Boaters and anglers soon will find difficulty launching their boats at Lake Mohave because the National Park Service is closing the reservoir's six ramps.
The temporary closures are scheduled for Oct. 29 through Nov. 7 and will affect the developed ramps at Willow Beach, Cottonwood Cove and Katherine Landing, as well as the primitive ramps at Princess Cove, Arizona Telephone Cove and Nevada Telephone Cove.
The closures are because of safety concerns associated with dropping water levels that are expected to fall below 631 feet by the end of October. An apologetic Bill Dickinson, superintendent of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, explained that such closures are required any time water levels reach 633 feet.
"We have to close our ramps for the safety of our boaters and infrastructure," he said. "We apologize for the inconvenience during this pleasant fall boating season."
The Bureau of Reclamation, the government agency that manages the water resources and dams along the Colorado River, began drawing down Lake Mohave in late September to help with conservation efforts for the razorback sucker, an endangered fish species that makes its home in the lower Colorado River. Water levels are expected to rise again after Nov. 4 and pass the 633-foot mark by Nov. 8.
The reason for drawing down the waters of Lake Mohave is to facilitate the maintenance of lakeside fish-rearing ponds along the Colorado River. Those efforts include the removal of excessive vegetation from ponds used to harbor thousands of razorback suckers. The fish are first gathered from Lake Mohave while in their larval stage, then raised for a time in numerous state and federal hatcheries and finally brought back and released into the rearing ponds to learn how to forage for food. Once the fish grow to 12 inches, they are fitted with a microchip and released back into the main waters of the lower Colorado River system.
That is all part of the bureau's Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, a multi-agency effort to accommodate water and power needs while conserving a variety of species and their habitats along the lower Colorado River.
Despite the launch ramp closure, marinas, fuel stations, stores, motels, campsites and picnic areas will remain open. Boaters who have their vessels slipped or moored still will be allowed access to the lake, and raft, kayak and canoe trips in Black Canyon below Hoover Dam will be allowed to continue. The draw down will not affect Lake Mead. Updated information on water levels at Lake Mohave and other lower Colorado region reservoirs can be found at www.usbr.gov/lc/riverops.html.
■ GOOD HUNTING - Hunters who traveled to Lincoln County for opening day of the waterfowl season had good results for resident birds at Key Pittman Wildlife Management Area. One told me hunters had a lot of fun, and the only reason not to bag a full limit of birds was poor shooting. Similar reports could be found for waters from Las Vegas to northern Idaho, but those early reports also noted that the annual southward migration of ducks from Canada had yet to start.
It won't take long for resident birds to grow wise to hunters and their decoys, so you might want to keep tabs on the migration's progress. Or perhaps you have some updated information you want to share with other hunters. You can do both at the Ducks Unlimited website and via the corresponding smartphone app that is available for iPhones and Androids. I downloaded the Android version for 99 cents.
Reports can be accessed through a list or by viewing a map and submitted by simply pushing the "submit a report" button and filling out a short form. Also available on the map are links to seasons and bag limits for all 50 states, sunrise and sunset tables and a bird identification tool.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His "In the Outdoors" column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.