U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Authority

Question: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District, wants the below rules to apply to all boaters using Lake Mendocino, located in, Ukiah, California, to qualify to receive a VSC decal from the Coast Guard Auxiliary. I question their authority regarding this matter and ask for an opinion and direction from you.

All boats must have a type IV.
All boats must have a fire extinguisher.
All boats must have rope, backup propulsion device (paddle, wake board or ski).

Answer: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been involved in regulating certain activities in the nation´s waters since 1899. Until 1968, the primary interest of the Corps regulatory Program was navigation. As a result of several new laws and judicial decisions, the program evolved from one that focused on navigation to one that considers an array of public interest factors.

The bottom line is that the Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over all waters of the United States and can add additional "local" requirements above the Federal Regulations. Item 14 on the 7012 is "State and/or Local Requirements" which must be followed to issue the VSC Decal. If the Local District sets a requirement, then you must follow that law.

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