Throw Bag Legislation Sent to President's Desk

posted December 4, 2018
by Evan Stafford

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Federal Coast Guard Law is set to change for the better, allowing throw ropes as a “type of life saving equipment,”  in lieu of throw cushions under rafting regulations on federally managed whitewater rivers across the country. On November 27, 2018, the "Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018" headed to the President's desk for his signature. 
 
The following language is in the Act:
 
SEC. 827. EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS; EXEMPTION FROM
THROWABLE PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES REQUIREMENT.
 
Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall-
 
(1) prescribe regulations in part 160 of title 46, Code of Federal Regulations, that treat a marine throw bag, as that term is commonly used in the commercial whitewater rafting industry, as a type of life saving equipment; and
 
(2) revise section 175.17 of title 33, Code of Federal Regulations, to exempt rafts that are 16 feet or more overall in length from the requirement to carry an additional throwable personal flotation device when such a marine throw bag is onboard and accessible.
 
The above language means that in another year the US Coast Guard rules on throw cushions will change. It means managing agencies who regulate whitewater rivers across the country will retool their regulations, following the new USCG language, to allow you to bring a throw rope when you go boating and leave the throw cushion at home, if YOU want to. You don't have to, but you can if you want to.  
 
Clearly, this was a unified bi-partisan effort by a lot of people from across the country working the issue. Everyone who helped needs to stand up and take a bow.
 
We’d like to especially thank Tom Martin from River Runners For Wilderness, who spearheaded this effort and spent years advocating for this important change. He brought it to our attention and American Whitewater was able to help rally our membership in support of this change and make a few strategic calls to legislative offices engaged on Coast Guard issues to seal the deal.