Canoes, kayaks, and other non-motorized boats could soon pay $2 more to go on Idaho rivers and lakes. The cost of an invasive species sticker for non-motorized boats would increase from $5 to $7 under legislation approved by the Idaho Senate Tuesday. The cost of a sticker for out-of-state boaters would rise from $10 to $20.
The money would pay for the state’s invasive species program, which is trying to prevent quagga and zebra mussels from entering Idaho waters. Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, said the higher fees would continue the boat inspection program that started last year. “It works so far and we’re going to continue to make that work,” he said. Corder said raising fees could prevent the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), which runs the program, from relying on state general fund dollars to pay for some inspections.
Senators approved the fee hike on a 21-14 vote with some vocal opposition. “I have an objection to raising a fee when we really have no track record,” said Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls.
“It’s true that we don’t have a track record, but we don’t have mussels,” Corder told Mortimer. The ISDA estimates Idaho could need to pay up to $90 million to clean lakes and rivers if the invasive quagga mussels are found. The current inspection process costs less than $3 million.
Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, said his local Boy Scout troop was affected by the fees for its canoes, so he opposed raising the price of those boat stickers. “That’s something that I wish had been a component of the legislation and that we shifted things around a little differently,” he said. The legislation would provide a discount for licensed outfitters with more than five boats without motors. The legislation also would create a $3 replacement sticker in case a boat’s original sticker is lost or destroyed.
The proposed fee increases now head to Gov. Butch Otter. Read IdahoReporter.com’s story on the House passage of the fee hike. The text of the legislation is available here.