BoatUS Gathers Group of Advisers for Annual Debate on Boating Issues

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Dec. 3, 2018 — A panel of distinguished boating leaders who serve as a sounding board for Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) gathered last week along with esteemed guests and BoatUS staff in Newport Beach to discuss key issues impacting recreational boating, including the changing boat-ownership model and shifting boater demographics. BoatUS is the nation’s largest recreational boat owners group in the U.S. with more than a half-million dues-paying members.

The group also discussed legislative issues that help keep the association’s focus on the evolving needs of recreational boaters, including some who now get on the water without having to own a boat via boat-sharing clubs. The National Marine Manufacturers Association, U.S. Power Squadrons, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary all provided updates on activities.

The volunteer members of the BoatUS National Advisory Council included Robert Baldridge, past chief commander, United States Power Squadrons; Ellen Bradley, senior vice president & chief communications officer, National Marine Manufacturers Association; Lenora S. Clark, former California Boating and Waterways commissioner and former Recreational Boaters of California president; Dean Travis Clarke, former executive editor, Bonnier Marine Group; Ray Durazo, incoming president, Recreational Boaters of California; Jim Ellis, National Advisory Council chairman and former president, BoatUS; John Flynn, principal, Squire Patton Boggs; Mark Brown, president, National Association of State Boating Law Administrators; and Bob Adriance, former editor, Seaworthy.

Joining the council’s members were a distinguished roster of special guests, including Beth Newburger Schwartz, president, Epoch Communications and wife of late BoatUS founder Richard Schwartz; Vern Gifford, chief, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety; and Jerry Desmond, principal, Desmond & Desmond and RBOC Legislative Counsel.

BoatUS leadership and staff included Kirk La, chief executive officer; Chris Edmonston, vice president, Government Affairs, and president, BoatUS Foundation; Heather Lougheed, vice president, Membership; David Kennedy, manager, Government Affairs; Morgan Neuhoff, senior program coordinator, Government Affairs;

Attending from BoatUS’s parent GEICO were Chris Nowack, counsel; and Steve Parsons, vice president, assistant controller.

BoatUS Update: US Interior Secretary Zinke Addresses Sport Fishing & Boating Partnership Council Meeting

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2018 – U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke addressed the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council at its recent meeting held April 4 and 5 at the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C.

The secretary emphasized the importance of outdoor recreation, specifically as it relates to boating, and included a message directed squarely at America’s nearly 12 million registered boat owners: “Boats are good. A lot of boats are better,” said Zinke, as he discussed his priorities to update and modernize visitor facilities on federal lands and “Bring them into the 21st century” to improve the visitor experience. The secretary also discussed his support for increasing recreational boating access on federal lands, and addressing maintenance backlogs that have plagued the agency for decades.

Council members attending the meeting included Chris Edmonston, BoatUS; Linda Friar, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S.; David Hoskins, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Ron Regan, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Fred Harris, American Fisheries Society; Alvin Taylor, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources; Barb Gigar, Aquatic Resources Education Association; Scott Kovarovic, Izaak Walton League of America; Janine Belleque, Oregon State Marine Board; John Sprague, Marine Industries Association of Florida; John Arway, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission; Betty Huskins, Southeast Tourism Policy Council; Eugene “Mac” McKeever, L.L. Bean; Douglass Boyd, Coastal Conservation Association; Mike Nussman, American Sportfishing Association; Greg Sheehan, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

BoatUS has sat on the council for several secretaries and administrations, and it is encouraging to see how well Secretary Zinke understands the importance of outdoor recreation, and that expanding recreational opportunities improves the conservation of our resources,” said Edmonston, BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs. “The Secretary also noted that he looked to the council for help, saying ‘I need really good advice.’” Topics for the meeting included discussions regarding the backlog of maintenance at fish hatcheries and parks, permitting issues and improving access to interior lands and waters.

The Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council is funded through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act. Its purpose is to advise the Secretary of the Interior, through the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, on aquatic conservation endeavors that benefit recreational fishery resources and recreational boating, and to encourage partnerships among industry, the public, and government.


BoatUS Speaks for Boaters at 'State of the Industry' Capitol Hill Briefings

WASHINGTON, February 1, 2018 – Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) in partnership with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA) went to Capitol Hill yesterday to address Congressional Boating Caucus members and invited legislative staff for the annual State of the Industry briefings at the Russell Senate and Rayburn House office buildings. The caucus is an informal bipartisan group of US senators and representatives formed in 1989 to advocate for the interests of the recreational boating industry.

Speaking to the groups gathered, NMMA President Thomas J. Dammrich reported on the recreational boating industry’s financial rebound, or “long road back,” said Dammrich, since the Great Recession. With the economy doing well, sales are up and reports from winter boat shows are positive. He also shared ideas on what Congress can do to support this important sector of US manufacturing.

MRAA President Matt Gruhn spoke to the shortage of qualified marine service workers, and the need for elected leaders to continue to broaden their thinking about what education means in America. “We need more support for apprenticeship and other technical trade programs, and encourage more people to make recreational boating their career,” said Gruhn.

As the boat owner’s advocate, BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Edmonston spoke about the need for legislator support for recreational boating access, and specifically, the Water Resources Development Act which helps maintain the navigability of waterways by providing funds for dredging.

Edmonston also spoke to the success of boating safety education in reducing accidents and fatalities, and the need to revamp US Coast Guard licensing to better address the needs of recreational boaters. “The current licensing system was never intended for recreational boaters,” said Edmonston.

About Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):

Celebrating more than 50 years, BoatUS is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters with more than a half-million members. We are the boat owners’ voice on Capitol Hill and fight for their rights. We are The Boat Owners Auto Club and help ensure a roadside trailer breakdown doesn’t end a boating or fishing trip before it begins. When boats break down on the water, TowBoatUS brings them safely back to the launch ramp or dock, 24/7. The BoatUS Marine Insurance Program gives boat owners affordable, specialized coverage and superior service they need. We help keep boaters safe and our waters clean with assistance from the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. Visit