The boating facilities division of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands reminds winter lake users to be aware of navigational buoys left in Maine’s lakes and ponds that are frozen in place and may not be observable.

One of those waterways is Lake St. George in Liberty.

The buoys can be hazardous, particularly to snowmobilers who use Maine’s frozen lakes and ponds. Although the buoys have reflective tape on them, when they are frozen in, they may be difficult to see, according to George Powell, BPL’s boating facilities division director, under the Maine Department of Conservation.

“As the lakes freeze up, the buoys have a tendency to lean over to one side and become frozen into the lake at odd angles,” Powell said. “Typically, a little snow cover will bury the buoys, and they are not seen and do not pose any threat to lake users. However, when we have winters where there is little or no snow, the buoys will often be sticking up out of the ice.”

The division currently places and maintains 2,113 buoys on 32 lakes located in Maine to assist watercraft operators in avoiding hazards to navigation during the summer season, Powell said. The division leaves the buoys in place year round on these water bodies.

“Because the division’s navigational aids program consists of just two crews, installing the markers in the spring and removing them in the fall would be a challenging, if not impossible task,” Powell said. “While a few buoys are lost due to ice action, the cost of replacing ice damaged buoys is minimal compared to the time and expense associated with installing and removing them.”

Powell said the division has been working with the Maine Snowmobile Association to spread the word about the buoys.

“We have asked local snowmobile clubs to post signs at the popular access locations advising winter lake users to be cautious when operating on the lake due to the installed markers,” Powell said. “Winter lake users are cautioned to use extreme care when operating snowmobiles and other vehicles on lakes marked with buoys.”

Lake users are reminded it is their responsibility to operate any recreational vehicle in a reasonable and prudent manner for the conditions. Intentionally damaging a waterway marker placed by the Maine Department of Conservation is a punishable offense and carries with it a fine.

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