STATE GOVERNMENT AND STATE AFFAIRS
IDAHO SAFE BOATING ACT
67-7031. Marking of water areas — Procedures — Local rules. (1) The department may make or adopt appropriate rules for the marking of the water areas in this state through the placement of aids to navigation and regulatory markers. Such rules shall establish a marking system of aids to navigation prescribed by the United States coast guard and shall give due regard to the system of uniform waterway markers approved by the advisory panel of state officials to the merchant marine council of the United States coast guard. No city, county, other political subdivision or other person shall mark the waters of this state in any manner in conflict with the marking system prescribed by the department or without the specific authority of the department.
(2) Uniform system. In the marking of water areas, as described in this chapter, the uniform waterway marking system is used for the placement of aids to navigation and regulatory markers in the waters of the state.
(3) Regulatory markers. Regulatory markers are used to indicate to a vessel operator the existence of dangerous areas as well as those that are restricted or controlled, such as speed zones and areas dedicated to a particular use, or to provide general information and directions.
(4) Colors. Each regulatory marker must be colored white with international orange geometric shapes.
(5) Buoys. When a buoy is used as a regulatory marker, it must be white with horizontal bands of international orange placed completely around the buoy circumference. One (1) band must be at the top of the buoy body, with a second band placed just above the waterline of the buoy so that both international orange bands are clearly visible to approaching vessels. The area of buoy body visible between the two (2) bands must be white.
(6) Geometric shapes. Geometric shapes must be placed on the white portion of the buoy body and must be colored international orange. The authorized geometric shapes and meanings associated with them are: a vertical open-faced diamond shape to mean danger; a vertical open-faced diamond shape having a cross centered in the diamond to mean that a vessel is excluded from the marked area; a circular shape to mean that a vessel operated in the marked area is subject to certain operating restrictions; and a square or rectangular shape with directions or information lettered on the inside.
(7) Signs. Where a regulatory marker consists of a square or rectangular-shaped sign displayed from a structure, the sign must be white, with an international orange border. When a diamond or circular geometric shape associated with meaning of the marker is included, it must be centered on the signboard.
(8) Navigation aids. Aids to navigation are used to supplement the federal lateral system of buoyage and have either a lateral or cardinal meaning.
(9) Defined channel. On a well-defined channel, including a river or other relatively narrow natural or improved waterway, an aid to navigation is normally a solid-colored buoy. A buoy that marks the left side of the channel viewed looking upstream or toward the head of navigation must be colored all black. A buoy that marks the right side of the channel viewed looking upstream or toward the head of a navigation must be colored all red. On a well-defined channel, solid-colored buoys are established in pairs, one (1) on each side of the navigable channel that they mark, and opposite each other to inform the user that the channel lies between the buoys and that the user should pass between the buoys.
(10) Irregularly defined channel. On an irregularly defined channel, solid-colored buoys may be used singly in staggered fashion on alternate sides of the channel, provided they are spaced at sufficiently close intervals to inform the user that the channel lies between the buoys and that the user should pass between the buoys.
(11) Undefined channel. Where there is no well-defined channel or when a body of water is obstructed by objects whose nature or location is such that the obstruction can be approached by a vessel from more than one (1) direction, supplemental aids to navigation having cardinal meaning (i.e., pertaining to the cardinal points of the compass, north, east, south, and west) may be used. The use of an aid to navigation having cardinal meaning is discretionary, provided that the use of such a marker is limited to wholly state-owned waters and the state waters for private aids to navigation as defined and described in this chapter.
(12) Cardinal system. Aids to navigation conforming to the cardinal system consist of three (3) distinctly colored buoys. A white buoy with a red top may be used to indicate to a vessel operator to pass to the south or west of the buoy. A white buoy with a black top may be used to indicate to a vessel operator to pass to the north or east of the buoy. In addition, a buoy showing alternate vertical red and white stripes may be used to indicate to a vessel operator that an obstruction to navigation extends from the nearest shore to the buoy and not to pass between the buoy and shore. The number of white and red stripes is discretionary, provided that the white stripes are twice the width of the red stripes.
(13) Markers to be visible. The size, shape, material, and construction of all markers, both fixed and floating, must be such as to be observable under normal conditions of visibility at a distance such that the significance of the marker or aid must be recognizable before the observer comes into danger.
