Is the water safe for boating?

Earlier this week, officials in Oregon announced that the presence of a toxic blue-green algae in the waters of the Willow Creek Reservoir, a popular spot in Eastern Oregon for fishing and water sports. Although some alerts say boating is safe, the water is considered unsafe to drink, touch, or breathe. Boating and fishing, officials say, can be done “with caution”, meaning not to boat quickly enough to cause water spray or eat the parts of the fish that may have stored the toxic algae. For Oregon boaters the solution seems clear: Find another place to boat this summer. But are boaters generally aware of the safety of the waters in which they play?

Blue-green algae is not a rare occurrence, nor is it limited to Oregon or the Pacific Northwest. It’s been reported as far south and east as Florida in the United States and is seen commonly in other countries. In addition to blue-green algae, toxic red tides can arise from algal blooms. Waters can also be impacted by agriculture runoff and industrial pollution. There are a variety of factors that can make your favorite waterway suddenly unsafe.

How can you tell if the water is safe for boating?

It’s nice to think that water that looks clean is clean, and it’s true that many changes to the water can be easily seen. A red tide, for example, that typically occurs along coastal waterways will be easy to spot; the water literally turns red in areas. Extreme pollution may also affect the clarity of the water, a change a frequent visitor to a lake or stream may be able recognize with the naked eye. However, it’s not a good idea to rely on your vision when determining the safety of the water.

In the United States, government agencies are charged with monitoring the safety of most waterways. If a change occurs, they may post warnings to web sites, alert the media, or erect signs on-site. Become familiar with the water quality standards in your area, as well as the agencies responsibility for their regulating and enforcing them.

When it comes to boating safety, it’s not just what happens on the boat that counts. Before putting your boat in the water this summer, make sure you get familiar with the water condition in your area. Do your part to keep the local surface water safe by practicing green boating.

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3 Green Boat Stuff Every Boater Needs

When you think about green boating, there’s a good chance you think about alternate energy sources and preventing fuel spills in the water. That’s great! But there are many other little ways you can be gentle to the environment when boating.

Whether you have a sailboat, a speed boat, or a fishing boat with a small outboard motor, every green boater should be using these three products!

3 Green Boating Products Every Boater Needs

1. Biodegradable garbage bags. You need to have garbage bags on deck so that you can take your waste back to land with you and not leave it behind in the water. Compostable and biodegradable trash bags help you leave one less thing behind in the landfill as well.

2. Re-usable water bottles. Experienced boaters know you need to bring plenty of hydration out on the water with you, but buying a case of water results in unnecessary expense and plastic bottles that need to be recycled or thrown away. Buy one re-usable water bottle for everyone in your family and fill up before you leave. You can bring a large jug of water for refills.

3. Environmentally-friendly sunscreen. There’s a lot of debate among experts about which sunscreens are best and how much damage is being done to waterways by sunscreens. It can be confusing to know what’s safest for your family and the environment. Don’t take any chances and stock up on chemical free sunscreens that have been proven to be effective.

Do you have all the basics on board for green boating?

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5 Summer Boating Safety Tips

It’s officially warm enough that boaters all over the country can start enjoying time on the water again. That means making memories and having fun, but it also means it’s a good time to remember how to keep everyone safe on the water. Whether you’re spending an entire day on the boat or just going for a short ride, make sure you and everyone on the boat are practicing these summer boating safety guidelines.

Summer Boating Safety Tips

1. Make sure all children wear life jackets whenever they’re on the boat or near the water. Kids are fast and they can be overboard in the blink of an eye. Don’t count on being able to keep kids safe by “keeping an eye on them” at all times.

2. Make sure there is a life jacket on board for every adult. Never take on more riders than you have personal floatation devices to accommodate. At the beginning of the season, make sure each adult has a life jacket that fits properly. Replace any that no longer fit.

3. Don’t drink and drive a boat. For the same reasons you don’t get behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol, you should never operate a boat when you’ve been drinking.

4. Check your safety equipment regularly. Fire extinguishers, safety lines, anchors and other safety equipment should all be checked to make sure they’re in proper working condition.

5. Take a boating safety course. Consider taking a safety course and having other adults and older children in the family taking a course. This is the best way to learn how to avoid collisions with other boats, handle sudden changes in weather, and deal with any unexpected emergencies that could occur on the water. Your state DNR likely provides courses or will be able to direct you to an accredited organization that does.

Taking the time to be safe on the water ensures that everyone will be able to enjoy the summer and many summers to come. And of course, remember to practice green boating all year long, too!

