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Friday 27 November 2020
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License to Paddle

This past weekend a group of us were stopped by Ohio Department of Natural Resource Officers on a common stretch of The Little Miami River in Milford, Ohio. Now I personal have paddled this stretch from Kelly’s Nature Preserve to downtown Milford hundreds of times as it is a great section to hit after work. This past Saturday was the first time I had ever seen a ranger on this section of the river let alone been asked to pull over to the shore to have my registration inspected. Luckily all of us had the proper registration stickers on our kayaks so no one was issued a ticket.

Ohio is one of the states that require all boats, including paddle craft, to be registrated with the Division of Watercraft from the Department of Natural Resources. While registration is a simple process either by purchasing the required sticker at a local office or mailing the application and check to Columbus, OH, you would be surprised how many paddlers don’t take the time to do it. Ohio registration costs are $25.00 and the sticker is valid for 3 years and expires on March 1st of the 3rd year. The alternative is taking the chance you won’t get caught and risking a $125.00 ticket. I believe the ticket is $125.00 the last time I checked.

This raises questions as to what other states have regulations, who requires registration and who doesn’t, and what do you do when you are planning to paddle in a state other than your home state? In Ohio if you do not live in Ohio you do not have to register your kayak to paddle Ohio rivers, lakes and streams, however you will have to prove on the spot that you are not an Ohio resident…drivers license should work I would think.

Below is a list I found of states that require a boat registration as well as some states that are considering proposing a new registration requirement. It appears this is the case for all hand powered boats, whitewater, recreational, fishing kayaks, etc. From what I have found, if you live in one of these states and plan to paddle in your home state you are required to register your kayak. I highly suggest you contact your state’s Department of Natural Resources or other governing agency of rivers and waterways to check on their regulations and requirements. A simple fee could save you a costly ticket down the road, or in this case river.

Alaska
Requires registration of all paddle craft
Arizona
Registration requirements repealed in 2000 due to lack of funding, high cost of administration, and ineffective ability to return services to the paddle sports community at a level corresponding to the fees.
Illinois
Requires registration of all paddle craft
Ohio
Requires registration of all paddle craft.
Oklahoma
Requires registration of all paddle craft
Iowa
Requires registration of all paddle craft
Minnesota
Requires registration of all paddle craft
Pennsylvania
Requires registration of all paddle craft using Fish & Boat Commission access points.

STATES PROPOSING NEW REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
Alaska
Connecticut
Maine
Montana
Oregon
Washington