We continue celebrating National Fishing and Boating Week, this time with a post about boating.
Christopher Husgen, federal wildlife officer at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, tells how he is partnering with the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure safe boating.
I have worked the marshes at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge for over 17 years, but it is my love for hunting waterfowl and fishing that has really taught me to navigate the marsh. While I have been hunting for about ten years now, it wasn’t until I came to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that I even learned to hunt. An old-timer who hunts on the refuge gave me a few clues and I’ve learned a lot on my own. Now I’m kind of the go-to guy for waterfowl hunting at the refuge.
I was able to put that knowledge and experience to good use recently, when I took several boat operators from the U.S. Coast Guard, Merrimack River Station, out on the refuge marsh to learn their way around.
The Coast Guard boat operators do not often patrol the waters of the refuge marshes, as they are not familiar with them, and a mishap of bumping the bottom can hinder their future boat operation opportunities.
I approached the Coast Guard and provided an orientation several years ago, and this past spring, I conducted two more training sessions. I took them out in a refuge boat, and toured the backwaters, pointing out hazards, and shallow spots. We’ll return to the marsh in their boat and I’ll work with them to plot the critical hazards on their electronics, helping them to become familiar with the refuge marshes should they ever need to navigate them.
Even though we have different jurisdiction, we have worked together during a number of incidents, ranging from rescuing kayakers caught in treacherous waters to catching poachers. Over the years there have been many times we have called the Coast Guard to come to the aid of a boater off shore. They have also called us to look on the beaches and marshes for missing or stranded boaters or paddlers. On the most recent meeting, we worked together to provide training for three of their new boat operators to learn to tow a boat. I hope to not need a tow any time soon, but it’s good to know they will be able to do it properly.
I really hope to strengthen the communication and cooperation between our agencies to better serve the boating public. And should we ever need assistance on the water, I know we have a partner in the U.S. Coast Guard.