East Texas game wardens stress importance of boating safety

Gregg County Game Warden Todd Long and Upshur County Game Warden Nathan Skeen talk about how everyone needs to observe water safety measures.
Published: Apr. 30, 2023 at 4:51 PM CDT
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - As we move into May, Memorial Day Weekend traditionally starts the Spring-Summer water recreation season, but East Texas game wardens are preparing now for a rush to waterways.

The last weekend of April and a beautiful Spring day brings boaters and some swimmers to Lake Gladewater, a trend that game wardens are already preparing for.

“We’re going to be out there every day, especially on the weekends come Summertime as it approaches,” says Gregg county game warden Todd Long.

“Make sure you have all your water safety stuff, all your equipment. We’re sticklers on life jackets. Nobody’s water proof,” says Upshur County game warden Nathan Skeen.

Boater safety education has become a priority every Spring, as statistically 70% of boating deaths occur on crafts where the operators did not receive boating safety instruction.

“The lakes have never been busier than they are right now, so we’re stressing water safety. We’re also stressing boaters take a water safety-boater safety class. There’s different levels of experience out there. You’re going to see some folks who get out once a year, some who are out there every day,” Long says.

And alcohol use is always watched by wardens.

“A BWI, boating while intoxicated, carries the same penalty as driving while intoxicated on a roadway,” Skeen says.

Boaters, swimmers and even fishermen are at risk if they don’t have the proper safety knowledge.

“Don’t wait until there’s a citation or an emergency on the water. Don’t wait until we show up,” says Long.

“You can replace equipment, you can replace a boat, but you can’t replace a life,” says Skeen.

To find out more about taking a ‘boaters safety course’, you can log on to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.