LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — A new proposal being floated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishes a series of no-wake and restricted zones throughout the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge’s backwaters.
The proposal released Wednesday is a compromise after public outcry against stricter proposals in 2016, refuge Manager Richard Meyers said.
While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has restrictions in mind for boaters in the refuge, Meyers said those restrictions will do little to obstruct recreational boating in the refuge or on the Colorado River.
“We wanted to make sure there was no confusion,” Meyers said. “We heard from all sides last year. There was a lot of confusion in the public … people believed we wanted to make the entire refuge a ‘no-wake’ zone. That isn’t the case.”
There will be few changes to regulations at the refuge’s southern end, although the document would prohibit kite-boarding and hydro-flight equipment in waters south of Interstate Highway 40.
Waters inaccessible to boaters will be designated as backwaters under the new proposal, prohibiting boaters from launching watercraft or operating personal watercraft in areas including Beal Lake, Pintail Slough, Lost Lake and Topock Bay. The stipulation would prohibit towed recreational activities in these areas, Today’s News Herald reports (http://bit.ly/2unIDiU ).
“We aren’t going to be changing the buoys,” Meyers said. “We will leave the open waters open. People will be able to ski or do any of the normal things they would want to do in those open waters.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal would also remove restrictions on air-cooled outboard engines, while prohibiting the use of hovercraft within refuge waters.
Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen said the changes appear to be promising.
“My initial reaction is that it should have little to no impact on Lake Havasu City,” he said. “The area that was a bit contentious back in 2015 known as the ‘Ryde Spot’ will remain open.”
The new proposal indicates the eastern portion of the Colorado River will be designated as no-wake backwater, something of concern for Dave Johnson who manages a popular online forum for power boaters called River Dave’s Place.
“Without the proper coordinates it’s hard to tell. But it looks like they’re running it up the center of the river, beginning at the mouth of the river,” Johnson said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host a public forum Aug. 17 to discuss its proposal with the Havasu public.