- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) - A management plan for a popular southwest Idaho federal wildlife refuge that’s more accommodating for wave-generating boats used by water skiers is being praised as a good compromise.

“We’re here today with a good resolution to the issue,” U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said at a Wednesday news conference concerning the long-term plan recently finalized for Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, also took part as did Fish and Wildlife officials and Canyon County commissioners, the Idaho Press-Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1Jt0vIl ).

A multi-year process to come up with a final plan grew contentious as Fish and Wildlife attempted to balance its responsibility of managing a wildlife refuge with the recreational desires of local residents.

The 9,000-acre Lake Lowell has become popular for recreational boating and water skiing, but an earlier plan released in February banned the types of boats typically used that generate large waves.

The final plan issued April 3 by Fish and Wildlife allows the boats but puts in place no-wake zones. The plan also says filtering systems in the boats that take on water for ballast can help eliminate the potential of transporting invasive species into the lake.

The lake is one of only three places in Idaho, refuge manager Annette de Knijf said, with colonies Western and Clark’s grebe, a species known for a mating ritual where pairs dash across the water.

Managers fear that wave-generating boats could cause waves that reach shoreline areas and wipe out grebe colonies.

“We will continue to evaluate the effect of boating on wildlife to ensure that the permitted uses remain compatible and revise the Compatibility Determination, as necessary, to ensure that uses do not materially interfere or detract from the fulfillment of the Refuge System or the purposes of the refuge,” the final document states.

Knijf said the plan took into account local input.

“Our final management plan reflects what we heard from you, the public,” she said at the news conference Wednesday, the Nampa-based newspaper reported. “It reflects our responsibility to protect wildlife with the many recreational activities that we all enjoy here.”

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Information from: Idaho State Journal, http://www.journalnet.com

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