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Boat fees for Tulloch suggested
Sonora Union Democrat
Boat fees for Tulloch suggested

Published: July 28, 2005

A group working to protect Lake Tulloch from over-development is suggesting charging boating fees on the seven-mile long reservoir.

Lake Tulloch Alliance — which includes homeowners, business owners and homeowner associations along Tulloch's shores — has presented six proposals, including the boat fee idea, to District 5 Calaveras County Supervisor Victoria Erickson.

The alliance meets this afternoon to hear her response.

"We'll hear from Supervisor Erickson as to our next step to get our initiatives to the Board of Supervisors," alliance President Connie Williams said.

The alliance is requesting a yearly fee be charged for all boats launched or moored on the lake near Copperopolis.

Williams said it would be up to supervisors, law enforcement and Tri-Dam Project, which manages the lake, to work out specific details of such a fee. She added that alliance members hope funds raised by the fee would go for boating safety education and more law enforcement patrols on the waters.

Erickson said imposing such a fee is complicated, because the lake spans both Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.

"Making each boat pay a yearly fee to use the lake is one way of dealing with the situation," she said. "It is one tool in the tool box, but it won't solve all the problems."

Problems on the 1,260-acre reservoir are significant.

According to a 2003 Calaveras County Sheriff's Department safety report, Tulloch has among the highest rates of boating accidents, boating injuries and fatalities, and boats per square mile compared to other lakes in the county.

Tri-Dam Project manages Tulloch under a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Susan Larson, Tri-Dam Project Lake Tulloch coordinator, said Tri-Dam officials have studied Bass Lake in Madera County, which charges a fee based on watercraft engine size, as a possible model.

"It is something to be considered," she said, pointing out that Bass and Tulloch lakes share some similarities, including private homes and public marinas along the lakes' shores.

"At Bass Lake, the fee supports boating safety programs, boating classes and enhanced law enforcement," she said. "The fee has been successful and popular."

Larson said Tri-Dam and Erickson are working with Tuolumne and Calaveras counties' sheriffs departments and boards of supervisors to see if a fee would make sense for Lake Tulloch.

"But before we moved forward with such a program, we'd hold public meetings where people could ask questions and make suggestions," she said.

Williams emphasized that the alliance is not against growth, but wants to preserve and protect Lake Tulloch and its surrounding shoreline.

"Lake Tulloch is the jewel of Copperopolis," she said. "That's what draws people and developers here. We don't want to stop growth, but we want the county to implement the proper ordinances so that future generations can continue to enjoy this beautiful lake and area."

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