Interesting Stuff

Weekend Boaters Scuttled By New Law

Chalk up another well intentioned, but ill advised law from the legislature, causing outrage and disappointment among boaters. The lawmakers went overboard on this one.
The Ag Dept. convinced the lawmakers there is a threat of zebra mussel infestations in Idaho. Never mind none of the invasive little clams have been found in Idaho waters, like swine flu, we COULD have them and don’t want to miss a chance to play on the national stage. The clingy little shellfish clog intakes to power plants and pumps in the Great Lakes, costing millions in repairs and eradication efforts.

All the fee money goes to the The Idaho Agriculture Department, but the law mandates that Idaho Parks and Recreation sell the stickers. We hear that Parks had to pony up $65,000 for the stickers and administration in the wake of the new law. They are also swamped with calls from disgruntled skippers.

In their zeal to qualify “emergency funds” (like forest firefighting) the lawmakers declared an emergency and put the law into effect immediately–at the end of April. The Guv vetoed a bunch of bills in his political battle with the legislators, but he apparently missed the boat on the zebra mussel bill.

Parks people scrambled to manufacture the stickers which cost $10 for a motorboat, but the only place they can be purchased is at the Boise Headquarters or State Parks offices, causing near mutiny among boaters. Further confusing the issue is the enforcement duties fall on county sheriff’s marine deputies whose prime concern is safety.

Memorial Weekend boaters were warned in legacy TV news reports that tickets probably wouldn’t be issued for boaters without the sticker, but they wouldn’t be allowed to launch their watercraft.

The GUARDIAN solution: Forget about the sticker, simply add the fee to the cost of a boat registration. If a boat is already registered, let them float for free with no extra fee until next year.

Like swine flue, nobody wants zebra mussels. However, it is unreasonable to expect boaters who have dutifully registered their craft to come back and comply with an ill conceived law passed barely a month ago.

Tip for investors: look for companies and contractors who will build “cleaning stations” at the major boating areas.

Tip for entrepreneurs: offer the state “certified” zebra mussel inspectors who will sit in the sun at boat ramps during the summer.

Tip for retailers: offer to be a “vendor” for zebra stickers for 10% of the action.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I totally agree with your analysis and solution to this new law. I will buy the sticker for the ski boat that is moored at Lucky Peak but not my canoe that gets used twice a year.

    If these pesky creatures don’ t exist in Idaho, then why worry about boaters who stay in Idaho. We should just secure our state borders and inspect there.

  2. Saying “but we don’t have them NOW” is not an answer. That’s pseudo-libertarian, quasi-ideological nonsense.

    If/when the zebra mussels do come to our waters, we’ll be ill-funded and ill-equipped to do anything about it. The little suckers breed, clog, and contaminate…
    and they do it FAST.

    EDITOR NOTE–Brian, the point is the law was poorly implemented. Stickers won’t stop the mussels. It’s like asking folks to pay for a toll road that doesn’t have any toll booths. It was bungled.

  3. Seems like your suggestion of just adding the fee to registration instead of requiring the sticker would make sense. It would cost nothing to do, nothing to enforce, and wouldn’t require the (usually only one) deputy at each lake or reservoir to waste time going around peering at each boat.
    Of course, our brilliant legislators may have figured they can train the mussels not to grab onto boats with stickers on them?

  4. In that there are too many poorly implemented laws to mention, why would we be surprised at this latest lack of logic from the legislature. “We are brilliant for thinking of it but let some minion enact it” will continue to be the norm until there is a change at the ballot box. Both republicans and democrats should share equally in this poor representation of our needs and wants.

  5. They sent notices to owners of registered boats in Idaho. I got mine about a week ago.

    I have a 9-foot pontoon boat used for fishing but because I occasionally mount an electric motor, it is required to be registered and now to have an Idaho Invasive Species Fund (IISF) sticker, available at P&R headquarters, by mail or via Internet. That totals – with the mussel sticker – $31.50 for a 9-foot pontoon boat that has yet to be used outside Idaho!

    What the “add the fee to the cost of a boat registration” solution does not cover is boats registered in other states. Idaho’s IISF sticker charge for those folks is $20.00 per year, although how they are to know of the law remains unclear.

    The Guardian is correct. The net effect of this hastily-enacted legislation is not so much to prevent an invasion of mussels as to antagonize boat owners and levy yet another fee (tax).

    And Clancy, if the canoe is 10 feet or longer, you’re required to have the IISF sticker. But only if the canoe goes on the water :-).

