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Re: [snowkiteidaho] Inputs from BSA to Deerflat (Lake Lowell) FWS Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP)

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  • Idahokiteboard
    Jon That was great to read touches on some great points think that it supports us as a responsible user of the resource. I do agree I would not say anything
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 19, 2010
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      Jon
      That was great to read touches on some great points think that it supports us as a responsible user of the resource. I do agree I would not say anything about out of control kites that would be a huge negative they could use to continue to block us. Other than that great job !!!

      Billy

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Oct 18, 2010, at 11:17 PM, Jason Brickner <jasonbrickner@...> wrote:

       

      Nice work John...  This is very detailed.  My only concern is making kiting sounds very dangerous.  Maybe we want to downplay that a bit?
       
      But excellent work.  You sound like a true politician.  Maybe you should run for office.... then again... why not just kiteboard.
       
      Thanks again,
      -JBRick


      From: snowkiteidaho@yahoogroups.com [mailto:snowkiteidaho@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Jon Bolt
      Sent: Monday, October 18, 2010 2:03 PM
      To: Boise Sailors Association; Snowkiteidaho
      Subject: [snowkiteidaho] Inputs from BSA to Deerflat (Lake Lowell) FWS Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP)

       

      All...Deerflat FWS managers have formally begun their CCP process which will re-evaluate permissible uses on Lake Lowell.  The time has come for us to formally document our positions on windsurfing and kiting uses.  Below is a draft of our inputs.  Please review and provide me any further compelling answers you may have to the two big questions stated in the BACKGROUND section.
       
      Thanks.
       
      Jon
      _______________________________________________________________
       
      TO: Deer Flat FWS management.

       

      The following inputs are directed at windsurfing and kitesurfing uses, but also include a couple of more global suggestions:

       

      BACKGROUND:

      To assure sufficient understanding to support balanced recreational use judgments coming out of their CCP process, Deer Flat Refuge Management conducted workshops on 9/23 & 24 to collect more detailed knowledge about each use and inputs from each user group.  Each group was asked to answer two questions pertaining to their use:

       

      1)  How can the use (in our case windsurfing & kitesurfing) be managed to benefit and/or increase the understanding and appreciation of the natural and cultural resources of the refuge?

      2)  How can windsurfing & kitesurfing be managed to assure they a) do not interfere with or detract from wildlife breeding and refuge, or b) impair existing or future wildlife dependent uses (fishing, hunting, wildlife observation & photography).

       

      Below are responses from the Boise Sailors' Association, concluding with a couple of broader ideas/suggestions applying to all users, FWS, and local public leaders.

       

      WINDSURFING and KITESURFING SPECIFIC INPUTS:

       

      1)  How can the use (in our case windsurfing & kitseurfing) be managed to benefit and/or increase the understanding and appreciation of the natural and cultural resources of the refuge?

       

      ANSWERS:

      a)  Windsurfing and kitesurfing are environmentally friendly forms of recreation.  This is often cited as part of the appeal inducing people to try it in the first place.  Similar to, and an extension of, sailboating, it uses only natural resources (wind and water) for enjoyable recreation in beautiful, natural settings.  It looks and feels environmentally harmonious.  In the Columbia Gorge and Outer Banks of North Caroliona (both national environmental treasures), tourists that neither windsurf nor kite routinely stop and camp for days in windy spots (that non-sailors would normally avoid) just to watch what they describe as a visually appealing (even inspiring) sport, harmonious with the beauty and natural settings where it's performed.  On Lake Lowell, wildlife photographers have occasionally approached us with great interest to capture shots…definitely contributing to their appreciation of their outing.  The presence of this sport in locations like this is a reinforcing symbol of the natural gifts of the areas, and the value they provide.  For most observers, these sports add to the appreciation of, and inspiration drawn from, the natural settings where they are performed.  Certainly they do not degrade public appreciation for the natural assets and settings, but instead serve as an example of "environmentally respectful" use that enhances appreciation.

       

      b)      A routine part of our use is to first prepare a clean, safe launch/land area free of trash, abandoned fishing line & supplies, or other discarded debris presenting hazards.  This step is necessary to prevent foot injuries, prevent damage to our fragile gear, and eliminate serious safety risks that could arise from a sail or kite becoming uncontrollable at launch because of unexpected entanglement or interference from debris.  Kites, for example, have thin inflated skeletons, easily punctured from fishing hooks/lures, broken glass, or wood with exposed nails (our feet too are easily punctured).  Additionally, sails and especially kites have enormous power, and entanglement or sudden damage that interferes with their control during launch or landing can pose serious danger.  For these reasons, a routine first step in our use is to survey a launch/land area for such trash hazards (usually left carelessly by other users) and remove it.  We routinely haul that trash away so it does not simply reappear elsewhere for us to deal with later.  Most of that refuse we clear presents hazards or interference to wildlife, too, so this routine step in our use undeniably also serves to improve  habitat for wildlife.  The Army Corps of Engineers at Lucky Peak will confirm we do this same routine cleaning, along with annual work parties, to maintain the Barclay Bay site we use.

