Fighting to Keep Lake Havasu Open for All Users

UPDATE:
On January 26, 2017 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced that beginning on February 1, 2017, the ½ mile backwater no-wake restriction for Lake Havasu that was designated in May 2015 would be lifted. The full announcement made by the Service reopening the ½ mile backwater area on Lake Havasu can be found HERE.

After nearly two years of tirelessly fighting back against an arbitrary and overreaching bureaucratic decision, Lake Havasu is once again open for all users. Lifting the boating restrictions on the ‘Ryde Spot’ marks a complete victory for the countless stakeholders and community leaders who stood shoulder to shoulder with me and spoke out when the very livelihood of Lake Havasu City was threatened. This win sends a clear message to all federal agencies that we the people have real power when united behind a worthwhile cause. We will not stand for lawless, unilateral actions by rogue bureaucrats. 

Click HERE to read more from Today's News Herald:
January 26, 2017 
Feds Lift Boating Wake Restrictions at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge

I applaud the efforts of the many individuals who were instrumental in this victory including: Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen; the Arizona Game and Fish Department; the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce; U.S. Senator John McCain; Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson; the entire Bliss family including Nick, Jenni and my pal Ryder. Tip of the hat to Director Tuggle for finally seeing the light and listening to local stakeholders.   

As the new Refuge Manager takes over, the Lake Havasu community and I will remain vigilant to ensure that any future Compatibility Determination (CD) is enacted lawfully, allows for multiple-use and is developed using a bottom-up approach that keeps Lake Havasu open for business. 

Background:
On May 20, 2015, the  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 draft CD and proposed boating restrictions for Lake Havasu. My office and I were instrumental in this victory and I 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. Even more troubling, the Service announced on September 29, 2016, that it will be pursuing a revised CD and that recreational boating is once again in the agency's crosshairs. This bureacratic overreach 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.

Prohibiting tubing, waterskiing and wake boarding in an area utilized by recreational enthusiasts for decades, two days before Memorial Day Weekend, without public comment and without merit is appalling. Pursuing massive new unwarranted boating restrictions not based on science a year later is shameful. I have been fighting these unnecessary restrictions since I first learned about them and have been leading the charge to keep Lake Havasu open for all users. I will continue to hold agency officials feet to the fire and oppose arbitrary closures that restrict public access. I have put renegade bureaucrats who seek to implement their own radical agendas, like those at the Service, on notice: you mess with our Lake, we mess with your agency. 

House Passes Gosar Amendment to Reprimand Feds and Reopen the Ryde Spot

 (Click the picture above to watch Rep. Gosar defend his amendment that passed the House.)

On July 14th, the House passed my amendment to prohibit funds for the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to continue restricting tubing, waterskiing and wake boarding in a ½ mile area on Lake Havasu as a result of a May 2015 press release. The irresponsible and arbitrary boating restrictions made by the Service in May of 2015 should alarm all Americans who value the Rule of Law and a government that is accountable to the people it serves. There is no danger to wildlife or public safety by reopening an area utilized by recreational enthusiasts for decades. Arizona’s state wildlife management agency has stated that this closure was not warranted, that there is no safety issue and that the impacts to recreation from continuing this closure could be significant.

This ½ mile area is a place where families taught their children to ski and wakeboard.  Several special needs children no longer have a safe place for these activities. Instead, these restrictions have created a safety risk as more people have been confined to a smaller space with boats traveling 70 miles per hour. The Lake Havasu community and the House of Representatives have spoken with a clear, bipartisan voice and demanded that the Service reopen our lake. I will not rest until the people’s voice is heard and the agency moves the buoys back.

On July 11, I led an effort supported by 22 bipartisan members of the House calling on the Service to reopen this area. On June 15th, I worked with the Appropriations Committee to pass an amendment that rebuked the Service for the agency's proposed Lake Havasu boating restrictions.

Read more about the Gosar July 14th amendment, the July 11th effort and the June 15th Appropriations amendment:
Today's News-Herald: Amendment on Lake Havasu boating restrictions passes U.S. House
Rep. Gosar:
House Takes Rare Step to Reprimand Feds on Arbitrary Lake Havasu Closure
Today's News-Herald: Congressman Paul Gosar to feds: Reopen 'Ryde Spot'
Rep. Gosar: 22 Bipartisan Members Call on the Service to Reopen the “Ryde Spot”
Today's News-Herald: Amendment calls out Service for proposed boating restrictions
Rep. Gosar:
Rep. Gosar, Appropriations Committee Rebuke Service
Today's News-Herald: Gosar warns fight over Refuge boating restrictions is not over

April 2016 Proposed Boating Restrictions Withdrawn

On June 16th, the people of Lake Havasu City scored a monumental 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. Standing together, as a unified community, we were able to block a terrible proposal put forth by the Service that aimed to close significant areas on Lake Havasu to tubing, waterskiing, fishing and wakeboarding. Ultimately, Service leaders could not hide from the thousands of voices demanding that the will of the people be heard. 

