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Idaho Proposes Registration Fee for Non-Motorized Boats

Posted: 01/20/2004
by John Gangemi

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Idaho is proposing a $13 registration fee for non-motorized boats greater than 7 feet in length. Under this registration fee proposal all kayaks and rafts on Idaho waters would be required to have a registration sticker fixed to the bow of each boat greater than 7 feet in length. Stickers would not be transferable between boats. Out of state boaters would be required to comply as well.

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The proposal appears to have been initiated in KootenaiCounty in the northern end of the state but would be applicable statewide. The Coeur d'Alene paper reported the story January 8th, 2004. Since that time American Whitewater has been gathering information about the registration proposal so that we can provide the whitewater community with an informative update and opinion in our post. Today we have finally received a copy of the proposal hence our post and opinion. 

The Coeur D'Alene newspaper article claims non-motorized boaters need to start paying their fair share of rescue costs. Supposedly there are numerous rafting and kayaking rescues each year in KootenaiCounty. American Whitewater maintains a national accident database. We are unaware of a high number of whitewater accidents in Kootenai County Idaho. This raises the question: Are search and rescue costs the responsibility of the victim or part of a larger societal cost?


Connecticut, Maine, Montana and Oregon proposed similar registration fees last year within the respective state legislatures. American Whitewater carefully evaluated each registration proposal prior to voicing an opinion for or against the legislation. In each case our criteria, in part, were as follows: 1) What services are promised in return for the registration fee; 2) Are the services needed by the whitewater community; 3) What is the cost of administering these services verses revenue generated from registration fee; 4) Are collected fees held in a dedicated account or accumulated in a general treasury account; and 5) Is the registration and fee required among all recreational user groups receiving the same services. The Idaho registration fee proposal fails identify services, accounting estimates of revenue and costs, dedicated accounts managing of funds collected and requirements for all user groups to be included in registration fee proposal. Idaho is not promising any new services for the whitewater community nor has the state demonstrated a need to fund past programs benefiting whitewater boaters. In our opinion this legislation as written is not warranted.

In reaction to the onslaught of registration fee proposals in 2003 American Whitewater developed a Registration Fee Toolkit to equip whitewater boaters with critical skills to evaluate state legislative proposals. Through hard work, American Whitewater and local boaters were able to convince state legislatures in Connecticut, Maine, Montana and Oregon not to pass the legislation. Defeating the Idaho legislation will require a similar grassroots effort. At this point the fee proposal has been drafted by entities in KootenaiCounty.  American Whitewater is unaware how this will move forward in the state forum. American Whitewater will post updates on this registration fee proposal regularly. 

Ambrose Tuscano
Soda Springs, CA