      Additionally, while unlike the case above where a part of the use action itself directly contributes to habitat improvement, some of our windsurfing and kitesurfing members are open to perform periodic volunteer service, assisting with activities or programs that enhance public appreciation and respect for the refuge's habitat and wildlife role.  
       Examples might be assisting in educational events, participating in cleanup programs, assisting in habitat improvement or wildlife management projects, or other such services or contributions deemed helpful by Deerflat FWS management. As previously stated, we already perform such services at Lucky Peak, partnering with the Army Corps of Engineers.  Aside from routine maintenance at Lucky peak, we have enlarged wading areas for all users, and funded/installed an internet accessible weather station.  Performing similar services at Lake Lowell would be a natural extension of our present behavior.

       

       

       

      2)  How can Windsurfing & kitesurfing be managed to assure they do not interfere with or detract from wildlife breeding and refuge, or impair existing or future wildlife dependent uses (fishing, hunting, wildlife observation & photography).

       

      ANSWER:

      1)  We do not believe our use poses risk of impairing other wildlife dependent users (present or future) because:

       

      a)  Our use is confined to Lake Lowell and does not occur on the parts of the refuge along the Snake River.  Hence, we have no interaction with any users other than those on Lake Lowell itself.  If FWS chooses, we would support use restrictions confining our use to the lake portion of the refuge.

      b)  Our use occurs only when high winds exist on the lake, which is very infrequent.  This year members of our group used the lake on fewer than 10 days between April 15 and September 30, and on those few days, only a few hours each day.  Our low frequency of use greatly reduces potential to conflict with other users.

      c)  The high winds present during our use typically drive most all other users off the lake.

      d)  In our 25+ years of use, our members know of no instance where our use conflicted or impaired any other user.

       

      2)  We believe our use does not interfere with or detract from wildlife breeding and refuge, or can be easily managed to assure it does not, because:

       

      a)  Our use is confined to Lake Lowell and does not occur on those parts of the refuge along the Snake River.  Hence, we have no interaction with wildlife other than that on the lake itself.  If FWS chooses, we would support use restrictions confining our use to the lake portion of the refuge.This geographic limitation reduces our potential to encounter refuge wildlife.

      b)  Our use occurs only at 4 or 5 small locations on the refuge (e.g., Gotts Point, Upper & Lower Dam Recreation Areas, and 4th & 5th accesses west of 12th Avenue South on the south side of the lake.).  Using only a small fraction of the total lake further limits our encounter with wildlife.  Additionally, our members would accept and abide by published “off-limits” boundaries around breeding, nesting, and other sensitive refuge areas.. 

      c)  Our use occurs only when dry unvegetated shoreline  is present at our use locations.  For example, to use the south side accesses, lake water lever must be below 70% level, leaving the water far receded from the plant life and timber along the lake.  Our use does not intrude or encroach on vegetated areas where wildlife will be in refuge.  Our members would support reasonable use restrictions related to water levels at our use locations  (where different locations have appropriate, differing restrictions on water levels).

      c)  Our use occurs only when high winds exist on the lake, which is very infrequent.  This year members of our group used the lake on fewer than 10 days between April 15 and September 30, and on those few days, only a few hours each day.  Our low frequency of use greatly reduces potential to affect wildlife.

      d)  The high winds present during our use typically drive most wildlife off the lake and airways over the lake.

       

       

       

      A BIGGER GENERAL ISSUE:

       

      A large, unstated issue becoming apparent during the workshop was that FWS Refuge Managers, over time, have observed a distressing, growing erosion of the public's appreciation and respect for the refuge, and especially for its wildlife and habitat value.  Reasons may include: growth of surrounding population and therefore growth in refuge users; growing variety of water recreation (new water-based sports); and, historical under-investment in refuge management and caretaking by FWS.  No matter the reasons  the 1997 Refuge Improvement Act (and perhaps earlier legislation too) require that any/all refuge uses (and therefore all users) should, in some credible way "increase understanding and appreciation of the refuge's natural and cultural resources".  The legislation prohibits any use/user whose performance fails this test.  Sadly, though, it appears FWS sees a growing trend beyond mere failure to appreciate, with increasing episodes of ignorant or shameful abuse and blatant disrespect of the asset.  I think I (as representative of our user group) was not the only workshop attendee to come away with the perception that the local public has grown to under-appreciate and under-respect the full value of this uncommon, nearby asset.  It seems local leaders could do a much better job of enlisting the public to restore stewardship and fulfill the 1997 Refuge Improvement Act’s mandate to increase the understanding and appreciation of the entire value of this wonderful nearby asset.  How might this be done?

