Families for Boating, a non-profit organization of community groups around the U.S dedicated to preserving access to waterways for boaters and water sports enthusiasts, is actively trying to assist boaters facing regulatory threats or concerns.
Recreational boating and water sports have grown significantly in popularity across the nation, particularly over the pandemic, with more families than ever enjoying the benefits of fun, on-water activities. With this growth in activity on lakes, rivers and waterways has come heightened concerns among waterfront residential homeowners in impacted areas.
In many locales, these concerns have catapulted into the creation of overly broad restrictions, coupled with attempts to ban ballasted boats outright. Families for Boating provides support for residents who are water activity enthusiasts as they become the best advocates for preventing arbitrary and harmful regulations that may limit boating activity.
“The organization aims to resolve these concerns by encouraging a climate of mutual respect and providing education to communities. Creating Families for Boating in Oregon has helped unite our local boating community and increase boater education,” said Matt Radich, president of Active Water Sports who helped champion the cause in his market area.
Engaging communities in conversations is a key goal of the organization.
Jeff Husby, president and CEO of Watersports Central and a Boating Industry Top 100 dealer, recently hosted a meeting of Lake Rabun homeowners and boaters in Georgia. “There is a deep family heritage associated with the lake that we felt the need to preserve by educating and promoting safe boating practices,” Husby said.
Conversations initiated by Families for Boating seek to “foster an enjoyable experience for those recreating on the water” while ensuring “the relaxing atmosphere that communities near the water relish,” said Chris Mitton, Manager, West Policy and Engagement, National Marine Manufacturers Association. Conversations also focus on factual data, scientific research, jurisdictional regulations, environmental preservation and economic concerns.
“Problems can be resolved when there is an understanding that the waterways can be shared and protected by all concerned,” said Radich. “It’s important to encourage the boating community to keep our waterways safe and healthy.”
To date, the organization has provided support for residents and boaters in Georgia, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Oregon.