Whats up wakeworld...
Here's the latest on the issues we are facing in Oregon and how we are preparing for the upcoming hearing. if you have any additional insights, we would welcome them!!!!!!!! http://pdxwake.com/viewtopic.php?p=15664#15664
in case this doesn't work, here is the test of the post:
Iím going to place information here in attempt to inform everyone about what is happening. This hearing is real, and the potential outcomes are serious and could impact how and where we enjoy wakeboarding.
Below you will find, what we expect to happen at the hearing next week, the feedback we have received from experts on the issues at hand, and our resulting strategies for the meeting. Please know that we still have 4 days before the meeting. If you have concerns about how we are preparing, our strategies, or our recommendations, please make your voice heard. This is intended to be an entirely transparent process. These issues affect all of us who wakeboard. Also, you are welcome to attend the meeting, give testimony in the open testimony session, or submit written testimony to be considered by the OSMB. Your participation in any way you choose is desired and welcomed. Most importantly, if you are available, please show up at the hearing, and sign in. Numbers speak loudly with politicians!
You'll be pleased to learn that your wakeboard community is organized, and we are moving forward on preparing for the meeting on January 8th. We have solicited and received feedback from many credible sources as we have developed our strategies for next week, including:
-USA Waterski and Wakeboard
-The OSMB (Oregon State Marine Board)
-The NSBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators)
-WSIA Water Sports Industry Association
-WWA (World Wakeboard Association)
-Various boat manufacturers and dealers
-Residents who live on the River
-The Willamette River Keepers
-Other active members of the wakeboard community
First, what exactly is happening:
4 years ago residents of the Newberg Pool section of the River began pressuring the OSMB to address issues associated with wakeboarding. Namely noise, and damage by wakes. For 2 years the Oregon State Marine Board, did not take any official action, but began closer observation of boater behavior on this section of the River. Over the last 2 years, the OSMB has implemented a few campaigns in order to help wakeboarders and property owners try to reach compromises, and try to peacefully co-exist. The land owners have exerted additional pressure on the OSMB, at times through state representatives, as they do not feel the measures put in place are having a positive impact. As such, Randy Henry of the OSMB has called for a rule making process to try to find solutions. Essentially, this hearing is an official request that the staff of the OSMB urgently evaluate the issues at hand, and develop potential solutions for consideration by the OSMB board . There are several solutions being discussed, and they range from do nothing (essentially you bought river font property, deal with boaters and wake boarders), and go up to eliminating the use of wake enhancing devices, or creating no wake zones in sensitive areas of the River. What is important to note is that the leadership of the OSMB does not want to create additional legislation. They would like for the property owners and the boaters to develop solutions that both sides can live with.
There will be 2 main portions of the hearing. First will be invited testimony. We have been successful in garnering several spots on the invited testimony panel, including:
Matt Radich, Active Watersports
Greg Waters, Wakeboarder and frequenter of the Newberg Pool section of the River
Matt Hickman, West Coast Editor, Wakeboard Magazine
There will be others on the invited panel to include:
Willamette Riverfront Property Owners
An expert on factors influencing erosion on river banks
Based on our ďreconĒ, here is what we expect on the testimony:
Property owners will share their concern about the noise coming from stereos, and the damage that has occurred due to wave energy on the river. They will make the case that the boats, most specifically wakeboard boats are the central cause of dock damage, and are contributing factors to shoreline erosion. There will likely be a few property owners who tell stories that donít paint a very positive picture of our community. Unfortunately, the bad apples among us will be exposed here.
The Erosion expert will explain how the Willamette, in this specific area has steep banks, and loose silt, making it particularly prone to erosion, which is enhanced by boat wakes.
Law enforcement will likely corroborate that noise, and wakes have been an issue they have witnessed and that they are ill equipped to enforce the regulations in place on noise and wake damage. Additionally, they will likely state the measures in place on these issues are poorly written, and do not contain stiff, enforceable penalties.
After sharing this information with people who have been through similar situations, we have received the following advice:
-Do not ignore the issues, you will lose credibility, and not be able to influence the process.
-Develop potential solutions that can be discussed (educational, enforcement, etc.)
-Get the boat dealers involved, especially in educating boaters on the sensitive issues, and on proper and safe use of wakeboard boats and other watercraft that have the potential to impact land owners
At this stage we are planning to pursue the following strategies in the invited testimony:
There was a study done by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources which concludes boat wakes are negligible in the cause of erosion. We will have Matt call out a few of the highlights from this study, and submit it to the board as written testimony. At the same time however, we must acknowledge that wave energy, some of which is caused by boats, contributes to erosion in certain circumstances (steep banks, loose sediment, narrow channels, shallow water, etc.) We will stress however that boat wave energy is minimal when compared to the normal rate of flow of the river, the effect of high water in the winter months, and natural flood events.
We will highlight Oregon's existing codes on noise violations, and submit those as written testimony. Essentially, where there is a law in place, enforcement is the issue. There is no need for additional legislation.
-Damage done by boat wakes
Again, we will highlight the existing guidelines that are in place and submit those as testimony. Enforcement again is the issue.
To hide our heads in the sand and claim there are no issues will likely not be a successful path for us. There must be a sincere dialogue around how we can self police and educate. To those ends we are considering the following as part of our strategy:
-Fund raising for additional patrols
Registering a boat in Oregon is still incredibly cheap (around $32 per year). If we were to support higher registration fees, these revenues could be used to increase patrols on our water ways. Most wake boarders will likely not have an issue with additional patrol / enforcement as our boats are safe and properly equipped, and we are not the ones engaging in dangerous and illegal activity. We would ALL be safer with more patrols, though we realize for some this will be cause for small changes in behavior. A small price to pay, if we can maintain our access to public water ways for wakeboarding.
Wakeboard ball. Why wouldn't we throw an annual party to raise $. I'm confident the boat dealers and endemic sponsors would be supportive of our efforts. This could be the "it" event of the Portland wakeboard social calendar, and we could likely raise significant funds. These funds could not only help increase patrols, but perhaps could assist in river clean ups, that we volunteer to execute. There are other wakeboard groups around the country who use these cleanups to bolster their relationship with local communities who might otherwise oppose wakeboarding and waterway usage rights. This might go a long way to garnering support from other concerned groups like the Willamette River Keepers.
We can consider partnering with USA Water-ski / USA Wakeboard, OSMB, organizations like idrive, and the boat dealers, to do large scale driver education and certification classes. With support from these bodies, the costs would be low. We could include not only safe driving practices, but also better driving practices - who doesn't want a better driver for their session! Additionally, we can highlight the issues of sensitivity (noise, wake damage, etc.) in the process. We can also execute our own issue awareness campaign early in the wakeboard season. This would be easy for us to do as we could set up at the various boat ramps / docks where most of our community will be, at the times we know they will be there. We can distribute literature, and just talk to our fellow riders.
From my conversations with those that have been through issues like this, we have no choice but to be organized, speak articulately about our sport using real facts, and to be prepared to alter our behavior. Anything less will likely result in the Oregon State Marine Board being pressured to take additional regulatory action.
Additionally, I am happy to share the correspondence that I have written to USA Wakeboard / Waterski, OSMB, NASBLA, Wakeboard magazine, etc. Just thought this was getting a bit long already!
Ok folks, thatís about it for now. If you have some feedback to add, please do so!
Vacation home for water lovers!
Vacation Home for Water lovers!