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Boat speeds on Tims Ford Lake under scrutiny

Posted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 2:33 pm

08-31-16 Winchester Tims Ford Boat SpeedsWINCHESTER, Tenn. — Lakefront property owners and anglers are asking government agencies that operate Tims Ford to add a wake zone on Dry Creek and do away with a proposed one on Boiling Fork Creek.

Members from the Dripping Springs Property Owners Association and Tims Ford Bass Club met with State Sen. Janice Bowling during her regular town hall meeting in Winchester last week to air their concerns.

They want the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to set a public hearing on the wake zone issues.

Dripping Springs residents along Dry Creek’s west bank want a no wake zone added to avoid dangerous situations with boaters around their docks and lakefront property at a boat ramp area.

On the other hand, the residents and anglers who use Tims Ford want a proposed one on Boiling Fork Creek, extending a mile west from Highway 130, to no longer be considered because it would slow boat traffic to idle speed, making it difficult for bass fishermen and boaters to enjoy using the lake.

The no wake zone has been proposed as part of the Twin Creeks Marina project on the south side of Boiling Fork Creek.

Jake Davis, who operates Mid-South Bass Guide, and Gary Lahr, Dripping Springs vice president/secretary, explained Thursday that the wake zones spell differing consequences.

They agreed adding a wake zone to Dripping Springs area would ensure safety.

Davis said although a no wake zone reduces boat speeds to very slow rates, not having one means no speed limit at all.

He said boaters pulling inner tubes on Dry Creek are bound to eventually have one of their draw-behind passengers crash into a dock and get killed, as has occurred on other lakes in Middle Tennessee.

Davis also said boaters pulling wake boards at higher speeds also causes problems.

He said wake boards — like a very wide, single water ski — are designed to ride on high wakes, essentially 8-foot tall waves created by tow boats with heavy water ballast used to create the enlarged water pattterns.

He added that the waves created are high enough to wash away dock furniture and damage lakefront property.

Davis and Lahr agreed a no wake zone at the Dripping Springs subdivision would ensure safety to water recreationalists and dock owners.

They said the situation on Boiling Fork Creek is entirely different.

Davis said a mile-plus no wake zone there would add about an hour and a half to the time it takes competitive bass fishermen to get to and from other areas on Tims Ford Lake. He added that means they would lose that much fishing time.

He said Tims Ford Bass Club would be in the no wake zone and tournaments would be greatly hampered by the reduced boat speed.

Lahr said the no wake zone could spell severe financial consequences because many boaters, like himself participate in the sport for the same reasons he does. He added that lakefront property values could be diminished because it would take 45 minutes each way to go and return through a mile-plus long no wake zone.

Lahr said prospective lakefront buyers would simply look elsewhere — where they wouldn’t have to deal with the slow speeds.

Davis said Winchester routinely hosts fishing tournaments and a no wake zone right in front of the bass club could squelch competitive fishing opportunities. He added that anglers spend money on lodging, supplies and other purchases in the cities where they fish, and Winchester would be greatly affected if its fishing tournament income were reduced.

Davis said he fully supports the marina project and has been a proponent to having it. However, he said the original “harbor limit” which would essentially create a limited no wake zone within a few hundred feet from the Twin Creek docks would be sufficient to ensure safety.

—By BRIAN JUSTICE, Herald-Chronicle Editor

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