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Latest Threat to DBW

On May 14, an important decision regarding boating in this state will be made in Sacramento. If it goes our way, recreational boating in the Golden State will remain, well, golden. We will continue to get excellent boating safety and education programs, grants to improve marina and launching facilities, and timely environmental work involving green boating and invasive species control. If it goes against us, boating concerns will largely disappear into the huge morass of inefficiency which has gotten the state into all this trouble in the first place.

We’re talking — once again — about the proposal to eliminate the Department of Boating and Waterways and transfer its responsibilities and administration to the Department of Parks and Recreation. Simply put, this would be a disaster. In its 52-year history, DBW has been a model of efficiency and — more to the point in these tough economic times — it doesn’t cost the state a dime! The organization operates entirely on the taxes you pay at the fuel dock, the fees you pay to register your boat, and some long-term investments. The DBW budget has therefore fluctuated over the years (from upwards of $100 million a few years ago to $77 million last year), but they still accomplish their mission. Parks and Rec, on the other hand, has suffered several cutbacks over the years, making it less efficient. As part of its assignment to cut costs for the 2008-2009 budget, it is planning to close or partially close 48 state parks, and its backlog of deferred maintenance alone now totals $1.2 billion. How well do you think boating is going to be supported by these guys?

This is the fourth time since 1992 that lawmakers have tried to eliminate DBW. The previous three were stopped short by overwhelming response from boaters (and the tireless efforts of watchdog organizations like RBOC — the Recreational Boaters of California). We hope you guys will rally once more to stop this latest attempt.

Check out RBOC’s Call to Arms, then contact the three senators on Senate Budget Subcommittee 2:

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Profligate, Latitude’s Surfin’ 63 catamaran, seen here enjoying great sailing conditions in the Sea of Cortez, will be the mothership for the Ha-Ha for the 12th time this fall.