Recreational boaters who boat south via the Intracoastal Waterway to places such as Boca Grande know groundings and delays have become commonplace as shoaling becomes more severe.
A course to restore the historic waterway will be charted at the 13th annual Intracoastal Waterway Association conference Nov. 13-14 in Charleston, S.C.
The association, an alliance of recreational boating and commercial maritime interests, will convene at the Francis Marion Hotel.
Federal funding for dredging the Intracoastal Waterway has fallen like the tide that left this boat high and dry on a shoal — a common problem for recreational and commercial waterway navigators.
"As the country looks to create jobs and grow the economy, lessen environmental impacts, and invest in infrastructure projects to move us into the 21st century, the Intracoastal Waterway should be a priority," said Chairman Stephen Furlough. "This is an underutilized resource that meets these objectives and has served the nation for more than 70 years. But it's in trouble now."
Government officials will confer with the commercial maritime industry and the recreational interests that depend on the waterway. Sessions will address navigation along the 1,100-mile route, update problem shoaling areas and offer long-term solutions to chronic federal funding shortages.
Tourism, academia and state and local governments have been slow to recognize the waterway as an asset to Southwest Florida, Furlough said. Dredging and maintenance funding has dried up and must be recultivated.