Lake Mead marinas, recreation operations will continue even if water drops 100 feet

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Lake Mead’s plan to keep marinas open with continued recreational operations despite lower water levels took a big step Thursday.

Visitor services, marinas and launch ramps at Hemenway Harbor, Callville Bay Marina, Echo Bay, Temple Bar Marina and South Cove will go forward “at the extent feasible” even if the lake drops another 100 feet. That’s the effect of “Finding of No Significant Impact” (FONSI) released by the National Park Service (NPS) on Thursday. The finding follows an Environmental Assessment that has proceeded over the past year.

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and others hailed the finding as crucial to the small businesses that operate at the lake, providing goods and services to people who use the lake for recreation.

Lake Mead. Feb. 5, 2023 (Photo: Duncan Phenix – KLAS)
Lake Mead. Feb. 5, 2023 (Photo: Duncan Phenix – KLAS)

“From my tenure in the State Senate to my service in Congress, water conservation has always been top of mind,” Titus said. “Whether it’s through record investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act or supplemental disaster funding I helped secure earlier this year, I am continuing to make sure more water stays in Lake Mead.”

Titus said Thursday’s action will protect small businesses that benefit from tourism and outdoor recreation at the lake.

The surface of Lake Mead is currently at 1,064.69 feet above sea level. The Environmental Assessment reviewed a preferred proposal to continue services while the lake is above 950 feet. The FONSI works as a kind of seal of approval.

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NPS and partner businesses at Lake Mead National Recreation Area have worked to adjust boat ramps and other amenities as the lake level has fallen, learning as they go and even using new technology to keep ramps open. A portable innovation known as the Mobi-mat was rolled out at Callville Bay in January. It was moved to Temple Bar at the end of the summer season.

“NPS will provide a mixture of recreational opportunities, including motorized and nonmotorized lake access, at targeted sites to the degree financially feasible and cost-effective,” according to an NPS news release.

Hemenway Harbor at Lake Mead. Mar. 26, 2023 (Photo: Duncan Phenix – KLAS)
Hemenway Harbor at Lake Mead. Mar. 26, 2023 (Photo: Duncan Phenix – KLAS)

In June, $32 million in funding was announced by U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen in a package of disaster supplemental funding during a tour of Hemenway Harbor. Lake Mead Superintendent Mike Gauthier said some of that funding would go to designing and preparing the launch ramps for the next water deficit.

“Recreational opportunities surrounding the Lake Mead National Recreation Area play a pivotal role in fostering a deep connection between people and nature,” according to Jill Rowland-Lagan of the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce.

“Communities like Boulder City will benefit from Natural Parks which attract tourists, providing economic stimulus to local businesses such as marinas, rental services, and hospitality establishments,” Rowland-Lagan said.

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