House Takes Rare Step to Reprimand Feds on Arbitrary Lake Havasu Closure

Jul 14, 2016 Issues: Government Oversight and Regulatory Reform, Energy, Public Lands and Water

For Immediate Release

Date: July 14, 2016

Contact: Steven D. Smith

Steven.Smith@mail.house.gov

 (Click the picture above to watch Rep. Gosar defend his amendment late Wednesday night on the House floor.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after his amendment prohibiting funds for the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to continue restricting tubing, waterskiing and wake boarding in a ½ mile area on Lake Havasu passed the House and was successfully attached to the Department of Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017:

“I’m pleased to see the House pass my bipartisan amendment and instruct the Service to reopen Lake Havasu for all users. 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. It is unconscionable that an unlawful press release has closed an area on Lake Havasu for more than a year.

“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.”

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 action was taken behind closed doors, with no advance notice and without opportunity for public comment. These new mandates were announced and implemented just two days before Memorial Day Weekend – an economically vital weekend as tourists spend more than $200 million annually and support 4,000 full-time jobs. Further, 75% of tourists are interested in waterskiing and recreational boating activities while visiting Havasu.

The Service has attempted to justify the May 2015 “temporary restrictions” by stating they are necessary to address safety concerns. The Arizona Game and Fish Department recently submitted formal comments refuting this claim, stating there were only four incidents in the last three years in this area, three groundings and one swamping. The Department went on to state that “the temporary restriction imposed in May, 2015…includes a safe, traditional, very popular waterskiing and wakeboarding flat-area...[The Service] does not adequately justify this additional restriction and that the impacts to recreation could be significant...The reported events do not support the existence of a safety concern.”

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.

Cosponsors of the Gosar amendment include Mark Amodei, Ken Buck, Paul Cook, Kevin Cramer, Jeff Duncan, Trent Franks, Joe Heck, Ann Kirkpatrick, Walter Jones, Tom McClintock, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Kyrsten Sinema and Ryan Zinke.

Endorsements of amendment include Americans for Limited Government, Agribusiness & Water Council of Arizona, Arizona Association of Conservation Districts, Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association, Arizona Liberty, Arizona Pork Council, Arizona Rock Products Association, AZ BASS Nation, Bass Federation-AZ, Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce, Concerned Citizens for America Arizona Chapter, Gila County Cattle Growers’ Association, Irrigation & Electrical Districts' Association of Arizona, Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, the New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc., and the New Mexico Federal Lands Council, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Yavapai County Cattlegrowers’ Association and the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce, izona State Senator Sylvia Allen, La Paz County District 2 Supervisor King Clapperton, Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis, taxpayer Rory Van Poucke and Shake Rattle & Troll Radio.

On July 11, 2016, Congressman Gosar led an initial effort supported by 22 bipartisan members of the House calling on the Service to reopen this area. To read more click HERE

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