Local government officials want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider more public comment on proposals that may close off parts of Lake Havasu to recreational boating activities.

A series of proposals from Fish and Wildlife wants to permanently close a half-mile portion of a popular wake boarding spot to motorized boats and potentially make a 17.5-mile stretch of the Topock Gorge, commonly known as “Speed Alley,” a no-wake zone, Lake Havasu City Manager Charlie Cassens said. The areas all fall within Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.

If the proposals take effect, getting to areas further up the river, like Topock 66 or Pirate’s Cove, would take around 3.5 hours.

“Those businesses will be devastated because no one from Lake Havasu will go five miles per hour, 17.5 miles one way,” Havasu Mayor Mark Nexsen said.

Nexsen said the public has not been given adequate opportunities to speak on the closures before they took effect last spring, and Fish and Wildlife is now making it difficult for Havasu residents to voice their concerns on the no-wake proposals.

“About a year ago, we had a situation on the lake/river where U.S. Fish and Wildlife decided to expand a buoy area in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge area,” Nexsen said. “It may not sound like a big deal, but it is a big deal. It was a half-mile extension and the reason it’s important is that this area for decades had been used by families to teach their kids how to water ski.”

Fish and Wildlife is holding two public meetings on May 3 at the Avi Resort and Casino in Nevada from 1-3 p.m. and another from 6-8 p.m. for public comment.

The city sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday morning requesting for a 60-day extension for public comment and an additional meeting in Lake Havasu City.

The letter also requested more information on the closures and emphasized the economic impact it would have on the small businesses in the area.

“We have seen virtually no documentation to date justifying additional restrictions on recreational boaters in the Refuge,” the letter stated. “Should these restrictions be approved, the citizens and visitors of our community will be adversely affected and our local economy will be damaged.”

In order to obtain more information, the city worked with Congressman Paul Gosar to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to the agency for access to e-mails.

“We did not get everything, that was pretty clear,” Nexsen said. “It was interesting to read the e-mails because the only reason they could do what they did was if they were able to create a public safety issue.”

Nexsen said emails revealed that U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials discussed ways to justify the closures for environmental reasons until one party brought up that public safety concerns would allow for more immediate action.

“Due to a couple of complaints by some kayakers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife decided to extend the buoys,” Nexsen said. “No hearing. Nothing. Just did it and really didn’t seem to care. If we tried to contact them, they said there was a huge increase in public safety issues.”

Nexsen continued, “It was two citations that occurred after the people had left the water. It wasn’t because they were running over kayakers. They were cited for not having a spotter on their boat.”

On Tuesday, Gosar spoke at a House Natural Resources Committee and addressed Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe about the closures.

“Rather than attempting to defend his agency’s motorized boating closures for Lake Havasu, Director Ashe decided it was best to act like he knew nothing about them,” Gosar said in a statement following the hearing. “I find that hard to believe given his Deputy Director was well-versed on this topic during a hearing less than a month ago, and because my staff informed the Service that I would be asking the Director about this topic during today’s hearing. I can’t say that I blame him, though, as the Service’s actions on this issue are indefensible.”

When Nexsen and other city officials presented the situation at a Tri-City Council meeting on Wednesday morning in Kingman, officials from Bullhead City, Kingman and Mohave County also expressed their concern about the closures and actions taken by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Government overreach by bureaucrats is just getting out of hand,” Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady said after Nexsen’s presentation.

Kingman Mayor Richard Anderson and Mohave County Supervisor Jean Bishop said they will also stand behind Lake Havasu City as it fights the proposed regulations.

“We’re very concerned,” Nexsen said. “That lake is Lake Havasu City’s economy. Tourism is our major industry and, without it, we’re done.”

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(15) comments

Luvboats

I have been going to Havasu for 50 years and watched a lot of idiots on the lake, there should be a regulation on speed, 40 mph should be fine; gets you where you need to be and gives time to react. I have been passed on both sides of my boat while doing 40 by boats doing well over 80, no concern for anyone or anything, have had 4 boats side by side racing down toward the lake doing well over 70, never cared who was in their way; putting themselves and my family in danger. My family enjoys a good cruise and like to see speed boats where the belong and that is not in the river between Havasu and Needles. all that being said; a no wake zone would be ridiculous.

TopockJack

Home Prices took a big hit in the Crash, this would put a big nail in the coffin for any Real estate along the River.

