Friday, April 16, 2010

Water Access Under Threat: Poll

Is your access to the water for boating under threat? Please answer by voting in the poll near the top of the sidebar over there >>>>>.

I wrote last week about how a former sailing club of mine had to close down because they effectively lost access to their sailing waters, a victim of a financial deal between the owners of the water and a commercial water-ski operator. Since then a couple of other bloggers whom I follow,
Bonnie and O Docker, have also written posts about current and potential water access issues.

Hmmm. Losing access to the water? It's not an issue I think much about, but apparently it is a threat in some parts of the world for some recreational boaters. Perhaps I'm complacent because I am blessed to live in a place, Rhode Island, which has such a wealth of places to access the water -- state parks, town beaches, sailing clubs, community sailing centers, etc. -- not to mention a strong culture that supports boating of all kinds, that it is difficult it imagine us losing the ability to launch our boats somewhere. Or maybe I'm oblivious to the problem because I am a Laser sailor and I can launch my boat pretty much anywhere I can wheel a dolly to the water's edge; it's not so easy if you own a 30 foot yacht, I guess.

It's an issue I would like to understand better. So please educate me.

Please vote in the poll. (It's near the top of the sidebar.) Tell us whether you perceive any current or future threats to access to the water for recreational boating in your area.

And if you do think there is a threat, please leave a comment explaining more. Where are you talking about? What kinds of boats are affected? What is the source of the threat? What can be done about it?

Look forward to hearing from you.

Update: For what it's worth in this totally unscientific poll, the final votes were that 20 answered YES to the question, "Is your access to the water under threat?" and 19 said NO. Thanks to everyone who voted and especially to those who left a comment. I, for one, understand this issue a little better now.


Sam Chapin said...

Lake County, Florida with many small lakes with shore line completely owned by the property owners and no public access. Larger lakes with limited, but good public access. Water and lake bottom controled by Evironmental Protection Agency.

We share it all with the Alligators.

O Docker said...

Your original post was about what could happen in the future if fuel costs rose enough to make powerboaters give up their boats.

I picked up on that and wrote more about what might happen than what has already happened.

A major issue in California recently has been the governor's proposal to shut down 220 state parks as part of an overall plan to balance the state budget. The parks are still open, but this is a warning about what the future may hold. Related articles are here and here.

The governor also tried to eliminate the state Department of Boating and Waterways ('Cal Boating'), by rolling it into the state Department of Parks. This seemed an innocuous proposal if you didn't know the rest of the story, which is that Cal Boating is an efficiently run department with a dedicated budget that comes from state fuel taxes. Under the merger, that money would go into an overall parks budget and would likely no longer be available to operate and maintain public boating facilities. Details here.

I think the bottom line is that, while current access may seem unchanged for most of us, that could change radically if the economy doesn't improve much. Most of our state's boaters, who pay the fees and taxes that support public access to the water, are powerboaters. If rising fuel costs drive them away, sailors will suffer, too.

Slip fees at our (public) marina have almost doubled in the past five years, which has contributed to a lot more empty slips than I can remember anytime in the past 20 years.

Anonymous said...

Duval County Florida, though it was struck down when it was actually brought up for a vote, there is a movement to tax all waterfront property, not at the value of what it is worth, but at the value it could be worth if used to it's fullest extent. Meaning marinas and boat launches would be taxed as though they were high rise condos. Although, I never figured out who was going to get to decide just how big the high rise would have been. As I say, it was struck down, but we do still feel a bit of impending doom in the area.

Bursledon Blogger said...

Sadly all too common, the local harbour master (non elected but apointed by the local council) declared that "harbour dues" were payable - this on a river in public ownership which has been aright of way for 1000 years!!

Pat said...

Access is okay but hedged with restrictions and all of the marinas at our principal sailing lake are now owned by the same company, giving a couple of people who don't know much about sailing a huge say in our ease and cost of access.

Verification word: asessa

Access assessment?

JP said...

Access is ok as we have the Putney Embankment which is a pretty open to all launch area. But there is the usual problem of developments all along the river bank.

yarg said...

This week in Boston, the governor announced that the state would be a partner in rebuilding the docks at Community Boating. A lot of politicking from CBI supporters went into this, but hooray for Government! CBI is the oldest public sailing facility in the country. Tens and maybe even hundreds of thousands of people have had their formative sailing experiences there. CBI hosts the largest high school sailing regatta in the country with over 80 boats.
On the other hand, after a big rain, all kinds of bad things run into the river and Boston Harbor, and it takes a few days to clear out. I once took a US Sailing course where the capsize test was postponed because of hazardous water quality.

bonnie said...

I think that water access per se is now pretty much an accepted fact in NYC, and I'd thought the whole concept of zoning or otherwise restricting access for recreational boaters had died a quiet death a decade ago. I was rather shocked when I started hearing about it again this spring. I'm wondering if there's a renewed push, too, because I've heard it at 3 separate events in the last 2 months, where before I hadn't heard a word about it since 2000 or so.

It's a little jarring.

tillerman said...

Just saw this one on the news today.

All about private owners trying to stop rafters floating on a river past their property.

B.J. Porter said...

We are fortunate enough to have our own ramp at our club in East Greenwich. Though I did discover the staff gets testy if I try to launch my Laser while they are trying to haul boats up the ramp at the end of the season. Something about the tides...

So maybe it's under threat sometimes.

O Docker said...

I find it sobering that in the Times rafting story the arguments made on both sides revolve around money first, individual rights second.

Joe said...

We need more access, not less. There is one boat launch in San Francisco. I have no problem finding places to launch my surfski or rowing shell. This is why I have been toying with the idea of building a sailing canoe.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

My take on harbor management on the California Central Coast is too much geared to profit margin. This causes a predilection toward large slips and LOA's. I think this progressively freezes out small (sailing) yachts out.

Capt. Puffy Pants said...

The limiting factor to lake access in my area is drought. There are three lakes I can no longer launch our sailboat in because of the low water levels. One of the lakes nearby is now at a level not seen since the dust bowl days. In the 1940's the lake was so low, for so long, a dance pavilion was constructed on a formally sunken island. I used to fish in 6 feet of water over that island 10 years ago. Now the pavilion footings are once again on dry land. Normally the launch area issues could be addressed with dredging, but with budget shortfalls this is unlikely to happen very soon.

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