SOBA Newsletter - September 2009  


Kent Skaar, SOBA President
Dear SOBA Colleges and Boating Industry Friends,

As we approach the dog days of August, I hope that you all have marked September 28 thru Oct 1st on your calendars, assuring your attendance at the 23rd Annual SOBA Conference in sunny Corpus Christi, Texas. As many of you will note, the 2009 conference has been renamed the 2009 Annual National Boating Access Conference, Sponsored by SOBA, to more accurately reflect the nature and scope of the event. The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife SOBA Board Member, Andy Goldbloom, and the Conference Committee have developed a CVA and Clean Marina Workshop and an Access Conference agenda that will be as outstanding as we have all come to expect. If you have not yet contacted the conference hotel for room reservations, or submitted your conference registration I of course would encourage you to do so. (Visit for a full registration package).

I also want to take this opportunity to remind you all of the unique chance that this year’s conference provides all attendees. As many of you are aware, SOBA's 2009 event is being held concurrently with the National Association of Boating Law Administrators' (NASBLA) Annual Conference that is also being held in the Omni Hotel’s adjoining Tower and Conference Center. In acknowledgement of the strategic partnership that our respective organizations share, attendees to both conferences will receive the opportunity to attend general conference sessions at either conference and visit exhibit halls.

NASBLA has also extended an invitation to all registered SOBA conference participants to attend (at no additional cost) a day long special workshop they are sponsoring on Saturday, September 26. The workshop titled “TRENDS & ISSUES IN WATERWAYS MANAGEMENT: HOW TO MANAGE WHILE MAXIMIZING SAFETY, ACCESS AND ENJOYMENT”, was developed by NASBLA's Waterways Management Committee and is intended to assist local, state and federal agency personnel with waterways management approaches that are most likely to produce practical, effective solutions. Click here to register: NASBLA Workshop Registration Form

As I complete what is my final newsletter message as President of SOBA, I can't help but reflect on the positive contributions that SOBA members, partners and friends have made on recreational boating access. It is only through your ongoing participation that SOBA will continue to be the effective organization it has been for the last 23 years. Thank you all again for the opportunity to serve SOBA over the last year as your President and I look forward to seeing you all in Corpus Christi.

Kent Skaar


The House of Representatives recently approved a $7 billion transfer to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it afloat through the end of September.

The transfer is both a short-term fix for the sagging highway account and a temporary compromise between Oberstar and the White House over how to move forward with transportation policy. The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), and his committee want to pass a six-year, $500 billion highway and transit spending bill before the current authorization expires at the end of September. The White House and Senate leaders instead are calling for an 18-month extension of the current law to buy more time to find new financing mechanisms for highway, transit and rail work.

Chairman Oberstar would still like to see a full authorization of the highway bill this year, even in the face of opposition from the White House.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Anglers and Boaters (ABA), of which NASBLA is a founding member, has been preparing for movement on the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. Members of the Alliance have been meeting with committee staff in an effort to educate members on the importance of including the ABA changes to the trust fund in the authorization package.

Key aspects of the ABA language include:

• 75/25 federal/state match for the recreational boating safety programs

• Maintenance of effort provision for RBS funding; and

• Take both the USFWS and USCG administrative cost "off the top" of the trust fund prior to program allocations.

As soon as we get a better idea regarding how Rep. Oberstar plans to proceed this year, we will update NASBLA membership.


Several professional associations and state registration boards require some sort of “Professional Development Hours (PDH)” of continuing education to maintain professional standing.

SOBA will provide (upon request and at a minimal cost) attendees with a “Log Sheet” that will outline a brief description of each session, duration, and eligible hours earned. This log sheet will need to be authenticated by the moderators of each session, and attendees will be responsible for verifying self determination of their PDH requirements. At the end of the conference, attendees should submit their Log Sheets to the conference organizers, and a Completion Certificate showing the eligible PDH hours earned will be prepared and forwarded.

SOBA’s conference agenda is jam packed with timely and practical educational sessions, and the CVA workshop agenda (kindly sponsored by Texas Sea Grant and free to all attendees) has been finalized. Visit our website at for the latest agenda and to download a full registration package. Remember to book your hotel rooms before September 7th to avail of the discounted room rate ($105). Call 361-887-1600 or 888-444-6664.

The ANNUAL MEMBERS' MEETING will be held on Wednesday September 30th from 11:00am to 12:30pm. All are welcome.

CONFERENCE SPONSORS are still being sought. Breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks will be hosted with the exhibitors. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with your customers and state colleagues. Contact Andy Goldbloom at 512-389-8128 or for details.

