LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — National Park Service officials have extended the public comment period for people to voice, or write, their opinions on the concepts proposed for the future of Lake Mead’s marinas and the overall Sustainable Low Water Access Plan.

Public forums were held in person and online over the last month and were very well attended. In Boulder City, an estimated 300 concerned citizens showed up. Low water levels at Lake Mead and the predictions that the lake level could drop another 20 to 30 feet this coming year. Some concepts from the NPS include closing marinas, closing concessions, cutting off utilities, and moving marinas to different locations.

The comment period was originally open until Dec. 23 but has been extended until Jan. 22, 2023. To leave your opinion or suggestions the NPS is encouraging people to submit written comments through this form.

The current options — or concepts as NPS calls them — are laid out in a Nov. 2022 NPS newsletter titled, “Sustainable Low Water Access Plan/Environmental Assessment.” In it, the NPS details alternative plans for the future of five marinas — also referred to as boat ramps and boat launches.

(Source: nps.gov)

The lake officially has six designated launches: Hemenway Harbor, Boulder Harbor, Callville Bay, Echo Bay, Temple Bar, and South Cove. NPS appears to have dropped considering a future for Boulder Harbor and is only focusing on the other five.

“We’ve heard from the public that it would be beneficial to extend the public commenting period for this important plan so that is why we’re giving the community more time,” said Acting Superintendent Mike Gauthier. “While the National Park Service is working to complete the planning effort in an accelerated timeframe, the extension beyond the holiday season supports our efforts to collect substantive and thoughtful feedback.”  

The NPS said in a news release Thursday, “The Sustainable Low Water Access Plan/EA is critical to protect key resources, values, and visitor experiences and provide safe and responsible access to the lake. Previous planning did not anticipate the unprecedented rapid water level decline, and as such, a new plan is needed to continue providing safe and sustainable access to Lake Mead.”

The concepts:

Hemenway Harbor

Hemenway Harbor at Lake Mead after being extended by the National Park Service. May 12, 2022 (Photo: National Park Service)

Hemenway Harbor is the largest of all the marinas at Lake Mead, so what happens here will have a major effect on the others. Current plans are to keep extending the launch ramp to a lake level of 950 feet. This includes moving the launch, roads, and utilities if the lake were to drop to 1,000 feet.

However, concept three from NPS would mean “no future concrete launch ramp extensions or relocations will be made.” This would include re-evaluating allowing motorized vessel access, removing all concessions, and removing facilities and infrastructure.

Echo Bay

Echo Bay along Northshore Road in the Overton Arm was once home to a vibrant party and boating scene. In 1962, a 54-room hotel was built which included a large conference room and restaurant called the Tail ‘o the Whale. At times around 300 boats were at the marina and there was even a landing strip for people to fly in or drop off people. The hotel closed in 2010 and has since fallen into severe neglect. Current access to Lake Mead is now more than a mile away.

The NPS concepts for Echo Bay are to either continue with the 2019 plan of extending the launch to an elevation of 1,000 feet. This, however, would include moving the launch ramp to nearby Pumphouse Bay.

Callville Bay

Callville Bay, also along Northshore Road, remains an active marina with full services and utilities. The 2019 plan said the marina could be moved to nearby Swallow Bay if the lake fell below 1,065 feet, which has already happened. Concepts moving forward include closing the existing ramp and having the concessioner maintain a ramp. Another concept allows for the lake to drop to 950 feet before closing the launch.

South Cove

South Cove on the Arizona side of the lake has a primitive launch off a dirt access road with the approval of the National Park Service. One of the concepts being proposed would allow the launch ramp to remain until approximately 1,035 feet. Current predictions from the Bureau of Reclamation show this happening in May 2023.

Temple Bar

Temple Bar Marina is located in the Temple Basin on the Arizona side of eastern Lake Mead. This is a full-service marina with facilities and utilities. The 2019 plan allows for operations and launch ramp extensions to an elevation of 950 feet. One of the concepts being considered does include closing this marina and launch ramp and not allowing any activity there until the lake were to rise to 1,070 feet.

The NPS also reminds the public that there will be an additional opportunity to provide comments and feedback when the draft plan/environmental assessment is scheduled for release in spring 2023.