SOBA meeting highlights Wallop-Breaux and ADA issues

WARREN, RI – The States Organization for Boating Access held its 18th Annual Conference Sept.18-22 in Kalispell, Mont. to exchange views, ideas, and experiences related to all aspects of recreational boating facilities – including Wallop-Breaux funding and the new Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Boating Facilities, conference organizers reported yesterday.

Approximately 100 local, state and federal officials responsible for delivering quality public access to American boaters, as well as national and regional marine trade group representatives, attended the event, hosted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

“This was an important year for the SOBA conference as it is the 20th anniversary of the Wallop-Breaux legislation,” said Seth Brandenberger, conference host. He noted that the location of the event also was fitting in that the first-ever SOBA meeting took place in Kalispell almost 20 years ago.

According to Brandenberger, those who created and administered the Wallop-Breaux program offered a review of its creation, its original intent and its successes. Regional U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service federal aid chiefs presented nationwide highlights as well.

This year’s pre-conference National Access Board Workshop covered new ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Boating Facilities. Gary Illes, from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, presented the workshop, which focused on making marinas and boating facilities more accessible to persons with disabilities. The Marina Operators Association of America sponsored the workshop.

Outputs from this conference will be collected in conference proceedings that will be available by the end of the year. Findings from the conference, when complete, will be available at

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