SOBA is famous for its fantastic DOOR PRIZES – thanks to the generosity of its members, vendors, and partners. Get your name up front and center by donating a door prize - credit will be given for each item received. Contact Andy Goldbloom at 512-389-8128 or to obtain shipping details.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) will also be hosting their annual meeting in Corpus Christi concurrently with SOBA. A joint social is planned for Tuesday evening, September 29th, at the Marina. A great evening, with outstanding food (sponsored by the Texas Game Wardens) and entertainment is promised. DON’T MISS IT.

Click here for Conference Agenda: NASBLA


The Board of Directors of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation considered forming a Boating Access Task Force at its June 10, 2009 meeting in National Harbor, Maryland. The potential make-up of the Task Force and its duties were not discussed at the meeting as the suggestion to create the Task Force occurred at the end of the meeting. Since the Board meeting, several Board members and RBFF staff have discussed the Task Force to help further define what it would be expected to do.

Some of the key points discussed included:

• The USFWS is legislatively mandated to conduct a national boating access needs assessment, however, no such assessment has ever been performed;

• The Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council intends to send a letter to USFWS requesting the Service to undertake a national assessment of boating access;

• RBFF, which is in the process of developing a national catalog access points (working closely with the states) that will ultimately be made available through, intends to continue this effort and obtain the best information they can, however, this is not the same as a nationwide assessment;

• The need for a national assessment of boating access could also serve as the basis for a National Conservation Need through the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies multi-state grant process, which could provide funds to assist with state or organizational efforts to assess boating access;

• Sport Fish Restoration motorboat access funds available to states can be utilized for outreach/promotional efforts and RBFF and the Task Force could encourage states’ efforts and combine energy and effort to the extent possible;

• The NASBLA/SOBA Conferences in late September in Corpus Christi, TX provides an excellent opportunity for these two groups to explore common concerns about boating access;

• The Boating Access Task Force could function as an informal group until future needs necessitate formalizing it as a formal Task Force within RBFF.

The group agreed that the following short-term goals should be pursued:

• States and interested organizations may also want to send supplementary letters to USFWS to urge the Service to give an assessment a high priority;

• The need for a nationwide look at boating access issues should also be raised at the September AFWA Annual Meetings as a possible multi-state grant working with AFWA’s Angler & Boating Participation Committee;

• RBFF should conduct a survey of states to gather information on access needs assessment projects/plans/examples;

• NASBLA and SOBA leadership should confer on the issue of boating access at their concurrent Conferences in Corpus Christi, TX in late September.

For SOBA and our members, I believe there are several important items of interest to us in this issue. First, boating access is a top priority for a number of groups and organizations right now. We are the boating access organization and therefore need to be involved in helping to set direction and guiding outcomes for efforts that are intending to address boating access problems and challenges.

To me this means working cooperatively with RBFF on their current catalog of boating facilities. They will be relying on state data that will come from states with inventories – either on-line or in some other form. For states that do not have this information, RBFF may be able to provide assistance to gather data about boating facilities. Second, RBFF intends to provide templates and full editing access to states that do not have their own on-line boating facilities information as well as links to the webpage for all interested states. RBFF is currently working with states in Region 4 and 5 on a pilot project to test the data transfer process. When the time comes, I would hope all states will work cooperatively with RBFF to share whatever information they have about boating facilities and where they exist in their respective states.

I would also urge all states to respond to the RBFF inquiry (when it comes) regarding statewide assessments of boating access needs. This will help paint a better national picture of the state-of-the-art in assessments and provide useful examples of how assessments can be conducted and used.

Second, SOBA should play a role in helping to identify the type of information needed for a nationwide assessment of boating access and help shape the methodology that would be used to gather the necessary information. If, as the SFBPC will be urging, the USFWS agrees to address the long-mandated national assessment prior to reauthorization, SOBA should also be ready to play a role in helping shape this effort.

Third, the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies offers another venue to highlight issues related to boating access. The multi-state conservation grant program could be a viable source of funding for a national assessment or other recreational boating access-related projects. I believe SOBA should work closely with RBFF and AFWA as these discussions unfold. States with representatives on key AFWA committees can assist by alerting directors and delegates of the need for resources to undertake such a nationwide study and the potential role SOBA could have in a project.

Finally, recreational boating access is clearly a hot topic. As an organization, I hope we can continue to be a leader in the fight to improve and increase access. With other powerful organizations also looking at recreational boating access, it has never been more important for us to share our expertise and step up to the challenges before us.