SlowBoat

Saturday morning April 23 at 9 am
I went for a cruise all around Lake Havasu City this morning; I first cruised by the major Hotels and found multiple boats parked in the lots, no cars with kayak’s on them, then by the most popular brands of gas stations, there were boats everywhere filling up, not one car with a kayak on it, next I cruised the supermarkets and founds boats in every parking lot with family’s loading up on groceries, not one kayak in the parking lots, I then cruised the boat launching ramps and found the parking lots 30 % full by 10:30, with having paid $20.00 to launch or a $200 yearly fee, no Kayaks found, at 11:00 I cruised the non-motorized launching area and found 9 cars, parking is free as well as the launching, no permits needed, as I turned to leave I checked the trash can and found the only thing purchased in Havasu was some Zinc Oxide for sunburn. Just saying

AZkicker

More restrictions are just more power to the unrestricted power grabbers.

longtimelocal

Speed is NOT the problem. Stupid and irresponsible people are the problem. Too many boats on the lake are the problem. I own an extremely fast, small boat, and I won't go on the lake when there are crowds (weekends, holidays) because it is dangerous. There are way too many people on the lake, and way too many uneducated, irresponsible people. Ocean-going boats don't belong on a lake this small, yet they are all over the place. Maybe the number and size of boats on the lake needs to be restricted, instead of building a new launch ramp for ocean boats. As far as "speed alley" being made into a no wake zone, the real "speed alley" has been wakeless for years. The entire gorge is NOT what is considered speed alley. As for Nexsen's comment that "It wasn’t because they were running over kayakers. They were cited for not having a spotter on their boat"--- not having a spotter in a small congested area is what leads to running over kayakers. It is illegal to ski/wakeboard/tube without a spotter.

PSlater

I agree with KLiven. On a narrow, over congested channel a reasonable speed limit makes sense. Add in the drunks running the wrong side of the river, the first time boaters in rentals, the PWCs doing donuts mid river and there is no denying that the river has become a dangerous place in the summer. Seems like boats vary in speed from about 20 to nearly 100 on parts of the river and that variability in speed is extremely dangerous on a highway- that's why my RZR isn't allowed on the interstate. What do we average, about three unnecessary deaths a year? I'd say no to turning it all into a no-wake zone (not that I have any more say here than in how the Feds manage their land at Camp Pendleton) but a decent but not excessive cruising speed limit sounds smart.

KLiven

The Mayor and others should actually read the plan. It does NOT propose making the entire Topock Gorge into a no-wake zone, and they are just fearmongering and perhaps pandering for votes. What we should consider seriously though, and this looks like a good time, is a reasonable speed limit on the river which will make our families safer. 35 mph seems plenty fast going up river and still gets you to Pirate's Cove in about 45 minutes. I'd like to see an open container law too to reduce some of the drunkeness and reckless operation. We prohibit open containers in cars and I challenge anybody to tell me how boats are different. This Lake is one of the most dangerous water bodies in America because people like the mayor have promoted "play like you mean it" over responsible, safe family recreation.

mike floyd

remember the laughlin returnees doing(est) 60 mph down the river until the i-40 bridge intervened?

Seymour

KLiven has hit the nail on the head. This is a very calculated smear campaign from mayor, city mgr, lake havasu marine assoc. president (good old boys club). And they've gotten the congressman on board with this smear campaign too. Read the document. I can find absolutely nothing about a proposed 17.5 miles no wake zone. These proposals they make will have precisely zero effect on the local economy. Suggesting otherwise is ridiculous. The locals/congressman are trying to stir up people. It's sad the lengths people will go to to advance their agendas. And it's also sad to see how biased Havasu news is on this issue. Haley, think you could interview ANYONE other than the 3 city "leaders" you continue to interview? Or at the least, check their statements to see if they are factual? Hint: they are not.

BLAZO

There's a gazillion kayakers and water board fans out there. They're health nuts unlike the booze and pasties crowd. They'll come here in droves if they don't have to worry about getting run over by 100 mph speedboats. Polluting the lake and river has a negative effect downstream. This limit of horsepower in selected areas is only a tiff of what's to come. Not saying that's good, but folks better get use to it!

Jimmy B

This will destroy our city!!![censored]

KLiven

Or visit a National Wildlife Refuge (Havasu) established for wildlife conservation BEFORE the Everglades became a national park...

alsview

This lake is all about speed. It is what made this place. It would be a tragedy to limit fast boats from some of the major portions of the water. If you want a peaceful pastoral Godlike experience, go to the Everglades.

TM

It is all about recreational boating not high speed. The fast boats spend very little time on the water compared to others on the lake.

Seymour

Everglades? You mean before the speeding airboats ruined large chunks of it? There's plenty of lake havasu to go fast on. Fast moving boats should stay off the refuge backwaters, which is a very small percentage of the lake. By the way, the refuge was established more than 20 years before Lake Havasu City even existed (I read the establishment date on the refuge website.....see what a little reading can do regarding facts?.....)

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