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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 01-1043




[58 PA. CODE CH. 53]

Permits for Unpowered Boats Using Commission Lakes and Access Areas

[31 Pa.B. 3202]

   The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) by this order amends Chapter 53 (relating to Commission property). The Commission is publishing these amendments under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The amendments relate to permits for unpowered boats using Commission lakes and access areas.

A.  Effective Date

   The amendments will go into effect upon publication of this order in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. However, the Commission will not issue use permits under § 53.27 (relating to use permits for unpowered boats) until December 1, 2001.

B.  Contact Person

   For further information on the amendments, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Assistant Counsel, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7815. This final-form rulemaking is available electronically through the Commission's website

C.  Statutory Authority

   The amendments are published under the statutory authority of section 742(e) of the code (relating to use of property).

D.  Purpose and Background

   The amendments are designed to update, modify and improve the Commission's regulations pertaining to unpowered boats using Commission lakes and access areas. The specific purpose of the amendments is described in more detail under the summary of changes.

E.  Summary of Changes

   On December 20, 2000, Governor Ridge signed Senate Bill 1117 into law as Act 115 of 2000, effective immediately. Act 115 of 2000 amends the code by adding subsection (e) to section 742. The amendment provides that the Commission shall, by regulations adopted within 1 year after the effective date of the section, provide for issuance of use permits, valid for 1 or 2 years, for unpowered boats that are not registered in accordance with law, to use Commission property. The amendment also provides that on and after the effective date of the regulations promulgated by the Commission, the owner of an unpowered boat that uses Commission property shall have the option of registering the boat or purchasing a use permit. The amendment further provides that the Commission shall establish fees for use permits and that these fees may not exceed the fees charged by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) for boat launch permits for State parks lakes. Last, the amendment provides that the Commission shall, in cooperation with DCNR, provide for reciprocal or joint use/launch permits for unpowered boats to use both Commission and State parks lakes and access areas.

   This amendment addresses an issue that has been of some concern to unpowered boat owners for several years. It allows the Commission to issue use permits for boats that use Commission property in lieu of registration. To move forward with timely implementation of this new law, the Commission has adopted regulatory amendments that address the following:

   (1)  Extending reciprocity with the DCNR launch permits. DCNR already extends reciprocity to unpowered boats registered by the Commission. It is expected that DCNR will amend its regulations to extend this reciprocity to Commission use permits. Since DCNR already recognizes the Commission's registrations, it was unnecessary to condition the effective date of this reciprocity on changes to DCNR regulations.

   (2)  Eliminating the exception for out-of-State boats. The Commission changed its regulations, effective February 19, 2000, to provide that out-of-State unpowered boats are in compliance with the Commission's requirements if they comply with the registration requirements of their state of principal use. This change had the effect of exempting most out-of-State unpowered boats from having to register their boats to use Commission property. It was designed to deal with the anomaly whereby out-of-State boats could not use Commission access areas unless they were registered. It would not have been appropriate to require such a boat to register in this Commonwealth since this Commonwealth was not the state of principal use. With the new Commission use permit and reciprocity with DCNR launch permits, owners of out-of-State boats that want to use Commission lakes and access areas have several options and do not have to register their boats. Accordingly, the exception for out-of-State boats is no longer required.

   (3)  New use permits. The fees for the use permit are set at the same level as that for DCNR resident launch permits: currently, $10 per year; $18 for 2 years. A 1-year permit expires at the end of the calendar year for which it was issued, and a 2-year permit expires at the end of the calendar year following the year for which it was issued. Although it is conceivable that the Commission could issue permits valid for 12 or 24 months from the date of issuance, the process involves somewhat more administrative complications. The new regulation permits the Executive Director to adjust the fees whenever DCNR does so. The new permits are designed to be easy to issue. The information required for issuance of a use permit is considerably less than required for registration of a boat. The Commission will issue use permits on or after December 1, 2001, for 2002 and subsequent years.

   On final-form rulemaking, the Commission adopted the amendments as proposed with one change to § 53.27. As proposed, this section required an applicant for a use permit to provide certain information, including the name and address of the owner of the boat if different from the name and address of the applicant. However, the name and address of the boat's owner may not always be readily available to the applicant, and it is the Commission's understanding that DCNR currently does not collect this information when issuing launch permits. The Commission, accordingly, determined that applicants should not be required to provide this information. In addition, technical changes were made to the organization of § 53.8(h) (relating to boats) that do not affect the substance of the amendment adopted by the Commission on final-form rulemaking.

