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Game and Fish urges public comment on proposed boating restrictions at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge

Posted in: News Media
Apr 29, 2016
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AZGFD has concerns, asks USFWS to extend comment period to allow adequate public input

PHOENIX - The Arizona Game and Fish Department advises constituents to be aware of, and participate in, the public comment process regarding the draft recreational boating Compatibility Determination for the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released the Compatibility Determination on April 12 and opened a 30-day comment period that ends May 12. The Compatibility Determination contemplates restrictions at some areas used by recreational boaters on the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognizes the importance of watercraft-related recreation to the Lake Havasu community and has concerns over the short 30-day comment period.

“It astounds me that USFWS is considering this proposal, given the recent history of the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery debacle causing a halt to trout stockings and threatening some of the 1,700 jobs and $75 million generated by anglers along the Mohave County/Clark County stretch of the river,” said Arizona Game and Fish Commission Chairman Kurt Davis. “Thanks to the immediate engagement of U.S. Senator John McCain, U.S. Representative Paul Gosar, and local elected officials, USFWS has been forced to give the public a chance to make their voices heard. Arizona Game and Fish supports a 60-day public comment period extension in order to thoroughly analyze any and all impacts to recreational boating, angling, hunting and most importantly to the local economy.  

“I hope that the federal government will once again listen to the public, come to their senses, and realize what devastating economic impacts their arbitrary decisions can have.”

Others are also calling for an extended comment period.

In an April 25 letter to USFWS Director Dan Ashe, Senator John McCain requested an extension, citing concerns over the economic impact of such restrictions.

“By USFWS’s own estimates, between two and three million visitors vacation at Lake Havasu annually,” wrote McCain. “Additionally, an average holiday weekend attracts 50,000 boaters to the area. The regional economic impact of visitors to Lake Havasu City is substantial, and significantly contributes to the greater regional economy… I ask that no decision be made final until a thorough attempt is made to understand and address the concerns raised by local stakeholders.”

Similarly, in a bipartisan letter today to USFWS Director Ashe, Rep. Paul Gosar and 20 other members of the House of Representatives urged an extension of the comment period for an additional 60 days.

“Countless stakeholders and members of Congress from both parties have voiced opposition and are calling on the Service to heed their concerns,” stated Gosar in a news release. “Given the significant flaws with the CD, I’ve called on the Service to drop this proposal. At minimum, the comment period should be extended 60 days as few people understand what is actually going on, including staff within the Service.”

The USFWS has currently scheduled three meetings to provide information and to gather public input.

  • May 2, 2016 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
    Relics and Rods Hall
    Lake Havasu City Community/Aquatics Center
    100 Park Avenue
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona 86403

  • May 3, 2016 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
    Avi Resort and Casino
    10000 Aha Macav Parkway
    Laughlin, Nevada 89029

  • May 3, 2016 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
    Avi Resort and Casino
    10000 Aha Macav Parkway
    Laughlin, Nevada 89029

Unless the comment period is extended, comments to the draft recreational boating Compatibility Determination for the Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge will be accepted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through close of business on May 12, 2016. Please send written comments to:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
Attn: Draft Recreational Boating CD
317 Mesquite Avenue
Needles, CA 92363

Comments may also be emailed to: Havasu_Boating_Comments@fws.gov.

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