Lake Havasu boaters stand to become the whipping boys in an effort to show the federal government and Western states are really, really serious about stopping the spread of invasive mussels.
If one proposal comes to pass, boats leaving Lake Havasu would face required decontamination, a time-consuming and expensive process. The idea, apparently, is to punish Arizona in general and Lake Havasu boaters specifically because quagga mussels are showing up in a number of lakes in the West.
Nevermind that quaggas got into the Lower Colorado River from someplace else prior to their discovery in Arizona a decade ago. Forget that Arizona Game and Fish has an aggressive program requiring that boats be clean and drained. Ignore that the Lake Havasu Marine Association has won awards and accolades for a mussel sticker and education program.
About a month ago, the 19-member Western Governors Association wrote to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking for federal money and solutions to the quagga issue. The letter requested federal inspections and decontamination of all boats departing federal waterways. It sought action by the coming spring.
A meeting of federal agencies and other groups is scheduled in Lake Havasu City this week with the aim of coming up with a master plan for Lower Colorado River efforts against the mussels.
It will be, no doubt, a crowning moment for a federal government that spent ten years sitting on its hands, doing virtually nothing to address the mussel mess in a federal waterway. If it plays out as one might expect, the solution will be to blame Arizona for not doing enough, formulate some new get-tough regulations and proclaim the problem solved.
If so, the solution will put a huge burden on Havasu boaters, especially those who bring their boats from elsewhere. Imagine: Leave the ramp, clean the boat and pull the plug, undergo an inspection and decontamination, receive another inspection at the border leaving Arizona, then receive another inspection entering another state.
Viewed through a bureaucratic prism, the best way to assure boats don’t carry the mussels elsewhere is to, essentially, keep them out of infected waters.
Unchecked, a federal solution will unfairly penalize Lake Havasu City boaters and its economy.
The meetings are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the Bureau of Land Management Office in Lake Havasu City. Stakeholder groups, including the Marine Association, are invited. The public is not.
Opinion: Todays News Herald – December 2, 2017