A recreational boat and kayak share waterway access at a launch ramp in Florida. (credit: TowBoatUS Fort Lauderdale) Download hi-res photo
SPRINGFIELD, Va., Oct. 29, 2019 – The explosive growth of paddlesports including stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing has local, state and federal governments working to ensure there’s plenty of paddler access, including paddlecraft-only launches that make it easy to launch a kayak, increasing efforts to ensure paddler safety, and minimizing user conflicts with traditional boaters.
The question is, who pays for it?
Under a nearly seven-decade-old federal funding mechanism, the answer is recreational power, sail, and fishing boat owners. A newly introduced bipartisan bill, the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2019, aims to give the Government Accountability Office an opportunity to examine and report on the increasing use of non-motorized vessels and their impacts on recreational boat launches, and look at user conflicts and how funds are used to support non-motorized boating safety programs. It will also look at boat recycling, a concern for some waterfront communities.
The nation’s advocacy, services and safety group for recreational boat owners, BoatUS, applauds bill authors Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) for their sponsorship.
“Any way you can get on the water is a good thing,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “However, we can’t ignore the continued, successful growth of paddling participation in America and the need to have equitable funding for access and safety programs. Our thanks to Reps. Cunningham and Graves for looking to better understand today’s waterway user and ensure everyone is investing in their future.”
Created in 1950, the Sport Fish Restoration Program follows a “user pays – public benefit” model of funding that uses excise taxes paid on boat motors, motorboat fuel and fishing equipment to fund boating access sites, fishery and conservation programs, as well as state and local boating safety and clean water programs. The newly-introduced bill will also extend the authorization of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund to 2024.
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About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):
Celebrating more than 50 years, BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with more than a half-million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We are The Boat Owners Auto Club and help ensure a roadside trailer breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins. When boats break down on the water, TowBoatUS brings them safely back to the launch ramp or dock, 24/7. The BoatUS Marine Insurance Program offers policies that give boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and superior service they need. We help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit BoatUS.com.