The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFW) has suspended its draft proposal to limit recreational boating activities at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge on Lake Havasu, according to Senator John McCain’s office.
The formal public comment period ended Monday, and by Thursday morning the federal agency had notified the Arizona senator of its intention to back down after receiving many protests.
“After reflecting on input we received at public meetings and the great numbers of letters and comments submitted, I have reached the conclusion that more communication is needed before any additional changes are introduced at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge,” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, USFWS Southwest Regional Director. “I have decided to withdraw the current draft [compatibility determination] at this time to allow for further discussions with the community and other stakeholders.”
In addition to withdrawing its proposal, USFWS pledged to continue its dialogue by working closely with local officials in an interagency-community consultation process under a Memorandum of Understanding before taking any additional actions. A representative from USFWS’s Southwest Regional Office will lead the coordination effort with local officials.
“This is a big win for the residents of and visitors to Lake Havasu who enjoy and depend on recreational boating. This decision shows that when communities come together against an agency that has overreached, their voices can be heard,” said Senator McCain. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of local and regional officials, business leaders, and citizens writing, calling, and protesting these misguided restrictions, USFWS heard loud-and-clear that the community will not stand for such unilateral actions.”
Although the Refuge exists to protect native habitat on Lake Havasu, the portions of the lake that were the subject of most attention have been used for decades by recreational boaters, and the proposed no-wake zones would have curtailed some majority activities in an important part of the waterway.
See Parker Live’s April opinion piece on the issue HERE.