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Everglades Boater Education Program Goes into Effect Aug. 1

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Beginning Aug. 1, the Everglades National Park will require all marine boaters to have completed the park’s Boater Education Program. The purpose of the program is to educate boaters to the unique features and challenges of the park’s marine waters in order to promote boater safety, protect park resources and enhance visitor enjoyment.

The free program is available in both English and Spanish. The online course takes most users about 45 minutes to complete including a brief test to assess knowledge before receiving the permit. Boaters will need to have a paper or electronic copy of the permit with them while boating in the park.

“The Boater Education Program was developed in partnership with our local boating community, who have been major advocates for the protection of Florida Bay and other marine areas of the park,” said Superintendent Pedro Ramos. “As part of our General Management Plan process, park managers, with broad public support, identified boater education as a key strategy to better protect marine resources while ensuring access to world-class recreational opportunities.”

The Boater Education Program is one of four cornerstone strategies identified in the General Management Plan, completed in 2015 to guide management actions and decisions within the park to improve resources and visitor use. The other three elements, also underway or already implemented, include on-the-water education and enforcement, well-marked navigational channels, and strategic zoning (such as the shallow-water pole and troll zones). These strategies are designed to complement the large-scale interagency restoration efforts to improve the freshwater delivery and ecological benefits to the park.

Substantial funding and support for the program was received from the South Florida National Parks Trust, the Florida Bay Stewardship Committee, and many knowledgeable stakeholders who saw the benefit of the program and helped develop the education course. The course and program elements were developed thorough a cooperative agreement between the National Park Service and the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University.

As the permit does not expire, boaters who have already taken the course do not need to retake it. Boaters who are in emergency situations (e.g., seeking safe harbor) or in limited areas of the park (transiting directly between the Gulf of Mexico and either Flamingo or Everglades City/Chokoloskee) will not be required to get a permit.

For additional information and Frequently Asked Questions, please visit the NPS online.

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