Do you know of a boat launch that might need a repair or upgrade? Are the navigation aids in your favorite lake adequate? Is there a lake or pond that you would love to explore by boat, but have not because it lacks adequate access?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, some people in Augusta want to hear from you. The Boating Facilities Division, part of the Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, is seeking input from Maine boaters through three online surveys — each accessible through the division’s website at http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/boating/surveys.html.

“We take our mission to serve the boating public very seriously, and we want to know how we can best support this important recreational and economic activity,” said George Powell, Boating Facilities Division director, in a statement issued when the surveys went online in late March.

“Maine boaters can help us do our job by letting us know what they are interested in and what concerns them.”

The Boating Facilities Division, along with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, develops and maintains more than 400 public boating facilities that give access to lakes, ponds, rivers and the Maine coast. The division is funded by a portion of the state tax on gasoline used in recreational motor boats.

The division has been working from a 15-year-old strategic plan as a guide for facility development, according to Powell.

“The big thing we don’t have is an updated priority list of water bodies in need of new or improved public recreational boat access,” he said. “Our approach is to ask the boaters: Where do you think we should be focusing our efforts?”

There are three surveys on the division’s website, each seeking a different kind of information.

Two of the surveys focus the performance of existing facilities at particular lakes or ponds.

The Boating Facility Performance Survey seeks feedback on the adequacy of specific launch sites, including the ramp, parking lot and boarding floats at the site. The Navigational Aid Performance and Needs Survey asks if navigational aids in a lake or pond are plentiful enough and easy to follow.

A third questionnaire, the Boating Facilities Needs Survey, asks for suggestions on where facilities can be added or improved upon.

“We’re asking people to tell us where they feel there is need for new access,” says Powell, “and also which water bodies need additional access because the current access is inadequate.”

Along with suggestions for new or improved access, the Boating Facilities Needs Survey seeks input on the adequacy of existing navigational aids, along with suggestions for water bodies that currently lack navigations aids but should have them.

Boaters are asked to complete only one performance survey per water body for each topic. And the Boating Facility Needs Survey will accept only one response per IP address, so boaters considering “stuffing the ballot box” for a new launch ramp on their favorite lake or pond should dismiss that thought.

Powell says the initial response to the surveys has been good, and they will stay on the division’s site indefinitely. He adds that people will also be in the field looking for feedback as boating season gets into full swing.

“We hope to remind people to respond by leaving prepaid postcards on vehicles parked at boating facilities,” he says. “We’ll ask them to complete the cards, mail them back, and go to the website to complete the needs survey as well.”

In addition, the Boating Facilities Division has established a toll-free phone line at 1-855-480-7726 so people can call with questions about a recreational boating facility.

BPL SEEKS GRANT PROPOSALS

The BPL is also seeking grant proposals for improved recreational boating access to water bodies throughout Maine. Up to $500,000 in funding is expected to be available.

“A lot of our access sites have been developed through this process,” says Powell. “These grants go to municipalities, counties, fish and game clubs, and other parties who acquire and develop a boat access facility that is managed under a contract with us.”

Recipients will be expected to match the state grant with an equal amount of their own funds.

A preapplication inspection is required for any proposed facility, and must be inspected by May 18. Applications are due June 26. Projects funded through this year’s grant program must be completed by June 30, 2014.

More information on the grant program is at http://www.state.me.us/doc/parks/programs/boating/grants.html.

Gail Rice of Freeport and her husband, Randy, race and cruise their Pearson 30 sloop on Casco Bay. Contact her at: gnrice@yahoo.com