A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Recreational boating study doesn’t add up

Ten years after it was first authorized, the Great Lakes Recreational Boating Study has finally been released by the Army Corps of Engineers. Despite an expenditure of $403,400, which the Corps gave to the Great Lakes Commission to conduct the study, the study is more than eight years late, relies on faulty methodology, and contradicts earlier findings.

The report was first due 18 months after it was commissioned on Aug. 17, 1999, as part of that year’s Water Resource Development Act. On July 11, 2007, the Great Lakes Commission released a “summary report” that found that “the 4.3 million recreational boaters registered in the eight Great Lakes states generate nearly $16 billion in spending on boats and boating activities in a single year” and that this “spending directly supports 107,000 jobs.”

The conclusions of the new and final Army Corps study completely contradict these findings: It counts “an average of 911,000 boaters [that] visit the Great Lakes annually,” says they support 60,000 jobs, and estimates an annual economic impact of $9.4 billion.

What has changed in two years that reduced the number of boaters by more than a quarter, reduced the number of jobs they support by nearly half, and reduced their economic impact by nearly $7 billion? This study asks more questions than it answers. And according to the spokesman for the study, John Paul Woodley Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Army, the report “does not contain any conclusions or recommendations for federal action.” This begs the question: Why was the study conducted in the first place?

If the study’s findings are not actionable, the Corps will not be able to use its own data to make decisions about dredging and other infrastructure projects that are desperately needed on the Great Lakes. This study and data is especially important now, when so many coastal municipalities are turning away from commercial navigation and looking at recreational boating as a way of revitalizing their lakefronts. In order to make sound economic decisions, they need reliable data that is not subject to the kind of second guessing inherent in the drastic differences between the 2007 summary report and the new final report.

With so much confusion, uncertainty and seeming contradiction, boaters on the Great Lakes are looking for answers. What numbers should we believe? When will they be provided? Who will provide them?

Boaters want answers.

F. Ned Dikmen, chairman
Great Lakes Boating Federation

Comments

4 comments on “Recreational boating study doesn’t add up

  1. Chip Porter

    You ask the question, “what numbers should we believe?” The answer is none. Earlier this year ASA published a conclusion released by Southwick Associates that purports a steady and constant decline in recreational sport fishing across the Great Lakes. His data is gleaned from FWS numbers of licenses sold.

    As a member of the charter industry and one that has contacts across the Great Lakes, it’s a case of the weatherman not looking out the window before issuing his forcast.

  2. ALBERT LINDSTROM

    WHAT NUMBERS TO BELIEVE? NOT THE ASA-SOUTHWICK ASSOCIATES, MAYBY THE Army Corps study, OR A NEW STUDY BY AND INDEPANT GROUP. PICK BY THE GREAT LAKES BOATING FEDERATION AND MEMBERS.

    AS A BOAT MANAFAGER OF GLAS-PLY, QUESTAR BOATS,
    ALL SO GOVERMENT CONTARTOR & CONSULTANT
    NAVAL ARCHITECT & ENGINEER

  3. Daniel Stynes

    There is no contradiction in Great Lakes Commission reports. The $16 billion covers all registered boats in the eight states including many boaters that do not use the Great Lakes. The $9.4 billion is an estimate of impacts of boats that use the Great Lakes, based on boats registered in coastal counties.

  4. Maddog

    Daniel,
    You must not boat on a great lake. If you did, you would notice all the out of state and non coastal county license plates in the marinas. It is not unusual to have people drive two or more hours to reach their boat desitination or have a get-away home on a large body of water. Boats registered in a coastal counties account for 1/3rd of all the boats that would use the lake. Add to the fact the study was for the Great Lakes Basin, makes your analysis misguided. Just think if the economic benefits from the taxation dollars paid on real estate from marinas, homes and businesses around the coastal area. These are not accounted for in the study.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments Policy.