       

      For many decades the Boise public had a similar under-appreciation, "take it for granted" relationship with the Boise River.  The river was a dumping ground, fair game for almost any use and behavior.  But that view has transformed.  The river has become central to the City's image and external PR.  It's spotlighted in City and Chamber of Commerce promotional messaging.  The river is central to the airport's architectural theme, and present in architectural treatments of downtown buildings.  The river has become a primary symbol of the beauty, quality of life, and image Boise seeks to project.  "Quality of life" articles about Boise, appearing in nationwide media, routinely give the river "front & center" visibility.  The river went from abused dumping ground to a highly valued & guarded asset.  In the face of recent growing evidence of abusive recreational behaviors on the river, the Boise public accepted and supported bans on alcohol and jet skis with little dissent... out of desire to preserve the best of the asset for all.  City leaders effectively transformed public stewardship and appreciation of the Boise River after recognizing its full value and undertaking a long-term campaign of publicly promoting the asset and making it a “quality of life” symbol. In turn, the better cared-for river has played a large role in distinguishing Boise’s well-regarded quality of life.

       

      Our members can't help but wonder whether Lake Lowell, and the refuge as a whole, might present similar value to the identity of Nampa, Caldwell, and Canyon County.  Could it become a more compelling symbol representing availability of both quality recreation and inspiring natural assets, as did the Boise River?  Are municipal leaders missing an opportunity to boost both community identity and appreciation of the Refuge through greater promotion of the full value of this unusual nearby asset (not just its recreational value)?  Nampa, Caldwell, and the County have means to devise such a PR program with little cost (given nearby TV stations offering free public service messaging).  No doubt FWS would be pleased to partner in such an effort, given its likelihood of increasing public respect and stewardship of the asset.  Could there be a "win-win" for nearby cities and FWS in partnering to increase the public's understanding and appreciation of the full value of the asset?

       

      So, the first overall input we offer: all users and use groups can contribute to the public's understanding and appreciation of Lake Lowell, and thereby boost stewardship of the asset, by influencing their city & county leaders to better incorporate the asset into local identity and image, through an ongoing PR campaign promoting full appreciation and respect of the asset.

       

      A SECOND GENERAL OBSERVATION:

       

      We understand that the FWS needs to work toward achievement of the 1997 Act's mandate to "increase public understanding and appreciation" of the asset .  We believe the FWS is likely to have more success at increasing public appreciation of the asset's natural resources by partnering with local leaders to build the public's respect for all uses of the asset, and finding ways for recreation and wildlife conservation to coexist with minimal impairment of both.

       

       

      CONCLUSION:

       

      The Boise Sailors' Association (representing Treasure Valley windsurfers and kitesurfers) believes:

       

      1)  All users along with FWS can do a far better job of partnering with local leaders to boost the public's understanding, appreciation, and respect for the Deer Flat NWR and its role.  We believe Deer Flat presents quality-of-life and image value to local municipalities similar to the substantial value Boise has derived from its river. 

       

      2)      As demonstrated in other "nature showcase" areas of our country (like the Columbia Gorge, San Joaquin/Sacramento Delta, Outer Banks of North Carolina, etc.), our use is a symbol and example of environmentally respectful and harmonious use that adds to the public's appreciation of, and inspiration derived from, these places.  As at these other national treasures, our use at Lake Lowell offers the same potential to complement the public's respect, and inspire appreciation, rather than detract from it.

      3)  Visitors have windsurfed and kitesurfed on Lake Lowell over the last 25 years, and have no history of impairing other wildlife-dependent uses that we know of.

       

      4)      Every episode of our use begins with collecting and clearing discarded trash, abandoned fishing or hunting material, and other debris hazardous to our use and to wildlife.  We routinely haul this debris away for proper disposal, improving the habitat for wildlife.

      5)      Our uses can readily be managed so that they do not interfere with or detract from wildlife habitat and refuge; i.e, so wildlife resources are protected.  We would support appropriate rules of use that make these wildlife protection factors a condition of use.


       

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