Manns said during the meeting.

He said the board heard from dozens of people at an earlier public meeting requesting some kind of reduction to the speed limit to cut down on noise.

Ahead of the vote, county Commissioner Peter Browning said the 30 mph proposal felt like a good compromise between residents frustrated with noise and those who use the lake for recreation.

“People can still water ski (or wakeboard) at 30 mph,” he said.

Commissioner Lisa Janicki said the county Sheriff’s Office will devote more patrols to the lake, but that due to staffing “enforcement can’t happen on every lake every weekend.”

The county Parks and Recreation Department will put up more signs around the lake as reminders of the speed limit and other boating rules.

Charles Wenker, who owns lakeside property and regularly goes boating, said at the hearing he felt any reduction in the speed limit was unnecessary.

“Most of us are responsible and adhere to (speed limits),” he said.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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