All boat registration fees will at least double on Oct. 1.

CorrespondentJuly 31, 2013 

Boat registration fees won’t increase tenfold, as once proposed for larger vessels, but all fees will at least double on Oct. 1.

A bill called Increase Funding for Dredging appeared marooned in committee in early May. However, the fee increases were salvaged and they reappeared as the Shallow Draft Navigation Channel and Lake Dredging Fund in the $20.6 billion state budget. The legislature’s budget was approved on July 25 as the Appropriations Act of 2013 and was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on July 26.

Vessel registration fees, which had been $15 a year, will double to $30 a year for boats up to 26 feet in length, including sailboats 14 feet or longer. Fees will more than triple to $50 per year for boats 26 feet and longer. The original bill had proposed a fee of $150 yearly for boats longer than 40 feet.

Boaters no longer will receive discounts for multiyear registrations, and federally registered boats no longer will be exempt from state registration.

The initial bill, Senate Bill 58, was sponsored by Sen. Harry Brown, representing Onslow and Jones counties in Senate District 6, and Sen. Norman Sanderson, representing Carteret, Craven and Pamlico counties in District 2.

After passing the Senate and moving to the House, the bill went to the commerce committee on May 8. A modified version reappeared in the appropriations bill.

Money from new or transferred titles will be added to the fund. The new law also appropriates more than $2 million a year in state fuel tax funds.

Although no project is specified, the law says the fund will be used to keep lake waters “navigable and safe” in addition to the inlet dredging projects. Counties that want dredging must split the cost and use “non-state dollars.”

Boat owners who travel inland lakes and rivers opposed the legislation because, although the purpose was to fund coastal projects, inland boaters would have to pay the increased registration fees.

Phil McCarson of Durham, whose Piedmont Bass Classic fishing tournaments depend on boater entries, was saddened to see the fee changes but was resigned to the increases.

“There’s really nothing you can do about it,” said McCarson, who sees an average of 63 boats enter the tournament trail events on various lakes (www.piedmontcrappieclassics.com). “The economy is hurting bad, and that’s why we’re not getting money for that. Everything else is going up, and there’s not a lot you can do about it other than vote, but that doesn’t seem to do a lot either.”

Read the new law at http://ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S402v7.pdf.

Hunters can prepare: The fall hunting season will begin with the opening of dove season on Sept. 2. That means first-time license buyers are busy taking hunter education courses in classrooms or online.

To find a course, go to http://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/LearnResources/HunterEducationCourses.aspx. Register soon. Many courses already are full.

Send your outdoors news to outdoors@newsobserver.com.

Boggess: boggess.teri@gmail.com

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