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OSMB Legislative Concepts Open House 
The open house hosted by the Oregon State Marine Board, on September 19 in Salem, was an informational event, allowing interested parties to directly interview agency personnel regarding the board’s plans for the upcoming legislative session. The individual presentations that were offered focused on each of several program areas. Naturally, I pursued information about the proposed non-motorized boating program, (details of which can be found in this PDF: https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/info/Documents/Legislative-Concepts/LC25000_001WaterwayAccess.pdf).

First, the good news. I wanted to see the board’s plans for using monies collected through the proposed non-motorized boat licensing fees of $30 for 2 years, etc. I was shown a number of designs for non-motorized-specific facilities, intended for siting in various locations around the state. Each featured launches unsuited to motorized craft, but well-designed to accommodate our smaller boats and their launching characteristics. For example, in some places, wooden boat skids were employed to ease getting boats to and from the water. In others, terraced landings offered to provide easy and safe access, without the steep drop-off often found on traditional ramps.

Janine Belleque, the agency’s Boating Facilities Manager, also assured me that in the process of developing such plans, local organizations and recreational interests had been thoroughly consulted, and a range of environmental considerations and tests were said to have been satisfied. The plans seemed to reflect a genuine sensitivity to the needs of non-motorized boaters, and at least an increasing awareness of the community’s sentiments.

To sum up the positive: the agency has developed a more nuanced and directed plan to serve non-motorized boating. And, there is reason to believe the agency is trying to become more receptive to our community’s concerns,

Now, the bad news. The board continues to seek a head tax on non-motorized boaters, rather than charging for services actually used. For at least two decades, that I have been personally involved, paddlers have been recommending a Sno-Park permit model. The agency has made it clear, it wants all the money upfront, and nothing else is acceptable. The fundamental inequity of this model has been repeatedly dismissed by the agency, and here we are, again.

Although it appears the board is trying to wriggle around the Admission Acts’ proscription of any sort of fee on navigation, it is not clear that just renaming it an access fee will meet the legal standard. It still makes it impossible for an entire class of people to exercise their right to navigate our waters without paying a fee directly attached to that activity. In the board’s scenario, you can access the water without using OSMB-funded facilities, and still have to pay their fees. The fee, then, isn’t for facilitated access, but navigation, pure and simple.

All the while, the elephant in the room is the philosophical disconnect between an agency, the purpose of which is promoting development, and a community that commonly disdains it. The board hasn’t really engaged that community, or addressed that larger question, choosing instead to primarily poll commercial interests to represent the larger constituency. Whether by accident or design, this gives a very skewed view of the greater community’s sentiments. Would you solicit opinions only from car dealers to represent all motorists?

At least the agency does seem to have grown beyond the scheme of bluntly forcing registration down our throats, and is showing more sensitivity to our concerns and interests. In their proposal, the fees collected from non-motorized boaters largely stay with non-motorized boaters, with the notable exception that we are still expected to subsidize the motor boats when it comes to the Aquatic Invasive Species Program. When it comes to really finding common ground, however, the agency’s thinking still seems hobbled by presumptions that simply don’t apply.

Where does it go from here? Well, we’ll just have to see what develops. The board is determined to put something before the legislature in the coming session. At this point some points of concern about the agency’s approach have been addressed, but some of the most fundamental problems remain. I would sum it up by saying that what the founders of our state and our nation gave to our people, our state’s navigable waterways, the Oregon State Marine Board now wants landlord rights on. Even with better enticements, that’s still a very bad deal for Oregonians.

OSMB Open House in Redmond 10/16 
The Oregon State Marine Board’s Legislative Concepts tour is coming to Redmond on October 16. It will be held at Eagle Crest Resort, 1522 Cline Falls Rd. in Redmond, beginning at 7 pm. There you will find agency personnel ready to provide information and take feedback on the proposals they plan for the 2019 legislative session. Those plans incorporate new non-motorized boat fees, about which a detailed PDF can be found under the designation, Waterway Access Account, here: https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/info/Pages/Legislative-Concepts.aspx

Seal Slaps Kayaker With Octopus 
In New Zealand a kayaker got a big surprise, caught on video, when a seal popped up and very deliberately, and very solidly slapped the poor chap with an octopus. You have to see it to believe it, but it appears seals have a dim view of kayakers. The BBC provides: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-asia-45660839/seal-slaps-man-with-octopus-in-nz

Paddlers Sue Over Closed Potomac 
It seems that every time Donald Trump uses his golf course in Loudoun County, Virginia, adjacent portions of the Potomac are closed to traffic. The Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington D.C. is not amused, and is suing the Coast Guard over the matter. Talking Points Memorandum reports: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/paddlers-lawsuit-coast-guard-potomac-river-trump-golf