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Waterway bill passed by House could have benefits for recreational boaters

Emerging harbors and shallow channels play a vital role in thousands of communities across the nation, says David Kennedy of Boat US. Emerging harbors and shallow channels play a vital role in thousands of communities across the nation, says David Kennedy of Boat US.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that could have potential benefits for recreational boaters, according to a news release issued Thursday, Oct. 31 by the Boat Owners Association of the United States, or Boat US.

Recreational boaters could benefit from language in the bill that directs the Army Corps of Engineers to target funding to emerging harbors, or those that ship less than one million tons of cargo annually.

Additionally, the bill directs the Army Corps to assess the operation and maintenance needs of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, taking into consideration their benefits to recreation, commercial fishing and navigation, according to Boat US.

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 would allocate 10 percent of the total expenditures that go to waterway operation and maintenance to be used at these emerging harbors.

While such harbors and waterways may not carry the millions of tons of cargo of the bigger ports, they play a vital role in supporting recreational boating and commercial fishing, according to David Kennedy, government affairs senior program coordinator for Boat US, an organization that advocates for recreational boaters and boating safety.

“We have national highway and air transportation systems,” Kennedy said. “This is the first time since 2007 that Congress is moving forward with a much needed transportation bill for our waterways, and boaters stand to gain from it.”

Kennedy stressed that emerging harbors and shallow draft channels are important water access routes in thousands of communities across the nation.

The bill passed with bipartisan support, according to Boat US.


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