National Park Service Press Release

National Park Service and River Management Society Publish Guidelines for Developing Water Recreation Access Sites
For Immediate Release:
March 24, 2014
Contact(s):   Emily Linroth, 202-354-1935

Mike Litterst, 202-513-0354

National Park Service and River Management Society Publish Guidelines for Developing Water Recreation Access Sites

WASHINGTON – The National Park Service today announced the publication of “Prepare to Launch! Guidelines for Assessing, Designing and Building Access Sites for Carry-in Watercraft,” a resource designed to help river managers, planners, boaters and water trail leaders plan for and build access to waterways. Developed in partnership with the River Management Society, this publication provides an easy to navigate, image-rich guide to launch designs and considerations.

“‘Prepare to Launch!’ will help water resource managers provide safe and sustainable launches that strengthen connections to the nation’s waterways,” said National Park Service River Programs Manager Joan Harn. “By collaborating with the River Management Society and our state, local and national partners, we can expand everyone’s capacity to access and enjoy America’s rivers and waterways.”

“Prepare to Launch!” can be found on the River Management Society website at, in e-book, interactive presentation and web formats.

“This resource can help managers save time, avoid costly mistakes and stay ahead of the demand of a growing and diversifying audience of human-powered recreationists,” said Risa Shimoda, River Management Society Executive Director.

“Prepare to Launch!” guides users through a process to determine the best launch for their site and to make design choices with confidence. It includes:

  • 246 illustrated pages with access site images, recommendations and case studies that can be navigated via interactive links within the document;
  • Multiple formats viewable on the web and mobile devices, and downloadable as an e-book or pdf;
  • Links to a variety of non-motorized launch examples;
  • Descriptions of construction methods and materials; and
  • Guidance on regulatory requirements to consider during design and construction.

“Prepare to Launch!” also includes examples of launches tailored to paddlers with disabilities.

“Following the User Accessibility tips will result in carry-down craft launch areas that serve all paddlers well, integrating the best of universal design,” said Janet Zeller, author of “Canoeing and Kayaking for People with Disabilities.”

For more information on the publication, contact Risa Shimoda at the River Management Society, or Lelia Mellen at the National Park Service,

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

About River Management Society. The River Management Society (RMS) is a national nonprofit professional organization whose mission is to support professionals who study, protect and manage North America's rivers. Dedicated to holistic river management, our diverse membership includes federal, state and local agency employees, educators, researchers, consultants, organizations and citizens.

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