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DNR: Don't power-load at public accesses

As summer progresses and lake water levels drop, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds boaters using public accesses to check ramp conditions before launching any boat and to refrain from "power loading."

Power loading is a phrase that describes using the motor thrust to load and unload a boat onto and off a trailer. The method is dangerous and can damage boats.

Instead of power loading, boaters are encouraged to use a winch to load and unload a boat.

Power loading creates blow holes and prop mounds when sediment, gravel and sometimes large rocks are blown beyond the ramp. Power loading can also cause damage to launch ramps that may not be visible from the surface of the water. Erosion under the concrete ramps and dock wheels can cause them to become uneven and, in some cases, fall into the blow holes.

The practice can also lead to expensive boat motor and trailer repairs. Motors can incur damage if the boat or lower unit runs aground on the mound. At shallow accesses, boat trailer frames can get hung up when trailers are backed off the end of the concrete ramp into the blow outs. Smaller vehicles may be unable to get the trailer out.

"We recommend that before launching, boaters look beyond the ramp for shallow water caused by prop mounds and ensure the water is deep enough for the boat and motor," said Dave Schotzko, DNR northwest region Parks and Trails Division supervisor. "This is especially important for those with larger boats and pontoons."

The DNR Parks and Trails Division manages about 3,000 public boat accesses statewide. DNR crews stay busy in the summer maintaining public water accesses. The added tasks of removing prop mounds and repairing docks and ramps become expensive and time consuming, making it impossible to level every boat landing to accommodate all sizes of boats at every lake. These repairs also take funding and time away from efforts that could be spent on other improvements.

To view a video on power loading, visit For more information on boating and boat accesses, visit or contact the DNR Information Center at or 651-296-6157, toll-free at 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.