Commission considers canoe, kayak registration

By Lauren Gentile

One plan to pay for the dredging of Great Lakes harbors is requiring state registration for kayaks and canoes. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

The chair of the Waterways Commission, Gary Marowske, has a new plan to combat low water levels and dredge many inland and Great Lakes harbors – require state registrations for non-motorized watercraft.

“Currently, non-motorized boats like kayaks and canoes do not have to be registered, but in the words of Gov. Snyder, ‘You have to pay to play.’ So my goal is to start registering these watercraft to have more of an income for the commission,” Marowske of Grosse Pointe Farms said.

Marowske said he has no estimate of the number of non-motorized watercraft in the state.

Currently, the commission is funded through the approximately one million boats that are registered in the state and 2 percent of the gas tax.

The commission provides advice on policies and manages waterway programs such as refuge harbors and boat launch maintenance.

“One million boat registrations sounds like a lot, but when the commission has so many initiatives, the money depletes quickly,” Marowske said.

No registration legislation is pending, but Marowske said the process would start soon.

Ron Olson, chief of the Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division, says the seven-member commission has challenges in addition to funding.

“With the low water levels this year, dredging is an issue that needs to be

Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

addressed,” Olson said. “The commission needs to continue to come up with some strategies on how to deal with the levels economically and recreationally.”

Dredging is an excavation technique that gathers up sediments and disposes of them at another location to make waterways navigable.

Ward Walstrom, a new member of the commission and co-owner of Walstrom Marine in Harbor Springs, Cheboygan and Bay Harbor, said dredging is his number-one priority.

“Assuming the waterways stay at their current low level, harbors will have to apply for grants and estimate the cost of dredging in the area. The commission will then review the application and see if we can budget the expense,” he said.

Denny Grinold of Lansing and Dennis Nickels of Grand Rapids were also appointed to the commission by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Marowske said, “All three of the new members have had some type of expertise in waterways whether they are an avid boater, a marine owner or whatever it be. They’re bringing a wealth of knowledge to the group.”

55 thoughts on “Commission considers canoe, kayak registration

  1. I went to the December waterways commission meeting in Lansing. The chairman stated the he was misquoted in the interview and a tax on canoes and kayaks wasn’t in the works. His eyes told a different story.He is in league with big money and our wonderful governor.

  2. Are you kidding, in one year Gov. Snyder you have raised almost every tax possible, and so has my hometown without care. You would like me to pay for my own body powered canoe and kayak which works well with getting kids involved. I dislike the notion of CO2 and Climate change is the problem of the Lakes and Rivers. It’s called rebound and nothing you or anyone can fix it, it’s also called a natural cycle of weather. I am not sure why this is said in this column but if thats your “great” concern worry about all the mercury being moved around from when these towns along rivers used mercury to float these logs to the bigger rivers like St. Clair or to the Great Lakes. Either way to peddle a tax on people just to make more money is like waiting for ex Gov. Granholm to knock our socks off then steal them. It seems that is what Snyder has planned for everyone!

  3. Gary Marowske and Gov Synder, you don’t need to invoke a new tax; It would better serve Michiganders if you devoted your attention to an existing tax that is not being used for its intended purpose.

    May I ask you to get onboard and support Sen. Carl Levin leading a bipartisan group of 27 senators seeking legislation to ensure that all funding available in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (H.R. 4348) is dedicated to harbor maintenance projects. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund currently has a balance of more than $5.7 BILLION (national), but is being used to offset other budget deficits.

  4. The real issue is not trying to extract a few (literally a few in light of the total state budget) extra dollars from the canoe and kayak community to pay for dredging or any of the other odd things we do to aquatic and wetland landscapes, but totally ignoring the long range ecosystem damage we do with these activities. The commission is staffed with obvious power boat enthusiasts. Typically when folks like this are involved, there is a great deal of money acquisition and a “me first” mentality. Their first reaction is usually a “whatever works” approach, and this may not be the best long range solution for the environment. We have abundant examples of man’s failure to consider the landscape and the ecosystem and the failures that result. When are we ever going to learn that our real wealth lies in a healthy ecosystem? And when are we ever going to learn to work with the ecosystem rather than do battle with it? I even question the necessity of dredging in most cases unless we fully understand the ecological ramifications of such actions – site by site.

  5. I own and use 2 power boats that I pay registration fees for and an ORV that I pay and annual registration fee for use on permitted State lands. I also pay feeS for a car, a truck and a motorcycle in order to enter our State park. I also have a number of waterccaft that are paddled or rowed. I also sometimes have to pay fees to launch those watercraft on various streams and lakes in the State of Michigan. Now the State wants us to pay fees to own human powered watercraft to pay for dredging that will likely be proven unnecessary when normal or high lake levels return. I SAY NO….enough is enough let us continue to own our non powered watercraft unencumbered by added fees. Next consideration could likely be fees on bicycles to pay for road repairs. Imagine being required to pay a fee before you can teach your 4 or 5 year old child to ride a bicycle. LUDICROUS!

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