Opinion Editorials

McCain & Flake in Today's News-Herald: "End federal overreach"

Today's News-Herald, Lake Havasu, AZ

May 18 2016

When it comes to outdoor recreation, Arizona is a paradise. Treasured destinations like the Grand Canyon can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world.

In the summer, the pine forests of the White Mountains offer some of the finest campsites and fishing holes in the nation, and our mild desert winters treat hikers to truly spectacular vistas.

Arizonans have never taken this for granted. Just ask the almost 1,000 residents who recently rallied in Lake Havasu City to protest a move by federal officials to restrict motorized boating near Lake Havasu.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to impose no-wake zones along 17 miles of the Colorado River, stretching from the north edge of Lake Havasu to Interstate 40.

As one of the most popular locations in the state for water skiing and personal watercraft, Havasu would be hit hard by these proposed restrictions.

This is just one of the many burdensome regulations that the Obama Administration has imposed on states, businesses and families across the country. Limiting boating near Lake Havasu is just the latest unilateral action by this Administration which would prevent Arizonans and visitors of our great state from fully enjoying its natural treasures.

That’s why we have called on USFWS to listen to the concerns of citizens of Lake Havasu City, and introduced a measure this week that would prevent USFWS from following through with its proposed restrictions. 

Other examples of far-reaching federal mandates include those for high-ethanol fuel blends. Arizona’s sunny weather and mild winters provide ATV and motorbike enthusiasts the opportunity to ride all year. But much to the ire of off-road vehicle owners, the federal government has attempted to force the use of gasoline that contains 15% ethanol (E15). This comes despite the fact that for years, groups like the American Automobile Association have warned that E15 can seriously damage engines.

Our enjoyment and access to public lands should not be inhibited by locking away one million acres in northwestern Arizona from state-administered hunting and wildlife management.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and sportsmen’s organizations are fighting this effort. We have also called on the President to abandon this ill-conceived proposal on behalf of the Arizonans whose lives and livelihoods would be affected by it.

Just like scores of other federal rules that disregard real world impact, many of these government-knows-best initiatives completely discount the degree to which local communities and small businesses depend on outdoor recreation.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, hiking, camping, off-road vehicles, and boating generate $10.6 billion in economic activity in Arizona, and support over 104,000 direct jobs. Those numbers don’t include fishing and hunting, which tack on another $2.1 billion in revenue and support more than 18,000 direct jobs for the people of our state.

Most agree that we have a responsibility to protect our lands and waterways from overuse. But we must also balance this obligation with concern for the impact it would have on citizens’ lives and livelihoods.

The recent protests in Lake Havasu show just how strenuously our small businesses and communities will work to stop federal regulations that would prevent residents and visitors from enjoying Arizona’s recreational opportunities, and significantly harm local economies.

The public comment period for citizens to express their views about USFWS’s boating restrictions has been extended to June 13. We urge all those concerned about the potential impact of these regulations to write in and make their voices heard.