Wake boats are designed to create large wakes for wakeboarding, wakesurfing and other activities. Vermont regulations require wake boats to operate at least 200 feet from shore, but now the Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing new rules.

In response to a petition from a citizens’ group, the agency is proposing to extend the distance to 500 feet from shore, and restrict wake boats to lakes that are at least 50 acres and at least 20 feet deep. The DEC says 31 Vermont lakes meet the proposed thresholds.

At a public hearing Wednesday, some Vermonters said the proposed standards aren’t strict enough. Others are concerned about the ability to enforce the standards even if they aren’t changed.

Katherine Babbott of Bedford Center, a Lake Fairlee Association board member, likened allowing wake boats on smaller lakes is like “someone smoking a cigar in a crowded room.”

“I support much of your proposed rule, except the 500-foot distance from shore,” she said. “It should be a thousand.”

Jamie Carroll, a water skier from Hinesburg, said the proposed rule changes could create more conflict.

“(The) DEC’s already gotten feedback from the State Police that the 200-foot rule is already unenforceable,” he said. “So, if we create a 500-foot rule, everybody in this room is going to be at their neighbor’s throat.”

The DEC will write a final draft of the proposed new rules next month. It’s expecting to hold a public hearing and a written comment period on that final draft in June.