Good news, folks!
The US Fish & Wildlife Services has given SISA the "OK" for holding sailing regattas at Lake Lowell, as long as we limit the number of boats participating to 25 vessels, keep our speed under 20 mph, and hold our races in the center of the lake.
Some of the highlights from the decision:
Is the use consistent with public safety?
Yes. Due to the size of the vessels and the height of their sails, sailboats are highly visible to other users. This reduces the likelihood of collisions with other Refuge visitors and allows the area within the racing buoys to be open to other users. Safety is also increased by following all International Sailing Federation rules, boating rules set forth by the U.S. Coast Guard and the State of Idaho, and all Refuge rules and regulations. The speed restriction of 20 mph or less will also help to reduce potential safety issues with other sailors or non-regatta users.
Can the use be accommodated without impairing existing wildlife-dependent recreational uses or reducing the potential to provide quality (see section 1.6D, 603 FW 1, for description), compatible, wildlife-dependent recreation into the future?
Yes. Given that regattas occur during a time of low visitation, are restricted to 25 vessels, must leave room for other users to dock, and allow other users to enter their course, other users should not be excluded from using the West Pool or the Lower Dam Recreation Area boat launches during sailing regattas.
Because sailing regattas are confined to the center of the West Pool, there is adequate open water habitat available outside of the racing area for wildlife and wildlife-dependent users to use undisturbed. Wildlife-dependent users who use the emergent zones would also be outside of the regatta course.
Wildlife-dependent users would also be able to cross the regatta race course to access other portions of the Refuge, keeping them from being inconvenienced.
Click the link above to read the detailed report.