A longtime captain of the Lake Havasu Marine Association died Saturday, but his work has ensured the Colorado River may be changed for the better.

Former Lake Havasu Marine Association President Jim Salscheider died Saturday after complications following a stroke last month. He was 76 years old.

Salscheider was instrumental in promoting programs to protect the lake and waterways throughout Arizona from aquatic invasive species. He promoted the region’s “pack it in, pack it out” program, began efforts to install waste bags for cleanup of Havasu’s beaches, and provided volunteers to Lake Havasu’s first successful mapping of the lake’s bottom earlier this year. Salscheider worked closely with state, federal and tribal officials toward a common goal – the preservation and value of Western Arizona’s most precious resource.

Salscheider, who was once the director of the city’s Main Street Association, was named the Marine Association’s executive director in 2008, and served the organization until his retirement in 2018. After more than a decade in service to the organization and Lake Havasu, he was named the Lake Havasu Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Citizen of the Year” in June, and was named grand marshal of Lake Havasu City’s annual London Bridge Day’s Parade in October.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management Field Supervisor Jason West worked with Salscheider and the Marine Association for about five years. Together, they engaged in efforts to maintain the lake and its shoreline, and informing boaters of better practices to protect Lake Havasu.

“I’m extremely grateful for my partnership with Jim, and getting things done to make the lake a better place,” West said. “He had a solid working attitude … if we wanted something done, and Jim was behind it, it usually got done. I wish I could have known him longer.”

Salscheider aided the BLM and state agencies by educating the public about quagga mussels and organizing the state’s “Clean, Drain and Dry” program to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. He also aided with the BLM’s fisheries habitat programs, which West says doubled the agency’s efforts to bolster fish populations over the past four years.

“He was called ‘Citizen of the Year’ earlier this year,” West said. “I saw him as a ‘Citizen of the Decade’.”

Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Lisa Krueger worked with Salscheider when he served as the Main Street Association’s director, and then during his tenure as president of the Marine Association. They aided each other’s programs and projects for more than a decade, Krueger says, and collaborated on public policy issues surrounding Lake Havasu.

“He worked nonstop to open opportunities for recreational watercraft activities of all kinds on the lake,” Krueger said. “He didn’t take no for an answer, and wouldn’t rest until the right thing was accomplished … whether it was to help with water skiing, paddle boarding, fishing or high performance racing. He was the recipient of many awards for his hard work on behalf of the Marine Association, and he did all of this because he loved his community.”

According to Krueger, Salscheider’s work opened many doors with government agencies, and worked to connect others in order to accomplish daunting tasks.

“Jim was a nice man … we didn’t get off on the right foot the first time we met, and I would tell him from time to time that he was like a bull in a china shop. But once we got to know each other, mutual respect and admiration grew. (We) became friends, and I will miss him.”

Another longtime Marine Association member, Gary Kellogg, credits Salscheider’s work in enhancing the organization’s role in conservation and recreation opportunities on Lake Havasu.

“He was a driving force,” Kellogg said. “He was key in making sure the river stayed open and safe for boaters through Topock, dredging the California-side of the river, the ‘pack it in, pack it out’ program, the quagga program, the designated operator program … he helped coordinate a lot. But the Marine Association is what it is because of Jim and his work with volunteers. He worked so well with volunteers … he was a great guy, and I’m going to miss him.”

Across the lake, the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe will remember Salscheider as a uniting force for California and Arizona officials to address the issues of Lake Havasu for the benefit of the lake’s residents and thousands of annual visitors.

“He was obviously enthusiastic about the project and had a bunch of ideas on what we collectively could do to improve the beach areas to everyone’s benefit,” said Chemehuevi Tribal Planner Bill Cox. “As a result of Jim’s leadership today we have cleaner beaches and the ubiquitous trash bag stands to encourage boaters to leave beaches better than they found them. I think anyone who got involved with him soon found themselves – individually or as an organization – being swept along towards further service.”

According to Cox, Salscheider’s legacy will be multifaceted and long-lived in Lake Havasu’s communities.

“He never looked at something as being impossible,” Cox said. “It was just another project that needed doing. The community is poorer for his passing, but I hope others will pick up where he left off.”

Salscheider was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was a graduate of Notre Dame University, and later lived in Southern California before moving to Lake Havasu City in 2003. He is survived by his wife of 19 years, Cynthia Salscheider, and his sister, Jeanne Baird.

A memorial service for Salscheider will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, at Lietz-Fraze Funeral Home. A celebration of Salscheider’s life will be held at the Lake Havasu City Aquatic Center Jan. 4.

Salscheider’s family has requested that donations be made in Salscheider’s honor to the Lake Havasu Marine Association.

  • By BRANDON MESSICK Today’s News-Herald

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