(14) Lettering to be visible. Numbers, letters, or words on an aid to navigation or regulatory marker must be placed in a manner to enable them to be clearly visible to an approaching and passing vessel. They must be block style, well-proportioned, and as large as the available space permits. Numbers and letters on red or black backgrounds must be white, and numbers and letters on white backgrounds must be black.
(15) Numbering buoys. Odd numbers must be used to identify solid-colored black buoys or black-topped buoys, and even numbers must be used to identify solid-colored red buoys or red-topped buoys. All numbers must increase in an upstream direction or toward the head of navigation. The use of numbers to identify buoys is discretionary.
(16) Lettering markers. Letters only may be used to identify regulatory markers and white and red vertically striped obstruction markers. When used, letters must follow alphabetical sequence in an upstream direction or toward the head of navigation. The letters "I" and "O" are omitted to preclude confusion with numbers. The use of letters to identify regulatory markers and obstruction markers is discretionary.
(17) Reflective material. The use of reflectors or retroreflective materials is discretionary.
(18) Color of reflective material. When used on buoys having lateral significance: red reflectors or retroreflective materials must be used on solid-colored red buoys; green reflectors or retroreflective materials must be used on solid-colored black buoys; and white reflectors or retroreflective materials only may be used for all other buoys, including regulatory markers, except that orange reflectors or retroreflective materials may be used on the orange portions of regulatory markers.
(19) Lights. The use of navigational lights on state aids to navigation, including regulatory markers, is discretionary. When used, lights on solid-colored buoys must be regularly flashing, regularly occulting, or equal-interval lights. For ordinary purposes, the frequency of flashes may not be more than thirty (30) flashes per minute (slow-flashing). When it is desired that lights have a distinct cautionary significance, as at sharp turns or sudden constrictions in the channel or to mark wrecks or other artificial or natural obstructions, the frequency of flashes may not be less than sixty (60) flashes per minute (quick-flashing). When a light is used on a cardinal system buoy or a vertically striped white and red buoy it must always be quick-flashing. The colors of the lights must be the same as for reflectors: a red light only on a solid-colored red buoy; a green light on solid colored black buoy; and a white light only for all other buoys, including regulatory markers.
(20) Ownership identification. The use and placement of ownership identification is discretionary, provided that ownership identification is worded and placed in a manner that avoids detracting from the meaning intended to be conveyed by a navigational aid or regulatory marker.
(21) Mooring buoys. Mooring buoys in state waters for private aids to navigation must be colored white and must have a horizontal blue band around the circumference of the buoy centered midway between the top of the buoy and the waterline.
(22) Lighted mooring buoys. A lighted mooring buoy must normally display a slow-flashing white light. When its location in a waterway is such that it constitutes an obstruction to a vessel operated during hours of darkness, it must display a quick-flashing white light.
(23) Identifying mooring buoys. A mooring buoy may bear ownership identification, provided that manner and placement of the identification does not detract from the meaning intended to be conveyed by the color scheme or identification letter when assigned.
(24) The provisions of this chapter shall govern the operation, equipment, numbering, and all other matters relating thereto whenever any vessel shall be operated on the waters of this state or when any activity regulated by this chapter shall take place thereon. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the adoption of any ordinance or local law relating to operation and equipment of vessels, as long as such ordinances are not in conflict with the provisions of law.
(25) Any political subdivision of the state of Idaho may at any time, but only after sufficient public notice is given, adopt local ordinances with reference to the operation of vessels on any waters within its territorial limits or with reference to swimming within areas of intense or hazardous vessel traffic, provided the ordinances are intended to promote or protect the health, safety, and general welfare of its citizenry.
(26) Any political subdivision of the state of Idaho may at any time, but only after sufficient public notice is given, adopt ordinances that establish operational zones for personal watercraft on any waters within its territorial limits. Personal watercraft operational zone designations are limited to:
(a) No wake or less than five (5) miles per hour;
(b) Personal watercraft only;
(c) No personal watercraft allowed; or
(d) Distance from shoreline.
[67-7031, added 1986, ch. 207, sec. 2, p. 529; am. 1996, ch. 335, sec. 3, p. 1134; am. 2022, ch. 218, sec. 9, p. 723.]