Opinion: Todays News Herald, May 4, 2015
Here’s the situation:
1. Lake Havasu is infested with an aquatic invasive species called the Quagga Mussel.
2. Many people who boat on the lake don’t know much about this intruder or why it’s a problem (they consume nutrients in the lake needed by valuable aquatic life and they build a crust around water outlets at the dams, restricting water flow).
3. There is an Arizona state law and management protocol in place to deal with the problem of moving the Quagga to other bodies of water.
4. Arizona Game & Fish has the responsibility to both educate the public about the Quagga and to enforce applicable laws.
5. The problem is much larger than the AZDGF can handle due to lack of funding and manpower. The Lake Havasu Marine Association is helping AZDGF with their volunteers (visit www.lakehavasumarineassociation.com for details), but even more help is needed from the public.
6. People who use the lake, including visiting boaters, and people who just care about the lake need to step up and help. I decided to jump in and help where I could.
Here’s my approach:
I saw the billboards about “Don’t Move a Mussel” in various locations. At highway speed, I didn’t glean a whole lot of detail. So, I went to all of the boat ramps to review the signage and talk to park rangers. I realized that I may be able to help improve methods of getting information to the public. I talked to Jim Salscheider, CEO/President of the Lake Havasu Marine Association, Pat Barber, Director of AZDGF for the western counties and Suzanne Ehret, the lone AZDGF agent for Lake Havasu. After they apprised me of the situation and welcomed my help, I sat down with Mr. Salscheider and we had a long discussion. I can tell you that beyond their responsibilities, these people really care and really need our help.
1. Uninformed boaters will unwittingly leave the launch ramps with grass, debris or bilge water from the lake, which can harbor the Quagga.This is the prime method by which Quaggas are spread to other bodies of water. The rule is “pull the plug, drain, clean and dry” your boat. There are postings at launch ramps and elsewhere, although limited and improvement is needed.
2. Boaters can be cited by an AZDGF agent for a violation of the statute and can be fined as much as $500 on a criminal class 2 misdemeanor and also be placed on probation (this has already happened on many occasions and has created some really bad feelings).
3. While the local AZDGF vies for more funding and more help, they desperately need our help in educating people, local and visitors alike. The Lake Havasu Marine Association (a non-profit organization of volunteers) is playing a vital role in educating boaters.
4. Apathy is our worst enemy. If people care about our lake and the work our agencies are trying to do, step up and help. What I did was to visit www.azgfd.gov, then “Boating & OHVs”, then “Invasive Species” and did some reading. I started with “State of Arizona Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan”.
Then I read about the statutes and so on. I understood all of the elements of the problem. Then I visited www.lakehavasumarineassociation.com Between the two, I was empowered and prepared to take the next step and that is simply to use my computer to pass the word via email to everyone I know who boats on Lake Havasu and ask for their help. I include the AZGFD website and the Marine Association links and ask them to do the same.
People who care will help. People who don’t care are simply part of the problem. In the meantime, save yourself some money and grief and help the lakes by following the law: “pull the plug, drain, clean and dry” and pass the word.
Lake Havasu City