CANYON COUNTY -- The sailing community is fighting an environmental proposal happening in Canyon County.
The Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge wants to no longer allow regattas on Lake Lowell as a part of the their Final Draft Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Environmental Impact Statement.
“There are several concerns with the sailing regattas. There is the potential disturbance to wildlife,” said Susan Kain, the Visitor Services Manager at the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge.
Kain said, it is a 15-year plan to develop a policy for all activities and the decision is based on a three-tier system.
The first tier is wildlife protection, second is safeguarding those activities that are dependent on wildlife like hunting, fishing, and photography and the third tier is anything that doesn’t support those.
According to the draft, regattas fall into the third category.
“You have these sorts of less maneuverable sail boats racing around a race course while there is also high speed motorized craft trying to use the same space,” said Kain.
However, those with the Southern Idaho Sailing Association don’t believe their regattas disturb the wildlife on Lake Lowell.
“You would be amazed at how much adrenaline you get going at six miles an hour,” said Commodore for the Southern Idaho Sailing Association, Keith Sander.
Sander is fighting hard on the issue.
“We will go out in a blaze of glory and make ashes of ourselves,” said Sander.
Sander also said this could be the last spring their sailboats race on Lake Lowell. “We have been doing this for 43 consecutive years at Lake Lowell and we see that we are part of the custom and culture of Canyon County.”
Sander says there has been no negative environmental impact to wildlife on Lake Lowell through the regattas.
“I mean we don’t have any problem with the power boaters continuing to use the lake or fisherman,” said Sander. “We don’t have any problem with them at all, but their impact is much greater than ours and yet we are being closed out.”
He also goes on to say, Lake Lowell is perfect for regattas in the spring, as it's something you can’t find just anywhere in Idaho.
“We love the sport, it’s a lot of fun,” said Sander.
Those with the Southern Idaho Sailing Association are hoping the two parties can come to some sort of an agreement before the Public Comment period ends on Wednesday May 15th.
Under the draft CCP, sailing is still allowed, just not sailboat races.
You can comment on the plan by visiting HERE.