Applegate Lake enthusiasts rally against speed limit increase

Freezing temperatures and a shrouding fog didn't deter Applegate Lake's faithful from showing up in droves Monday to keep waterskiers from breaking the solace they've had there for the past 33 years.

Bass and trout anglers were joined by kayakers, sailers and even open-water swimmers voicing their dissent against a petition to lift the 10-mph speed limit on the reservoir that has been in place since the first boating rules were applied to the new reservoir in 1981.

The petition seeks to lift the speed limit to allow faster waterskiers, wakeboarders and personal watercraft use on the reservoir that twice has been denied in similar requests.

Oregon State Marine Board staffers came to the Medford Library on Monday to take comment on the petition and heard a chorus of lake users saying don't mess with a good thing, saying speeding boats would make their current lake use dangerous.

"Lifting the speed limit on the lake will make it less multi-faceted," said bass angler Colby Pearson of Central Point.

"It's ridiculous to even have this in question," Pearson said.

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has opposed the change, saying lifting the speed limit flies against its long-standing approach of stressing slow-paced, recreational activities there.

The lake is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers while the Forest Service oversees recreational facilties there.

The proposal previously had been widely panned by those who have written more than 75 emails and two dozen letters the Marine Board received since accepting Jordan Reich's petition Nov. 4. But more than 100 people signed an online petition that Reich turned in to the Marine Board along with his proposal.

The Marine Board is gathering comments on the petition through 5 p.m. Dec. 31. It is set to consider the petition at its Jan. 9 meeting in Portland.

The petitioners say upping the speed limits would increase use of the lake's boating facilities, create more use of the waterway, decrease congestion at other area lakes and promote Applegate Valley businesses.

The proposal includes 5-mph no-wake zones around Harr Point Campground, the French Gulch boat ramp, the cove area around Carberry Campground and the Seattle Bar area popular among swimmers and waders when the reservoir level is high.

More than 100 people signed an on-line petition for the speed change.

The reservoir was created by the damming of the Applegate River just north of the Oregon/California border.

The Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engingeers, Marine Board and others were involved in the initial recreation management that led to the initiation of the 10-mph restriction that has remained since the lake first filled.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at

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