New Rules Improve Boating Safety, Access to Colorado River

SAN BERNARDINO – An updated boating ordinance approved today by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors is designed to improve both safety and recreational opportunities on the Colorado River.

“The Colorado River is an economic and recreational treasure for San Bernardino County,” said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. “These changes will improve safety at Park Moabi, one of our most popular county regional parks, and they also update some outdated rules to accommodate long-time recreational activities, including camping on the river.”

The ordinance now permits staying in boats overnight on the Colorado River, though that restriction remains in effect on other county waterways.

With the recent opening of the popular Pirate Cove Resort within Park Moabi, just south of Needles, some people have been swimming across the narrow channel in the path of boats and personal watercraft to get to the bar and restaurant, creating a safety hazard. The owners of the resort worked with the Sheriff’s Department to remedy the situation. The ordinance now prohibits swimming in the Park Moabi channel, except in designated areas.

The county boating ordinance was last updated in 1981 before personal watercraft, such as Jet Skis, Sea- Doos and WaveRunners, were in wide use. The old ordinance required that boats be at least 12 feet in length and no longer than 26 feet. Personal watercraft are usually shorter than 12 feet, and many boats, including house boats that have operated on the river for years, commonly exceed 26 feet. The new ordinance exempts the Colorado River from that restriction.

Park Moabi is one of the most-visited parks in the nine-unit county regional park system, with more than 185,000 visitors per year. With the addition of the Pirate Cove Resort, the park is attracting more visitors, generating more revenue and creating up to 150 jobs. Tourism in the county is a $3.7 billion industry, supporting tens of thousands of jobs. The Colorado River has approximately 17 million visitors a year along the stretch within the county’s jurisdiction. A recent survey of Park Moabi visitors found that two-thirds have family incomes of at least $75,000 per year, with three-quarters being college educated.

“There is no place in the country with a diversity of natural beauty and recreational opportunities comparable to San Bernardino County,” said Supervisor Mitzelfelt. “We must take every opportunity to capitalize on these incredible assets and the success of Pirate Cove at Park Moabi is an outstanding example of that.”

The County Sheriff’s Department patrols 90 miles of the Colorado River and shares jurisdiction with four other counties in Arizona and Nevada.

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