A group meets to discuss a battle plan against the notion of a non-motorized boating registration fee. BY PETE ZIMOWSKY – pzimowsky @ idahostatesman.com Edition Date: 11/30/07 Link to article HERE Image from KAYAKIDAHO.COM

A group of rafters and kayakers, including representatives of boat manufacturers and retailers, met Thursday night to devise a battle plan against Gov. Butch Otterand#39;s idea to have non-motorized boaters pay a state registration fee.

andquot;We are vehemently opposed to it, period,andquot; said Rob Lesser, a Boise kayaker and internationally known river runner.

The governorand#39;s office on Friday is hosting a meeting, which is closed to the public, to discuss a registration fee for kayaks, drift boats, rafts and inflatable boats.

Currently, registration fees are required in Idaho only for motorized boats of any size.

andquot;We want to know what is the need (of the registration fee),andquot; said Grant Simonds, director of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association.

Simonds said many of the boat ramps on Idaho rivers are paid for through appropriated money from the federal government.

The governorand#39;s office sees the new fee as a way to have non-motorized boaters share in the cost of maintaining boat ramps and restrooms and for search and rescue programs.

But Simonds said non-motorized boaters already pay fees for those same services.

News of the proposal drew a flood of protest calls to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation headquarters Thursday. The agency handles the stateand#39;s boating programs. And an online forum at www.kayakidaho.com was packed with comments against the idea.

Of the 40 online comments on the Idaho Statesmanand#39;s story about the fee Thursday, only two favored the proposal.

Some non-motorized boaters Thursday were trying to organize a protest Friday near the Borah Building, complete with kayaks, canoes and rafts.

Although the governorand#39;s office said the work group has no legislation drafted to create a registration fee, some kayakers and rafters donand#39;t believe it.

andquot;I heard the legislation is already drawn up,andquot; said Lesser.

Some people want to know if small fishing catarafts, inner tubes and small inflatable kayakers would fall under the non-motorized registration.

Although no details are available, proposed legislation in 2004 called for all craft longer than 7 feet to be registered. It sank in the Legislature after a rally of protests by boaters.

There have been four attempts since the 1990s to get a non-motorized boating registration fee through the Legislature.

Talk of the registration fee came up again during the last legislative session, when Otter said boat owners who have to register their boats are being unfairly singled out to bear the stateand#39;s boat-related costs and that he wanted to extend the burden to drift boaters, kayakers, canoeists and rafters, including those who own inflatable rafts and kayaks.

Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445

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Proposed fee for kayaks, rafts draws fire