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Thu, Sept. 19

Some progress made at South Cove boat launch

DON MARTIN/Special to the Miner<BR>A South Cove navigation buoy, seen with the boat launch in the background. Lake Mead’s level is receding, creating issues for those trying to access the water safely.

DON MARTIN/Special to the Miner<BR>A South Cove navigation buoy, seen with the boat launch in the background. Lake Mead’s level is receding, creating issues for those trying to access the water safely.

The story in last week's Daily Miner about the issues at South Cove on Lake Mead apparently got the attention of some folks at the Lake Mead National Recreational Area and at least one county official.

I was concerned about the South Cove launch area. On Thursday, I received two emails from Christie Vanover, the public affairs officer for the recreation area, regarding the situation at South Cove.

"You'll be pleased to know that a team was scheduled to go out to the area today to add the navigation light," she wrote. "We do also have plans to stripe a parking area again. The lake is dropping rapidly, so as you can imagine we're hustling throughout the park to make adjustments.

"We realize conditions are not perfect right now, but we're doing what we can to keep launching available at all locations. Planning is under way for ramp extensions, but they won't be implemented until 2015."

In the second email, Vanover wrote, "We're moving the docks as we can. Right now, one of the challenges is that most launch ramps have transitioned from cement to pipe mat or planks. We're sending teams out to look at the condition of the pipe mat because over time, sediment can change the surface and create new hazards.

"As we assess the ramps, we adjust the docks, if we can. The lake is projected to drop another 4 feet in the next few weeks. That's going to adjust the shoreline another 80-100 feet. We would love to be able to offer the convenience of multiple launches, but right now with this rapid decline, we're doing our best to keep launching available, period."

As to my request that a light be reinstalled on the dock to assist those who utilize the facilities at night, Vanover said, "There are no plans to add a light. I understand that there was one there before, but it was frequently broken or knocked down by high winds. I'll share your concerns with the management teams."

I also learned from Mohave County Supervisor Jean Bishop, that she called the recreation area with her concerns after reading the story. "Between your printed article and that phone call, it appears that some action was taken by NPS," she said.

After receiving this information, I checked on Friday to see what had been done.

There is a huge, 4-foot tall red navigation buoy out in the lake, but it is almost a half mile from the South Cove dock. The buoy has a light mounted on top of it, but it doesn't work.

Unless that light is working, some hapless boater is going to hit that buoy at night, and the buoy is plenty large enough to cause a boat to flip over.

And I wonder - why the buoy was placed so far out into the channel, and not closer to the dock?

Another issue is at the dock.

Right now there is not a lot of room for boats to exit the launch area on the north side of the dock, which is the only place to launch.

A big boat isn't going to be able to launch from there for a couple of reasons - it is too shallow, and a larger boat won't be able to navigate the narrow opening.

Even smaller boats, like my 20-foot jet boat, take some navigating to get it through the narrow opening right now.

I don't accept why the LMNRA isn't going to put a night light on the dock. First time there is an accident at night at the dock due to the fact it is hazardous and dangerous to load/unload a boat there due to no lighting, some lawyer will get rich litigating that one!

And they need to get on that striping and move the parking much closer to the water ASAP. They (LMNRA) know the lake level is going to keep dropping, so that item is really a no-brainer.

I'm glad that Supervisor Bishop, whose district includes the Meadview area, is aware of the situation and made a call.

But more involvement by county and state government is needed to keep the pressure on the LMNRA to keep that launch ramp open and useable by the public.

With this being the height of the boating and fishing season, lots of people use that ramp.

We all pay taxes and many of us pay additional fees in the form of watercraft/vehicle use stickers to utilize South Cove.

To see South Cove closed would have a huge impact on outdoor recreation at that end of the lake.

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