For Michigan paddlers:

The Michigan State Waterways Commission is proposing:

“All rigid hulled kayaks and canoes in addition to rigid hulled Paddleboards (exceeding 8 feet in length)
operating in Michigan’s Great Lakes waters, tributaries, inland lakes and streams be required to display,
in a conspicuous location, a Michigan Vessel Registration sticker. Acquisition of such Michigan Vessel
Registration sticker is subject to a user fee of $21.00 per three year registration period.”

The commission also proposes:

" That the Michigan Watercraft Registration Rate Schedule be amended
annually to reflect a inflation factor similar to that utilized for property taxes
under Michigan’s Proposal A guidelines

• That the current carry - over provision in the statutes relating to Michigan
Watercraft Registration be rescinded. This action would require the
purchaser to procure a new registration sticker in the name on the post sale
title in a timely manner, with no proration of the fees paid by the seller. This
action would further aid in appropriate owner/operator information being
immediately available to Water Safety enforcement and rescue personnel

• That the Michigan Watercraft Registration process and forms be amended to
require appropriate multi-modal means of identifying the owner/operator of
the registered vessel. Multi-modal identification is intended to facilitate
appropriate response by Water Safety personnel. Multi-modal information for
the owner/operator shall include at a minimum, multiple modes i.e. mailing
address, land line and/or cellular phone numbers, email, vessel name,
MMSI number and emergency contact information as appropriate to
identification of the registered vessel."

Full text here:

It’s a money grab with no transparency as these fees will not benefit paddlers, but power boat operators by improving their launch sites. Further, the commission apparently doesn’t know that the Michigan law already requires life jackets to be carried on every vessel regardless of length and that: “All PFDs must be ready at hand and not enclosed in plastic bags or other containers.”

If these taxes were specifically designated for only paddler education and safety training, I’d think differently. But there is no such designation.

Waterways contact person is
You can also share your thoughts with your state senators and representatives, found here:

The PFD thing hits teams in sculls, Usually are carried on a support boat in a bag. No idea if th Ciommission figured that one out.

$21 every three years is reasonable, Everything else is either a money grab or an invasion of privacy.

If the link works the attached article says that most states do not require canoe and kayak registration…I wonder what the main arguments are for not requiring canoe/kayak registration in the past.

To Rookie’s point the article also says that canoe/kayak registration was repealed in Arizona since paddlers were not getting benefits for their fees.

If the fees went to creating more “no motor” paddling sites I’d be all for it. If it helps increase powerboat traffic I’d rather not pay for it.

Welcome to taxation without representation. Legislators prove time and again that they don’t feel the need to be educated about a subject to legislate it. “Republicans are red, Democrats are blue, and neither one gives a $hit about you.”

Next it will require a permit to breath the air. Any law maker who ever puts his/her name on a money grab bill should be voted out–or hanged.

@pikabike said:
$21 every three years is reasonable, Everything else is either a money grab or an invasion of privacy.

Not so reasonable for those who own multiple boats, such as families with six or seven of the inexpensive box store boats used by their kids and friends to play around near shore and which never leave their inland lake homes. Or camps run by nonprofits who may have 25+ kayaks/canoes. Or instructors who have multiple boats, outfitters, and even manufacturer sales reps who, if this is passed, would have to pay a fee on each boat they bring into the state for demo purposes. As well as every nonresident paddler and/or symposium coach.

There’s a major distinction between power boats/jetskis and kayaks, canoes, surfskis, SUPs, etc. Most power boaters don’t own three, four, or more vessels. Paddlers do and our vessels have no impact on the water, emit no pollution, and make no noise. We don’t need docks or concrete launch pads; just a few feet of unobstructed shore. Folks are required to buy hunting and fishing licenses to recreate . Are they charged a fee for every rifle or fishing pole they own? Nope.

The commission admits in a letter that the DNR Parks and Recreation Division doesn’t have sufficient funds at present to expand its existing boating access sites, thus the paddler tax so such sites (used primarily by power boats) can be improved and expanded. The water trail improvements bandied about are to be integrated with snowmobile and ORV trails. The proposed registration fee per boat would increase each year, with no cap.

The commission’s claim that it is proposing a “new” law which requires PFDs to be carried (but not worn) is disingenuous as that law is already on the books.

I’d support a licensing fee if the commission presented a specific and viable plan outlining how these taxes would be spent on programs dedicated to paddler safety, training, and education and who is going to present them. And as TomL suggested, sites for paddlers only.

The Waterways Commission estimates there are 600,000 paddle craft in Michigan. At $21 per boat (which increases each year) that’s a big chunk of change for the state’s coffers.

The commission’s proposal has not gone to the Michigan legislature as yet, so Michigan residents are free to send their comments to the commission with a copy to their state representatives and the governor.

@Rookie said:

The commission’s proposal has not gone to the Michigan legislature as yet, so Michigan residents are free to send their comments to the commission with a copy to their state representatives and the governor.

Exactly! What strikes me with this thread is the lack of knowledge of our democratic process, i.e. administrative recommendations vs. Legislative approval and then admininstrative signoff or veto. There is still plenty of room for voter input and advocacy. Instead, we have some jumping to emotional reaction and a call for violence. We might be close to being like the Middle East where everything conflict ends up being settled by the barrel of the gun and the drop of bombs and missiles… (As my son put it patroling Mosul, “Hmm… a lit bit of genocide going on here…”) At the rate of conflict instead of political discourse, we are on the path to blowing the $hit out of each and destroying the greatest political experiment ever, i.e. democracy, that we claim to love and preach to world about. And, yet, we increasingly as citizens can’t seem to figure out – with patience and little self education about our democratic institutions-- how to exercise our voice and choice in the system.

