Non-Motorized Boater Listening Sessions Nearing an End
I received information from the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) this morning summarizing the comments/inputs they have received from the meetings they have been holding around Oregon these past two month.
The one thing that really jumps out at me from the reports I have received from OSMB and that I noticed when I attended the meeting in Salem back in September is the low turnout of paddlers. The issues discussed as these meetings will have a direct and financial impact on paddlers. Unfortunately, too many paddlers seem indifferent or uninterested. Don't start complaining about the fee you have to pay beginning January 2017 if you chose not to participate in one of the meetings. You had your chance to air your opinions and any grievances you might have regarding a fee to support facilities for non-motorized boaters.
Here is a list of common themes that OSMB identified during their meetings:
Separate motorized and non-motorized launch areas to improve user experience and avoid user conflicts;
Identify and improve new or established access locations where feasible to determine appropriate access and facilities (e.g. soft approaches like improved launch areas with sandy beaches or small, rounded rocks or grass; gradual inclines; hard facilities such as low docks and sanitation);
Legally add safe access points and safe parking around bridges;
Ensure adequate parking for non-motorized boaters;
Look for opportunities to partner with other state, Federal, local municipalities and private landowners to provide access (right-of-ways); and
Some paddlers wanted no infrastructure except a safe place to park and safe access to the water; want to keep areas as pristine as possible.
PFDs are considered a primary safety concern; explore options for better education and/or policies for ensuring broader and consistent use of PFDs by non-motorized boaters;
Mitigate user conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users;
Standardize signage of rules and regulations at access points; clear and consistent signage;
Target education and other safety activities toward inexperienced, ‘casual user’;
OSMB should foster good relationships and communication with clubs to partner around safety education; and
Distribute safety information, including centralized communication from a single source (maps and information about conditions, hazards and ramps; waterway rights and how watercrafts should interact with each other on the water).
Have voluntary education courses (hands-on, on-line and classroom); by taking an education course, offer discounts on fee with education;
Partner with and rely on clubs and kayak shops to provide education classes and on-water education opportunities;
Identify and communicate information through signage at access points;
Provide a clearinghouse of information on educational topics via web (an app), print materials, clubs, shops, etc.;
Improve OSMB outreach by providing boating safety and information to users through multiple sources (boating events, on-line, face-to-face, an app(s), maps, packets at P.O.S., QR codes, website linking to other websites, on-line forums) to reach out and inform broadly the various user groups; and
At liveries, have a rental safety checklist.
User Pay/User Benefit Program
Combine non-motorized permit with AIS permit – one fee/one permit;
Fee ranged from $15 - $25 per year;
Willing to pay a fee, however paddlers want to see where the money is going; have an annual report;
Offer a discount on fee or other incentive by taking an education course;
Fees should be tied explicitly to a non-motorized boater benefit; i.e. specific access, safety, education and environmental benefit; and
Some paddlers were against any fees.