Another boating season has come and gone. Ascension parish is blessed with lots of waterways that allow us the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in many ways. A couple of things that concern the public are boating safety and accidents.

I have the opportunity to serve on the Hunting and Fishing Advisory Education Council that meets at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries building on Quail Drive in Baton Rouge.

We get staff reports on the activities in the department from all over the state. One of the most interesting reports is from the enforcement division. That report includes citations, warnings, what the offenses are and waterway accidents along with the injuries and fatalities that occur in those accidents.

At a recent meeting, one council member wanted to know if the Boating Safety Program helped in lowering the fatality rate. The LDWF Boating Safety Program began instituting mandatory boating safety education in 2003 for anybody born after Jan. 1, 1988, who operates a vessel in excess of 10 horsepower.

In 2010, LDWF worked with the state legislature to make the boating education course mandatory for anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984. Since 2003, LDWF has certified more than 50,000 boaters statewide.

Studies have shown that states with a mandatory boating education program have fewer boating fatalities than states without one. States with a boating education program for more than 20 years had 3.67 fatalities per 100,000 registered boats, and states with no boating education program had 6.61 fatalities per 100,000 boats.

In 2013, Louisiana had a fatality rate of 4.9 per 100,000 registered boats, which is down from a boating fatality rate of 12 per 100,000 vessels in 2008 that has pretty much fallen every year since then. There was a record low 15 boating fatalities in 2013, quite a contrast to the high of 46 in the year 2000.

In the 10 years prior to the program, Louisiana averaged 152.4 accidents and 36.4 fatalities per year. If we take out 2003, since the program didn’t start until midway through that year, we have averaged 117.9 accidents and 30.1 fatalities per year. In the last five years, we have averaged 109.8 accidents and 26 fatalities per year.

At this point in 2014, we’ve had 116 boating accidents and 12 fatalities. We’re on a trend to have the second-lowest fatality rate in our boating history.

So Louisiana is starting to see the same downward trend in accidents and fatalities per year as other states that have boating education programs.

Ascension Catholic loses tough one to West St. John

The Ascension Catholic Bulldogs battled the defending football district champs, West St. John, to the bitter end and came up short for a 32-27 district loss. The Bulldogs (6-2, 2-1) will host another team of Bulldogs from White Castle with a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday.

Ascension Christian Lions lose to White Castle Bulldogs

The Lions (2-6, 0-3) were handed a road defeat by the White Castle Bulldogs with a score of 68-6. Ascension Christian will try to get back on the winning side of the column in a district contest at home Friday with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Donaldsonville Tigers take down Berwick Panthers

The Donaldsonville High Tigers gave a 32-0 smackdown to the Berwick Panthers to celebrate their homecoming festivities. The Tigers defense closed the door on every opportunity to obtain a shutout victory. The victory was capped by the presentation of the homecoming court as Alaina Miles was honored as this year’s queen. The Tigers (4-5, 1-2) will try for win No. 5 on the road at the Franklin High Hornets field beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.

Griffins fall to Spartans; Gators defeat Woodlawn

After staging a 23-point, second-half comeback, the Dutchtown Griffins (4-5, 1-2) lost a heartbreaker Friday at Spartan stadium in overtime, 36-30. The Spartans’ (6-3, 2-1) Joshua Bates scored the winning points on the second play of overtime on a 10-yard scamper after the Griffins fumbled on the first play of the extra period.

The Griffins will travel to Baton Rouge to face the Panthers of McKinley with a kickoff time of 7 p.m. Friday.

East Ascension will travel to The Pit to face the St. Amant Gators, another parish rival, with a 7 p.m. kickoff on Halloween.

The Gators break losing streak

The St. Amant Gators pulled off a tough road game against the Woodlawn Panthers in a district contest with a score of 28-24. It took an 84-yard run by Nathan Taylor to seal the win for the Gators (4-4, 1-2).

Lyle Johnson covers sports for The Ascension Advocate. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net or ascension@theadvocate.com.