Spring is normally a time for recreational boating in Oregon, but under the current coronavirus health crisis, boaters must take in consideration Governor Brown's Stay Home executive order.
The Chronicle checked in with the Oregon Marine Board's public information officer about how the order is impacting boating recreation in the state.
The Chronicle: Despite the state parks closure and Gov. Brown's Stay at Home Order, it is likely some people will still be out boating on lakes and rivers. What is the advice from the Oregon Marine Board to these people?
Ashley Massey: The Marine Board doesn’t own or operate any boating facilities, but we’re encouraging boaters to use our interactive Boat Oregon Map to get contact information for the facility owner and find out whether a particular boat ramp is open. Because changes are happening quickly, we are unable to keep up with closures. We’re underscoring the guidance by Governor Brown and Oregon Health Authority for social distancing and maintaining at least 6-feet separation. This means not having many passengers on board. All boating safety and equipment rules apply.
The Chronicle: Would the Marine Board be utilizing county and state marine patrols to enforce the Stay at Home order?
Massey: It’s possible that Marine Patrols will be reassigned to assist with enforcing the latest orders. At this point, marine units continue to patrol the waterways.
The Chronicle: This is usually a time when many bring their boats out and head to their favorite water body. If they do go, what new rules and regulations should they follow and why?
Massey: This time of year there’s a lot of current and the waterways are cold. It’s very important that people wear a properly fitting life jacket on the outside of their coats/jackets, and to plan ahead. Oregon had its first recreational boating fatality of the year on Saturday at Devils Lake in Lincoln County and a life jacket would have saved the victim’s life.
There’s a wealth of information to help boaters prepare at https://www.boatoregon.com.
Massey also included the latest press release concerning the Oregon Marine Board's reaction to the coronavirus health crisis. That release is below.
The health and safety of our Marine Board staff and customers is an essential part of our services. To help slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon, we are reviewing and updating our approach to providing service, while underscoring the Governor’s guidance to “stay home, save lives,” during these changing situations.
Here’s what our customers need to know:
•Services to boaters are available online and the OSMB crew is working.Online services for motorboat title and registration, boater education cards, outfitter,guide and charter registrations, and waterway access permit sales remain available through our Boat Oregon Store.If it’s your first time using the Boat Oregon Store, online self-help is available.
•The Marine Board office in Salem is closed for walk-in service, however, for people who have driven to the office for paperwork processing or questions, a drop box in the main office foyer is set up to drop off paperwork and a staff member will follow up with a phone call. We take pride in providing excellent service and are continuing to do so as best we can during this time. We are anticipating delays in mail service and paper transactions with staff working remotely.The best and most efficient way to complete transactions is online.
•All OSMB meetings are being held via teleconference or being rescheduled.
•Many OSMB staff are currently teleworking or may have different work schedules.Contacting us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org ensure timely receipt of your inquiry.Additionally, staff are available by phone. Visit the agency directory.
•Check the BoatOregon.com website for FAQs on safety, regulations and administrative information.People may still go outside for recreation where social distancing can be maintained. Since the Marine Board does not own or operate any boating access facilities, check with the facility provider if the boat ramp is open. This is especially important on rivers for take-in and take-out sites. State Parks close on Monday, which includes boating access.
To find facility owner contact information and to check on the status of a boating access site, visit the Marine Board’s interactive Boat Oregon Map.Beadvised that the open/closed facility status is not up to date as closures are happening quickly.
“Boating is so much a part of how many of us connect to friends, family and the outdoors that it is difficult to think about changing our boating behavior during these difficult times,” Oregon Marine Board Director Larry Warren said. “Boaters have a longstanding tradition of helping each other when things go wrong. When a pan-pan call goes out, we know that the first thing to do is to ensure our own boat is ready and safe and then respond to the emergency as we are able. I am asking my fellow boaters to do the same thing as they think about boating during this time.”
Not only is it important to follow the latest COVID-19 guidelines, Warren said, but to not be complacent with boating safety. The waterways are very cold, so wearing a life jacket should be automatic.
Oregon’s first recreational boating fatality occurred over the weekend on Devil’s Lake. Warren said a life jacket would have prevented this tragedy.
For additional information
- 2019 Incident and fatality data is now available on the Oregon Marine Board's website.
- The Oregon Health Authority continues to be the primary resource on COVID-19:https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19.
- VisitGovernor Kate Brown'swebsitefor COVID-19 information and additional resources.