National Boating Safety Award For WA Park Employee

Jim French, a longtime employee of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission’s Boating Program, has received national honors from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). French received the NASBLA Lifetime Achievement Award for his long devotion to recreational boating safety and his work in supporting the national organization. The award was presented recently at the NASBLA national conference in Boise, Idaho.


French, 65, began his career in 1972, as a watercraft officer with the Ohio Division of Watercraft. In 1984, he was hired by Washington State Parks through a nationwide recruitment, to work on the startup of Washington state’s boating safety program. Under his purview, Washington’s marine law enforcement program was created, along with a variety of campaigns over the years to increase the safety of Washington’s waterways for boaters. Notable among French’s accomplishments is the production of a 1992 video, “Adventures in Boating with Bill Nye, the Science Guy,” featuring a young and not-yet-famous Bill Nye.

Serving as NASBLA president in 1993, French testified before Congress alongside the National Traffic Safety Board on a number of issues that later were reflected in federal or state law, including mandatory boater education, mandatory wear of life jackets for children and increased penalties for boating under the influence.

French is an avid hiker and outdoorsman, well known for his volunteer efforts on outdoor stewardship and trail projects. He is a member of the U.S. Forest Service Resources Advisory Council and serves as chair of The Mountaineers’ Conservation Committee. As an instructor for The Mountaineers, he has introduced hundreds of people to backcountry hiking, drawing upon his experience and sense of humor to impart to his students a sense of adventure, safety and fun. He and his wife, Sandy live in Tumwater. They have three grown children.  

“I am delighted Jim was recognized by NASBLA,” said State Parks Director Don Hoch. Jim is an extremely hard-working and devoted employee who has spent his entire career serving our citizens, and his efforts have made our waterways safer for boaters.”

October 15, 2013/WA State Parks News Release