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Inspiration and funding can boost boating pleasures

The Discover Boating campaign has launched another excellent “Stories of Discovery” video, while grants topping $16 million are headed out under the Clean Vessel Act.

The industry’s Discover Boating national campaign continues to grow with the release this week of the newest video in the “Stories of Discovery” series. And you can’t help but love this one.

Meet Ashley Rae. She is a young angler and blogger who literally writes her own fishing tales. “Everyone has a calling, but not everyone is lucky enough to find it,” Ashley says. She discovered hers the first time she held a fishing pole at age 5. Maybe it was the buzz of the reel or the tug of her first bite, but from that point on, she was hooked.

Realizing that weekends on her boat weren’t enough, she followed her passion. Fearless and determined, this college grad in medical administration quit her 9-to-5 job and pursued fishing full-time. These days, when she’s not reeling in a fish, she’s writing about it. For this angler, being on the water is about more than pulling in a big catch, it’s about doing what you love. Check out Ashley’s story for yourself.

It’s also notable that the Discover Boating section that features the “Stories of Discovery” was redesigned and enhanced to give a more cohesive experience for the user. It is now integrated with the Discover Boating site, making it much easier for visitors to navigate through the Discover Boating content after being inspired by the video. It’s all an integral part of the national advertising buy that started off the boating season.

Finally, a sixth video is also being added to the “Stories of Discovery” series and I’ll review that one next week. In the meantime, every video is available to dealers free from the Grow Boating initiative (www.growboating.com). There you will find marketing materials, website content, sales-help tools and much more. Let’s face it: for many dealers, steadily adding new content to their website is often overlooked. Yet experts agree keeping things fresh is the key to having a successful website that turns business.

If you want to know more, there is a 30-minute webinar slated for this afternoon at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PST, to learn more about this year’s marketing campaign. You can still get in: Reserve your spot here.

Bottom line: The materials available from the Grow Boating initiative are professional and yours for the asking. I can’t emphasize enough that every dealer should take advantage of what’s being offered. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Clean Vessel grants

The total of grants distributed since 1993 under the Clean Vessel Act totals more than $246 million. More than $16 million in new grants are going out this year. Funds are headed to 27 major boating states. The announcement was made by Fish and Wildlife Deputy Director Steve Guertin to 250-plus industry members at the American Boating Congress.

There are several important points about this program. First, the grants provide funds to the states for the construction, replacement, renovation and maintenance of pumpouts. The program also provides information and education about the benefits of pumpout systems.

Second, the program supports the user-pay, public-benefit cycle that has contributed to the success of clean water initiatives and fish restoration programs. States apply for funding and they or their partners provide matching funds to complete projects. Importantly, sub-grantees can include local municipalities as well as private marinas. In addition to traditional on-dock pumpouts, some projects have included pumpout boats that travel within designated harbors. Other grants have funded floating restrooms in areas where boaters congregate and no other such facilities are available.

Third, funds for the program are provided annually from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. These funds are derived through the collection of fishing tackle manufacturer excise taxes, boat and fishing import duties, while the largest share comes from motorboat and small engine fuel taxes.

Overall, the Clean Vessel Act program is big in its own right, but actually a small part of the enormous $600 million annual expenditure from the boating trust fund. In its entirety, the trust fund represents an enormous investment in improving and promoting the boating and fishing opportunities nationwide. It’s also why the boating and fishing industries are aggressive in their lobbying and support for trust-fund reauthorization by Congress.

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