Water Access Permit Bill Axed in Concord

Concord — November 24, 2003 — Legislation that would have raised new revenue for milfoil prevention and treatment by requiring out of state boaters to obtain an annual water access permit has been killed by the House Transportation Committee. The bill, SB-159, was voted inexpedient to legislate, in effect ending its prospects for this year and preventing it from being re-introduced for another two years.

The bill’s sponsors, including New Hampshire Lakes Association, estimate that 20,000 to 50,000 out of state boats use New Hampshire’s waterways annually, greatly increasing the cost to the state of providing boating safety education and law enforcement, while impacting the environment and quality of recreation through exhaust emissions, fuel spillage, gray water discharge and the spread of invasive aquatic species.

The bill would have apportioned a share of those increased costs to out of state boaters by requiring the permit. The permit process would also have provided a point of contact with boaters for education on the dangers posed by milfoil, hydrilla, and zebra mussels, which are spread by boats and trailers.

While in-state boaters would also have been required to purchase the water access permit, the cost of the permit for those boaters would be been offset by a corresponding decrease in annual boat registration fees.

SB-159 was first introduced to the legislature in the spring but was put on hold for further study until this month’s vote.

Information provided by New Hampshire Lakes Association

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