Boating access is a national problem that occurs at a local level, and on many diverse levels. Because of this there are many various groups and organizations nationwide working on the access issue. It is important that national groups work together toward a unified strategy to address boating access and partner with smaller local groups to tackle specific issues in waterfront communities.
Water Access Alliance (WAA) works closely with groups across the country to form coalitions with related stakeholders, ensure that local access concerns are being addressed, and provide local groups with the information and assistance they require.
WAA has partnered with many organizations in its fight to preserve and protect boating access. Included among the many national groups are:
• States Organization for Boating Access;
• National Waterways Conference;
• Coastal States Organization;
• National Association of State Boating Law Administrators;
• Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association
In addition, WAA has worked on local access issues with state and local agencies and organizations including:
• Florida Inland Navigation District;
• South Carolina Marine Association;
• Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission (VA);
• Maine Coastal Program
One of the most important of WAA’s partners in coalition building has been the various state Sea Grant programs administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Sea Grant’s mission of environmental stewardship, long-term economic development, and responsible use of America’s coastal, ocean and Great Lakes resources has involved in-depth study and analysis of boating access which WAA has used nationwide.
In May 2007, WAA’s coalition building efforts reached a crescendo with the first ever dedicated boating access conference. Working Waterways and Waterfronts 2007 in Norfolk, VA, was a three-day symposium that served as a catalyst to organize and share the most current thinking regarding the growing impediments to boating and fishing access.
The symposium offered a unique opportunity for coastal zone, city and regional planners, public officials, resource agency staff, water-based enterprises (marinas, boat yards, etc.), academia, aquatic resource educators, fishery management professionals, and the fishing and boating industries to exchange ideas and develop potential collaboration strategies that address public access needs.
Identifying groups working on access across the country and forming coalitions to address the issue provides the entire boating community with a louder voice and unified front when working with decision makers on determining waterfront usage.
Focus Group Leader: Jim Frye