The Maine Warden Service alerted boaters Thursday to refrain from alcohol, obey boating speeds and protect inland waters from invasive species during the July 4 holiday weekend and all year.

In a news release, the agency called attention to national Operation Dry Water, during which boating patrols by wardens will be beefed up in Maine lakes, ponds and rivers to raise awareness and enforce safe boating practices.

Those practices include keeping required safety equipment onboard and wearing life jackets.

“Boating on one of Maine’s thousands of lakes and ponds is a wonderful way to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday weekend,” Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso said.  “And we want everyone to enjoy their summer on the water in a safe and responsible manner.“

Operation Dry Water is a year-round boating-under-the-influence awareness and enforcement campaign with the mission of reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related incidents and fatalities through more awareness and a more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug-use on the water, according to the agency’s press statement.

During Operation Dry Water in 2021, the Warden Service deployed more than 80 officers patrolling Maine waters, amassing nearly 1,600 hours of keeping Maine’s waters safe. The Warden Service had contact with nearly 1,700 boats and over 5,600 boaters, and arrested one boater who had a blood alcohol level of .17%, the statement said. Anyone with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher is in violation of the law.

“Alcohol use is the leading factor in boating deaths throughout the country,” Maine Game Warden Lt. Jason Luce said. “Maine Game Wardens will be patrolling lakes and ponds throughout the state to ensure that we all can safely enjoy Maine’s waters.”

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