Canyon commissioners seek permission to re-open Lake Lowell

October 11, 2013 

A sailboat glides across Lake Lowell as seen from the Deer Flat National wildlife Refuge Monday afternoon. Kim Hughes / The Idaho Statesman A sailboat glides across Lake Lowell on Monday afternoon, as seen from the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge. The lake southwest of Nampa is a popular, early-season sailing hot spot.

KIM HUGHES

Canyon County commissioners sought help Friday from Idaho's congressional delegation to re-open the recreational area around Lake Lowell.

Commissioners Steve Rule, Kathryn Alder and Craig Hanson sent a letter requesting help from Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch and Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador and asking them to review the limited impact the federal government shutdown has on Lake Lowell.

In their letter, commissioners said reopening the lake — closed since Oct. 1 because of the partial government shutdown — would come cheap: free.

"It won’t cost our taxpayers an additional nickel. The necessary services are already being provided by the local community,” Alder said in a written release.

Local police agencies provide law enforcement coverage at the lake south of Nampa, Rule said. And the county's Public Works Department removes the county-owned docks in the fall and stores them over the winter.

"The only thing that’s changed is that now we’ve got multiple reports from local citizens going for simple walks around the Lake being trespassed off this public property by federal law enforcement officers or employees,” Hanson said.

Late this afternoon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would reopen 3 million acres in wildlife refuges in 10 states to allow hunting of pheasants and waterfowl.

Idaho was one of the states listed, but there was no word on whether Lake Lowell was included in the list, Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker said.

The agency said Friday that despite limited staffing, allowing public access to Waterfowl Production Areas on wildlife refuges will not cost any money or jeopardize public safety.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple had threatened to sue unless lands in his state were opened.

Dalrymple says pheasant hunting should begin as scheduled this month. He says a government shutdown is not legal justification to close unstaffed, public lands.

The decision opens hunting areas in Idaho and nine other states: Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska and Maine.

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