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When you purchase fuel for your boat, you pay state and federal Liquid Fuels Taxes. The state tax is refunded to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) where it is used to provide benefits for power boaters. The amount of tax refunded to the PFBC by the State Treasurer is based on the fuel usage information you supply on your Pennsylvania boat registration renewal card or Boat Fuel Usage Survey.


Boat Access Area Maintenance and Development –The PFBC owns, leases or manages 121 motorboat launching facilities.   The PFBC dedicates more than $1.2 million dollars annually to these facilities for routine maintenance services like grass cutting, litter pickup, ramp and dock repairs, parking lot paving and grading, and the clearing of flood damages and debris.

Since 2005, the PFBC has also provided a direct investment of $5.8 million in grant funding for the development or improvement of municipally-owned boating facilities that attracted $8.2 million in local funding.  Through this statewide grant program, 26 new boat access areas were developed and much needed improvements were made to 37 existing facilities.  To find a boating access facility near you, visit our County Guides index.

Water Trails – Water trails are boat routes suitable for canoes, kayaks and some motorized watercraft. Like conventional trails, water trails are recreational corridors between specific locations. The PFBC provides technical assistance and guidance to water trail managers to support the local development and stewardship of water trail access points, boat launches, day use sites, and – in some cases – overnight camping areas. To find a water trail near you, visit our Water Trail Guides webpage for more information.

Boating Handbook – This convenient handbook provides boaters with information they need to know to have a safe and enjoyable experience when operating watercraft on Pennsylvania waterways.  It recaps boating regulations and includes information and tips to follow while boating.  To learn more about our regulations and ensure a safe and enjoyable time on the water, please read the Pennsylvania Boating Handbook.

Accident Investigation – The PFBC investigates boating accidents and reviews accident reports submitted by boaters. Accident analysis and statistics assist the PFBC and the U.S. Coast Guard with establishing appropriate educational programs and legal requirements to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone on the water.

Aids to Navigation – The PFBC maintains the Commonwealth’s Aids to Navigation System, the waterways’ road signs. This system was developed by the USCG to warn and advise recreational boaters of natural or artificial obstructions or hazards, and to mark restricted or controlled areas. Buoys, beacons, signs and other on-the-water markers help guide boaters by warning them of dangers, advising them of special marine situations, and aiding them in finding their way.

Boating Safety Education – Boating safety education is important, even for experienced boaters.  The PFBC administers a nationally-approved boating safety education program and issues Boating Safety Education Certificates to people who successfully complete an approved course.  To learn more about our boating safety education courses, please visit our Boating Courses & Safety Certificates page.

Law Enforcement PFBC Waterways Conservation Officers (WCOs) are specially trained police officers that focus on all aspects of watercraft safety. WCOs enforce all boating laws and investigate boating accidents. WCOs work to detect, apprehend and prosecute alcohol-impaired and drug-impaired watercraft operators. They also assist with presenting boating safety education classes.