BoatUS calls on Georgia governor to fix anchoring law
ATLANTA, Georgia—In a letter sent recently to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) urged the governor to reconsider regulations recently put in place restricting overnight anchoring within 1,000 feet of any structure, such as public and private docks, wharves, bridges, piers and pilings, except in areas near marinas. The national advocacy, services and safety group also asked recreational boaters to send a message now to the state of Georgia regarding the new prohibitive anchoring law.
BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Edmonston said in the letter that the new rule effectively removes from public use a significant portion of the state’s waters, representing a departure from the long-held public trust doctrine.
BoatUS said with little notice or engagement with boating stakeholder groups, the Georgia Legislature approved, and the governor signed, House Bill 201 in the 2019 session. The legislation directs the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop rules regarding the anchoring of vessels in estuarine areas of the state. Georgia DNR then proposed a rule that raised significant concerns with the boating community, including BoatUS and the grassroots group Save Georgia’s Anchorages, which was created in response to the law.
DNR did create so-called “Marina Zones” that allow boaters to anchor as close as 300 feet to marinas or facilities that provide fuel, dinghy access, provisions, vessel maintenance or other services, regardless of whether other structures exist nearby.
One thought on “BoatUS calls on Georgia governor to fix anchoring law”
The Georgia Senate has just passed HB 833, and the Bill now awaits the governor’s signature.
As all of you know, HB833 essentially reverses the onerous anti boating provisions that were passed into law this past January. That bill caused widespread anger amongst cruising boaters and resulted in the formation of this grassroots group to fight it.
HB 833 removes the ability to require permits for all overnight anchoring, removes the requirement to keep records of pump outs, and perhaps most importantly, removes the requirement that boats not anchor within 1,000 feet of waterfront structures and within 300 feet of marinas.
HB833 changes those set-back distances to 150-feet from waterfront structures, 300-feet from marinas, and 500-feet from commercial shellfish beds for short-term anchoring, which is defined as anchoring in the same place for up to 14 cumulative nights per calendar year. Long term anchoring (over 14 days in the same place) will require a permit.
This was a major undertaking and it could NOT have happened without the support you gave the Save Georgia’s Anchorages team who put in countless hours looking out for your interests.
What is especially important to remember is that SGA worked alongside and as an equal partner with other, more established groups – the AGLCA, NMMA, Waterway Guide, Boat US and also Scott Draper, our lobbyist.
And let’s not forget the contributions of Cruisers Net, the MTOA and SSCA in this effort. It was a helluva team and they got it done.
In particular however, the efforts of SGA members and co-founders James H. Newsome, Jack White, Ted Arisaka and Bob Keller were instrumental in getting ‘er done. Someday, perhaps when I’ve had one beer too many, I’ll tell some of the backroom stories about how hard these guys worked and the late hours they put in to protect our rights to anchor in GA.
But – and I mean this sincerely – when all is said and done, all of our work at the pointy end is worthless without the support of you, the boating public. We did the talking, but the State of Georgia was hearing you, listening to you speak through our words.
Thank you from all of us at SGA for your support.