I am incredibly proud of the countless individuals and organizations that stood with me in opposing these arbitrary restrictions including Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce, and the thousands of Arizonans who showed up at the public meeting and submitted comments in opposition. However, our fight to keep Lake Havasu open for all users is NOT over. The Service has still not reopened the original 1/2 mile area known as "the Ryde Spot" named after Ryder Bliss (pictured below), that was unlawfully closed on May 20, 2015. If Service leaders haven't learned yet, they soon will...we will not give up, we will not forget, and WE THE PEOPLE will NEVER put up with lawless closures such as this one.

Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen stated, “Gosar is an asset and a friend to Lake Havasu City...Every time he’s here, he reaches out to our citizens. This man led the charge (against Fish and Wildlife), and their proposed restrictions are a thing of the past.”

Read more about the Victory for Lake Havasu:
Mohave Valley Daily News: FWS suspends proposal for refuge restrictions
Today's News-Herald: Fish and Wildlife Service withdraws proposed boating restrictions

My staff has met with numerous local stakeholders negatively impacted by these boating restrictions including ten-year-old Ryder Bliss, a special needs child who had his favorite wakeboarding spot closed for no legitimate reason in May of 2015 due to federal overreach from the Fish and Wildlife Service. I'm fighting these arbitrary closures for Ryder, families like Ryder's and the thousand plus people who showed up at the public meeting May 2nd concerned about their livelihoods. That is what this battle is all about. ‪#‎LetRyderRide‬

QUICK FACTS:
• Nearly 3 million visitors vacation at Lake Havasu each year.
• A typical holiday weekend draws nearly 50,000 boaters to the area.
• 75% of tourists are interested in waterskiing, wakeboarding or boating while visiting Havasu.
• Boaters spend more than $150 million annually, support over 2,000 jobs and generate more than $63 million for Lake Havasu City's economy.

MUST WATCH VIDEO: Alex Jubb is one of the 3 million people who visit Lake Havasu every year. However, due to arbitrary and unjustified boating restrictions unilaterally enacted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alex and countless other families are being forced out of safe areas on Lake Havasu and into higher traffic areas. Please take a few minutes to watch this important video that explains this issue very well.

WRITTEN OPPOSITION

 Formal comments in oppostion to the CD and/or asked for the CD to be withdrawn include:
The Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar
U.S. Senator John McCain
Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen
The Arizona Game and Fish Department

 Raised concerns and asked for a 60-day extension of the comment period:
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar and 20 Bipartisan Members
U.S. Senator John McCain
Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen
The Arizona Game and Fish Department
The Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors

PUBLIC MEETING OPPOSITION

On May 2nd, I joined more than 1,000 concerned citizens who showed up to voice opposition and make comments about the CD at a public meeting in Lake Havasu City.

I kicked off the public statements by opposing the draft compatibility determination and criticizing the process being used by Service to implement these restrictions stating, “I look around and I see concerned citizens worried about their livelihoods, a ten-year-old special needs boy who had his favorite wakeboarding spot closed last May for no legitimate reason, and a community that is sick and tired of continued federal overreach by the Fish and Wildlife Service...We need a solution that works for all users...If you don't have the science or track citations, then the proposed closures are based on an agenda...It shouldn't have taken significant efforts from Mayor Nexsen and I just to get this meeting. The Service has attempted to silence this community and once again jam these new boating restrictions down our throats...I strongly oppose the CD and ask that the Service scrap this terrible proposal.” 

Read more about the public meeting:
Today's News-Herald: Crowd packs hearing on Havasu Wildlife Refuge rules

Kingman Daily Miner: Boating proposal angers the public
Today's News-Herald: Let Service hear a clear, unified voice on Refuge
Today's News-Herald: Havasu meeting scheduled to discuss proposed boating restrictions
Today's News-Herald: Our View: Refuge should get rid of pigs and salt cedar, not boats

         
More than 1,000 concerned citizens showed up to make comments about the CD at the May 2, 2016, public meeting in Lake Havasu City.

         

         
Congressman Gosar began the pubic comment period at the May 2, 2016 meeting. 

                        
Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen speaking out against the arbitrary boating restrictions. 

                 
Congressman Gosar and ten-year-old Ryder Bliss who is against the arbitrary boating restrictions which have prevented him from wakeboarding. Learn more about Ryder's story HERE

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