I had the opportunity to attend the second round of meetings the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) is holding with non-motorized boaters. The meeting was intended to gather additional comments from paddlers who weren't in attendance at the June meetings and to fill those paddlers in on what was discussed at those meetings. Click here to see the main points that came out of the June meetings.
The meeting started with introductions of staff and those of us in attendance. There were only six paddlers at the Salem meeting--a very poor showing. One reason for that low number, which I brought up at the meeting, might be due to OSMB having an outreach problem. I mentioned to them how difficult it is for paddlers to find information on OSMB's website--there's a link in the right-hand navigation.
As in the June meetings, OSMB showed a video of issues regarding non-motorized boating. Click here to view the video.
OSMB currently has seven strategic projects in the works, and the non-motorized boating project is one of those seven. The non-motorized strategic plan addresses five key elements:
Actively integrate non-motorized/motorized boaters' needs and participation into OSMB's operations.
Increase outreach to and communication with all boaters.
Explore equitable and appropriate fees for non-motorozed boaters.
Balance the needs of motorized and non-motorized boaters.
Address facility issues to accommodate the needs of all boaters.
I brought up access needs on the Tualatin River and how it would be nice to have a dock installed at Brian Booth State Park. There used to be a dock at that park, though it wasn't a very good or stable one.
OSMB discussed the frustration motorized boaters have with non-motorized boaters parking on the boat ramps while they unload their boats and all the gear. This ties up the boat ramp. I mentioned that only elderly and physically impaired paddlers should be parking on the boat ramp.
Chris Mayou, who was also in attendance, wanted to see equality in the facilities.
Discussion about the boat ramp at Rogers Landing in Newberg centered on why not put a non-motorized boat ramp and dock where the old dock used to reside until OSMB built the new dock and ramp. There is already parking near the old ramp.
There was concern about how to create designated parking for paddlers. Parking for motorized boaters is easy because they have trailers and no vehicles without trailers should be parking in those spaces. However, paddlers can haul their boats to the boat ramps on any type of vehicle without the need for a trailer, so how best to identify that a paddler is parked in the space and not some person going out on his buddy's powerboat? I suggested the idea of a tag that one would hang from his or her vehicle's rearview mirror.
Participants talked about a buffer between powerboats and non-motorized boats and powerboats slowing when approaching paddlers. Here in Oregon, there is no law for either. The law only states that powerboat operators must operate their boats responsibly around paddlers in a manner that doesn't create an unsafe situation.
Chris wasn't aware that OSMB offers an online paddling course. It's actually a very well done course. OSMB spent considerable time speaking about their paddle course on the website.
Several of the participants brought up the issue of people who purchase boats at stores like Costco and Fred Meyers not receiving any training or information. Store personnel don't even mention the need for paddlers to purchase an aquatic invasive species permit.
Accept it, fees are coming. The question is, how much will the fees be and will they be yearly or every two years. Fees aren't necessarily a bad thing if there is transparency in how the fees are spent.
The fee amount being tossed around is $20-25 annually or bi-annually. I suggested a break in the cost of the fees if paddlers took a safety course.
Besides suggesting that the fee might be used to install a permanent dock at Beaver Creek, I also mentioned using the fees to remove safety hazards like strainers and other debris blocking passage on rivers.
There would need to be a separate budgets for non-motorized and motorized expenditures.
The fees wouldn't take effect until 2017.
If the Legislature approves OSMB's fee proposal, an advisory committee would be created to address how best to use the fees. Paddlers will be encouraged to apply to be on the advisory committee.