Seal of Dane County County of Dane
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Dane County Parks

Regulations & Safety

The Dane County Sheriff’s Department operates boat patrols on the Yahara lakes and enforces state and local boating laws. Deputies are on call for emergency response 24 hours per day. The department monitors Channel 16 on the VHF marine radio for emergency traffic. In addition, the City of Madison’s Fire Department has a lake rescue team that includes scuba divers and paramedic ambulance personnel. The University of Wisconsin Lifesaving Station on Lake Mendota also runs two rescue boats.

Boaters are strongly encouraged to participate in boat safety and training programs taught by the Red Cross, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, DNR, and volunteer instructors. Boaters should remember:

  • Each person on a boat is required to have an approved personal flotation device.
  • Operating a motorboat at a speed that is greater than reasonable and prudent is unlawful, as well as operating a boat while under the influence of an intoxicant or a controlled substance.
  • Boats towing persons engaged in waterskiing, aquaplaning or a similar activity on any lake can not do so within 100 feet of any occupied anchored boat, marked swimming area or public boat landing.

Dane County Ordinance Chapter 71 requires certain motorized vehicles operated on lakes within Dane County to be equipped with flotation. Learn more on the following webpages:

Boating