A public backlash that prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw plans to restrict boating access in the Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge was followed up this week with a resumption of access to a half-mile-long boating area that was closed in the spring of 2015.
The change followed strong opposition from U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, and more than 1,000 boaters, residents, city officials and businessmen to a number of proposed restrictions, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Separately, the Fish and Wildlife Service said Richard Meyers, who has years of experience in collaborative refuge management, will become the new Havasu manager this month.
Meyers most recently was refuge manager for the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana for seven years, according to National Fish and Wildlife. He also held a key leadership role, serving as deputy project leader for the Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii and the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee.
The goal is to “take a fresh look at refuge resource issues as we seek to establish a more collaborative relationship with the community,” said Benjamin Tuggle, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest regional director.
The Havasu National Wildlife Refuge will continue to work with the community and stakeholders to engage them in the development of a draft recreational boating compatibility determination that balances resource conservation with recreational opportunities, the NMMA said.
The draft will be available for public comment within the year.