Ok. Rant off.


…or what about a Florida traveler that paddles a non registered boat in Michigan water once. ?

@Overstreet said:
…or what about a Florida traveler that paddles a non registered boat in Michigan water once. ?

Like, “sorry Nigel Foster, you can’t coach and paddle Superior until you pay the fee”?

I’ll have to look up the fines charged for not having a registration. Tomorrow at the office.

MCL 324.80122(1) Marine Safety. No certificate on board that is in full force and effect, or decal or number
displayed inappropriately on a vessel (including violating a rule promulgated to implement
this section [R281.1201 – R281.1209]). Maximum fine $500. Effective 5/11/07.

Guess I might have to rethink the trip to Michigan.

@Overstreet said:
Guess I might have to rethink the trip to Michigan.

Not law yet and might not be now that the cat’s out of the bag and the paddling community is pushing back. I plan to monitor the Waterways Commission website to keep an eye on what’s next. Imagine I’ll have plenty of cyber company.

In PA we can either register a paddlecraft or buy a “launch permit” – no real explanation why one of the other is “preferable” Both cost $10 per year (or $18 for two years). Since I have owned from 3 to 9 such craft any given year, this can really add up. Since most of my boats are folders and I can’t affix a permanent sticker I often “share” a sticker in a plastic ID badge sleeve that I hang on whichever boat I am using (technically not legal but nobody has ever challenged me – I don’t even think they keep a data base of which permit is attached to which model.)

The only benefit I have seen to this sticker protocol since it was instituted some 30 years ago (and my outdoor sports club was one of many organizations that lobbied hard against it back then) is that having the sticker can help keep the power boaters from giving us a hard time at the launch sites, since it is obvious that we are paying for the privilege of launching in state-owned sites just as they do. You are allowed to paddle in PA waterways without a sticker, just not launch from any state-owned shorelines – fines are involved if you do. For out of state or inlicensed visitors, daily passes can be purchased for a few bucks at park offices, but that only works in good-sized parks.

A drawback, besides nuisance and cost to the permits and to the hypocritical PFD regulations , is that they give permission for some Fish and Game Commission officers to act like total swaggering fascist dicks in some circumstances. I’ve witnessed really unconscionable bullying along the state waterways by these agents.

Curious. What about out of state paddlers there?

If I lived in MI I would just make my own copy of this sticker. I bet they don’t get any closer than 10 feet from you so how would they tell if its a forgery. I sure wouldn’t attach it to one boat as I have 3 kayaks. Put in plastic sleeve and transfer between boats… If you buy a sticker just put kayak if it asks what make or model. like they would have a clue.

as I may be visiting family in OH this year, I checked into their ‘registration’ law regarding ‘out of staters’.

  • if the state that you’re coming from has registration, you must provide it
  • if the state does not have registration, you only need prove you are from that state

even though this is pre-mature on the MI proposal, I hope they do the same

when living in MN, they required EACH kayak be registered.
this bothered me, because I had many boats (don’t tell anyone, but I bought one registration ‘sticker’ and ‘stuck’ it on the kayak I was using at the time)

However, if they require the BIG numbers on the boat (as OH does) the above wouldn’t work.

btw, those BIG registration numbers sure makes those beautiful, custom made kayaks look ugly.

This kind of thing has been knocked down in Maine couple of times, when they looked at the potential hit on tourism income which is huge in the state. It is an increasingly frequent thing though.

Well, it is good that they were only proposing. Note they were proposing that for Florida too. I think the largest Opponent was the Tax Collector’s office. You see Florida has the most registered boats of any state. You may have one power boat but if you have paddle craft you have many boats. It would be an unfunded mandate for the Tax Collector to collect and keep track of the paddle craft.

I noticed that on the Michigan DNR web site that the following are exempt…
_Watercraft exempt from registration are:
•Those 16 feet or shorter, propelled by oars or paddles, and not used for rental or commercial purposes;
•Nonmotorized canoes and kayaks not used for rental or commercial purposes, rafts, surfboards, sailboards, and swim floats, regardless of length; and
•Watercraft registered in another state and used only temporarily in Michigan.

We fall under that second category.

@raisins said:

However, if they require the BIG numbers on the boat (as OH does) the above wouldn’t work.

btw, those BIG registration numbers sure makes those beautiful, custom made kayaks look ugly.

Ohio DNR has an “alternate registration” for kayaks and canoes. no big numbers. But it cost $17 plus a $3 writing fee. (7x$20= $140)

Just another reason I live in Florida.

Citizens should propose a tax and fees on legislators who can’t think of anything better to do than tax and spend and spend and tax. Is there really anyone who thinks there aren’t enough taxes and fees? My observation over my seven plus decades has been that if government had 100% of all of our incomes, they would still want more.

Now the ACA has jumped in, for which I’m grateful. An email message was sent to all Michigan ACA members giving background info, stating the ACA’s position, and including a comment form to be completed. ACA distributes it to appropriate state legislators.

I had already sent a lengthy letter to the commission with copies to my state reps and the governor, but I may add to it as the seven members making up the commission are marina operators, charter boat operators, power boat sales, commercial fisherman, a sailor, and one attorney who apparently doesn’t boat or paddle.

@Overstreet That citation you listed is the current law in Michigan, which the commission is attempting to change. The commission is meeting today. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.