Congratulations are due the Lake Havasu Marine Association for receiving a top state award for its work to improve boating and the waterway in the popular Lake Havasu area.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department recognized the marine association with its ‘award of excellence,” the agency’s top award last weekend.

It’s an honor for the marine association, of course, and it also speaks volumes about the ability of local groups to have a big footprint in the management of local resources when those groups are focused and well run.

The marine association is that. It is also nimble, able to shift attention from ongoing projects to new needs as those occasions arise. Consider, for example, its proactive safety messaging as serious boat crashes increased last summer. It clearly underscored a local theme: Boaters need to take greater responsibility for their own actions or risk new rules and regulations being foist upon them by remote government entities.

Safety programs are nothing new for the association. It’s worked on impaired boating for years, even developing a reward system for designated boat operations.

It’s also taken on the quality of the lake and surrounding portions of the river. It spearheads a trash bag effort that puts thousands of the readily-accessible bags onto boats each year. It was a major force behind efforts by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service to introduce large no-wake zones that would’ve hurt boating operations near wildlife refuges.

The association is especially well known for its work with invasive mussels. While solutions are still elusive, the marine association has for years pushed a boat sticker program aiming to assure boats are drained and dry when they encounter checkpoints in other states.

It also has an extensive education program and has worked not just with boaters but also boat manufacturers to eliminate the spread of mussels.

While hardly just a local program, other states are turning their attention to Arizona’s lack of checkpoints and a perceived need for Arizona to more strictly monitor the spread of the invaders. The marine association has been very active in getting federal, state and local stakeholders to hear the local voice for reason. Draconian calls for more state and federal regulations are likely to put a damper on local boating activity, the association.

The marine association deserves its award, which should offer an inspiring example of a small organization able to address big issues head on armed mostly just with passion and smarts.

— Today’s News-Herald, Opinion, January 20, 2018

 

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