F.  Paperwork

   The amendments will increase paperwork and create new paperwork requirements because individuals who wish to purchase a use permit for their unpowered boats will have to complete a brief application form. However, the information that they will be required to provide is less than that which is required to register a boat.

G.  Fiscal Impact

   The amendments will not have an adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. It is anticipated that the Commission and its agents will issue approximately 5,000 use permits during the first year of implementation and that these revenues will offset any program costs. The amendments will impose new costs on those members of the general public who wish to use their unpowered boats on Commission lakes and access areas and who wish to purchase a use permit as opposed to registering their unpowered boats. Although the amendments impose a fee for this new permit ($10 for 1 year and $18 for 2 years), this charge should be viewed in light of the current biennial registration fee of $10 for unpowered boats. The amendments will impose no new costs on the private sector.

H.  Public Involvement

   A notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 31 Pa.B. 1461 (March 17, 2001). During the public comment period, the Commission received one comment from the Pennsylvania Association of Auto License Brokers, Inc. indicating that its ability to issue the proposed use permits from its member offices would serve as a convenience for both the boating/fishing public as well as the Commission itself. Copies of all public comments have been provided to the Commissioners.


   The Commission finds that:

   (1)  Public notice of intention to adopt the amendments adopted by this order has been given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations promulgated thereunder in 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

   (2)  A public comment period was provided, and all comments that were received were considered.

   (3)  The adoption of the amendments of the Commission in the manner provided in this order is necessary and appropriate for administration and enforcement of the authorizing statute.


   The Commission, acting under the authorizing statute, orders that:

   (A)  The regulations of the Commission, 58 Pa. Code Chapter 53, are amended by amending § 53.8 and adding § 53.27 to read as set forth in Annex A, with ellipses referring to the existing text of the regulations.

   (B)  The Executive Director will submit this order and Annex A to the Office of Attorney General for approval as to legality as required by law.

   (C)  The Executive Director shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

   (D)  This order shall take effect immediately upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. However, the Commission will not issue use permits under § 53.27 until December 1, 2001.

Executive Director

   Fiscal Note:  Fiscal Note 48A-116 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulation.

Annex A





§ 53.8.  Boats.

*      *      *      *      *

   (h)  A boat using a Commission lake or access area shall be registered and display the official registration number and current validation stickers described under Subpart C and Part III of the code.

   (1)  This subsection does not apply to:

   (i)  Unpowered boats that display an official and valid use permit issued by the Commission under § 53.27 (relating to use permits for unpowered boats) or that display an official and valid watercraft launch or mooring permit issued by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for use of launch or mooring facilities at this Commonwealth's State parks and forests.

   (ii)  Noncommercial users of access areas on the Delaware River and West Branch of the Delaware River bounded by the State of New York.

   (iii)  Public service boats as defined under section 5302(a)(3) of the code (relating to exemptions from registration).

   (iv)  Unpowered boats participating in events authorized under § 109.6 (relating to special marine events).

   (2)  Registered unpowered kayaks, sculls, sailboards and other low volume boats of similar design are exempt from displaying registration numbers but shall display a current validation sticker.

§ 53.27.  Use permits for unpowered boats.

   (a)  The Commission and issuing agents designated by the Commission will issue use permits for unpowered boats when their owners choose not to register them to use Commission lakes and access areas.

   (b)  Use permits will be issued in the form of decals, showing the expiration date. Decals shall be displayed above the waterline on both sides of the bow of the boat for which the permit is issued.

   (c)  An applicant for a use permit shall provide the following information:

   (1)  The name, address and telephone number of the applicant.

   (2)  A description of the boat (make, model, year).

   (3)  The Hull Identification Number (HIN) of the boat (if readily available).

   (d)  A use permit is issued for a specific boat. It is unlawful to transfer a use permit issued for a specific boat to another boat. A use permit remains effective for the boat for which it is issued even if ownership of the boat is changed during the term of the permit.

   (e)  Use permits are valid for 1 or 2 years. The expiration date of a 1-year use permit is December 31 of the year for which it is issued. The expiration date of a 2-year use permit is December 31 of the second year for which it was issued.

   (f)  The initial fees for the use permits are $10 for a 1-year permit and $18 for a 2-year permit. The Executive Director may, by notice published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, adjust these fees so that they remain the same as the resident price for 1-year and 2-year boat launching permits as established in the schedule of fees published, and from time-to-time revised, by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for State parks and forests. Whenever a use permit authorized by this section is issued by an issuing agent other than the Commission or the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the issuing agent may charge an issuing agent fee not to exceed $1 per transaction for issuing the permit.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 01-1043. Filed for public inspection June 15, 2001, 9:00 a.m.]

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