E15 (15 percent ethanol) fuel has been approved for sale nationwide this summer. This fuel is big trouble for marine engines, older automobiles and many other small engines. What’s more, the E15 warning label is easy to overlook at the gas pumps.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently waived Clean Air Act provisions and eliminated the summer blackout period on the sale of E15 fuel, permitting the fuel to be sold year round. Objections to the move came from a wide coalition of American citizens and environmental, conservation, food producer, fuel retailer, taxpayer advocate, and outdoor recreation industry groups.

The fuel had been banned at the pumps from June 1 to September 15 over concerns that it contributed to smog on hot days. As a result of EPA’s action, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is advising boaters that they will need to be very cautious at the gas station to ensure they are not filling their boats with fuel that’s bad – and illegal – for boat engines. Go to www.BoatUS.com/gov/rfs.asp for more information.

WILDLIFE WATCHING: July and August are the months for wild turkey brood sightings. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency uses this count of hens with their poults as a good indication of how many young ones survived their treacherous first month; also this is an early indication of the population size for next year’s spring hunt.

Wild turkey hens begin to build ground nests in April and May, laying one egg per day for a clutch of 12 eggs usually. Incubation takes 28 days. If the eggs are lost to predators or the nest disturbed, the hen often will re-nest once or twice if necessary.

The young leave the nest shortly after hatching and follow the mother. They begin to fly at six to 10 days old. Male young remain with the mother until the fall; female young remain with the mother until the spring.

By August several hens may join their broods together and it is not uncommon to see poults ranging from quail-size to half-grown in one brood. Hens that have lost their young will join a brood flock and act as a foster mother. Solitary hens without young are also included in the brood count. An average of seven or eight poults per hen is considered favorable.

LAW: Remember these two new laws concerning recreational boating that took effect last year.

The first one is similar to the “Move Over” law on our highways. As written, the law requires boaters to slow to no wake speed within 100 feet of a law enforcement vessel that is displaying flashing blue lights. Second, there is no longer an exemption from boater education for renters of watercraft.

Tennessee residents born after Jan. 1, 1989, are required to pass a boater education exam supervised by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in order to operate any motorized vessel over 8.5 horsepower. Out of state residents born after Jan. 1, 1989, must show proof of successful completion of a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating safety course. Non-resident certification may be from their home state or any state-issued course.

Tennessee residents can purchase a Type 600 Exam Permit online or from any hunting and fishing license agency for $10 and go to a testing location to take the exam or take a class. For study materials, telephone (615) 781-6682. The statewide list of scheduled classes can be found at www.tn.gov/content/tn/twra/boating/boating-education.html, or by calling 800-837-6012. Registration is usually required.

MISTAKES: Do not make these classic mistakes on the water. Today’s boaters can learn something from the RMS Titanic tragedy On April 15, 1912, less than one year after commissioning, the “unsinkable” ocean liner hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank with a loss of 1,503 lives. Let’s look at several timeless lessons for anyone that takes to the water.

Speed: Excessive speed at night in dangerous, iceberg infested waters was a major factor in the Titanic’s demise. You should proceed cautiously when boating in the fog, at night or in unfamiliar waters. You need time to react to surprises.

Communication: The radio on the Titanic had a limited range of only 200 miles, not acceptable for an oceangoing vessel. Today cellphones are commonplace, but many remote areas do not have cellular service. Take along a marine radio just in case and get the phone numbers of some nearby marinas.

Safety: The Titanic did not have enough life jackets or lifeboats for its passengers, and the ship’s crew was not trained in emergency procedures. You should have suitable life vests for all on board and several people should know the location and proper use of your boat’s safety equipment, such as fire extinguisher, distress flares, radio, and inflatable life jackets.

Email wiest.tom@gmail.com to share your news and comments with Tom Wiest.

Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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