Park rangers urge safety on the water this Memorial Day weekend

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FARMINGTON, N.M. — Navajo Lake is one of the most popular lakes to take your boat to in New Mexico. Many people in the Four Corners area are planning to do that this Memorial Day weekend.

With so many people coming into the area, park rangers are encouraging everyone to practice safe boating.

Caleb Bellah, the superintendent of Navajo Lake, said the weekend could bring more than 1,200 people to the water. Large crowds are a safety concern for park rangers.

 “So we are insuring that we get the public awareness out there about wearing your life jackets, about boating safety, about not drinking while driving, while driving your vessel, that’s the most paramount things in terms of public safely,” Bellah said.

Bellah said that Navajo Lake has dozens of boating accidents every year, but the biggest violation is driving your boat while intoxicated.

“At a 30 mile an hour crash in a vehicle, you are probably going to be OK – on a vessel where you have no seat belts, you’re on a floating platform, it’s always almost going to be much worse,” he said.

It’s not only dangerous but will lead to an arrest.

“We understand that people want to come out here and have fun maybe they don’t understand that that is illegal,” Bellah said. “It is illegal to operate a vessel while intoxicated and that is really the big one that raises the most imminent danger out here.”

And with a lake that can reach depths of over 400 feet, Bellah added that wearing your life jacket can save your life.

Bellah said that all 240 campsites are reserved and he expects the park to be filled to capacity, so it is important that everyone looks out for one another.