Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 26, 2013

State Park Police and the Coast Guard warn boaters to steer clear of the 'Danger Zone'


Niagara Gazette — “Education (for boaters) is the biggest thing,” O’Connell said. “They need to have charts and know how to read them, they need the proper gear and they need to respect restricted areas.”

The Park Police also rely on assistance from Ontario Power Generation, which operates the series of locks and dams just above the falls, should folks get too far into the Danger Zone.

“We regulate the water going over the falls and the water upstream of our control dams,” OPG Manager Peter Kowalski said. “My guys monitor the water and if they see a person in the non-navigation zone, we contact the appropriate authorities.”

Ontario Power can also lower water levels if Park Police and Falls firefighters need to enter the rapids to make a rescue.

“We can alter the flow and currents for the first responders,” Kowalski said. “We can also change the gates and draw water to the Canadian side. But you don’t like to have to see them go out there. It puts (the rescuers) in peril.”

Moriarty said he is always amazed when experienced boaters test their luck by venturing into the Danger Zone. 

“On Father’s Day, we had a guy, local boater so he knew where he was, and he went all the way to Tower Island. We call that going past the point of no return,” Moriarty said. “If he hadn’t had an oversized motor, he would have never been able to turn around and get back. When we asked him what he was doing, he said he just wanted to see what was there.”

Yet other experience boaters have sage advice about traveling on the upper river,

“A lot of experienced boaters will tell you they don;t go past the Grand Island bridge,” Moriarty said. “If you get to the water intakes, that should be a clue, you’ve gone to far and its time to turn around.”

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