Penna Reg/Permit question

I have been told I will be paddling Army Corps of Engineer facilities and need my non motorized canoe somehow registered with the Commonwealth of PA as my home state does not register canoes. Not only do they not require it, they will not do it with no motor.

PA offers two options…registering and obtaining a Launch Permit.

Whats the difference?

Launch permit
No need for you to register your canoe, go with the launch permit. I live in Pennsylvania, and that’s all I do. It can be purchased on line with no hassle.

Where will you be paddling?


Conne-Alli-Kiski Sojourn

Since I am part of the safety committee…I better be legal…thanks for the tip… I find this site

not entirely clear.

Should be ok
That site is far from clear, and is geared to motorized vessels. The link I provided previously should take you to the outdoor shop, which is where you can just get the launch permit.

I paddle Blue Marsh Lake, which is an Army Corps area that also has Pa Fish and Boat launches, the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, Beltzville State Park, county parks, and other smaller streams with only launch permits. No trouble.

There are three ways to paddle legally in Pennsylvania - registration, launch permits, and state park permits. Last I knew they were all reciprocal. I gave up registering my boats due to the fact that three were purchased where there was no sales tax. To register, one needs to provide proof of purchase and then pay tax to Pennsylvania based on the purchase price.

The only good reason I can see to register a canoe/kayak is for reciprocity with other states.

Proof of purchase is a laugh
How many of us get a real meaningful bill of sale when we sell and buy boats on Pnet?

I even have three boats with no real HIN!

Curious about the Sojourn history

Kim, how did you and Mark get involved with it? I’ve never gone and don’t know anything about it but it seems there must be an interesting story in there somewhere to bring you two in from afar.

We hang with a bunch of paddlers
from all over the US and many are free to travel. I have heard of the Sojourn for many years along with some interesting on the water tales…

I have always liked river events where you get to learn of the history and the ecology of the area as well as paddling.

My favorite show used to be On the Road. I want experiences and not stuff before I die.

Small towns have tales to tell.

We have a river event too here in July that has an educational slant too.

I’ll have to see if I can maybe do a day

We’ll see. I’m not used to paying to paddle though. That’s a bit of a deterrent, especially if I bring the kids.

launch permit only
Yes, stick with the launch permit – $15 a year per boat (slight discount for buying a two-year). It is all I have ever used (3 to 5 kayaks in PA per year for 8 years). I agree the PA State information sources on this issue are very opaque, but I know how it works since I was involved, with my outdoor club, in fighting the original state mandate to impose this “launch fee” on human-powered craft. Technically, you STILL don’t need any permit on a canoe or kayak at all if you are launching from private land – it is a “user” fee for maintaining state shoreline facilities.

IN the end I don’t mind paying it now because it means I am entitled to hold my ground in launching my boats from park ramps without having powerboaters harass me. I am always considerate of their need to back their trailers down, stay to the side and launch without dawdling, but the paid permit does command some respect.

Paddle in PA
I was under the assumption that you needed a launch permit to paddle in state parks, forests and to use and Penssylvania Fish and Boat Commision boat Launch. Otherwise the need to register or get a launch permit was not needed.

PA Launch Permit Price is not $15
It is $10 for one year or $18 for 2 years. Just thought I would clarify that. I called Morraine State Park to confirm there was not a price increase to the stated $15 by Willowleaf.

I’ve long been under the impression that launch permits are only required in State Parks and when using Fish Commission launch areas. I have a permit on one of my boats for just those occasions. I’ve paddled the others on the Yough Lake (controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers) without the ugly sticker and without incident. Same with my friends. A few weeks ago, there were a couple of rangers walking the beach when we were taking out of the water. No one said anything to us. I think I’ll specifically ask the next time I am there.

It took a while, but I finally stopped in at the park office on Yough Lake (Army Corps of Engineers.) The ranger told me that you do not need a launch permit for canoes and kayaks unless using a fish commission launch area. (On this particular lake, there are two general launch areas and one fish commission launch site that I know of.)

I buy the permits for all the boats in my fleet every two years. It’s too much hassle to determine which launch sites require them and which don’t, for one thing. But I also prefer to have the permits and display them on the boats because I have found I get less flak from the power boaters at shared launch ramps. The fact that I am paying the state for access privileges just like they have to helps legitimize my use of the facilities. (note that I am considerate at these sites and don’t bogart the ramp nor interfere with their need to back in trailers.)

I lived in PA for over 10 years and never bought a launch permit. Unless things have changed, they are mainly primarily when accessing a body of water via a launch site managed by the PA Fish Commission as was said. The only time that was an issue for me was accessing the Juniata River via the Raystown branch, just below the Raystown dam. I did paddle on small lakes within State Parks without one.