SOBA’s latest outreach/educational project is a DVD entitled “Construction Techniques for Recreational Boating Access Facilities”. Committee members met for a long weekend in May to review the year long collection of videos and photos submitted by various states, associate members and agencies. Narratives were added to the images selected for the DVD over the summer. This week the committee is reviewing a final draft of the DVD prepared by our vender. We are anticipating having a final copy at the conference in Corpus Christi for presentation and review by attendees. Duplication for distribution to members will be completed soon after the conference. As with previous SOBA sponsored educational materials, it is anticipated that member States will receive two courtesy copies. Additional copies may be purchased for $30.00 each. DVD order forms will be available at the registration desk during the conference.


The SOBA Nominating Committee would like to present its recommended slate of Officers and Board members for 2009-2010. These individuals have a wealth of combined experience, and we would like to thank them for agreeing to serve our association. We believe that both individually and collectively they will make great contributions to SOBA over the coming year.

President: Wayne Shuyler – Boating Facilities Program Manager and Assistant Director of the Oregon State Marine Board.

Vice President: James Adams – Capital Programs Director for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Treasurer: Steve Miller – Director of the Bureau of Facilities and Lands for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Member at Large: Dave Kieffer – Watercraft Access Engineer for the Division of Watercraft with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Member at Large: Andy Goldbloom – Manages the CVA, BIG, and Boating Access grant programs for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Member at Large: Patricia Harrell – Manages the Boating Access grant program for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

This slate will be presented for approval at the Annual Business Meeting in Corpus Christi on Wednesday September 30th at 11:00am before being formally adopted by SOBA members. Additional nominations from the floor can also be made (see below for criteria (SOBA ByLaws)

Section 1. Categories and Privileges of Membership
A. The primary voting membership in the Organization shall comprise the states. For purposes of this membership, "state" means a state, commonwealth, territory or district of the United States. A member state in “good standing” means a state that is current in its payment of membership dues as may be established in accordance with Section 2 of this Bylaw, or that has not formally withdrawn from membership in the Organization.

During the business meeting at which the election is to be conducted, any eligible representative of a member state, as defined in Bylaw II, Section 1A, shall be allowed to place into nomination their name or the name of another eligible representative for any open Officer or Member-at-Large position on the Executive Board.


In April, RBFF’s social networking website, Fishington, was recognized as a Webby Award Honoree. Past honorees have included, eBay, Yahoo!, iTunes, Google, FedEx, BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, NPR, Salon Magazine, Evite, Meetup, Wikipedia, Flickr, ESPN, Comedy Central, PBS and The Onion – pretty prestigious company.

New online boating content debuted on and visits to those pages tripled as a result. That same month, state partners started their second year of the Direct Mail Marketing Program targeting lapsed anglers.

In May, RBFF's Education Task Force awarded $718,510 in grants to five different aquatic education programs with the goal of introducing more than 175,000 youth to boating, fishing and conservation. RBFF also promoted its Anglers' Legacy program at the fourth annual Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship. Also in May, RBFF piloted a new ‘Movers Program’ with 14 state fish and wildlife agencies hoping to reach anglers who moved to a new state. The Take Me Fishing Triple-A baseball promotion started its third season in ball parks around the country.

In June, during National Fishing and Boating Week (NFBW), RBFF launched Catch A Boat, a virtual fishing game on Catch A Boat and NFBW were publicized through an integrated public relations campaign that included both social and traditional media outreach. The campaign not only increased traffic to, but also grew the Fishington membership and garnered even more Anglers' Legacy Ambassadors along the way. The second edition of the Anglers' Legacy Quarterly was also distributed to Ambassadors.

For boating stakeholders, initial results from the boat registration direct mail marketing program with Oregon showed promising results. Once the results are analyzed, RBFF plans to roll out the program to more states. Also in June, RBFF published the annual stakeholder report and re-launched The Passport to Fishing & Boating Program, which includes a new look and updated content. The program, which provides skills, techniques and information that instructors need to teach boating and fishing is available for free on earned two more national awards – a Bronze Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America and a Gold Circle Award from the American Society of Association Executives.

For a full copy of the RBFF Quarterly accomplishments report go to:

On September 1st, RBFF announced results for the Lapsed Boat Registration Pilot Program, a direct mail effort developed in partnership with the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW). As a result of the pilot program, 765 lapsed boats were registered during the evaluation period and more than $20,000 was generated in net revenue. The new registrations also generated an estimated $25,000 in additional revenue to the state of Oregon through state gasoline taxes and allocations from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund.

"These findings demonstrate the power of continuous communication with your customers," said RBFF President and CEO Frank Peterson. "These additional renewals will help support critical boating safety programs and boating infrastructure efforts in Oregon. We are encouraged by the results and moving forward, we hope to expand boat registration pilot programs to additional states."

