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Thursday, 25 August 2016 01:12

Gosar Presses Fish & Wildlife Service for Answers on Havasu Boating Closures, Refuge Manager Featured

Steven Smith
Rep. Gosar Presses Fish and Wildlife Service for Answers on Havasu Boating Closures, Refuge Manager

“Until the Service comes clean and unconditionally withdraws the May 2015 boating restrictions, it will continue to hear from the people of Lake Havasu”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after sending a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Director, Daniel Ashe, seeking answers to arbitrary and lawless decisions made by his agency that effectively closed off recreational boating on Lake Havasu in May of 2015:

“While stakeholders of Lake Havasu were successful in temporarily stopping the Service from expanding its arbitrary boating restrictions in April of 2016, we are not out of the woods yet. There are still countless questions that need to be answered by Service leaders and the agency has flat out refused to reopen the area that kicked off this controversy.

“To date, not a single Service employee has been fired or held accountable for their egregious conduct in attempting to shut down waterskiing, tubing and wakeboarding on Lake Havasu. Shamefully, former Havasu Refuge Manager, Linda Miller, who bears the brunt of the responsibility for this mess, appears to have even been promoted. Until the Service comes clean and unconditionally withdraws the May 2015 boating restrictions, it will continue to hear from the people of Lake Havasu, other Members of Congress and me about this lawless decision. I will not quit in my fight to keep Lake Havasu open for all users.”

Background:

The full letter sent to Director Daniel Ashe can be found HERE

This letter responds to the Service’s August 2, 2016 response to a letter sent by 22 bipartisan Members of Congress on July 11, 2016, calling on the Service to reopen the “Ryde Spot” on Lake Havasu. That original letter can be found HERE

On July 14, 2016, the House passed the Gosar amendment with unanimous support to prohibit funds for the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to continue restricting tubing, waterskiing and wake boarding in a ½ mile area (the Ryde Spot) on Lake Havasu as a result of a May 2015 press release. More HERE.

On May 20, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued new motorized boating restrictions that arbitrarily expanded a no wake zone on Lake Havasu, effectively prohibiting tubing, waterskiing and wake boarding in an area utilized by recreational enthusiasts for decades. This terrible new mandate was announced and implemented just two days before Memorial Day Weekend – an economically vital tourist weekend for Lake Havasu City. Further, it was done behind closed doors, with no notice and no opportunity for public comment. A Freedom of Information Act request from my office revealed this action was not based on merit or science. The Arizona Game and Fish Department submitted formal comments stating that the Service did not “justify this additional restriction and that the impacts to recreation could be significant.”

Rather than reopening this area that was supposed to only be closed "temporarily," the Service doubled down less than a year later and threatened to close even more areas on Lake Havasu to motorized boating activities.  Specifically, the Service announced a draft recreational boating compatibility determination (CD) on April 12, 2016, and the agency’s intent to pursue even more restrictions that were based on an agenda, not science or need. The CD aimed to close significant portions of Lake Havasu to recreational boating activities and prevent waterskiing, tubing, wake boarding, fishing and other recreationally towed devices within the 4,000-acre manmade Topock Marsh and on an additional 520 acres on Lake Havasu. On June 16, 2016, the people of Lake Havasu City scored a significant victory in the fight against bureaucratic overreach when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would withdraw its April 2016 proposed boating restrictions for Lake Havasu. Rep. Gosar was instrumental in this victory and kicked off comments at a public meeting that was attended by more than a 1,000 people. 

While the June 16, 2016, victory was monumental, the Service has failed to reopen the ½ mile area (the Ryde Spot) closed to recreational boating activities in May of 2015 that started this controversy. This failure is extremely misguided as boaters spend more than $150 million annually, support over 2,000 jobs and generate more than $63 million for Lake Havasu City's economy. Further, the May 2015 restrictions were not based on Science or merit. 

Congressman Gosar has created a comprehensive information page on his website HERE documenting all relevant facts of this issue as well as a timeline of important events. 

Last modified on Thursday, 25 August 2016 01:46
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