BULLHEAD CITY — Additional security will work Mohave County’s Davis Camp park facility today through Sunday and the facility will impose a maximum capacity of 5,000 people during the weekend.
The park north of the Laughlin Bridge in Bullhead City has welcomed unprecedented numbers of visitors along the Colorado River. In addition to local residents, there have been throngs of visitors from California and Nevada fleeing the COVID-19 restrictions in those states.
Memorial Day weekend typically is one of the busiest at the park — it is the traditional start of the summer season — but that is magnified even more this year during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mohave County Board of Supervisors approved a contract amendment Thursday that will allow its contract security firm in Phoenix to add personnel for crowd control.
“We have witnessed over the last two weekends, historic numbers coming to Davis Camp,” Parks director Harold Barton told supervisors. “Last weekend we had over 7,000 people on Saturday.”
Barton said additional security officers will work this holiday weekend and possibly future weekends, depending on visitation numbers. He said they’ll help resolve parking issues and work crowd control wherever needed.
“We are going to be implementing limitations,“ Barton said. “We are actually going to start capping the total numbers that will be coming into the park.”
He said wristbands will be used to help keep an accurate count to maintain a safe and manageable number of people at Davis Camp.
Barton told the board that visitation will be capped at about 5,000 people. He said 2,000 wristbands will be issued to adults and that will allow attendance to reach about 5,000 because children and family members come in under the single band.
Area law enforcement agencies were gearing up for what they expect to be a very busy weekend along the Colorado River, at Lake Mohave and at Lake Havasu.
“We’re expecting quite an influx,’’ said Chief Deputy Mohave County Sheriff Dean McKie. “The last several weekends have just been huge with all the Californians and Nevadans coming over here because obviously their states are closed.”
McKie said the sheriff’s office has mobilized personnel to promote public safety for the holiday weekend crush.
“We’ve stepped up our staffing for the weekend as we do for every holiday weekend,” in anticipation of a record surge of visitation. “We’re prepared for that. Boat safe. Boat smart. Boat sober, and as much as possible, work within the CDC guidelines.”
The City of Bullhead City issued a news release earlier this week encouraging responsible behavior.
“The Police Waterways Unit has already started patrolling the river,” the release said. “We urge people to pay attention, wear their life vest and to be a sober operator.”
The city reminded operators of rental watercraft that they are required to watch a safety video before launching on the river. Anyone can view the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/IVduceOx50 or on the Bullhead City Police Department webpage.
The Bullhead City Police Department responds to approximately 50 watercraft accidents every summer on the river. One common violation is of the “proximity law,” where watercrafts must remain 60 feet apart from each other and the shoreline when maneuvering above a wake-less speed.
“Our boating officers often see personal watercrafts play and splash each other and do not realize how easy it is to collide,” the news release noted.
The police department also is advising boaters, swimmers and those on the beaches to be aware of their surroundings — and each other.
“The park beaches are very crowded with people swimming and wading near the shoreline, so please use extra caution as swimmers can be hard to see.“ the release said.
It also pointed out another cause of watercraft accidents — people unaware of laws on the water.
“Another common cause of accidents occurs when people travel on the wrong side of the river,” the release said. “The order of traffic on the river is the same as the traffic pattern on the roadway,” meaning traffic should be moving on the operator’s right-hand side.
Police in area municipalities, sheriff’s deputies and Department of Public Safety personnel also will step up patrols on area roadways this weekend. Impaired drivers, as always, are part of their focus.
Federal agencies also are promoting public safety this weekend.
“The Bureau of Land Management asks visitors to follow state and local public health guidance, come prepared, be flexible, and respect other users as well as natural and cultural resources on public lands,” a news release said. “BLM employees are hard at work for the American people and continue to provide service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public lands offer great opportunities to enjoy the outdoors at a safe distance from others.”