All of the boat ramps in Lake Havasu City remain open as part of the essential function to provide outdoor recreation to residents per the governor’s stay-at-home order issued Monday.
Across the Colorado River, however, the Chemehuevi chairman Charles Wood said the tribe has basically shut down the boat ramps with “very limited traffic” remaining.
“There are some local residents that have boats, they are very understanding that we are trying to keep people even off the lake, and from traveling around,” he said.
Wood said the tribe started taking actions to limit movement about two weeks ago, and their efforts have slowly evolved over time as different declarations were announced.
Wood said the hotel and casino are completely vacant and they are not allowing any new campers into the area. Those who were already camping when the coronavirus situation arose have been allowed to stay, however.
As a federally recognized tribe the Chemehuevi have the authority to chart their own course, but Wood said they are relying heavily on advice from various government officials and entities.
“We are listening to the president, we are listening to the governor, and we are listening to Indian Health Services,” Woods said. “I would say 99 percent we are probably following what (California) Gov. (Gavin) Newson has put out — 99 or maybe even 100 percent.”
The Big River boat ramps in La Paz County are also closed.
Meanwhile the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Colorado River Station said all of the public boat ramps in Needles, California, are open.
Outdoor recreation encouraged
On Tuesday many local residents took advantage of the outdoor recreation essential function by heading out to the lake for some fresh air.
Lake Havasu City resident Russ Kavanaugh is an avid bass fisherman and regular on the lake but on Tuesday he had a little company in his boat.
“I’m out because I can’t take the house anymore — I had to get out,” said Russ’ wife Jean Kavanaugh. “This is so confining, but this is the only place you can go where you can social distance, so it is very nice to be out on the lake.”
Lots of locals seem to have had the same idea.
The parking lot at the Lake Havasu State Park boat ramps was mostly full late Tuesday morning. Russ noted that the parking lot looked more like it was a holiday weekend than a weekday in Havasu. Even with the extra crowds, however, Jean said people seem to be keeping to themselves and practicing proper social distancing while putting their boats in and out of the water and that there is plenty of room for everyone out on the lake.
Jean said they have had to tweak how they go about daily life without meetings or church to go to. She said they generally try to go out to eat a couple times a week, but have had to cut back as restaurants have been ordered to close their dine-in operations. Jean said she has also cut back on leaving the house for groceries by limiting herself to one trip per week.
“Honestly, we kind of realized how isolated we have been once we realized this thing didn’t really change our lives too much,” Russ said with a laugh.
The Kavanaughs said that in addition to boating, they have taken their ATVs out into the desert to get out of the house, and recently took a three day camping trip out in the desert near Quartzsite.
Frank Blissenback of Lake Havasu City was also at the State Park’s boat ramp on Tuesday looking to take out his watercraft for the first time this year.
“This is going to be nice recreation here for two or three hours,” Blissenbach said. “We probably won’t do it again for two or three weeks — we don’t do it every day.”
Blissenbach said until Tuesday, he had spent the vast majority of his time indoors, getting out for a short drive or to grab some take-out food every once in a while. But he said he has managed to keep himself occupied with various projects in his garage.
“We have been at home cooped up,” Blissenbach said. “We are just doing what they say we are supposed to be doing. I’m getting fatter because I’m eating more.”
Although such efforts to self-isolate can be difficult, Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy said those efforts are important to helping the community get through this.
“Now is the time to slow the spread all the while ensuring that you’re physically and mentally taking care of yourself during these really trying times,” Sheehy said. “So if that means taking the boat for a spin to get some fresh air, and you are able to social distance then great. But now is not the time to gather up all the family and friends and spend a day on the lake.”
Havasu’s largest boat launching facility, Lake Havasu State Park, remains open and Park Manager Daniel Roddy said he doesn’t expect that to change during the pandemic. The State Park is adhering to the CDC guideline limiting groups to 10 people, however, and Roddy said they are turning groups away if they have more than that.