Whether you’re a boater, heading to your favorite hunting spot this fall or just planning an outing to one of South Carolina’s publicly managed lands, it’s important to know some of the new laws passed by the General Assembly this year.
Most notably, lawmakers approved a boater education requirement that will eventually require all new boaters to take an approved course. Policy makers also agreed to allow Sunday hunting on certain public lands during the fall and early winter.
Here’s a breakdown of the new rules.
What’s New – Boating
Mandatory boater education
If you were born after July 1, 2007 and want to operate a boat, a personal watercraft or a specialty propelled craft with 10 horsepower or more, you must pass a boating education course approved by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
There are some exceptions, but that is the short of it.
“SCDNR supported this bill because we believe in the long run it will save lives by educating our boating public,” Maj. Billy Downer said. “It’s a slow rollout, but in the end it will accomplish the goal of educating our boating public for years to come.”
SCDNR officers will allow boaters a grace period while educating the public on the new law. Once enforced, a violation carries a penalty of up to a $300 fine and a minimum of $50.
The exceptions in the new law are:
- Those born before July 1, 2007.
- Those with a U.S. Coast Guard license or merchant mariner credential.
- A nonresident with an equivalent boating safety credential from another state.
- Anyone operating a rental boat or watercraft with a temporary boat rental safety certificate.
- Those accompanied by someone 18 or older who has a South Carolina boater safety certificate. U.S. Coast Guard credentials or an equivalent boater safety certificate from another state.
SCDNR offers free, instructor-led boater education classes. An online self-study option is also available for $39.95.
What’s New – Hunting
Hunting will be allowed on Sundays between Oct. 15 and Jan. 31 for species in season on Edisto River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Webb WMA, Palachucola WMA, Hamilton Ridge WMA, Liberty Hill WMA, Belfast WMA, Woodbury WMA, Sumter National Forest, and Francis Marion National Forest.
See rules for specific properties for any additional restrictions. Deer hunts on Webb WMA, Palachucola WMA, and Hamilton Ridge are conducted through the Public Lottery Hunts Program.
What’s New – General
Women in Hunting and Fishing Awareness Day
The General Assembly has designated the third Saturday in November of each year as “Women in Hunting and Fishing Awareness Day” in South Carolina. This will be first recognized on Nov. 18, 2023.
Lifetime Disability License
As of May 12, a person who is legally blind as defined in state law can be issued a lifetime disability combination license or a lifetime disability fishing license at no cost, with no renewal required.
As of May 16, it’s illegal to operate an airboat at night on the Broad River in Richland County and on Stevens Creek in Edgefield County.
E-Bike on WMAs
E-bikes are no longer considered motorized vehicles on WMA properties and can be ridden anywhere traditional bicycles are allowed. This does not apply to lands of the Francis Marion or Sumter National Forests in the WMA Program. For more information regarding e-bikes on National Forest lands, go to https://www.fs.usda.gov/scnfs.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.