Lake Oroville Community Update - December 4, 2020


boat on Lake Oroville

Boat on Lake Oroville. DWR/2019

How Are We Doing?

DWR is looking for your help to improve how the Department communicates with the Oroville community and persons interested in receiving information about DWR’s operations at the Oroville-Thermalito Complex. Your feedback through this online survey will help DWR enhance current communication tools and develop new ones to ensure more comprehensive and transparent communication to the public. Comments can also be shared by emailing DWR at Your participation is very much appreciated!

Oroville Recreation

The Lime Saddle boat ramp is now closed as water deliveries to meet river flow requirements and California’s State Water Project needs this dry fall have caused lake levels to fall below the end of the Lime Saddle boat ramp. Shuttle services for houseboat owners remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Oroville Dam Spillway boat ramp is open along with Bidwell Canyon’s boat ramp with restricted hours of operation (see section below). Loafer Creek Recreation Area remains closed for fire recovery and its boat ramps are also out of the water.

While the Potter’s Ravine and North Fork trails near the Oroville Dam Spillway boat launch area and trails east of the entrance road in the Loafer Creek Recreation Area are closed to repair fire damage, many other area trails offer hiking, biking, and horseback riding opportunities for viewing fall colors and vistas of the Valley, Table Mountain, and the Diversion Pool. Information on trail restrictions and access status can be found on DWR’s interactive map on the Lake Oroville Recreation webpage

Visit the California Parks Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) webpage for current information on facility status as well as current requirements to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. For information about the Oroville Wildlife Area, including the Thermalito Afterbay, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage. The Enterprise, Stringtown, and Foreman Creek boat ramp areas, the Loafer Creek Recreation Area, and Lake Oroville Visitor Center remain closed.

DWR Conducting Salmon Carcass Survey

DWR environmental scientists have been boating up and down the Feather River from Oroville to Gridley over the past couple of months performing their annual count of chinook salmon carcasses. Formally titled the Chinook Salmon Escapement Survey, these counts are very important in estimating how many fish have returned to the Feather River for spawning.

As salmon return to the Feather River to spawn, or reproduce, it marks the end of their life cycle. But that is not the end of information they can provide. Carcasses missing their adipose fin (near the tail), means they were born at the Feather River Fish Hatchery, which also implants a coded wire tag with data that can be retrieved by the scientists. For more information on DWR’s Feather River Program’s carcass survey, as well as an informational video, visit the DWR Updates webpage.

Bidwell Canyon Boat Ramp Construction Nears Completion

Recent deliveries of concrete have allowed the Bidwell Canyon boat ramp project to make progress in expanding the parking area and providing two additional boat ramp lanes to allow launching when the lake drops as low as 700 feet elevation (above sea level).  To achieve the project’s anticipated completion date in December, in addition to being closed weekdays, the boat ramp will be closed the weekend of Dec. 19-20. The boat ramps will be open 5 a.m. Saturday to midnight Sunday on the weekends of Dec. 5-6 and Dec. 11-12. Kelly Ridge and Arroyo Drive residents should anticipate large construction equipment and material deliveries in the area for the next couple of weeks.   

Construction of Loafer Point Stage II Boat Ramps

Construction continues on the Loafer Point Stage 2 boat ramp project to build six new boat launch lanes and 180 trailered parking spaces, allowing boaters to enter the lake when lake elevations are below 805 feet and providing access to as low as 640 feet. Constructing low water access boat ramp lanes in a reservoir presents unique challenges as water deliveries (decreasing lake levels) and inflows from precipitation (increasing lake levels) both impact construction schedules.

The Loafer Point Stage 2 project will be adjacent to an existing Loafer Creek Recreation Day Use Area and Campground, rounding out a full-service recreation destination with nearby trails, campgrounds, boating, and marina store. Additionally, immediate access to the wide-open waters of Lake Oroville will make Loafer Point a popular boat launching location.

The recently completed Loafer Point Stage 1 boat launch added three new boat launch lanes to 799 feet, a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant parking area, and new restroom facilities. The Loafer Creek Recreation Area remains closed to the public for fire recovery work.

 Fire Impacts to Lake Oroville

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is a member of the “Watershed Working Group” led by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). The working group is a multi-agency team evaluating and identifying areas of concern in the Feather River watershed affected by recent wildfires.

DWR’s partnership with the National Weather Service informs DWR preparations when precipitation events are forecast. In concert with our partners in the “Watershed Working Group”, DWR is actively monitoring area forecasts and burn scar conditions for potential impacts to Lake Oroville.

DWR’s Division of Flood Management is assisting California Conservation Corps members to install erosion control measures in areas of concern and DWR water quality experts have expanded water sampling activities at Lake Oroville to monitor for algal blooms and other environmental concerns.

The clearing of debris entering Lake Oroville is part of ongoing DWR maintenance of Lake Oroville. Additional work is planned to protect boaters and ensure safe operation of dam facilities.

Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 705 feet and storage is about 1.29 million acre-feet. Currently, in the Northern Sierra Basin, rainfall is below average, at 33 percent of normal for this time of year and snowpack is also below average at 45 percent of normal. Continued dry and cool temperatures are forecasted to continue this weekend and into next week. 

During the week of Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, the total releases to the Feather River have been reduced to conserve storage. By Friday, Dec. 4, total releases will be 1,650 cfs to meet downstream Bay-Delta water quality and flow standards. The Feather River flows consist of 800 cfs through the Low Flow Channel adjacent to the City of Oroville, and 850 cfs from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 1,650 cfs for the Feather River’s high flow channel downstream of the Outlet. 


All data as of midnight 12/3/2020