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Ethanol Subsidies Disappearing, Time to Think about Green Boat Fuel

The United States Senate recently voted to end annual ethanol subsidies, based primarily it seems on the notion that ethanol isn’t the miracle fuel source once believed. It turns out using the corn-based ethanol as a fuel source may be almost as bad for the environment as using regular gas, even if corn can be grown, unlike the non-renewable crude oil needed to produce other types of fuel. Corn may be “renewable”, but producing ethanol has been shown to be a drain on water and energy resources and has been cited as a potential cause of food shortages.

Where does that leave boaters looking for better fuel options for their boats?

Well, you can always swap the motor boat for a sail boat or canoe and paddle. Fortunately, those aren’t your only options. Bio-diesel fuels can be used in any diesel engine with little to no modifications necessary, although your regular maintenance schedule may need to be adjusted. Electric motors are also available on today’s market and can often be powered with solar or wind energy for a completely green power source.

The problem for many boaters, of course, is that making the change to alternative power and fuel sources can be expensive. If you already have a boat that runs on ethanol or unleaded fuel, using bio-diesel isn’t an option. What can you do?

Consider saving up so that your next boat can run on green power. In the meantime, look for ways to be green in the galley, reduce your fuel consumption, and prevent fuel spills.

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Arizona Wildfire Caused by People – How to Prevent Another One

A fire has been burning in Arizona’s Bear Wallow Wilderness area since May 29th, and has officially been declared the largest wildfire in the state’s history. As of Wednesday, the fire was still burning, marking more than two weeks of ongoing destruction in the area. Recently, officials revealed that the record-breaking fire was caused by humans.

Although the investigation is still ongoing, investigators have said that the fire was human-caused and may have been started by an abandoned campfire in the forest. In other words, another blow to the environment and natural wildlife has been struck by people being careless with natural resources.

It’s sad to realize that this tragedy could have been prevented. However, it’s a good time to stop and remember what we can do to prevent a similar event from happening in our own areas.

How to Prevent Forest Fires

Don’t smoke. If you do smoke in a forest, don’t throw your butts on the ground. Extinguish them completely and take the butts with you out of the forest.

Extinguish your campfire completely. Before retiring for the night or leaving your site, pour water on the campfire to make sure it is no longer burning.

Build safe fires. Stick to designated fire pits when possible. If making your own pit is allowed, build your fire at least 15 feet away from tents, shrubs and trees.

Leave the candles at home. Battery powered flashlights and lanterns are a safer alternative to fire-fueled light sources.

Never leave a fire unattended. Whether you’re grilling over a campfire or burning debris in your own backyard, consistently monitor your fire. Even properly built fires can cause problems if left unattended and it doesn’t take long for a fire to spread.

While you’re not likely to start a forest fire on your boat, we all know it’s just as important to protect our resources on land as well as in the water! Be watchful and safe this summer.

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Good News: Going Green is Good Business

It seems like there hasn’t been much good economic news to discuss in recent years, but some businesses are finding ways to survive. In fact, some industries are thriving by adapting to the changing social and economic climate. The good news for the environment is that some companies are finally proving that going green can also be good for business.

California-based research firm IBISWorld recently released a list of the top 10 fastest-growing industries. Tech industries dominated the list, but environmental sectors claimed three of the top spots.

10 Fastest Growing Industries

  1. Voice Over IPs
  2. Wind Power
  3. E-Commerce & Online Auctions
  4. Environmental Consulting
  5. Biotechnology
  6. Video Games
  7. Solar Power
  8. Third-Party Administrators & Insurance Claims Adjusters (ouch!)
  9. Correctional Facilities (double ouch!)
  10. Internet Publishing & Broadcasting

Looking at environmentalism in terms of businesses and industries is a reminder that it takes more than good intentions to make change. Voting with your dollars by choosing green products and services encourages corporations to increase supply. This applies not only to consumer products, but also to alternative energy sources. By choosing green options now, even when the initial costs are higher, we help create more options and better prices for the future.

Make an effort to support businesses that practice sustainability, practice conservation in your own home, and purchase green products whenever possible. Our efforts are making a difference!

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How to Save on Boating Fuel Costs

More people may turn to green boating this year as a way to save money. Fuel prices continue to be a concern for boaters, making fuel conservation an economical issue as much as an environmental one. Learn how to save money at the marina pump while still enjoying your boat this summer.

3 Easy Ways to Save on Boating Fuel Costs

1. Keep your boat engine tuned. A boat that is running properly will usually use less fuel than a boat that does not. Even a small problem can cause your engine to work harder and less efficiently.

2. Don’t tow excess water. Emptying water out of pontoons and keeping your bilge and head dry for a single day of fun on the water makes your boat lighter. The lighter the boat, the less fuel needed to propel it through the water.

