LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– Lake Mead boaters have taken frustrations about potential launch closures on the lake to the Strip.
Around 30 boats and jet skis were pulled by car down the Las Vegas Strip in an effort to bring awareness to potential changes the National Park Service (NPS) is eyeing to manage lowering water levels. The drivers, at times, would stop traffic while encouraging pedestrians and other cars to look at the signs attached to their windows.
It was to rally against the potential for boat launch ramps across five locations on Lake Mead to remain closed indefinitely. Roughly 300 people gathered in Boulder City last week for a forum where NPS detailed its Lake Mead Sustainable Low Access Plan.
Of the three options mentioned to control water levels, “option three” would halt ramp maintenance at these locations. It would mean marinas may close, concessions would shut down and utilities could be cut out.
To respond, self-proclaimed boat activist, Vance Randall, gathered concerned boaters on the “Lake Mead Family Boaters” Facebook group to organize Friday’s rally down the Strip.
“It’s almost just like, ‘hey, it’s up to them, it’s up to them, it’s up to them.’ No one’s given us any straight answers about how we can solve this problem,” Randall said amidst a row of boats at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Mesa Verde Lane before the rally. “There’s thousands of people that use that lake. There’s millions that visit that national park every year. We want this in the public spotlight.”
If these ramps are closed, it could impact the livelihoods of those with businesses on the lake. Bruce Nelson is Vice President of Operations at Boating Lake Mead, multiple boat rental and selling companies in the Lake Mead Recreation area, and brought his own boat to the rally.
“Our business is 100 percent around boating. We have 1,500 slips on Lake Mead. We have a robust sales business in Las Vegas,” Nelson said before the rally. “Without the recreation area, what do we do? There’s no boating.”
While it is unclear if NPS officials will hear their cry, signs attached to boat and car windows urged action from Nevada government officials, namely Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto.
“[The rally is] not really politically motivated. It’s more, we just want to enjoy boating. But we do know that people in office, they have more power than we do,” Randall said. “Hopefully [Cortez-Masto] can see this and have the same concerns we have.”
That’s why Boating Lake Mead created a “Save Lake Mead” section on its website, detailing multiple ways people concerned with water conservation options can voice their disapproval. The most important method, they said, is by submitting public comment on the Lake Mead Sustainable Low Access Plan by Friday, Dec. 23, the last day NPS is accepting them.
“It’s such a small-budget item. It’s just maintaining a concrete launch ramp. If they take those away, essentially, it ruins boating on Lake Mead,” Randall said.
“I just couldn’t imagine that the next generation of kids don’t have that opportunity or the generation after that. It’s not right,” Nelson said.
Official public comment is accepted through December 23 at 11:59 PM Mountain Time on the NPS website.