Time to get on the water!

April 11, 2009

The forecast for Banks today is 61 degrees, partly cloudy. Time to get on the river! Now I just need to find other people who want to go boating – a couple of the people I called are going skiing instead! Skiing in April – what’s wrong with them? It’s clearly kayaking season.

Unfortunately, none of my friends have switched into kayaking mode. So I’ll take my usual approach: get to Banks around noon and wait for someone else who wants to paddle to show up! It works great during the summer, this time of the year it’s probably a gamble.

Look for a brief report tomorrow evening – happy boating everyone!


HB 213 passed – kayakers got screwed

April 1, 2009

Well, Idaho HB 213 passed in the Senate today. All it needs now is the governor’s signature, which is guaranteed. All out-of-state motorized boats will have a $20 annual fee. In-state motorized boats will have a $10 fee. Nonmotorized boats will have a $5 fee. This doesn’t hurt me too badly. I only have one boat. Some kayakers have 10 or more. They’ll be stuck paying $50 yearly, while posing zero risk of importing invasive species. It will also hurt people coming into the state to boat. They’re stuck paying a $5 fee per boat for a few days’ worth of boating.

The goal of this bill is to raise money to fight invasive species. I’d be less mad about this if the plan for fighting invasive species was likely to be effective. Rumor says this money will be used to set up boat wash stations at major lakes. Well, the people who are going to use these boat wash stations are the same people who were already paying attention to the issue. The people who are actually a risk are a risk because they don’t use things like boa washing stations! As for people like me, the odds of my kayak being within 100 miles of a boat washing station are amazingly slim – yet I’m stuck paying for them.


Back from Alabama

March 29, 2009

I spend the past five days visiting my grandparents in Alabama. My sister and I flew down, leaving our spouses in Idaho. My grandmother is developing dementia, so we decided to keep the number of faces around to a minimum. She still remembers all the relationships, knows our names and that we’re married. She has a very tough time recalling words, and is starting to have problems with basic tasks like using the TV remote or the phone. She is also extremely anxious much of the time. If we’re going to go do something, she wants us to just go and do it right now. Grandmom also hates any time away from her husband.

We also had the opportunity to visit the beach – we even got an hour of sunshine while we were there. Storms the rest of the week. I’ve only been back in Idaho for a day, but I really miss the humidity!

I spent most of my free time with my head stuck in a book. 8 down for this week. My sister also talked me into reading the Twilight series. I found that I just cannot stand the main character (Bella) for the first three books. In the fourth, she becomes tolerable. The writing in the series also improves substantially, which is understandable with Twilight being the author’s first novel.

The flights were decent, although most flights were delayed by about 30 minutes. Of course, those 30 minutes are spent sitting on the plane rather than in the terminal. They don’t want to let us walk around any more than they have to.

I still have several half-completed posts just waiting for me to wrap them up. Hope to get them up this week.


Idaho Statesman layoffs

March 18, 2009

Our local newspaper is laying off more workers. I’m not overly concerned by this. I have never had a newspaper subscription and only read the newspaper once a month, at most. I skim the articles looking for something interesting, but usually find myself reading the funnies instead. It seems like they are the most insightful and well-researched part of the paper anyway. With the wide variety of information available online, I see very little need for local newspapers. Many of the articles are copied directly from the Associated Press. The local articles are frequently poorly researched and written.

Newspapers need to compete with online media, like Google News and blogs. Very few journalists can compete with the deep knowledge of expert bloggers. If I want information on science issues, Phil Plait is a much more reliable source than my usual newspaper. Same goes for politics. In local interests, the one area where our newspaper could concievably compete with online sources, our newspaper still fails to do the job. The newspaper didn’t run anything on the potential fee for kayaks until the bill had already passed the house!

I wouldn’t say it’s good that local newspapers are dying – after all, the Statesman still provides jobs for over 300 people. But as far as information supply goes, it isn’t a bad thing either.


Boat registration is back

March 16, 2009

The Idaho House of Representatives recently passed a bill to combat invasive species in our waterways. A noble goal. Now if only our representatives were a bit brighter and wrote bills that would help ACHIEVE the stated goal! House Bill 213 is designed to generate funds to combat invasive species. How is it going to accomplish this goal? I have no idea. But every year it’ll cost $20/boat for every out of state motorized boat, $10/boat for every in-state motorized boat, and $5 for every nonmotorized boat.

Their goal will have one “benefit” – boaters will be discouraged from entering our state. This will reduce the spread of invasive species. It will also reduce the flow of tourist dollars to our state. It makes sense to charge motorized boat operators – they have a high risk of bringing invasive species like the quagga mussel in to our lakes on boat trailers or in bilge water. It makes absolutely no sense to charge nonmotorized boaters. We have a much lower risk of importing invasive species. We don’t carry water in our boats (at least, not if we can avoid it!), and don’t use boat trailers. And yet, we’re still stuck paying for it.

It’s been suggested the money will be used to provide washing stations for boats (although the bill doesn’t say this). I see a lot of problems with this. Boat washing is practically impossible to enforce. Are we going to have an officer stationed at every lake to make sure boats are washed before being put into the water? Those who would actually use them are the same people who are already being careful about spreading invasive species. Those who are likely to bring them to our lakes are likely to ignore the washing stations anyway.

All of this aside, why are kayakers and rafters stuck paying for this too? I can guarantee there won’t be a kayak washing station up on the Payette. My kayak will never be near one, and has zero risk of bringing invasive species to Idaho. Yet I’m still going to be out $5 every year. Since this will be impossible to enforce, I plan on ignoring the registration. I suspect I’ll have a lot of company in that decision.

We do still have time to stop this bill! Every boat owner in Idaho, whether motorized or not, should call their state senator! It hasn’t passed the senate, although it will be up for vote very soon. Even if you’re out of state, think about giving a call or writing a letter to a member of the Idaho legislature. This will impact you too if you ever want to boat in Idaho.