Muddy Waters

By Connor Walters

Photo provided by the State of Vermont.

Make no mistake, the waters of the Great Hosmer Pond are beautiful. The home of Craftsbury Outdoor Center’s many sculling programs, the pond hosts scores of scullers each year, including national team and Olympic-level athletes.

But some residents along the two-mile-long body of water in northern Vermont say that having scullers makes it impossible for power boaters to use the lake as they have for generations. That’s where things get muddy.

Currently, Craftsbury already voluntarily restricts when its rowers can go out and has designated weekends when it will not host programming on the water. They have cut back on the number of participants they accept to their sculling camps, which already have a waitlist annually, in order to limit the number of people on the water.

Per Vermont law, however, high-speed boating is restricted on bodies of water of a certain size, which would normally include Great Hosmer Pond. Yet the lake has been grandfathered in as families have boated there for decades.

Now a proposed state rule would limit the hours when scullers could use the lake. Ironically, the limitations are less than what Craftsbury already self-imposes. For Judy Geer, who owns the nonprofit center with husband Dick Dreissigacker, implementing a rule could set a dangerous precedent for human-powered craft.

“I’d really like to see us all come to the middle and say, ‘This is sharing. It’s not always easy,’” she said. “The rule isn’t going to help. Let’s move on.”

Locals say existing rules for boating on the lake aren’t already being enforced, raising questions about the effectiveness of a new one. Motorboats are allowed to use the lake, but not at high speeds while scullers, kayakers, and others are nearby.

According to the draft rule proposed, “Use of racing shells and rowing sculls is prohibited on the pond between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., and the hours of 7 p.m. and sunrise,” from spring through late summer. If passed, it would become the first rule in the state to restrict human-powered boat activity.