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Friday, October 06, 2017
San Vicente Reservoir: A year later
Friday, November 24, 2017
Trout truck chasers


World’s trashiest regatta
The ecological disaster known now as the Bullhead City River Regatta officially kicked off in 2007 and drew more than 300 people. Attendance for the now-annual city-sponsored organized float down the Colorado River exploded in the years that followed, and around 30,000 participated in 2016.

The Regatta’s affect on the local economy is estimated at over $20 million, which is why the event draws a lot of local support, but locals as well as visitors who care about the river itself don’t think it’s worth the annual windfall. 


commonscene345
COMMON SCENE LEFT in the wake of the annual Bullhead City River Regatta, which was canceled in 2017 but voted back for 2018.


The obvious issue stemming from the event that starts at various launch spots in Arizona and Nevada and ending at Rotary Park in Bullhead City is trash. Trash in the form of nightmarish amounts of booze containers on the tame end of the spectrum to, well, just use your imagination for what else sinks and surfaces in that south-flowing petri dish.


The thing is, at first, a lot of locals liked the idea at first. It was a fun way showcase what the area had to offer and expand the appreciation of the river beyond those residing on or around its banks. But it didn’t take long for those who loved the watershed to realize the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.


After the 2016 Regatta, council members voted 4-3 to call off the event, and it didn’t happen this summer. Crowds including residents and members of local indian tribes flooded the chamber, and prior to the vote, a representative from the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe announced the tribe would donate $100,000 to Bullhead City’s special event fund to show they were still “all in” as supporters of the valley. The scene was described as a whole lot of angry people in a really small place.


Last week, City Council members voted 6-1 to sell the rights and assets associated with the Regatta to Marnell Gaming in front of another huge group of opponents both in person and watching on television. Marnell Gaming will take over the operation and bring back the event in August 2018. Marnell put a $100,000 proposal on the table as an annual clean up fund, but opponents aren’t buying it.


George Terro is a Bullhead City resident who fishes and hunts the area, and has a YouTube channel, MR-FLIP, full of videos of outdoor-related activities taking place in the area, and he puts on snorkeling gear and hits the river after each Regatta.


“So much littering took place at the last Regatta,” he said. “There were cans on top of cans, left behind floats that sunk, ropes and towels left behind that ended up in boat props and that could also cause hazards for swimmers. We also found drug pipes, needles, hundreds of lost cell phones and their contaminating batteries, diapers, it was a disaster.”


It’s not people floating the river that others have a problem with. People float the river all the time, and many of them are organized by local bars or other businesses. The fact that the Regatta has the overwhelming firepower of city support (oh yea, you pay to participate. Wrist bands and everything) is what draws 30,000 people dead set on being “where everybody is” out there when it can be done for free on a smaller scale any other day of the year.


Even though I am a Southern California native, I didn’t get my first taste of the River until about five years ago when went for a bachelor party and stayed on the banks of the Parker Strip, followed by a multi family trip to the same area a couple years later, and another bachelor party, this time closer to Bullhead City, not long after that. I even floated the river twice, dozens of us tethered together by dock rope on cheap inflatables and rafts for coolers full of beer. We drifted for miles, and not a single can ended up in the drink. I remember calling it “one of the top 10 most enjoyable things I ever did.”


I saw guys on bass boats, kayaks, bank fishermen, race boats, the party crowd, floaters on inner tubes and beyond, groups of people spending entire days knee deep in the water and hanging out, just about every type of river user available. The one thing they all (“all” is a strong word, but it was an overwhelming majority) had in common was care for the river that was almost second nature. We’re all drinking beer, eating hot dogs and having a good time, but the policing up of cans, wrappers, etc. were second-nature to all involved.


Another common thread was, these were all regular visitors if not part-time residents, or at least, those types were at least represented in each group. They weren’t hordes of people from all over the place coming out for a once-a-year event, cutting loose, driving home with a slick of filth in their wake.


I was fascinated by the river from the geography down to how the flows were governed by day and night (don’t leave your chair on the bank, or it will end up in Yuma by morning!). I definitely learned why river people are so passionate about the place, and I caught my first smallmouth bass.


Not long after my last visit, I landed at Western Outdoor News and Lake Mohave from Willow Beach down to Davis Dam near Bullhead City became part of my weekly beat. The tough-sell contacts I have out there were not easy to lock up, and I had plenty of digital doors slammed in my face just poking around for information as area anglers are very protective of their resource. They want people to figure it out via time on the water and earn their spots in the lineup. I don’t blame the guys for blasting me for asking, or the contacts I do have for being picky on what info they give me, and I know all it takes is for me to cross them once and they will go radio silent.


At the same time, I do detect – from some of them – a legit desire to inform people about how awesome and important this particular body of water is, without drawing in those who will visit and leave it a little worse than it was before.


These are people who hate the Regatta with a fiery passion and know that protection of a world-class outdoor resource is a wiser long-term investment than an influx of soggy, dirty cash, once a year.


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