Amendment calls out Fish and Wildlife Service for proposed boating restrictions near Lake Havasu

By Haley Walters, Today’s News-Herald.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee sent “a strong message” to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when it approved its $32.1 billion spending bill Wednesday.

The committee approved an amendment to the Interior and Environment Appropriation Bill that specifically pointed to the proposed boating restrictions near Lake Havasu. The bill lays out funding for several federal agencies for fiscal year 2017 and addresses other environmental rules.

The amendment follows a push, quickly thwarted by Senate Democrats, in which Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake attempted to block the Fish and Wildlife Service from $400 million of funding from the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.

Interior Subcommittee Rep. Chairman Ken Calvert, a Republican from California, introduced the amendment. It did not mention Fish and Wildlife’s $1.5 billion of funding, but did stress the importance of collaboration with local communities before enacting changes.

The amendment to the Interior and Environment Appropriation Bill is:

“The Service is reminded that solutions to recreational-use conflicts in national wildlife refuges should begin with the Refuge Manager engaging their local communities and collaborating with local officials and other representatives of recreational users to find mutually-agreeable solutions to conflicts. Failure to do so can result in significant public backlash, such as has happened with regard to proposed new recreational boating restrictions at Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.

The amendment was passed in a voice vote before the bill went on for committee approval with a 31-18 vote.

Rep. Paul Gosar said Calvert worked with his office when introducing the amendment to the committee.

 “Today’s action by the House Appropriations Committee sends a strong message to the Service and puts the agency on notice that the Committee who controls the purse strings is watching,” Gosar said. “I will continue to use every resource available to reject this job-killing proposal that threatens the livelihood of an entire community. Bureaucratic overreach on Lake Havasu must come to an end.”

A McCain spokeswoman said the Senator plans to continue pursuing more ways to legislatively block the proposed boating restrictions.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife representatives did not immediately return calls for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Jason Roe