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Dry-dock inspections this weekend

Jackson County Sheriff's marine deputies over the next two weekends will hold their annual dry-dock inspections to give boaters the chance to have their powerboats and driftboats checked for the requisite safety gear.

The free inspections will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 28 and March 1, and again on March 7-8, at the Jackson County Marine headquarters, 620 Antelope Road, White City.

The inspections give fishing guides and other boaters a chance to have their crafts' safety features verified with the boat on the trailer instead of during an inspection by police on a river or lake this summer.

The dry-dock inspections typically draw from 300 to 500 boats.

Different safety requirements are in place for different-sized boats and motors. For details about exactly what safety equipment is needed for your boat, see www.oregon.gov/osmb/boatlaws/pages/requirements.aspx.

Sheriff's deputies generally conduct more than 4,000 boat inspections annually. Those who pass during the dry-dock checks this year will get a green transom sticker that signifies the boat has already been checked this year. Boats with the stickers generally are not stopped for inspections while on area rivers and lakes, but it does not render them immune to future inspections.

Boaters whose crafts fail the dry-dock inspections are told what items they need — such as better life jackets or a new state registration. An encounter on the Rogue River or a local lake without the requisite gear could lead to a citation.

Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be present to conduct inspections on boats used in coastal waters. Boats will be checked also for invasive species, such as grasses, mosses and zebra mussels.

It is illegal in Oregon to launch a boat with any aquatic species on it. At the inspections, marine deputies will pass out literature about the inspection program and the dangers of invasives.

Guides, outfitters to meet with Marine Board

Jackson County marine deputies and Marine Board officials will hold a summit with local fishing guides March 8 to inform guides of some technical changes in their rules and to give guides a sounding board about their work.

"It's an opportunity for all the outfitters and guides to have a town hall meeting and say what their concerns are," says Sgt. Shawn Richards from the Jackson County Marine Patrol.

The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 8 at the Search and Rescue Patrol building, 620 Antelope Road, White City.

During the meeting, the Marine Board will discuss some proposed rule changes and take public comment on them.

The proposals include new language to define license expiration dates for non-boating guides, and remove and clarify some violations and add specific references to types of fishing and hunting licenses, tags and permits needed for certain operations.

Oregon rivers topic of Discovering Wildlife presentation

A presentation Wednesday in Medford about some of Oregon's best rivers will round out the second season in Oregon Wildlife's popular public presentations.

River conservationist Tim Palmer will provide the third of three presentations on Medford's version of the nonprofit group's Discovering Wildlife series at downtown Medford's Craterian Theater.

Palmer is the author of "Field Guide to Oregon Rivers," an unprecedented publication that profiles 120 waterways throughout the state. He will give a photographic presentation on Oregon's rivers.

The Discovering Wildlife lectures begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be in the Craterian's lobby, which will be set up to seat about 100 people.

Tickets for Wednesday's presentation can be purchased online at the Craterian's website or at the box office during normal business hours. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. Tickets cost $5 each, or $3 for members of Oregon Wildlife.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.