Like others have said, you only need a launch permit if the place you are launching from/taking out is under the state parks or the Fish and Boat Commission. However, rather that try to figure out if I am going to need a permit, I do the same thing as @willowleaf and just buy PFBC permits for my boats. Then I know that regardless of where in PA I go I won’t have any problems. I buy mine on-line at the PFBC shop and print out the temporary permit. The sticker usually shows up in about two weeks, maybe a little longer.

If I were doing a single trip to PA I would most likely check before buying a permit. I do know that the Corps of Engineers facilities do not require a permit, or at least they didn’t the last time I checked.

It is often impossible to tell if even an out of the way river bank is under the aegis of the FBC. My ex boyfriend and I often sought out and kayaked and canoed various streams in the mountains of north Central PA. More than once, especially during hunting seasons when the state rangers were out in force, we were denied access because one of our boats (usually his) were not tagged. Though mostly they will ignore you or look the other way (if you are not tagged or legally equipped (whistles, PFDs, lights) but a few of the Fish Police are petty tyrants who view their uniforms as a license to bully. We had a nasty run in with them one summer weekend when my ex’s 32 year old son had his annual college buddy reunion renegade camp and canoe trip on their family property along the West Branch Susquehanna. 25 paddlers with 25 PFD’s did a half day float from the campsite. About halfway down one of those cloudburst thunderstorms drove them off the river for about half an hour and they fled to the shore and then relaunched. Some folks were in kayaks but most were doubled or tripled up in rental canoes. When I arrived at the takeout (A FGC controlled site) with the van and boat trailer to haul them back, I found the group being harangued by a pair of swaggering Fish Police. The issues at hand, according to the officers, were (1.) One of the kayaks had an expired launch permit (2.) most of the paddlers had no ID or driver’s licenses on them (never mind that nobody was driving back to the launch site and none had cars there had the takeout) and the “worst” offense, one of the canoes was one short on PFD to paddler ratio.

Virtually no-one in the group was wearing a PFD, which is NOT a violation. Normally I would gripe about that, but it was a very hot day, it was a drought summer and the river was so slow and shallow you could literally walk across its slate-shingled bed without getting wet above your knees. The state only requires that people over the age of 14 have a PFD with them. But apparently in the scramble to relaunch after the squall one of the 3 person parties swapped boats with a 2 person group, so one canoe when they reached the take out was down a vest and another had one extra. The poor guy that the fish cops targeted for this part of their wrath was from out of state to begin with, and I suspect they were picking on him because he had a ponytail and hippie tattoos.

When I arrived I could see that my boyfriend’s son, who does not tolerate fools well, was getting ready to scuffle with the rangers, who were acting like total a-holes and not allowing anyone to leave or even move the boats up the bank. I had to jump in to try to de-escalate the situation (having been a construction project manager for several decades I’m used to breaking up testosterone charged pissing matches.) The rangers tried to get into it with me too but I mustered my best ass-kissing routines to placate them and then moved on to explaining that they were all the guests of Doctor H
(my ex and a life-long member of the community who was highly respected – except by all the husbands whom he had cuckolded) and that this was a college reunion of working adults, not a random rabble of vagrants. I think they were just annoyed that the party had nothing with them that they could search for contraband.

Fortunately I got the Fish and Gamestapo to back off before my ex arrived with the other trailer because I think he and his son would have really mixed it up with them and I did not wish to spend the rest of the weekend arranging bail. The rangers did issue a $75 ticket to the out-of-state guy they had targeted – even wanted us to pay cash on the spot but I pointed out that none of us had money with us (not true but I expected some graft). Offered to have them follow me back to the house at the launch site to get a check but as I expected they declined and grumpily told us to mail in the fine. We took up a collection ($3 each) to cover it.

This was on Memorial Day weekend and I could not help but think that the 90 minutes these two FGC bozos wasted harassing a bunch of benign and sober river floaters could have been better spent corralling the masses of DUI power boaters at several nearby dam empoundments. An $11 permit (it went up last year) is the least one can do to avoid conflicts, even if some of it does go to pay the salaries of a few jerks.

Basically the state of PA requires all paddlers to get some form of license from the state in order to paddle in their waters, it sound like the easiest option for you. I believe it’s only ~$35 so not that expensive compared to what you’ve already spent in boat(s), paddle(s), life jacket(s), miscellaneous gear, lessons, racks, straps and gas money going paddling.

Actually the state of PA does NOT require paddlers to buy a permit. They can “register” the boat the same way a small powered boat is required to be registered, which costs the same ($12 for one year or $22 for two years) but that option requires that you post big ugly letters and numbers on the hull. Having the “registration” allows access to all the same FGC sites that the launch permit (a pair of medium sized stickers) allows so it really makes little sense to bother with the optional registration, though some feel it protects the boat if someone steels it (hardly defensible since most people don’t ask for registration in used boats sales and the reg number is easily scraped off anyway.)

Out of state visitors can purchase a 24 hour day launch permit for $5 if they arrive at a state controlled shoreline.

I do with there was a discount for multiple boats. I am up to 8 in the fleet which is rather costly every two years.