National Park Service Seeks Input Regarding Drought at Lake Mead

The National Park Service is hosting a series of meetings and seeking public input online to formulate plans for marinas and park structures, such as boat launches, while the water levels at Lake Mead are impacted by the ongoing drought and climate change conditions at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The meeting in Boulder City is scheduled for Wednesday, December 7 from 12:00PM to 2:00PM. The meeting will take place at the Bureau of Reclamation Building 100, located at 100 Date Street. A virtual meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 14, 2022 from 4:00PM to 6:00PM (Meeting link HERE). Other meetings will take place at other geographically strategic locations and with local Tribes.

During the meetings, the public will receive a presentation from the park management regarding the Sustainable Low Water Access Plan (SLWAP) for launch ramps at Hemenway Harbor, Callville Bay Marina, Echo Bay, Temple Bar Marina, and South Cove. National Park Service management have been “prompted by rapidly declining water levels at Lake Mead.” As visitors to the park will recall, the only operable boat ramp in Lake Mead NRA last summer was at Hemenway Harbor. This created long wait times, problems with minimal facilities available, such as portable restrooms, and extreme heat resulted in some medical issues for visitors. Boating access is not expected to change substantially in 2023. That means ramps at other locations on the lake are expected to remain closed.

The SLWAP is necessary to:

  • Fill an urgent and high priority need to help make critical decisions to inform the 2023 boating season and beyond
  • Provide updated direction for natural and cultural resource programs
  • Identify opportunities for non-motorized water-based access
  • Evaluate potential site closures and consolidation of concessions operations 

The National Park Service has spent approximately $50 million relocating and extending boat ramps and addressing other infrastructure. However, continued declining water levels have created new challenges to be addressed by park management. In addition to the boat ramps, receding water has caused once submerged objects to become hazards for motorcraft and visitors on the lake.

“Already low water levels are decreasing at a more rapid rate than decades of projections indicated was likely. Climate change worsened drought requires us to think differently and plan for less predictable water levels into the future,” said Acting Superintendent Stan Austin. “The purpose of our Sustainable Low Water Access Plan is to develop a strategic direction for the future of motorized boat launching and related commercial services at five key access locations, along with facility and infrastructure needs and related implementation actions at these locations.”

One of the ideas currently being considered includes reducing the access of motorized watercraft to the lake. This would affect the concessionaires on the lake such as Lake Mead Cruises, the restaurants and snack bars, marinas, etc. Closure of the lake to watercraft would also impact local businesses that rely on visitors to the park for customers. For a more detailed description of the alternatives being considered, click HERE. The newsletter with the options is an Adobe .pdf file at the bottom of the page. After reading thru the newsletter with the options being considered, the public is invited to comment by answering five questions online HERE by clicking on the “Comment Now’ button in the middle of the page. Comments must be received by Friday, December 23, 2022 at 10:59PM Pacific Time to be considered.

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