The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's North Las Vegas Flotilla has landed!

by BARRY
(LAS VEGAS)

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's North Las Vegas Flotilla has landed!

The Coast Guard has landed in Nevada, despite the fact that the state is in the middle of a desert -- one that happens to be going through a 10 year regional drought.

Still, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary's North Las Vegas Flotilla is to support rescue missions, conduct vessel safety checks and teach boating classes for Lake Mead recreationalists.

Even with the lake's water at its lowest level in 40 years, Organizer Barry Keller said the North Las Vegas auxiliary, a group of volunteers interested in community service and water safety, is a necessary addition to Lake Mead's staff, which includes members of the Nevada Wildlife Department, Arizona Fish and Game and the National Park Service.

One of the other flotillas, from Henderson , has been patrolling Lake Mead , but Keller said the area needs extra help from the new North Las Vegas auxiliary.

The drought "is all the more reason for us (to be there) -- the calls for service we're getting are because of the lowering water levels," he said. Even visitors familiar with Lake Mead can beach their boats on peaks that are now closer to the surface because of the drought, Keller said.

"People don't understand there's land where there didn't used to be," he said. The Lake Mead auxiliary's biggest job is towing boats that are stranded or have run out of gas, Keller said. Because the lake is on National Park Service property, no commercial towing companies can operate there.

The flotilla -- and every other Coast Guard auxiliary in the country -- is made up entirely of civilian volunteers, who must be at least 17 years old, of good character and able to pass background checks.

Some volunteers have their own boats, which must meet Coast Guard standards, but owning equipment is not a requirement to lend time to the flotilla. Volunteers also have the advantage of being members of an organization that ranks fellowship as a high priority.. Although some volunteers are retired, many have regular jobs and work at Lake Mead only on the weekends. However, there are always members on call to respond to emergencies..

The auxiliary also attends boat shows and other events to educate people about boating safety. "It surprises most people because they don't know there's such a thing as a Coast Guard in the desert," Keller said.

For more information on the new flotilla, call Keller at (702) 219-2236

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