May 17 2016
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) filed an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill that would drive U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) to drop its proposed restrictions on recreational boating at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, which would have a devastating impact on the local and regional economy.
Currently, a portion of federal taxes that boaters pay on fuel is deposited into the federal Highway Trust Fund. A portion of those funds is later allocated to the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund to be used by agencies including USFWS. The senators’ amendment would prevent USFWS from collecting this tax revenue unless the agency lifts its proposed boating restrictions at Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS currently receives about $6 million from taxes on boat sales, fuel, and fishing equipment from Arizona alone.
“USFWS’s proposal to restrict recreational boating near Lake Havasu could devastate small businesses throughout the region that depend on the millions of people who visit every year to enjoy boating, water skiing, and other activities on the lake,” said Senator McCain. “We believe that USFWS should not be permitted to use boaters’ tax dollars to unduly restrict access to one of the most popular boating locations in Arizona. The USFWS should rethink its proposal and listen to the concerns raised by the citizens of Mohave County whose lives and livelihoods depend on outdoor recreation.”
“Nothing is making more waves in Lake Havasu than USFWS’ failure to engage with the community before advancing this economically disastrous proposal. It’s my hope that further budget reductions will not be necessary before USFWS abandons these ill-conceived restrictions on recreational boating at Lake Havasu,” said Senator Flake.
Last month, Senator McCain sent a letter to USFWS Director Daniel Ashe expressing concern about the agency’s proposal and urging him to listen to the concerns of local officials and stakeholders before implementing any changes.
The text of the amendment is here.