- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) - A recently released management plan for a southwest Idaho federal wildlife refuge should be changed to be more accommodating for water skiing, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Canyon County commissioners say.

“We will be working through some of these issues over the next 30 days to see if they can be improved or addressed before the rules become official,” Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern said.

Some area residents are angry after discovering the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge management plan for Lake Lowell released late last month by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibits the use of motorized boats that have internal or external wake-generating devices and ballasts.

Federal managers say waves created by the boats can damage shoreline vegetation and harm birds that nest on the water.

Justin Harrison of Idaho Watersports tells the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa (https://bit.ly/1zK7KV9) that 70 percent of the boats on his showroom floor couldn’t be used on the 9,000-acre Lake Lowell with the planned restrictions.

“Surfing has become a major part of what boating is now,” Harrison said. “It’s something everybody can do. It’s low-impact. You’re only doing nine miles an hour when you surf.”

Lake Lowell is popular recreation area, but it’s also in important spot for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. County commissioners and others have been fighting with refuge managers for several years as Fish and Wildlife attempts to balance its responsibility of managing a wildlife refuge with the recreational desires of local residents.

Craig Hanson and Tom Dale, Canyon County commissioners, said they’re reviewing the county’s legal options. The county contends that irrigators and the state control the water, not federal managers.

“We’re not arguing whether it disturbs the birds or not,” Hanson said. “The lake’s surface water does not belong to them.”

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Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune, https://www.idahopress.com

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