The SLWAP is needed 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
This planning effort builds upon past plans including, but not limited to, the General Management Plan. Lake Mead National Recreation Area has been operating under a Low Water Amendment to its General Management Plan since 2005. A second Low Water Plan amendment completed in 2019 included environmental assessment work in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. These GMP amendments guide lake access operations down to a lake elevation of 950 feet. The current projections indicate that the 950 feet elevation will be reached sooner than anticipated.
Given rapidly declining lake levels and potential implications on infrastructure, operations, concessions, and visitor experiences at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the National Park Service is engaged in a new planning process that will support decision making related to adapting affected operations beginning in Fiscal Year 2023. The new plan and anticipated compliance will prioritize facility investments across the five sites, Hemenway Harbor, Echo Bay, Callville Bay, South Cove, and Temple Bar, based on desired conditions and related advantages compared with estimated costs. The plan will provide recommendations that inform the full range of management concepts possible under a wide considerations of fiscal realities related to continued operation of marinas, boat launches, and other visitor facilities to complete relocation including the necessary utilities and infrastructure extensions.
- - - - -
News Release: Lake Mead National Recreation Area resumes public engagement on low water access management planning
Public meetings to be held the week of July 10
BOULDER CITY, Nev. - Lake Mead National Recreation Area today released a draft environmental assessment as part of its Sustainable Low Water Access Plan (SLWAP) for Lake Mead. The draft EA will be open for comment through August 4, 2023.
This latest release is the next step in planning around access for future motorized boat launching and related activities at Lake Mead.
In addition to the release of the EA, the public is invited to attend a second round of public meetings to discuss the preferred alternative for motorized boat operations. Public comments on the park's SLWAP were previously compiled during public scoping during the winter of 2022 and have been released for public review. During the public scoping session, Lake Mead received 1,049 public comments submitted to the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) site by email to staff, as well as written comments sent to the park's administrative offices. Park officials sought public input to better understand concerns about the future of motorized boating access to the lake. This public feedback informed the selection of the preferred alternative and management direction to ensure launch ramps and other park facilities and services stay operational where feasible in 2023 and beyond.
"We are excited to move forward with the next phase of public engagement with our local communities and stakeholders," said acting Superintendent Mike Gauthier. "We have received critical feedback to date, we have carefully considered what we have heard from you, and we look forward to working together to find the best path forward for preserving boating access."
The SLWAP focuses on maintaining visitor services, marinas, and launch ramps at Hemenway Harbor, Callville Bay Marina, Echo Bay, Temple Bar Marina, and South Cove to the extent feasible.
The public scoping meetings will include a presentation on the preferred action alternative that allows the NPS to maintain recreational motorboat access in the event water declines to 950 feet. The presentation will also include other management alternatives for the public's consideration and discussion.
Meetings will be held at the following times and locations:
• Virtual - Monday, July 10, 2023: 5-6 p.m., Pacific Standard Time
• Boulder City, NV - - Tuesday, July 11, 2023: 5-7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time at Boulder City Recreation Center; 900 Arizona St., Boulder City, NV
• Kingman, AZ - Wednesday, July 12, 2023: 5-7 p.m., Pacific Standard Time at the Beale Celebrations Building, 201 N. 4th Street, Kingman, AZ.
Comments on the plan and EA should be made online on the park's planning website (https://parkplanning.nps.gov/LAKE-Low-Water-Access)
where readers can find this and earlier planning efforts for review and consideration.
While unexpected high snowpack has increased runoff and water levels at Lake Mead in 2023, the NPS must be prepared to adjust and respond if water levels decline below roughly 1,000 feet in the subsequent years.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of the most visited units in the National Park Service system, seeing more than 5.6 million visits in 2022. Throughout the 1.5-million-acre park, visitors also hike, bike, camp, hunt, and use nonmotorized watercraft. About 20% of visitors use ramps or marinas at Lake Mead to partake in motorized recreational boating.
- - - - -
Lake Mead National Recreation Area Update
Release Date: April 11, 2023
Sustainable Low Water Access Plan/EA Public Comment Summary Report Posted and Updated Planning Schedule
Next Round of Public Comment will now occur mid-Summer
BOULDER CITY, Nev. - Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) is releasing the public comment summary from the park's sustainable low water access plan/Environmental Assessment (EA) public comment period that went from November 14th through January 22, 2023 with the previously noted extension that brought the total public comment period to 70 days. This comment summary can be found on the project's Public Documents page or by using this link: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/LAKECommentSummary-March2023
The National Park Service is appreciative of all the time, consideration, and attention to detail that the public has given this process. Your responses will support the NPS's investment and planning decisions to keep launch ramps and other park facilities and services operational in 2023 and beyond.
The NPS also reminds the public that there will be an additional opportunity to provide comments and feedback when the draft plan/EA is scheduled for release in mid-Summer 2023 which is an update from the previously noted timeframe of Spring 2023.
- - - - -
Lake Mead National Recreation Area News Release
Release Date: December 22, 2022
Sustainable Low Water Access Plan comment period extended
Comments will now be accepted through January 22
BOULDER CITY, Nev. - Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) is extending the public comment period for the park's sustainable low water access plan/Environmental Assessment (EA) through January 22, 2023. The comment period, which began November 14, was initially scheduled to end on December 23. The extension brings the total public comment period to 70 days.
"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 purpose of the sustainable low water access plan/EA is to develop a strategic direction for the future of motorized boat launching and related commercial services at five key access locations: Hemenway Harbor, Callville Bay Marina, Echo Bay, Temple Bar Marina, and South Cove. 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 NPS also reminds the public that there will be an additional opportunity to provide comments and feedback when the draft plan/EA is scheduled for release in Spring 2023.
The purpose of the plan is to engage with the public and consult with Tribal governments to develop strategic direction for the future of motorized boat launching and related commercial services at five key locations, along with facility and infrastructure needs and related implementation actions at these locations. The priority locations are Hemenway Harbor, Echo Bay, Callville Bay, South Cove, and Temple Bar.