In April 2009 the owners of 17,159 lapsed boat registrations, who had not renewed their registrations since 2007, were sent direct mail pieces reminding them about the importance of renewing their registration. These Oregon boat owners received one of three different remittance forms, which targeted both angler and non-angler households. A separate group of lapsed boats was set aside as a control group for comparison, and their owners received no remittance forms.

Based on a comparison of boat owners who received the mailing and those who did not, the program resulted in:

• 765 lapsed boats registered during the 42-day evaluation period.

• A higher response rate among the treatment groups (more than two times greater) than the response in the control groups, resulting in a lift of 4.5 percentage points.

• $21,292 of new net revenue from lapsed boat registrations over and above the cost of the direct mail program.

• $25,406 estimated additional revenue from state gasoline taxes ($23,278) and allocations from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund ($2,128).

"We are thrilled with the results from our pilot program, which was built on a detailed examination of boat registration data and market research in Oregon," said OSMB Director Paul Donheffner. "RBFF and ODFW were instrumental partners in this effort and we will continue to explore new ways to reach Oregon's boaters and increase participation in the sport."

The Lapsed Boat Registration Pilot Program is an extension of RBFF's ongoing direct mail efforts with state fish and wildlife agencies. Thirty-two states currently participate in the Lapsed Angler Direct Mail Marketing Program, a three-year initiative to recruit and retain lapsed anglers and generate awareness of the connection between fishing license sales and conservation efforts. The program has contributed more than $4 million in gross revenue to date for fish and wildlife management efforts.

To view the full evaluation report, visit


If you have already renewed your SOBA membership dues – THANK YOU.

SOBA is YOUR collective voice of public boating access in the United States. We have been in existence since 1986 thanks to the generous support of our members comprised of State Boating Officials and a wide range of other Boating Organizations and Partners. Our mission is:

To encourage, promote and support federal and state programs that provide safe, high-quality and environmentally sound public recreational boating access to the waterways of the United States and its territories. We cannot fulfill this mission without your support.


NOT A MEMBER? Check out our membership benefits at



In the waning hours of the 2009 session of the Oregon State Legislature, a bill passed that creates new fees on people who use motorized and non-motorized boats to recreate on Oregon’s waters.

Briefly, the new fee will fund Oregon’s most aggressive effort yet to prevent the spread of damaging invasive plants and animals in waterbodies across Oregon. Some of the most serious threats lie just outside our borders, like zebra and quagga mussels, and others like
Eurasian watermilfoil and New Zealand mud snails are already here, choking fish habitat and clogging waterways.

The Oregon State Marine Board is responsible for implementing the fees as set in House Bill 2220, which creates and funds the Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program in partnership with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

House Bill 2220 requires all boats registered in Oregon - boats with motors, and sailboats 12 feet and longer - to pay a $5 surcharge on their boat registration. This is on top of the current $3/per foot registration, which is valid for two years. The surcharge will be automatically added to the registration renewal process. As a result, having a valid 2010 registration decal will serve as proof that the surcharge has been paid as well. For registered boats, the permit is not transferable to other watercraft. A power boat registered outside of Oregon, will be required to pay a $20 non-resident fee to operate on Oregon waters.

People who own or operate paddle boats 10 feet or longer will purchase a $5 permit each year. The legislation clearly states that once the operator of a manually powered boat buys a permit, the operator can use the permit with other manually powered boats. Because these watercraft are not registered, a separate permit delivery system is now in development. Starting in December, this permit will be available through any of the 500 Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife license agents, 100 or so Marine Board registration agents, over the Internet and at other select locations where availability is limited. There are other programmatic details available on our website at

The driving force behind the legislation was the introduction of small exotic freshwater mussels into Lake Mead and the Colorado River basin in 2007. Zebra and quagga mussels are incredibly destructive, nearly impossible to control, and pose hundreds of millions of dollars in risk to Oregon’s hydroelectric power generators, irrigators, municipal water supplies, fishing and fisheries restoration efforts, general water-related recreation, not to mention drastic changes to the ecology of the waterways once they’re populated. The Great Lakes have experienced this since introduction in the mid-1980s, and Lake Mead and other Colorado River reservoirs, dams, water delivery systems and municipalities are experiencing it now. The impact cannot be overstated.

Each month, another infested boat heads to or through Oregon. Other state constitutions allow border inspections, but without a constitutional amendment, Oregon simply can’t do mandatory border inspections. Current prevention efforts have, for the last
decade, been based on ad-hoc partnerships built on shoestring budgets, good will and the hard work of state, federal and local governments, private organizations and others to address the issue. Based on this effort, many Oregonians understood the threat facing our state and urged our Legislature to take definitive action.

