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Boaters at Biscayne National Park, Florida. With budget cuts the talk of Washington, BoatUS is urging Congress to ensure recreational boating remains an important part of the National Park system.

BoatUS Testifies on Improving Boater Experience at National Parks

House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee Hearing Held Today

At a hearing held today by a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee featuring speakers from the public and private sectors, BoatUS Vice President Government Affairs Chris Edmonston urged Congress to ensure that tough budget times do not jeopardize recreational boating access in America’s National Parks. In his testimony Edmonston also gave the half-million-member boating group’s support for more public-private partnerships and technology investments in an effort to improve the visitor experience.

Edmonston, who is concurrently BoatUS Foundation President, said, “To state the obvious, without adequate waterway access there is virtually no opportunity to go boating…(we) suggest that investment in facilities that provide access to public lands and waters should remain a priority.”

Edmonston referred in his testimony to boating trouble spots such as the limited weekend boat launch ramp access at South Padre Island (TX) National Island Seashore, and the unwelcoming fishing access policies, shortage of boat moorings, and outright bans of certain boat types at Biscayne National Park in Florida.

Edmonston also pointed out the success of pubic-private partnerships that can meet the needs of boaters. He cites BoatUS’ own TowBoatUS on water assistance service that began as a result of federal cost saving measures, and today preserves vital USCG resources for emergency missions while giving boaters the routine towing services they need at a reasonable cost.

BoatUS also embraces the increasing use of technology “as way to enhance access while protecting resources,” Edmonston said. BoatUS points to mobile-friendly methods to obtain multiple licenses and permits, or using technology to improve navigation, as examples.

Also discussed in his testimony was the boater-funded Sportfish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, recently reauthorized through 2020. The “user pay — everyone benefits” fund uses taxes that boaters and anglers pay to match state, local and private investment for boating access such as launch ramps or transient slips. “Boaters are not looking for a free ride, and are quite willing to pay reasonable fees provided they can count on the facilities being available and well managed,” he said.

Go to for the full testimony.

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