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Boating popularity in Ohio soars

COLUMBUS – The popularity of recreational boating has reached new heights in Ohio as a record number of watercraft— 419,364—were registered last year, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Watercraft. The previous record of 418,300 registered boats occurred in 2003. The totals do not include additional watercraft registered through commercial liveries.

“More Ohioans are registering hand-powered watercraft, such as canoes and kayaks, and using those boats to enjoy affordable and healthy water recreation,” said Pamela Dillon, chief of the ODNR Division of Watercraft, in explaining the higher registration total.

According to the Division of Watercraft, paddle sports are among the fastest growing of all outdoor activities. Indeed much of the increase can be found in the number of Ohio registered canoes and kayaks, which have increased 50 percent from 54,868 in 2004 to 82,670 in 2009. The division also reported that the number of watercraft, mostly canoes and kayaks, included in commercial livery registrations increased from 5,123 in 2004 to 5,894 in 2009.

“We believe that people are buying more canoes and kayaks in Ohio,” said Dillon. “There also appears to be a resurgence in the number of people registering older boats for use again on the water by purchasing current watercraft registrations and alternative registrations.”

Ohio remains a popular boating destination, with more than 5,000 miles of navigable streams and rivers to offer paddlers. Included among these waterways are four designated Ohio Water Trails, 14 designated State Scenic Rivers, a 451-mile portion of the Ohio River and the 112-mile long Muskingum River, which features the nation’s only remaining operational wooden lock structure.

Counties with the highest numbers of registered watercraft in 2009 included Franklin – 26,586; Cuyahoga – 23,972; Summit – 19,320, Hamilton – 17,971; and Montgomery – 15,239. The Division of Watercraft reported that watercraft registrations increased in all but seven counties from 2008 to 2009. A listing of county-bycounty watercraft registrations is available online. Visit the ODNR web site at

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