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Re: Boise Sailors' Association inputs to Deerflat CCP

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  • jclivejordan
    wow - great letter Jon!
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 21, 2010
      wow - great letter Jon!

      --- In snowkiteidaho@yahoogroups.com, Jon Bolt <idakiteman@...> wrote:
      >
      > *TO: Deer Flat FWS management.*
      >
      >
      >
      > Pursuant to the workshops conducted on 9/23 & 24, you have invited each user
      > group to respond to the following two questions:
      >
      >
      >
      > 1) How can the use be managed to benefit and/or increase the understanding
      > and appreciation of the natural and cultural resources of the refuge?
      >
      >
      >
      > 2) How can the use be managed to assure it does not a) interfere with or
      > detract from wildlife breeding and refuge, or b) impair existing or future
      > wildlife dependent uses (fishing, hunting, wildlife observation &
      > photography).
      >
      >
      >
      > I have reviewed these questions with our broader Boise Sailors' Association
      > membership and collected the following responses, 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 windsurfing & kitesurfing be managed to benefit and/or increase
      > 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 the sports in the first place. Similar to, and an extension of,
      > sailboating, they use only natural resources (wind and water) for enjoyable
      > recreation in beautiful, natural settings. They look and feel
      > 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 in windy spots (which non-sailors
      > would normally avoid) just to watch/photograph/film 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 and
      > captured shotsÂ…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*, our 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 first step in every instance of our use is to begin by
      > preparing 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 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 or cut from fishing hooks/lures/lines, broken glass, discarded
      > cans or ammunition casings, or wood with exposed nails (this debris poses
      > foot injury risk as well). Additionally, sails and especially kites have
      > substantial power, and entanglement or sudden damage that interferes with
      > their control during launch or landing can be problematic. 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 them.
      > 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 hazard or
      > interference to wildlife, too, so this routine step in our use
      > undeniably benefits
      > habitat and 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 above where a part of the use action itself
      > benefits habitat, 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/cleaning at Lucky peak, we have
      > worked to enlarge beaches & wading areas and funded/installed an internet
      > accessible weather station. *These contributions have demonstrated our
      > appreciation for the settings we use, and benefitted all users*. 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 impairs 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. This reduces any potential to conflict
      > with other users.
      >
      >
      >
      > 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 potential for conflict.
      >
      >
      >
      > 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
      > conflict with other users.
      >
      >
      >
      > d) The high winds present during our use typically drive most all other
      > users off the lake.
      >
      >
      >
      > e) In our 25+ years of use, our members know of no instance where our use
      > conflicted with 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. This reduces the scope of any potential
      > interference. If FWS chooses, we would support use restrictions confining
      > our use to the lake portion of the refuge.
      >
      >
      >
      > 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 scope of any potential
      > interference. Additionally, our members would readily accept and abide by
      > posted or published "off-limits" boundaries around breeding, nesting, and
      > other sensitive refuge areas.
      >
      >
      >
      > c) Our use occurs only when large areas of dry unvegetated shoreline are
      > present at our use locations. For example, to use the south side accesses,
      > lake water level must be below 70% full, leaving the water far receded from
      > plant life and timber along the lake perimeter. Thus, 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).
      >
      >
      >
      > d) 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.
      >
      >
      >
      > e) 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 appear to have witnessed, over time, 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 new water-based sports; and, historical under-investment in
      > refuge management and caretaking by FWS. No matter the reasons, the 1997
      > Refuge Improvement Act requires that any/all refuge uses (and therefore all
      > users) should, in some credible way, "benefit and/or increase understanding
      > and appreciation of the refuge's natural and cultural resources". The
      > legislation prohibits any use or user whose performance fails this
      > test. Sadly,
      > though, it appears FWS sees a growing trend beyond just failure to
      > appreciate, with increasing episodes of ignorant or willful 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
      > appreciation consistent with the 1997 Refuge Improvement Act's mandate. How
      > might they do this?
      >
      >
      >
      > 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, 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 inspiring natural assets and quality recreation, 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 boost the public's understanding and appreciation of the full
      > value of this wonderful 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
      > refuge. 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, FWS, and local leaders can do a far better job of partnering
      > to boost the public's understanding, appreciation, and respect for the Deer
      > Flat NWR and all it offers. 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
      > (e.g., Columbia Gorge, San Joaquin/Sacramento Delta, Outer Banks of North
      > Carolina, etc.), our uses are 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 or 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.
      >
      >
      > Thank you for incorporating these inputs into the CCP. We look forward to
      > continued participation in the CCP process.
      >
      > Jon Bolt
      > President, Boise Sailors' Association.
      >
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