Kayakers discriminated against

Do any of you think that it is alright for Hillsborough County, Fl to open 12 power boat ramps but have a blanket order against opening any kayak facilities.

I like to paddle in places without houses around and Hillsborough has three parks with kayak launches on the Hillsborough River. One has a canoe livery in it. I can see why that one is closed.

One of the others has a kayak park on one side of the road and a picnic park on the other, simple to open just one side.

The last spot has a parking lot just for kayakers and canoes. Also simple to open.

They have ignored me, but if they get fifty or 100 bitches, maybe they will do something.

Go here say no to it being helpful and you will be offered a chance at feedback.

“In order to live outside the Law, you must be Honest.”
Bob Dylan.

I don’t live in FL, but I did paddle the Hillsborough once on a visit.
–Could it be that your non-paddling state gov-bureau-covidwatch dogs, are so unjustly barring kayak access because they don’t want to seem “impartial” by only blocking the canoe livery?(Presumably because they’re all tandems.)

Sounds like a case of the ignorant confusing apples with oranges. Unless it has more to do with the parking/access/policing of the sites themselves. (I won’t even try to make sense of the inane power boat side of this equation. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: )

Perhaps I’m being overly cynical here, but I have to suspect (admittedly without doing the kind of in-depth research that would be necessary to prove it definitively) that things like this often come down to the influence of a “when money talks BS walks” philosophy on the part of those writing the rules. I also think there are some pretty hastily written regs being produced recently.

I suspect that in FL power boaters spend a lot of money and the sales tax on that money is substantial in the county and probably at the state level as well. (Same here in my state, though perhaps on a lesser scale.) I bet many of us here have bought a fleet of nice kayaks or canoes for the cost of the engine on many of the larger power boat rigs. Revinue from fishing licenses and , for duck hunters, for instance, hunting licenses, also amount to substantial sums of money flowing into public coffers. Many of these folks (and I also contribute here) buy fishing tackle, guns, ammo, and most use power boats. At least around here those who use larger power boats - that really need a decent landing to utilize - are often owners of shore line, or near shoreline, property and may be influential in local politics. There are also likely trade association lobbyists involved that I think paddlers largely lack. Paddlers, I believe, can’t really afford to be players in that league.

And its not just power boats. I see here in my state that there has recently been more money spent on snowmobile trails and ATV trails. I believe those who vote for such spending are often seeing it as investment that will see a return in the bar/grill establishments along such trails. (Tavern League is a big player here in Wisconsin politics.) Hiking and cross country ski trails are cheaper to build but probably yield pretty modest returns on investment if that, rather than strictly public utility, is how such spending is viewed…

I see it here on my “home river”… in the reopening process they are allowing folks to use the DNR managed landings from 6am to 11pm. When I’m feeling charitable in my views I think probably the scheduled closing is OK for the parks they were primarily considering and an administrative convenience to apply the same rules to a river and its landings. But in my darker moods I see discrimination against paddlers. Its subtle: Nobody says “no paddle craft allowed”, but in practice its just fine for the fishermen and power boaters but locks out the river camping paddlers. (Can social distancing even be practiced on a jon boat? I’m sure it can by solo canoeists, even careful tandem canoeists, and kayak campers, assuming they want to.) But I’m afraid that schedule will remain in place until the liveries can operate safely. Opening the river will then be offered as proof of business-friendliness.
I really hope that we don’t have to wait for a vaccine to be developed before we can again paddle on that river.

I think we’re not really discriminated against so much as not catered to.

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Well that stinks. Is there any logic to it like maybe the powerboaters go one at a time so better social distancing? It sure seems strict given all the pictures of crowded beaches on the news. For a while here in Michigan it was just the opposite with waterways open to paddlers so they can get exercise but closed to powerboaters since folks were supposed to stay home unless they were getting exercise or doing something essential. That was nice while it lasted.

So what is the situation in Mi now?

Just curious - if someone, or a number of people, from out of state were to write to weigh in on practices at your boat landings, how do you think that would be taken? I’m not certain of this, but I fear that if such outside influence on our practices were tried here, it might cause at least some of our regulators to “dig their heels in.” Again, I may be being overly pessimistic in this, but there seems to be an instinct about these days to resist all outside influence no matter how reasonable the input. It’s too easy to be counterproductive.

