"This is an important milestone. Education is the best tool we have to keep boaters safe and prevent accidents. Traditionally boater education has taken place on shore. With the Coast Guard Auxiliary using NPS boats, we will now extend boater education to the water," said William Dickinson, superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The first patrol took place at the end of September 2008 on Lake Mohave.
Phillip Sherman, a Cal-Ari-Nev, Nev. resident and retired defense contractor participated in the inaugural patrol. Sherman joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary in 2005.
"Usually we use our own personal boats and the Coast Guard covers the fuel. But the park service boats are a lot better equipped for our patrols," said Sherman who is the commander of the Mohave Valley Coast Guard Auxiliary flotilla. Coast Guard Auxiliary crews are trained and held to rigorous qualification standards set by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The agreement took about a year to workout between both agencies said Coast Guard Cmdr. Richard Symons, Director of Auxiliary for the 11th Coast Guard District, Southern Region.
While auxiliary members don't have law enforcement authority, they will be on the water educating park visitors about safe boating practices, providing information and when called upon will assist with search and rescue. Coast Guard Auxiliary patrols using NPS boats on Lake Mead should begin by the summer of 2009.
Sherman sums up why he takes time out of his day to volunteer, "I like the water, I like helping people on the lake."