The AOA Conference in Albuquerque is looking great thanks to support from many outfitters, sponsors and exhibitors who make it possible. Without a successful tradeshow and conference AOA would simply cease to exist as we know it. If you could not attend this year, we hope you'll be able to make it to Daytona Beach next December.
In the meantime even if you cannot make the conference, thank you so much for your membership and for supporting the exhibitors who support our industry.
As we head into the conference, some of the major regulatory issues we expect to address in 2014 are listed below. If you have comments on these or other issues, we'd appreciate your feedback as the board sets the agenda and budget for 2014. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
All of these issues will be discussed at various times throughout the conference, so if you are attending be sure to check your schedule for these opportunities.
Some of the big issues are:
- The Coast Guard has funded "safety partners" who appoint "subject matter experts" to develop a series of boating and paddlesports safety standards. Paddlesports education and skills standards for entry level paddlesports are the first step. The outfitting industry needs to be involved as these standards move forward to ensure that the quest for "safety" does not prohibit the public from participating in adventure sports. Here is an excerpt from the briefing which will given at the AOA conference by the consultant coordinating the new paddling skill standards:
"Eventually,a comprehensive System of Standards that can be recognized by the USCG as key components of boater education programs nationwide would involve national consensus-?driven development of the People, Process and Press (environment) standards to complement the Product (skills) standards being generated by the current work. Hopefully, long-?term work will also continue on the development (refinement) and integration of performance-?based standards for beginner, intermediate and advanced skills across the domains of POWER,SAIL and HUMAN recreational boat operation."
- Amendments to Forest Service and BLM Cost Recovery regulations. Agencies with tight budgets are expected to ramp up their efforts to cover the cost of NEPA analyses and other documentation related to issuance of permits. We need to modify the cost recovery regulation to ensure that permit issuance is streamlined and not a threat to the business and organizations who depend upon them.
- The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. The authority for issuing outfitter and guide permits in National Forests and on BLM lands expires in 2015. It has to be reauthorized before then to give the agencies authority to issue longer term permits and to make sure the fees collected are used to support permit administration.
- Continue our efforts to make NPS Insurance requirements reasonable. We are making progress on this issue, but there is more work to begun. A big step will occur at the AOA conference in December.
- Work with a coalition to implement a Save America’s Trails Campaign. The Forest Service trails budget is $81 million. 30% stays in Washington and the regions take another cut. So too little of it gets to the ground. We need a comprehensive campaign to include redirecting this funding and a portion of agency amenity fees to provide credits to outfitters and others for the work they do to keep trails open.
- Amend FMCSA regulatory authority. As one outfitter just learned from the $11,900 civil fine levied against him for 48 record keeping violations and a few other unmet regulations, which he was unaware of, compliance with the FMCSA regs if you cross state lines in a commercial motor vehicle is mandatory. We fully understand the need for regulation and inspection of commercial motor carriers. However, if you pass a state inspection, federal inspectors will still spend days in your business looking for violations and may shut you down without proper operating authority, as too many outfitters have discovered. We would like to see some amendments to this regulatory authority to give operators the opportunity to correct oversights for minor infractions like papework violations before draconian fines are levied and for Congress to consider allowing state's which adopt federal standards to be the inspection authority instead of having to submit to duplicative state and federal inspections.
Our work on these issues is not the only benefit of AOA membership. We are working on more benefits to lower your operating costs, improve the quality of your staff, reduce your exposure to loss, and grow your revenues.