  6. Well Dave, in defense of Brian, your point was poorly implemented. You’re belittling a very serious matter in which government is the only entity in place to deal with it. If you woulda followed the debate in the legislature, you woulda noted that the proponent failed on his first attempt with many insisting that the program be voluntary. This legislation was the result. The idea as I understand it was to get
    this passed primarily to educate as many people as possible on cleaning their equipment, not just boats, but rafts and even waders. Secondarily it is to fund cleaning stations. It intentionally reaches beyond just those required to have boat permits in order to educate as many people as possible.

    But I agree they seemed to have mucked up access to the permits which defeats education. The positive side effect on pissing everyone off is that people are becoming aware, at least, if not misinformed. I’m also worried this is too little too late. Last week a boat encrusted with them drove up from Lake Mead through SE Idaho, into Montana, and across N. Idaho before it was apprehended in Spokane. That single boat could have spread quagga through the head waters of the Missouri and Columbia river systems. The little buggers only first appeared in Lake Mead in the fall of ’07 and they already populate most the Lake and are clogging Hoover Dam. And if you think $10 is a lot, then think what will happen to your taxes, power rates, and food prices when any entity dependent on water in Idaho has to start dealing with them.

    Clancy, I believe there is a provision in the law for all boats to stop at weigh stations. This invader is probably one of the biggest threats our relatively dry state has ever faced.

    EDITOR NOTE–We aren’t that far apart. The problem is political–not scientific. This is like requiring bicycle licenses on two weeks notice, but not providing a place to get the license while giving the fees to the ACHD and making the city Parks provide the licenses. INSANITY!!

  7. Tom Anderson
    May 26, 2009, 6:11 pm

    Forgive me if I don’t deeply research this issue before commenting, but aren’t these invasive creatures impossible to eradicate once they are introduced, short of poinsoning and killing everything in the river, lake, pond or whatever, and everything downstream?

    I would say we let no boats across the border without a complete inspection, paid for by those who cross boarders with boats.

    (Does the Guardian have a conflict of interest here? Is he a recreational boater? ((I fess up to being a kayaker (((who doesn’t cross borders((((except every few years))))))))))

    EDITOR NOTE– Full disclosure. I own a boat, properly equip and license it, fear zebra mussels and invasive weeds, will gladly pay the $10 fee to stop invasive crap. I apparently haven’t done a good job writing this one. The problem is the legislature created a monster when they declared an “emergency” not knowing what it really meant (immediate effect of the law). Funding goes to one agency, but another agency has responsibility to implement the law, and county sheriffs enforce it.

  8. I don’t mind the $10 bucks but where is the plan? Even congress has pulled the money to close Gitmo without benefit of a plan.

    This just sounds like another effort to cram another “program” down every boaters boat no matter how small or infrequent the use.

    What is the master plan to accomodate out of state boaters?

    I seriously doubt $10 bucks from each boater would do much of anything to stop these invasive little buggers. It might put some more people to work on the government payroll and get a few more pickups with state seals on the road.

  9. I don’t think anyone answered my question:
    Don’t these critter die if they dry out?

    Anybody know?

  10. What about a guy like me. I have a kayak 12 ft that I use maybe once or twice a year. Do I have to buy a sticker?

    EDITOR NOTE–Robert, you do have to buy one or face a $57 fine.

  11. “Tip for investors: look for companies and contractors who will build “cleaning stations” at the major boating areas.”

    “Tip for entrepreneurs: offer the state “certified” zebra mussel inspectors who will sit in the sun at boat ramps during the summer.”

    Tip for the Guardian, shut the hell up when you don’t know what you are talking about. This is a very serious problem and your solution is to provide readers with a way to profit out of it.

    Boats frequently travel into Idaho from out of state. Last week (while you were burning gas on your 5400 mile joyride) a boat was reported with mussels on it in S.L.C heading north into Idaho. Fortunately a driver (who wasn’t trying to profit out of it) called authorities and the boat was eventually tracked down in Spokane.

    Could this situation with the stickers have been handled better? Absolutely. But at least when the problem does appear there will be some money to fight it with.

  12. Just another tax you fools

  13. Gordon, yes they can live for days after being taken from the marine environment. Tom, yes they are virtually impossible to eradicate. They populate the Great Lakes. In fact, I believe that it was a boat from Lake Michigan that transferred quagga to Lake Mead. If they can survive that journey, then Idaho ain’t no big thang. In fact, there are quagga in a lake in Utah just south of our border.

    Zippo, how is your comment helpful? Merely parroting the Republican talking point of “taxes bad” does nothing to address this problem. Neither does acting like an ostrich and sticking your head in the sand. It just makes a horrible thing inevitable.

