The total area of Lake Powell is some 254 square miles of water and 1,900 miles of shore. Estimates are that around two million people visit the area each year to enjoy hiking, boating, water sports, fishing, and camping. The large number of people on the lake creates a need for proactive boating safety outreach and enforcement.
Program Funding & History
In the 1980s, the Arizona State Legislature established the Law Enforcement and Boating Safety Fund (LEBSF, Arizona Revised Statute 5-383) and the State Lake Improvement Fund (SLIF, Arizona Revised Statute 5-382) to provide grants to counties to support boating law enforcement and safety. LEBSF funds are derived from a portion of license taxes paid when boats are registered. SLIF funds are derived from a portion of motor vehicle fuel tax and watercraft license tax. Both of the grants are managed by the Arizona State Parks Grant Programs Division. Around 2008, SLIF funds were swept by the state legislature and no longer available for this program. In 2017, the Arizona Game and Fish Department began a program to donate and transfer boats that were rotated out of service to counties in need. Coconino County Sheriff's Office is pleased to be a recipient of this generous donation.
The Sheriff’s Office currently has a 27-foot all-weather Boston Whaler, a 23-foot Koffler jet drive boat for patrol on the Colorado River, and two jet skis for harbor and low water patrols. In 2016 we were able acquire a much newer 18-foot Boston Whaler through the Arizona Game and Fish Department law enforcement donation program. This was a much needed acquisition as the other whaler is nearing its life expectancy. With the newer whaler, we are able to increase our ability to patrol the lake in a more cost effective manner.
Program Successes & Initiatives
Since the inception of the program, the Sheriff’s Office has performed many water rescues in inclement weather, rescues from sinking vessels, and recoveries of drowning victims. In addition to the rescue component of boat patrol, the officers actively enforce all Title 5 watercraft operation laws.
One of our most beloved programs is a t-shirt stating, “I got caught wearing my life jacket.” T-shirts are given to children who are wearing their life vest and to people who were ticketed the previous year for life vest violations. The t-shirts are a reminder of the importance of water safety practices.
The Sheriff’s Office also works with Arizona Game and Fish Department to provide boating safety classes in the Page area and water safety classes for elementary students.
Operating Under the Influence (OUI) Check Points
Each year, the Sheriff’s Office partners with other water law enforcement agencies to host an Operating Under the Influence (OUI) check point on Lake Powell.
To learn more about boat safety and regulations, visit the Arizona Game and Fish boating information webpages