3. Turn off the engine. Whether you’re waiting for a water-skiier to regroup, fishing, or just chatting with other boaters, turn off the engine instead of idling in the water. Idling wastes fuel and may emit carbon monoxide fumes.

Every boater can practice these conservation tips without spending an extra penny or making any changes to their existing vessel. If you want to save even more on fuel costs in the future, look into solar and wind power systems that can power your boat and your boating gear.

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Reminder: Practice Green Boating on Memorial Day Weekend

For many of us, Memorial Day Weekend marks the beginning of our summer. The kids are out of the school, the temperature is a little warmer than it was a month ago, and you finally have the perfect excuse to get the boat in the water. We’re certain you were environmentally responsible over the last few weeks as you’ve prepared your boat for this weekend, but we just wanted to give you one more reminder to practice green boating and green living while you’re having fun out there!

3 Quick Tips for Green Boating on Memorial Day Weekend

1. Wear eco-friendly and non-toxic sunscreen!

The Environmental Working Group just recently released their annual sunscreen guide, which is always a great resource for helping you choose the safest forms of protection from UV rays. Once again, Badger sunscreen receives the organization’s highest rating for both effectiveness and safety. Wearing green sunscreen brands is an important part of protecting the water and marine life this summer.

2. Take ALL your trash to shore.

Most people already know that you shouldn’t throw water bottles or aluminum cans into the water, but remember it’s important not to leave anything behind. Recycle your fishing line and put your food scraps in the trash you’ll bring to shore. If it didn’t come from the water, it shouldn’t end up there when you’re done with it.

3. Be prepared to handle an accident.

There are many steps you can (and should) take to prevent a fuel spill in the water, but accidents can still happen. Your immediate response to a spill is the most important. Before pushing off from the dock this weekend, make sure you have an absorbent oil pad on board.

Now, get out there and have some fun!

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Green Boating Law Bans Copper Bottom Paints

Finding alternatives to copper bottom paint has been a green boating priority for several years. Now, it appears that all boaters may need to reconsider their painting supplies as copper bottom paint becomes banned by state laws.

What is copper bottom paint?

Antifouling paint is applied to prevent fouling from marine life to the boat hull. Copper Bottom Paint is specifically designed to release small amounts of copper in order to stop muscles, barnacles and other marine life from attaching to the bottom of boat. However, some studies have indicated that this leeched copper is accumulating in large enough quantities to do significant damage to the waters of crowded marinas.

Copper Bottom Paint Banned

Washington State recently become the first state in the US to ban copper bottom paint. The law targets recreational vehicles under 65 feet long and gives boaters until 2020 to find alternatives. Boaters who are caught using copper bottom paint could pay fines of up to $10,000 per day.

While some critics of the law are disappointed that commercial vessels and larger recreational boats are exempt from the ban, proponents argue that the majority of boats parked at private marinas are covered by the legislation. There has been no mention of future plans to expand the law, but greening boating advocates are hopeful that the Washington law is just one step towards banning copper paints on a larger scale.

Green Alternatives to Copper Bottom Paint

Although Washington gives boaters almost a decade to find alternatives, there’s no need to wait nearly that long to start using environmentally friendly antifouling paint. Copper-free hull paint is already available from ePaint and SeaHawk Yacht Finishes. The ePaint compounds use Hydrogen Peroxide or Zinc Omadine to prevent fouling, and SeaHawk Yacht Finishes boasts a completely metal-free product.

Does the law go far enough?

With safe alternatives already readily available, does the Washington ban go far enough? Is the phase-out plan too generous, and should the owners of commercial vessels and large yachts also be exempt?

Tell us what you think!

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3 Reasons to Practice Green Boating

If you aren’t already practicing green boating, making the switch can seem overwhelming at first. You have to learn about the best kind of fuel, green maintenance, what types of products to use on board, and how to handle fuel spills responsibly. But the time it takes to educate yourself about green boating is time well spent.

3 Reasons to Practice Green Boating

1. Protect your favorite boating areas.

The lakes, rivers, streams and oceans we boat in are part of a delicate ecosystem made up of plants and animals. It’s this system that allows you to enjoy the beauty of the Great Outdoors, but maintaining it requires balance. Chemicals in the air and water can cause small changes in the ecosystem that lead to bigger changes, some of which can make the waterways no longer safe for boating, fishing or swimming.

2. Keep your food clean.

Whether you eat the fish that live in the water or the other animals that eat them, practicing green boating is essential to protecting your own food source.

3. Set a good example for kids.

Showing kids how to properly care for the environment doesn’t just teach them how to be green, but also how to be socially conscious. It shows them how to think beyond their own immediate needs and reminds them that they are a part of a larger community.

Green boating is good for the water, good for the Earth, and good for you!

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