    I agree with Dave that the legislation was poorly thought through. But its a much better start than the total inaction the legislature accomplished last year. I believe the collaborative effort Dave has begun here can help unscrew it.

  14. I think there was an active program once called the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign? Roger Batt? Ring a bell anyone? Maybe the money should be directed to an agency that was already created and might know a thing or two about invasive species. To create a whole new system seems wasteful.

    Now for the best part. I emailed the Guardian about this over six weeks ago but there were more pressing growthophobe and transit issues at that time. I tried to get this issue more attention along with Pete Zimowsky at the Statesman. I wrote letters and try to get a few forums I visit the chance to say something…

    Last year Butch and the Team(The Revenue Seekers) were working on a plan to have the non-motor boat crowd help pay into the state coffers on an annual basis. Butch and the boat-motor-heads wanted all the little tree hugging rapid runners to pay a registration fee for their little kayaks. The gas-hog clique thought that the non-motor-boat crowd needed to pay their fair share. The non-motor-boat crowd threw a fit. The non-motor-boat crowd has the pay the same boat ramp fees across the state and pay for parking at places like the Payette River near Banks. The motor-head crowd, and Butch and the Team, decided to put together a committee to study how the non-motor-boat crowd could pay their way. Their little committee came up with nothing and at this time last year the issue had dissappeared.

    Now enters a Real Estate dude from North Idaho. He is a rep. from the North Land and they(other ID Reps.) call him Rep. Milfoil. He was concerned about invasive species in Priest Lake. I feel the milfoil in the lake might reduce his commission made on lakefront properties so he has a vested interest in keeping the waters clean. This is where my speculation comes in… Butch and the Team found a way to get the non-motor boat crowd to pay their “Fee” by attaching it to a fearful concept of Idaho being invested with more illegal immigrants: The Zebra/Quagga Mussel. If some of you remember the front page of the Statesman there was an article about the $92 MILLION POTENTIAL PROBLEM IN IDAHO WATERS!!! Soon after this a few creative legislators were able to create this rediculous program and force into emergency status with no actual program in place to make it function properly. I don’t even know where the money is currently going??? Do you really think that a few dollars from boaters will be able to create enough revenue to build suitable washing stations at every interstate crossing? Will it be a hazmat center? What kind of highly trained inspectors will look at every boat? What if someone is smuggling rafts across the border? What might we do with all those live little illegals?

    So, Butch and this guy from up north were able to circumvent the interests of the local whitewater kayakers by creating the 10 foot rule. Also, what about all those blow up dolls and innertubes on the Boise River. There is no way to make each of them get an invasive species sticker… So they created the 10′ boat rule… There is no mention of felt sole waders… This whole thing is an excercise in poor legislation. The money generated will most likely not even cover the cost of administration. It is already outrageous in cost to register a boat. Now this additional fee! It is approaching the cost of registering a car. And the trailer is registered separately… To be clear I own a 16′ Driftboat and a 12′ raft. I had power boats for years but I got tired of the boat ramp crowds and those pesky marine officers ruining my fun…

  15. sam the sham
    May 27, 2009, 1:55 pm

    oh do I ever agree. My 13 foot flat water kayak is used a lot like my truck tire tube… both allow me to float around in the waters of Idaho. Neither will go out of state and neither need to be near a marina to get in or out of the waters. The kayak just lets me take my grandkids around with me.
    the las is stupid, but does pull more money into the state coffers. hmmmm was that the real goal?

  16. I, too, own a 16-foot driftboat. Not registered as it doesn’t have a motor. The trailer is registered as a utility trailer. I won’t be buying the sticker. It doesn’t leave the state. I can’t imagine that this program (if it existed) will be able to stop the mussell. Looks like a lost cause to me. Redneck is right about waders.

  17. Sisyp, It is going to happen, no way to stop it. New tax just using your fear and hype to take more money. It may make you feel better to pay a another tax, but not me. Last I checked the average American (not on the public payroll) was paying about 55% taxes… thats a bunch right? (including all the taxes, sale, fuel etc.) PS: Republican? LOL… they tax and spend too.

  18. Dear Mr Guardian. You blog about a lot of things that need to be brought up. I like that.

    However, before you post an opinion piece on something it would help if you did your homework. Invasive species are a serious issue but you appear to have your head in the sand.

    I’d advise you to re-read the second paragraph of this story and then read the story on invasive algae in your favorite paper this morning.

    I like what you’re doing but please educate yourself before you post when you don’t have all the facts.

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