P. O. Box 519
Granville WV 26534-0519

Friday 12 October 2001

Senator Robert C. Byrd
311 Senate Hart Office Building

Washington DC 20510


Dear Senator Byrd:

Thank you for your letter of 2 October, forwarding the letter you received from Mr. Charles Hess, US Army Corps of Engineers (COE), dated 25 September.

Recreational boaters understand COE's position as stated by Mr. Hess. We are quite familiar with the budget constraints facing COE, as we all read the Waterways Journal Weekly, and, many other boating and general news publications. We also are avid supporters of COE, and, for the maintenance and new construction needs of our waterways. Further, recreational boaters appreciate COE's efforts to accommodate our needs, given that river commerce rules lock hours, and, our recreational boating needs have no standing under current law.

So, let's change the law, to make recreational boating needs equal in consideration with COE's current waterways responsibilities for facilitating river commerce, flood control, and, river flow maintenance.

Yes, money is a problem. Money is always a problem. But, adding facilitation of recreational boating needs to COE's waterways mandates would at least provide recreational boaters a place at the appropriations table, so to speak. Recreational boating is a major contributor to our nation's economy.

As I recall, without checking my files, it was around 1870 that Congress decided to drop user fees for river commerce and that the public would pick up the tab for waterways facilities like locks and dams. So, the public has paid since then for the locks and dams, to support river commerce, with no legislative credence given to boating recreation needs. This was not a problem, until about the last twenty years or so, when the commerce decline on portions of many navigable rivers began to affect lock hours.

Senator, I attended a lock hours meeting on 2 October hosted by our Pittsburgh brethren. My notes about that meeting are enclosed. We are forming what is temporarily named the SAVE OUR LOCKS AND DAMS COALITION, with the Port of Pittsburgh Commission serving as facilitator for this coalition. The final name for this coalition and its mission statement will be adopted at our next meeting on 6 November.

We also are putting together information as to the extent of recreational boating on the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers, in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This information will include numbers of boats, numbers of boaters, and, economic impact. Compiling this information will take some time, but, when we get it done, you and our Pennsylvania and West Virginia congressional folks will be furnished this data.

If boating recreation is added to COE's waterways responsibilities, then, COE will have major support from public recreational boaters for COE's monetary needs for our nation's waterways. Support from recreational boaters, when added to the support of commercial users, would go far to help solve funding headaches for our nation's waterways.

Since we formed our Upper Monongahela Committee for Better Boating on 6 February 2000, we have gained support from the Monongalia County Commission, Morgantown City Council, American Sternwheel Association, and, the United States Power Squadrons. Also, our local WV legislators are seeking a legislative resolution of support for our quest. And, we are working on seeking support from the bass fisher folks and other major recreational boating organizations and publications.

Senator Byrd, thanks to you and to Representative Mollohan for your continued consideration of our boating recreation concerns.


Donald Strimbeck, Secretary

Encl: (1) Notes 2 Oct Pgh meeting

(2) Byrd & Hess letters

cc w/encls:

(1) All seven lock hours email lists.

(2) Senators Rockefeller, Lincoln, Breaux, Specter, and, Santorum.

(3) Representatives Mollohan, Deal, Saxton, Rahall, Capito, Murtha, and, Hart.

(4) Governor Bob Wise.

(5) Gale A. Norton, Secretary, US Dept. of the Interior.

(6) Charles M. Hess, US Army Corps of Engineers.

(7) Mick Blackistone, National Marine Manufacturers Association.

(8) Mike Sciulla, BOATUS Magazine.

(9) Derrick A. Crandall, American Recreation Coalition.

(10) Bruce Shupp, BASS Federation.

(11) WV legislature: Barbara Fleischauer, Sheirl Fletcher, Bob Beach, Charlene Marshall, Roman Prezioso, Jon Hunter, and, Sarah Minear.