The official kick-off to summer in Wyoming is Memorial Day, and that means taking the boat out, maybe for the first time this year. Before hitting the road for the holiday weekend, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Wyoming State Parks remind all boaters — from motorized boaters to paddlers — to be prepared and be sure watercraft are outfitted with the required safety equipment.

“We want all boaters to safely enjoy Wyoming’s waters. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a life jacket for all of the passengers in your watercraft. It is the law and life jackets are proven to save lives,” said Aaron Kerr, Game and Fish law enforcement coordinator. “That means you need a life jacket aboard all watercraft including kayaks, canoes and even stand-up paddle boards.”

Boaters are required to have a life jacket available for each individual on board. Life jackets must be properly sized, U.S. Coast Guard-approved and in good condition. They cannot be waterlogged, torn or have straps broken or missing. Life jackets also need to be readily accessible to the passengers on board. Children 12 years old and under are required to wear a life jacket while the boat is underway unless they are inside an enclosed cabin. Anyone being towed by a boat, wake surfing or riding on a personal watercraft (jet ski) is required to wear a life jacket as well.

“We want everyone to enjoy the summer and boating season,” said Kyle Bernis, Wyoming State Parks district manager. “We encourage boaters and paddlers to share their passion for responsible boating by following the safety rules and ensuring everyone has fun on the water.”

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2021 and that 83 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

Motorized watercraft required additional safety equipment:

A minimum of one U.S. Coast Guard throwable flotation device, which includes ring buoys and float cushions, aboard boats 16 feet and longer.
A proper fire extinguisher on any boat with an inboard engine, permanently installed fuel tank, closed living space, double bottoms that are not sealed to the hull or compartments that store fuel tanks or other combustible materials. Multiple extinguishers may be needed depending on the size of the boat.
Navigation lights are required when boating from sunset to sunrise. All motorized boats are required to display a red and a green light to represent the port (left) and starboard (right) sides, as well as a white light that is visible 360 degrees when underway. Again, the types of lights required differ based on the size of the boat.
To safely operate a motorized watercraft, all operators must be at least 16 years old, obey any buoys or markers in the water, and avoid reckless or careless operation. Additionally, boating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal.

Boaters also are reminded they need to register their motorized watercraft to be legal when operating on Wyoming waters. This includes boats powered by electric trolling motors. All watercraft, with the exception of non-motorized inflatables under ten feet in length, also require an aquatic invasive species decal.

Watercraft registrations can be completed at any Game and Fish office. Registrations may also be renewed online via the Game and Fish website. The owner is the only person authorized to register a boat.

Watercraft owners may pick up a copy of the Wyoming Watercraft Regulations at any Game and Fish office or license vendor.

Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Calendar Photo Contest Entries

The Wyoming Wildlife 2024 Calendar Photo Contest Underway. The contest accepts photos of wildlife taken in Wyoming, including Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Wildlife includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Wyoming Mountaineers of Casper College Archival Collection

This collection was found unprocessed but was pieced together in stages over the course of a year, starting with the scrapbook and photo albums created by the WMCC. These items were found first and so were arranged and described at the collection level, and then as processing continued, the climbing vest and pitons were found, followed by various documents and articles written and published on the Mountaineers, all of which brought the collection together.

Highlights of the collection are the artifacts and documentation of the First Graduation Climb on Devils Tower in 1955, the 1956 Rappel off the side of the Casper Gladstone Hotel, and the climbs during the 50th Anniversary of Devils Tower. Documentation on the latter includes a feature in LIFE Magazine.

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