It’s going to be a “shock and awe” kind of experience for some boaters trying to launch at San Luis State Park Recreation Area beginning Monday. That’s when the new ban on noncompliant two-stroke engines starts – keeping many anglers, recreational boaters and PWCs that don’t meet the Bureau of Reclamation standards from using the reservoir, Forebay or Los Banos Creek from now on!
My guess is that this may reduce the number of boaters by up to 30 percent, since so many are still running two-strokes from the ’80s and ’90s! Many multispecies anglers I know who fish San Luis are retired and running older rigs, and they certainly can’t afford to buy an expensive newer, compliant engine just to fish there. The many avid anglers fishing out of an old small aluminum boat powered by an ever steady, but antiquated, outboard are going to be hit hard, too. Especially when they find out!
According to the State Park, the new regulations followed a three-year phaseout. Now, two-stroke engines must be California Air Resources Board compliant and labeled with at least a one-star low-emission sticker to operate on State Park waters. All two-stroke engines built in California after 2001 were required to be sold with CARB-compliant engines. Most have the one-star, two-star (very low emissions) or three-star (ultra-low) emission stickers that will be verified at check-in at the lake.
(Many vessels sold prior to 2001 are four-strokers and not affected. Millerton Superintendent Kent Gresham said their program is staying the same, since they made the change several years ago.)
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If you have an older engine, no sticker and are wondering if you might be compliant, anglers have told me that you can go online (ARB.ca.gov), check if it qualifies and order a new sticker. Older PWCs will be at risk, too.
I talked with Supervising Ranger Gerald Heberling about what their new procedures will be for boats checking in at the Park Kiosk. “Each boat will continue to be checked for a Quagga band, and if not, they will be inspected as usual,” the ranger said. “At the same time they will check the engine to see if it’s tagged with a one-star or better emissions sticker. If it is not compliant, the angler will not be able to launch and their CF number will be registered.”
In addition, Heberling stated, “If a boat is launched that is not compliant, we will be issuing a misdemeanor citation. We will also be doing on the water inspections of all watercraft to make sure they are compliant this year. If a boat gets through the inspection and we find out the CF number is on file, and they have already been warned, it will result in a citation, too.”
I ran into a guy with an obviously older boat and engine the other day at the gas station, and he proudly showed me a “fake” CARB sticker that he had ordered online and put on his engine. Funny, his engine style screamed 1980s! He wasn’t fooling anyone! The rangers are on to it.
“Unfortunately, the time has come to meet the new standards,” Heberling said. “However, I can understand what they are trying to do, when on a calm day, I see an old engine pouring out heavy oil clouds as well as oil trails on top of the water, ones that you can follow clear across the lake.” Good point.
I feel really bad for San Luis fishermen with noncompliant engines, especially the diehards who depend on old rigs to reach fish they’ve passionately pursued for years! I wouldn’t want to be at the check-in when they find out they’re out of business! The world is changing. Never give up!