House Bill 2220 mirrors a prevention program implemented by the State of Idaho a couple months earlier, and borrows from existing programs in Utah and other states. In Oregon, the funds will be used to: establish five boat inspection teams across the state; purchase mobile decontamination equipment; provide training and direction for state and county law enforcement; increase outreach and education dollars for signage and other materials; and focus efforts in areas of greatest concern. These teams will work fishing tournaments, heavily used boat ramps, community events, border crossings in key areas, currently infested sites, and they can be mobilized as needed should a serious infestation be discovered. They will also take the message to boat and sport shows, county fairs and other local venues.

While border inspection stations would probably be more effective, they are also much more expensive. And while a fair number of boaters aren’t thrilled with the new fee, the program is by far the most significant effort this state has mustered to prevent or control aquatic invasive species infestations.

In the end, the primary goal of this effort is to provide the tools and knowledge, consistent with other states, that will encourage people to clean, drain, and dry their boats before each use. While zebra and quagga mussels are the driving force behind the legislation, an educated fleet of recreational boat owners will go far in preventing the further spread of damaging invasive plants and animals already present in Oregon waters.

In short, the cost of prevention is far cheaper than the cost of infestation. The money invested now - even if we’re not 100 percent effective - will save millions later. This is knowledge gained from other states that have been immersed in this issue for decades. It would be a serious, short-sighted and expensive mistake to roll back the clock on Oregon’s prevention efforts.

Randy Henry is the Operations Policy Analyst for the Oregon State


SOBA’s 2010 conference will be hosted by the

State of Utah

The venue will be held October 17-21

at the

Canyons Resort in Park City



Early reports are showing this year’s National Marina Day (NMD) had marinas from 18 states participating, as well as Canada, and covered all coasts. Events ranged from two-day blow-outs attracting thousands, to intimate community events that gave neighbors a chance to meet on a beautiful waterfront. Whatever the event was, marinas came together to celebrate their industry and show off how valuable marinas are to our nation.

Despite thunderstorms and a nearby tornado landing, Marsh Nowlin, CMM, Manager of Bayport Marina in Bayport MN, held a National Marina Day event that attracted at least 2000 visitors.

The attractions included an antique and classic car and boat show, a dinner dance, an art fair, rides on an authentic Venetian Gondola, and land displays. The event was also held for a local charity and brought in $5000 for the St. Croix Valley Outreach and Food Shelf.

Nowlin commented, “Yes, we did have an eventful NMD celebration complete with challenging weather, sunshine and tornados. The day began with a torrential thunderstorm just after we began setting up all the exhibits, after a brief delay we set it all up again. The sky opened up and bright sun appeared, even with the less than encouraging start we were able to have a very successful event.”

At Hall of Fame Marina in Ft. Lauderdale, the weather cooperated and according to marina manager Scott Salomon, CMM, “We had an awesome event. The "Sea Scouts" had a great time, and the beach clean up was cool!” Salomon took advantage of the opportunity presented by NMD partner National Youth Marine Alliance to have a group of scouts come help clean up his waterfront and prove the notion that marina managers are truly environmental stewards. Hall of Fame’s event attracted the Ft. Lauderdale Mayor and Special Assistant to Governor Crist.

This year’s kick-off event at Harborage Yacht Club and Marina also drew crowds and continued the environmental stewardship theme by having an osprey that had been injured and rehabilitated, released as part of the day’s event. Harborage also hosted a Friday evening reception for local politicians, sponsors, and NMD participants. Owner Gary Guertin commented, “In order to keep our industry viable through good times and tough times owners of marinas large and small, independent mom and pop’s and large corporate organizations, all need to replay this message everyday not just once a year.”


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Board of Directors

Kent Skaar
Trails and Waterways Division-MN DNR
500 Lafeyette Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155
Tel: 651-297-2798
Fax: 651-297-5475

Wayne Shuyler
Oregon State Marine Board
435 Commercial Street NE
P.O. Box 14145
Salem, OR 97309-5065
Tel: 503-378-2605
Fax: 503-378-4597

James Adams
Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
4010 West Borad Street
P.O. Box 11104
Richmond, VA 23230
Tel: 804-367-0183
Fax: 804-367-2311

Ed Poolos
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37204
Tel: 866-416-4488

Andy Goldbloom**
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Tel: 512-389-8128
Fax: 512-389-8242

** 2009 Conference Host/Coordinator

David Kieffer
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
2045 Morse Road
Building A-2
Columbus, OH
Tel: 614-265-6972
Fax: 614-262-2197

Steven W. Miller
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921
Tel: 608-266-5782
Fax: 608-267-2750

     © Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved.