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Idaho Overboard Proposing Boat Fees

Idaho bureaucrats are paddling up the wrong creek by suggesting that canoes, kayaks and other non-motorized boats be registered.

There’s little need to do so - other than to send more money floating away to Boise and to increase the size of state government.

Legislation proposed by the state Parks and Recreation Department would raise a pittance statewide - barely enough to build two concrete outhouses - while saddling state assessors with another unfunded mandate.

The proposal represents just the kind of excessive government voters rebelled against last November.

It should be rejected outright.

The proposal calls for charging non-motorized boaters the same annual registration fee as power boaters: $5 to $13 for vessels up to 12 feet long and another $2 for each additional foot.

The revenue - about 85 percent of up to an estimated $100,000 - would be earmarked for docks, launch ramps, restrooms and, if anything is left over, law enforcement.

In defense of the proposed bill, department attorney Rinda Just said: “Motorized boating actually pays its way and has for years, but non-motorized boating is just as much a burden to law enforcement. If police or rescuers find a kayak washed up downstream now, they don’t know if they need to look for a body or not.”

But that occasional occurrence hardly is reason to create more bureaucracy.

Kootenai County Assessor Tom Moore - who would have to enforce the law - says the proposal is ridiculous, poorly designed and would create more work with no additional money.

Skeptical North Idaho and Washington paddlers don’t trust the state to use the money wisely or solely for them.

They have reason for concern.

The Parks and Recreation Department has mishandled this proposal from the start by failing to seek counsel from savvy people like Moore, whose county registers a quarter of all Idaho boats. Moore heard about the legislation through the grapevine.

Some wonder if the state Parks and Recreation Department understands non-motorized boating.

Canoeists, kayakers and row boaters don’t need ramps and docks as power boaters do. Their hobby doesn’t pollute waterways or erode banks.

Their greatest need is for more motorboat-free areas.

And for state bureaucrats to leave them alone.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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