Friday, September 18, 2009

Oregon's New $5. Boat Tax (or $90. ticket) to Apply to Stand Up Paddleboards. This is Crazy!

Have you ever paddled your kayak, raft, drift-boat or canoe or sailed your boat over pristine freshwater lakes and rivers and felt really good about it? Not only are you having a great time, you know you're also not contributing to noise pollution, fuel consumption and the accidental petro-chemical pollution that can happen with motorized craft.

Don't rest on your laurels. There is another pollutant that is quickly becoming a scourge in freshwater inland waterways, the zebra and quagga mussels. An invasive aquatic species, they invade and clog power plants, industrial and drinking water intakes, foul boat hulls and disrupt aquatic ecosystems.

The invasive mussels hitch-hike primarily from infested fresh waters on trailered boats. States with infested water bodies include: Nevada, California, Arizona and Colorado.

To develop money to fight these species, the Oregon State Marine has implemented a $5.00 annual fee on all non-motorized boats over 10 feet long. You can read more about HB2220 Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program on the government website.

It's not just $5.00 that is the issue. Think of the $90. ticket that is possible if you don't comply. Here's a quote from the Albany Democrat Herald.

"But HB 2220 calls for no criminal punishment at all. It calls for civil penalties for anyone knowingly bringing invasive species to Oregon. And as for being caught without the proper boating permit, the offense is a Class D violation, the least serious kind, for which the fine is $90.

According to Bill Monroe, a writer with the Oregonian, bill HB2220 will include ANY Craft. Here's some of what he had to say in Bill Monroe's Column: A Surprise for Oregon Boaters and Marine Board -- A $5 Permit:

"The Oregon State Marine Board is dealing with a sneaker wave of the first order that came ashore in the hectic last few days of the recent legislative melee in Salem.

With just a few days' notice, and at the Legislature's request to consolidate numerous bill requests about fighting off aquatic invaders, the Marine Board helped draft a new $5 permit required of everyone in the state who operates a boat or floating craft classified at 10 feet or longer.

Pole, pedal, paddle or gas or electric motor, there are no exceptions to the fee that will be in addition to current boaters' permits, fishing licenses and motor boat registrations. Permits would last two years for motorized boats and have to be renewed annually for nonmotorized craft.

"It came to us late in the session," said Randy Henry, Marine Board policy analyst. "Some details are still to be sorted out."

Henry said the bill -- which late this past week was awaiting Gov. Ted Kulongoski's expected signature -- will raise an estimated $3 million per biennium to help protect the state from anticipated invasions of waterborne exotics. Zebra mussels and other unwanted plants and waterborne critters are spreading like bad viruses across state borders nationwide, and many believe it's just a matter of time before they get into Oregon waters.

Most of the money will go to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for the costs of inspections, research, cleanup, boat-washing stations, education and other operations to keep Oregon clean.

Boaters already are asked to wash down their boats every time they use them to prevent transferring unwanted organisms between lakes, rivers and bays. However, out-of-state trailered boats have been confirmed to have entered the state with dreaded freshwater mussels on their hulls. Zebra and quagga mussels multiply quickly, eat up organisms at the base of valuable food chains, clog water intakes and hydroelectric systems and cake up on the hulls of boats and ships of all kinds.. . . READ MORE


We think that there is a huge difference between a stand up paddle surf board and any of the other vessels this law is going to apply to. Unlike any of the other vessels, SUP boards do not have any hidden crevices or cracks where invasive species can hide. And, SUP boards are NEVER moored, a key condition that is conducive to mussels attaching to the hull of a vessel.

Also, we see no reason a manual craft such as a SUP, kayak or raft has to pay $5. per year when a motorized boat pays only $5 for 2 years. The permit goes with the person rather than the vessel, if you have a quiver of boards and loan one out while you're using another of your boards, the loaner will need a permit. This is ridiculous!

The other problem we have with this legislation is that it hassles honest citizens. It will make law-breakers out of good citizens who don't comply. When this law is active, the average Oregonian taking their SUP board out for a paddle now-and-then or as little as once a year, can be ticketed for not having a registration sticker.

And, what actual difference in our waterways can this legislation make when people are crossing state lines regularly with their powerboats and not getting them inspected? We have fruit inspection stops at state lines. Surely the nooks and crannies in a powerboat as well as the water intake areas in the motor are a more likely source of invasive species hitchhikers than an SUP surfboard.

This legislation seems like a unwise move and is similar in tone to news of a bicycle tax that was being considered by the Oregon legislature. Considering the pollutants avoided by the use of non-motorized water crafts, we would hope that our government would reward rather than regressively tax our non-motorized water toys.

If we need to be educated about an unsuspected danger our SUP boards can cause, we invite you to leave a comment explaining your opinion. We'd like to hear your thoughts about this issue.

To Contact the OR State Marine Board: Email:
Write: Call: (503) 378-8587
P. O. Box 14145
435 Commercial St NE #400
Salem, OR 97309-5065

Marine Board Members:
  • Paul Donheffner, Director
  • Wayne Shuyler, Deputy Director
  • Randy Henry, Policy Planning Analyst
  • June LeTarte, Assistant to the Director Thank you for purchasing your SUP gear from us, we appreciate your support.


  1. OK - I paddle 3 different SUP boards in Oregon waters - no oils, gas or even mussles come off my board. I pick up litter - yet I could get a $90 fine if my "surfboard" isn't registered? I am not more negatively impacting the waters than a trout - and I even pick up bottles, cans and other debris. Thanks for sharing this info

  2. So again the state continues to levy taxes on those who lessen the carbon footprint and even help clean up trash while enjoying a day on the water. I am also a cyclist and a boat owner. I feel the state continues to poorly manage our tax dollars and hence we are seeing more taxes. Double taxation comes to my mind, how about you? Do we get any incentive for reducing our carbon footprint by cycling to work or enjoying non motorized watercraft? Hell no, they slap us with more taxes. As a native Oregonian I am sickened, disgusted and furious with our politicians looking out for thier interest and not the citizens. There are other ways to implement and reduce the threat of invasive species other than another tax.

  3. So, if I paddle my board with those mussels, but I paid my $ 5, I am OK ? WOW ! Talking about creative "rip off" ! That's why I don't give a shit about environment. It all comes down to big corporations and government. They are the biggest contributors to "pollution " and all that environmental crap. No matter what you do ( leave no trace, volunteer or donate for a good cause) it's never enough for those fuckers.
    P.S : To Terry the cyclist- how do you feel about paying for "license tabs" for your bike ( that's another idea, the authorities had) ?