In Michigan powerboaters are free to use their boats again and canoes and kayaks have always been allowed. But when I went out yesterday it looked like the kayak rental place on the river I visited wasn’t open because I didn’t see any rentals and it was sunny and in the 80’s. I think you are right in that Michiganders might resist “outside” opinions. I didn’t want to get too opinionated about what is happening in Florida because I try to avoid having strong opinions when I don’t have first hand knowledge of a situation.

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It all depends upon who owns the facility. For example the Ocala Natl Forest (federal) opened boat launches on Friday. The county boat launches were never closed.

Personally I don’t think much of paddling the Hillsborough river. Maybe it’s time to branch out and paddle other waters.

I went to the Hillsborough County website and left feedback. It makes no sense to open dog parks, tennis parks, boat ramps etc. and not open kayak/canoe launches on the Hillsborough River.

I also spoke with the owner of Canoe Escape, the outfitter that works from Sargent’s Park. They’ve lost their entire season without any idea of when they might be back in business. This is a family owned business that has been a canoe livery for decades, but in recent years they’ve worked exclusively on the Hillsborough.

He did suggest you can get on the river by launching at Rotary Park, and paddling upstream as far as you like.


After Armageddon
in the Sunshine State
roseate spoonbills
won’t dish out dark debate

they’ll just straddle issues
with storks and egrets
of natives and snowbirds
that plied to muddy regrets

along those reedy banks
parted by many stern
folks in their final bow
with props you might discern

to an undying freedom
pushed by its mercury wake
till no more bones to pick
you’ll see those gator heads shake


It is my opinion that those in power don’t give a tinkers damn about out of state paddler, or locals. They just want canoers and kayakers to stay out of the way. So they came up with some half assed “cop” out to keep you out of the way.
They are going to cater to the people who “show them the money”!
I wouldn’t waste my time or effort in an attempt to try to gain a more equitable & realistic plan that benefits everyone. Likely not gonna happen; they could care less what you think.

It it were me; I’d go to the area where the boat ramp is located, and if I were able to park there; I’d leave my vehicle there, and make sure it was out of the way, not even remotely close to the ramp.

Get my boat to a likely looking put in spot; go back and get my gear, pack up, push off, get in, and paddle away. What’s the problem with that?
If anybody bugged me about it; I’d do it again, but I’d just be more stealthy about it. I have authority issues about that kind of BS; which is exactly what it is. Screw the bureaucrats, and their 35 thousand dollar, 4 door, 4x4, monster truck they drive around in!


Its due to the pandemic. Emergency closures. Have no idea for the reason except the Hillsborough gets congested with kayakers and you know they won’t be socially distant. I have paddled sections of it four or five times. Nothing to do with discrimination.

When people get the virus under control things will be better. I am actually quite pleased with the paddling amenities Florida offers.

In Maryland they’ve spent a lot of money on car top boat access in the last few years after years of neglect. When the pandemic was at its peak here recreational power boaters and sail craft were prohibited from going out as they feared unrelated groups going out in close proximity and partying for extended periods of time. On the other hand kayaking and similar manually powered vessels were allowed because they considered that desirable individual exercise. The only requirements were groups were limited to no more than ten people and social distancing must be followed. Power boat ramps were closed but not the car top boat access points.

At the same time, parks were open only for activities consistent with individual exercise. No picnicking or team sports and bathrooms, picnic tables, and pavilions were closed. Some of these restrictions have been eased.

Kayak rental businesses were closed as non-essential businesses and because it was unclear if sanitation measures and social distancing regulations could be followed. Now, even after regulations have been eased many canoe and kayak rental businesses remain closed because the owners are not sure how to work out sanitation and maintain social distancing on rental equipment such as PFDs and boats and maintaining social distancing on narrow docks and launch facilities.

Our Club of 700 members, large kayak Meetup groups, and kayak related businesses have been very vocal on water access issues and stressed the economic value and voting power of our constituency. We have some county board members that kayak.