Federal, state, and local governments play a vital role in boating access; from funding, to development planning, land use determinations, and permitting requirements. Land use planners and politicians must be equipped with the right information to make wise and accurate decisions about waterfront development and the consideration of boating and boating access needs.
Water Access Alliance (WAA) works closely with all levels of government to ensure that decision makers are receiving, considering and adopting the correct strategies to address the growing need for boating access.
The Water Resources Development Act passed out of Congress in November 2007, overriding a veto from President Bush for the first time in his presidency. The bill includes billions of dollars for water infrastructure improvement and development. The Water Access Alliance worked closely with Congressional staff and other interested parties in support of its passage.
In addition, in July 2007, WAA played a key role in the drafting and introduction of HR 3223, the Keep Our Waterfronts Working Act, in the US House of Representatives. This important working waterfronts legislation would allow coastal states to invest in the protection, preservation, and expansion of working waterfronts through the Coastal Zone Management Act. Through WAA’s efforts, the definition of working waterfronts in the bill specifically includes recreational boating and fishing, as well as marinas. WAA continues to play an important role in moving this bill toward passage.
Further, as part of WAA’s goal to partner with government to access public lands, National Marine Manufacturers Association and the U.S. Forest Service entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to promote and encourage recreational boating on Forest service lands. WAA is negotiating similar agreements with the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
Finally, as an example of WAA’s success at the state government level, WAA attached a proviso to South Carolina’s annual state budget bill allocating $1 million to be used by the state Department of Natural Resources to fund a matching grant program to improve recreational boating access to the South Carolina’s public navigable waterways. WAA is working with local interests on similar opportunities in several states around the country.
By building on these successes, WAA will ensure that government stakeholders take into account the interests of the boating community when making waterfront development decisions. WAA’s ongoing relationship with government interests at all levels will ultimately result in a louder voice for boating interests and increased boating access across the country.
The Alliance also worked in partnership with various stakeholders toward increasing funding for the Corps to address much-needed and long-neglected navigational dredging projects, primarily along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
Focus Group Leader: John McKnight