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Rules and Regulations

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Boating Guide

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Points to Remember

All vessels are responsible for any discomfort or injury to other persons or damage to vessels caused by their wake.

Swimmers have the right of way at all times over all vessels.

Any vessel not operating under mechanical power and any anchored vessel shall have the right of way over any vessel operating under mechanical power. Motorboat operators shall give such vessels reasonable clearance, so the wash and wake does not unnecessarily disturb said boats.

Only authorized emergency-rescue or law enforcement vessels may be equipped with or use flashing red/blue lights or sirens.

Any operator observing flashing red/blue lights on an approaching vessel shall immediately stop.

Those navigating or attempting to navigate any stream-or river with nonpowered vessels may portage or otherwise transport their vessel around any fence or obstruction in such stream or river.

Wear Your Life Jacket!

Unlawful Practices

  • It is unlawful to operate or give permission for the operation of a vessel which is not equipped as required.
  • To is unlawful to for any operator to exceed the speed posted or charted in any specific zone or area. Under all other circumstances speed must be reasonable and proper in consideration of the prevailing conditions.
  • Speeds exceeding 5 mph are illegal at all times in or within 30 yards of any vessel, harbor, marina, landing pier, fishing pier, anchorage or bathing beach.
  • It is unlawful to wake jump with a motorized vessel withint 50 yards of another craft.
  • Operating a motorboat with a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater constitutes Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and carries a penalty of up to $1,000 fine, up to six months in jail and the loss of boating privileges for six months. Refusal to submit to a chemical blood alcohol text will result in the same penalties as BUI.
  • Personal watercraft cannot under any circumstances be operated from sunset to sunrise.
  • Operation of vessels is prohibited within an area marked off or set aside as a prohibited area.
  • Swimming or bathing is prohibited in any marinas or within 20 yards of launching, mooring or docking areas.
  • No vessel may be tied off or attached to any buoy, marker or navigational aid on any waters in this state.
  • It is unlawful to place or leave, in any public waters, any vessel not safe for operation.
  • No child under 13 is allowed aboard any vessel when not wearing a Coast Guard-approved life preserver except when hunting waterfowl in an anchored boat. Operators shall be held responsible.
  • No one under 14 shall operate motorboats of any class at any time. Owners shall be held responsible.
  • Each personal watercraft operator must wear a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch if the personal watercraft is equipped by the manufacturer.
  • Nebraska law requires any motorboat operator (including personal watercraft) born after 12/31/1985 to complete a Boating Safety Course and be in possession of a course certificate when operating the boat.
  • It is unlawful to operate a motorboat from October 15 through January 15 of each Year on the following state wildlife refuges:
    • Garden County Refuge, North Platte River
    • Lincoln County Refuge, North Platte River
    • Dodge-Saunders County Refuge, Platte River
    • Boyd-Holt County Refuge, Niobrara River
Unsafe Vessels

OVERLOADING-No overloaded vessels shall be operated on the waters of this state.
All vessels when loaded must retain at least one-half of the total depth of the boat above the water when measured at the center of the vessel and must meet the requirement of the manufacture's capacity plate.

If any conservation officer or other law enforcement official of this state observes a vessel being operated without the proper equipment or with any other unsafe condition, he may direct the operator to correct the situation immediately or return to mooring until the hazard is corrected.


Every vessel with an installed toilet must have an operable U.S. Coast Guard certified marine sanitation device (MSD) Type I, II or III. If equipped with a "Y" valve, and when operating on Nebraska waters, the valve must be secured in the closed position by a padlock, non-releasable wire tie or removal of the handle, so that the valve can't be used either accidentally or intentionally with the owner/operator's knowledge. No wastes or container of such wastes shall be placed, left, or discharged into or near any waters of this state.


Owners of motorboats for rent shall keep a record of the name and address of persons renting vessels designated or permitted by him to be propelled by any mechanical device. The record, including boat identification number, departure date and time, and expected time of return, shall be preserved for at least six months. Rental motorboats shall include all equipment prescribed by law for that class of boat.

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Nebraska Game and Parks Commission - 2200 N. 33rd St. Lincoln, NE 68503 - 402-471-0641

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