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California Boaters Save DBW Again

DBW, our state Department of Boating and Waterways, has once again escaped the chopping block. You’ll recall that, as part of the latest budget proposal, legislators considered eliminating the DBW and tranferring all its functions to the Department of Parks and Recreation. This was, and is, little more than political pickpocketing — DBW uses no money from the General Fund and, in fact, operates totally independently on monies boaters already pay for licensing and as taxes at the fuel dock. However, DBW’s $77 million budget last year — used for safety programs, marina improvement grants and the like — is a ripe plum for legislators scrambling to get money anywhere they can. If, heaven forbid, DBW did go away, so would pretty much all the great work they do. There’s no telling how much of DBW’s yearly budget would then go to Parks and Rec, but we’re guessing not much. And they’re already in such dire financial straits that they’re closing 48 state parks this coming year.

We would be remiss in not giving a nod of thanks to RBOC — the Recreational Boaters of California organization — whose awareness campaigns led to a letter and email drive that (along with RBOC’s lobbying efforts) helped lead to the removal of the DBW issue from the docket of the committee designated to consider it. This is not the first time DBW has been threatened — or saved — and it won’t be the last. (The elimination proposal could still re-emerge in the State Assembly, so keep your typing fingers poised.) Also a nod of thanks to Boat U.S., which emailed all their California members to alert them.

“Several hundred letters plus several hundred emails have been sent regarding this hearing alone,” said RBOC Director Jerry Desmond, Jr. While no specific demographics were recorded, the write-in campaign came from “sailors and motorboaters, coastal and inland boaters, and people and groups from both Northern and Southern California.” Kudos to all of you who took part. You do make a difference.


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Gilly Foy holds the Delta anchor like a guitar, happy that she and John were able to recover it.
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