‘Ohio Goes Boating’ in a first-of-its-kind declaration

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In what is believed to be the first state to permanently declare a boating month, Ohio’s marine industry and boating communities are celebrating the official designation of June as “Ohio Goes Boating Month.”

It’s the result of determined efforts by the Boating Associations of Ohio, along with partners Government Advantage Group, to see legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed by Gov. John Kasich.

“The impact of boating in Ohio is major,” Boating Associations of Ohio executive director Bryan Ralston said. “We’re a top-10 boating state with more than 435,000 registered boat owners. We know those boats carry over 3.5 million Ohioans out on our waterways every summer. We presented our boating story to our lawmakers and we’re grateful to the General Assembly and our governor for so dramatically recognizing the role boating plays in Ohio’s quality of life.”

But there’s also a solid economic message behind “Ohio Goes Boating Month.” It’s why Sens. Randy Gardner (R-2nd) and Gayle Manning (R-13th) and Reps. Steve Arndt (R-89th) and Thomas Patton (R-7th) all sponsored the legislation in their respective chambers to make the designation law.

Specifically, the state’s boating industry has a big overall economic impact exceeding $3 billion annually. Some 26,000 Ohioans work in boating businesses ranging from boat dealerships and marinas to bait stores and service shops. Boating and fishing are also major parts of the state’s successful tourism industry.

Notably, Ohio’s boaters pay their own way, too. Boating is overseen by the Ohio Division of Parks and Watercraft. It’s been nationally acclaimed as a model user pay-user benefit agency. The watercraft operations are solely funded from boat registration and titling fees, boater’s fuel taxes and federal safety grants that are also funded by federal fuel taxes paid by boaters.

The Division of Parks and Watercraft receives nothing from Ohio’s general fund to implement the watercraft program. Yet the division provides safety education and patrols on the state’s waterways, builds and maintains boating access sites and launching ramps and provides local communities with safety grants and more.

Ohio boasts navigable waters throughout the state bordered by nearly 7,000 miles of shoreline along lakes and rivers. Whether it’s paddling a canoe down a lazy stream, chasing bass and walleye on Lake Erie or cruising along the Ohio River, the state boasts excellent waterways for virtually every kind of boating activity. And the ““Ohio Goes Boating Month” will be a strong call for widespread attention to the boating lifestyle every year.

The Boating Associations of Ohio is a statewide organization of boating businesses and boat owner groups. Its primary mission is to represent all boating interests by addressing public policy issues that impact boating. Accordingly, its members are frequently found providing testimony in committee hearings at the statehouse in Columbus or providing needed information and materials requested by lawmakers.

A well-deserved tip-o-the-cap today to Boating Associations of Ohio on this success.

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