This week the Oregon House Transportation Policy Committee has schedueld a hearing for the bill
to establish a Non-Motorized Boating Program as proposed by the Oregon State Marine Board (House
Bill 2320). Through a survey we conducted last year we have solicited feedback on the legislation
to implement this program. The most controversial element of the proposal is a requirement that
any person 14 years of age or older shall carry a non-motorized boating permit ($12 annually)
while operating a non-motorized boat in Oregon. Many of our members were strongly opposed to this
proposal. Others were more supportive of the concept but had concerns with the ability of the
Oregon State Marine Board to effectively represent the interests of the paddling community and
invest the revenue generated in on-the-ground benefits. Given the breadth of perspectives, we
encourage our members living in Oregon to comment directly to your state representatives.
Make Your Voice Heard
This is important. Many paddlers have shared their thoughts with American Whitewater. We will do
our best to summarize what we heard in providing our own written testimony but it's critical
that legislators hear directly from their constituents. You can do this in one of 3 ways.
1) Attend the hearing (hearing
). You can attend this week's hearing of the Transportation Policy Committee on 3/1
at 8am in Hearing Room D at the Oregon State Capitol and testify in person. The Oregon
legislature has a web page on How to
that provides excellent guidance on how to prepare.
2) You can submit written testimony to the Transportation Policy Committee (committee overview
). If you
have time and capacity to prepare written testimony, this is an alternative means of sharing your
views before the committee. To ensure members have time to review your input prior to the
hearing, you should strive to submit testimony by noon on the day before the hearing. Follow the
directions on How to
and then submit your written testimony as a PDF directly to the commitee by
email to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask that your letter be placed in the hearing
record and shared with committee members. Note that in doing so your comments will become part of
the public record.
3) Contact Your
. We have made a template available that will automatically pull up your
representatives based on your address and provide some text to help get you started with some
appropriate context. You need to craft the rest of the message.
Background and Key Provisions of Draft Legislation
These are the key elements of the bill:
1) A non-motorized boat would be defined as a boat that is not propelled by machinery, but would
not include objects other than a boat such as single inner tubes, air mattresses, pool toys,
surfboards, or body boards (Section 1.8 and 1.9).
2) A voluntary non-motorized boating education program would be established that includes a
course of instruction and examination for non-motorized boat operators (Section 4.2). The Marine
Board may issue grants to non-profit organizations in providing education about non-motorized
boat use (Section 4.3.a) or approve the use of commercially provided safety courses that meet
standards established by the Marine Board (Section 4.3.b).
3) A new grant program would be established to support public access to waterways for
non-motorized boating for the purchase of land, leases, or easements; construction, renovation,
expansion, or development of public boating facilities for non-motorized boating use;
construction, renovation, expansion, or development of public play parks for non-motorized
boating use; and modifying or upgrading existing public boating facilities to accommodate or
incorporate non-motorized boat use (Section 6.2.a). The grant program would also support
technical services to support these activities as well as operations and maintenance (Section
6.2.b and 6.2.c). This program would be initially funded at $1.1 million per biennium (two-year
budget cycle) with anticipated growth to $1.6 million and be distributed between construction,
facility maintenance, and law enforcement with more investment in construction in the early
4) A new non-motorized boating permit would be required to boat on Oregon waterways for any
individual 14 or older operating a non-motorized boat (section 7). A key exception would be for a
designated wild and scenic river for which a separate fee system is in place—e.g. Rogue,
Deschutes, John Day (Section 7.2.c). The fee would be $4 for a one-week permit, $12 for an annual
permit, or $20 for a biennial permit and a separate fee structure for boat livery operators
(Section 9). Agents selling the permits would be authorized to charge an additional $2 service
fee (Section 8.4). The Marine Board would also authorized to combine the boating permit with the
aquatic invasive species permit (Section 8.7) that is currently $5 per boat for non-motorized
boats 10 feet and longer.
5) Fees from the boating permit would be placed in a new dedicated account known as the
Non-Motorized Boating Program Fund (Section 9.2). Advertising proceeds could also be deposited in
this account (Section 12), along with direction appropriations from the legislature (Section
13.2.a.C), or gifts, grants, or contributions from public or private sources (Section 13.2.b).
Total anticipated budget for the program would be $1.67 million in the first biennium and growing
to $2.30 million within the third biennium from enactment. In addition to the grant program
described above, $269,094 with anticipated increase to $400,979 would fund 2.5 full time
equivalent staff to include a full-time coordinator to work on education, partnerships, grants,
etc.; 1/2 time assistant to answer phones, help with permits, etc.; and a full time person in
facilities to work on mitigating access with partners (attend meetings, help with design, etc.)
Of the remaining budget, $205,479 with anticipated increase to $230,529 would go to educational
materials, signs, educational grants and outreach; and $37,500 with anticipated increase to
$$52,250 would go to capital expenditures.
6) All individuals operating a non-motorized craft (an object, other than a boat, that is capable
of supporting a person on the water such as an inner tube, air mattress, pool toy, surfboard, or
body board) in a river or stream would be required to wear a personal floatation device of a type
prescribed by the Marine Board (Section 11).
For the past five years the Oregon State Marine Board has engaged with the non-motorized
boating community to learn how the Marine Board can better meet the needs of the community. The
initiative came out of the Marine Board's 2011-2016 Strategic Plan
was released in 2010. Through this initiative, the Marine Board convened the Non-Motorized
Boating Advisory Committee.
1) Actively integrate non-motorized boater needs and participation into agency operations
2) Increase outreach to, and communication with, all boater user groups
3) Explore equitable and appropriate fees for non-motorized boaters
4) Balance the needs of motorized and non-motorized boaters
5) Address facility issues to accommodate the needs of all boaters.
The Strategic Plan notes the explosive growth of non-motorized boating. Activities that once
had negligible impact on waterways and boating services have now surpassed motorized boating
for person-days on the water, and the growth continues to be exponential. The Marine Board has
been working to better serve these boaters, and to determine how to fund current Marine Board
work and future work that supports these activities. Outreach through a series of public
meetings across the state, an online survey, and meetings of the Non-Motorized Boating Advisory
Committee resulted in a unanimous recommendation of the Committee to recommend to the Board a
Non-Motorized Boating Program that includes elements to address access, safety, education and
funding. As an outcome of this process the Marine Board has proposed that the legislature
establish the Non-Motorized Boating Program supported by a requirement to purchase a $12
(annual fee) Non-Motorized boating Permit that must be carried while operating a non-motorized
In the past, American Whitewater has actively opposed efforts by the Marine Board to charge
user fees for paddlesports. This new proposal however was developed with input from the
paddlesports community including some of our members who have served on the committee. The
legislative proposal responds to several of the past criticisms we have raised by establishing
a dedicated fund for non-motorized boating, clearly identifying the agency responsible for
implementing the program with dedicated staff to serve non-motorized boating, up-front
development of a strategic plan with robust public input, and a significant investment in
developing a realistic budget estimate. In a survey of our membership however, 35% of
indivdiuals were strongly opposed to the establishment of a fee-based Non-Motorized Boating
Program with only 7% strongly supporting. A major concern, even among those who were supportive
of a user fee, was the lack of confidence in the ability of the Marine Board to represent
paddlesports: 0% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement that "the Marine Board
effectively represents paddlesports" while 26% strongly disagreed, and 0% of respondents
strongly agreeed with the statement that "the Marine Board understands the needs of the
paddlesports community," while 29% strongly disagreed.