The Lake Havasu Marine Association was honored on Saturday with the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s “Award for Excellence,” but the organization’s work is far from over.
The Marine Association has for 10 years helped guide education and action for boating safety in Arizona, working alongside state and federal agencies to advocate for Havasu boaters. Their work on the lake hasn’t gone unnoticed, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department in November announced that the Marine Association would receive the department’s highest honor.
The department’s awards banquet was Jan. 13 at the Point Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix, and according to Marine Association President Jim Salscheider, the room was packed. For Salscheider, however, the trip to Phoenix offered a chance to further the organization’s goals. Prior to the awards ceremony, he met with Game and Fish representatives, alongside Congressman Paul Gosar, to discuss Arizona’s fight against the spread of aquatic invasive species.
“The meeting was centered around pressure from northern states and governors, who want Arizona to have boat inspection stations on highways throughout the state,” Salscheider said.
Such stations were among the subjects of a meeting hosted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Lake Havasu Field Office in December, attended by federal, tribal and private organizations. According to statements by Salscheider, many western states have the inspection stations, while Arizona does not. No action was taken at the meeting, but the meeting offered a chance for multiple state, federal and tribal agencies to exchange ideas and plans in mitigating the spread of Arizona’s aquatic invasive species.
“(Inspection stations) could be very intrusive to those with boats, and they could possibly affect the economy,” Salscheider said. “The fight is going slowly, and there’s no ultimate solution to eradicate the mussels entirely. We can only try to control them from spreading further.”
The Marine Association has until now promoted AZGF’s “Clean, drain and dry” campaign, and Marine Association volunteers have worked with state officials to offer boating registration in Havasu since 2016.
“I think we were recognized Saturday because of multiple projects we’re engaged in with Game and Fish,” Salscheider said. “Through our work with the Motor Vehicle Division to offer boating registration, our ‘Designated Operator’ campaign and our ongoing mussel projects –The Arizona Game and Fish Department is the lead agency for boating on the lake, and I think that now boaters finally have a seat at the table.”
According to AZGF Wildlife Manager Dee Pfleger, the efforts of organizations like the Marine Association are crucial to the success of wildlife organizations throughout the U.S.
“The Marine Association received the commendation of excellence for their efforts in partnering with us,” Pfleiger said. “I think that having partners like the Marine Association is essential for Arizona Game and Fish’s success, and essential for us to accomplish our mission.”
By Brandon Messick, Todays News Herald, January 15, 2018