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SIMPSON FIGHTS FOR LAKE LOWELL ACCESS

Idaho Congressman asks Obama Administration for assurances that Lake Lowell will remain open to a variety of recreational uses in future management plan

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Washington, March 16, 2011 | comments
“Quite frankly, it is very frustrating to me that the Fish and Wildlife Service continues to cause great concern among my constituents and the people of Idaho by leaving open the possibility of ending recreational uses on Lake Lowell,” said Simpson following the hearing. “That is why it was important to put this issue on the table with the Deputy Director and Acting Director and let him know what I am hearing from the people of Idaho on this matter. Idahoans are upset, and rightly so, that an inflexible federal government would even consider banning recreational uses on any lake, much less one that is man made.”
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Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today sought assurances from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that existing recreational activities on Lake Lowell would be protected in a new Comprehensive Management Plan for Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. Simpson, who is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, expressed his concern about this issue to the Service’s Deputy Director Dan Ashe and Acting Director Rowan Gould during a Subcommittee hearing on the Obama Administration’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2012.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is in the process of creating a new Comprehensive Management Plan for Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is co-located with Lake Lowell, a man-made irrigation reservoir that has been used over the course of the last century for a wide array of recreational uses. As part of its consideration of a new management plan, the USFWS has refused to rule out the potential elimination or curtailment of existing recreational activities on the Lake.

“Quite frankly, it is very frustrating to me that the Fish and Wildlife Service continues to cause great concern among my constituents and the people of Idaho by leaving open the possibility of ending recreational uses on Lake Lowell,” said Simpson following the hearing.  “That is why it was important to put this issue on the table with the Deputy Director and Acting Director and let him know what I am hearing from the people of Idaho on this matter. Idahoans are upset, and rightly so, that an inflexible federal government would even consider banning recreational uses on any lake, much less one that is man made.”

Simpson brought this situation to the attention of the Deputy Director in response to a letter he received from Idaho State Senators Patti Anne Lodge, Curt McKenzie, John McGee and Melinda Smyser seeking his help.

“We asked Congressman Simpson to get involved in this issue because he has a direct line of communication with the agency through his role in writing its budget and because our constituents are extremely concerned with the continued uncertainty surrounding future activities on the Lake,” said Senator John McGee. “I am grateful that the Congressman is pursuing our concerns with the agency and look forward to working with him to ensure recreational activities on the Lake Lowell are protected well into the future.”

In response to Simpson’s questions, Gould said that the Service had no intention of going through a process without recognizing the value of recreational uses and committed to working with the Chairman to make sure that the final plan addresses the concerns of the community. Following the hearing, Simpson pledged to continue working with the four Senators, the recreational community, and the rest of the Idaho Congressional Delegation to protect recreational uses on Lake Lowell. “The Fish and Wildlife Service understood the concerns I expressed today, and I am hopeful that they will act accordingly to ensure recreational uses on Lake Lowell continue,” said Simpson. “But if they did not understand my message, I am committed to doing whatever is necessary to make sure traditional uses on Lake Lowell are protected.”

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