Supervisor Buster Johnson would like to thank Senator John McCain, Congressman Paul Gosar, and the thousands of citizens who came out in opposition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s (USFWS) proposed boating regulations on the Havasu Wildlife Refuge.
“Thanks to everyone’s comments and Senator McCain and Congressman Gosar’s continued engagement with the Fish and Wildlife Service, it was announced today that they have decided to withdraw their draft Compatibility Determination,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated.
In a statement released by the USFWS, Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, USFWS Southwest Regional Director, stated that they will revert to an interagency-community consultation process under a Memorandum of Understanding before taking any additional actions and also committed to engaging in further discussions with the community and other stakeholders on the issue.
“While this is a great first step, this by no means the end,” Supervisor Johnson stated. “The withdrawal of the Compatibility Determination still does not address the changes the Fish and Wildlife Service implemented in May of 2015 without any public input or advanced notice. These changes must be addressed going forward, and it is important that local officials and the community continue to put pressure on Fish and Wildlife so they understand the detrimental consequences these restrictions have on our local economy,” Johnson continued.
In 2006, the Refuge made all of the backwater area between the south buoy line at the entrance to the river and Castle Rock a no wake zone and restricted Personal Watercraft (PWC) such as jet skis and wave runners from operating in the area. In May of last year, they extended the no wake zone and the PWC restriction on the Refuge’s southern boundaries another 1.5 miles essentially making the waters in Refuge jurisdiction from Mesquite Bay to the I-40 Bridge a no wake zone.
New restrictions would have also prohibited waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding or other recreational-towed devices in the area.
“Both visitors and residents of Lake Havasu have used waters managed by the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge for many of these activities over the years,” Johnson stated. “More than $252.8 million is contributed to Mohave County’s economy through boating recreation on Lake Havasu. Fish and Wildlife has never presented any documented evidence to prove that these activities are causing any harm to the wildlife or natural preserve of the Refuge.”