Lake Oroville State Recreation Area Anticipates Holiday Weekend Visitors
Following Governor Gavin Newsom’s direction on moving the state into Stage 2 of the COVID-19 Re-Opening Plan, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CA Parks) increased public access to the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) on May 15. Lake Oroville boat launch areas have returned to regularly scheduled hours along with all LOSRA facility parking lots and day use areas. The Bidwell Canyon and Lake Oroville (Lime Saddle) Marinas are also open, providing shuttle service, restrooms, and fuel.
The Thermalito Diversion Pool and the North Forebay Recreation Area are open to the public. The Forebay Aquatic Center at the North Forebay facility anticipates opening June 5, 2020 for boat and kayak rentals. LOSRA campgrounds, including floating campsites, and the Lake Oroville Visitors Center remain closed.
CA Parks encourages visitors to maintain a physical distance of six feet or more, to keep moving, and to be mindful of congestion on one-way trails. Gatherings, picnics, and parties are not allowed. The Butte County Health Officer recommends face coverings, especially when you cannot maintain a safe 6-foot distance from others. Information on LOSRA facility status can be obtained on the CA Parks “Flatten the Curve at State Parks” website. Information on local health requirements can be found at http://www.buttecounty.net/publichealth/buttereopens.
New Recreation Opportunities Open Up at Thermalito Diversion Pool
Partnering with CA Parks, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) trails on the north side of the Thermalito Diversion Pool, previously closed for the Oroville Dam Spillways Reconstruction Project, are now open to the public, allowing continuity for hikers and bikers from Burma Road to the Spillway Boat Ramp area and North Fork Trail. Sections of the area’s Brad Freeman Trail northwest of the Thermalito Diversion Dam have been re-aligned, regaining continuity from Cherokee Road to the Diversion Pool. Continuing along this reconstructed trail, visitors will ‘switchback’ up a new hill made from rock and dirt left over from the spillways project, providing beautiful views of the Valley, Table Mountain, and the Diversion Pool.
On the south side of the Diversion Pool, hikers and bikers will enjoy a new alignment of the Brad Freeman Trail. DWR also constructed a new trail access parking lot near the south side of the Diversion Pool, west of the Kelly Ridge Power Plant. The graveled parking lot is accessible from Oro Powerhouse Road (off Oro Dam Boulevard East) and provides access to hiking, biking, and fishing opportunities. Boating is not allowed in this upstream area of the Diversion Pool, but boating is allowed on the Diversion Pool further downstream, with access from the Burma Road car-top boat launch off of Cherokee Road. Boating is limited to kayaks, canoes, and other non-gas-powered boats.
Visitors are encouraged to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining a 6-foot distance from others, wearing face coverings if distancing is not possible, and taking soap for hand washing as well as alcohol-based hand sanitizers when water is not available.
Algal Blooms Found in Lake Oroville’s North and Middle Forks
Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is a natural component of ecosystems. Under certain conditions, including warmer temperatures and increased nutrient loads, algae can grow rapidly causing “blooms.” Algal blooms sometimes produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. DWR environmental scientists regularly monitor Lake Oroville, the Thermalito North Forebay, and the Thermalito Afterbay for blue-green algae and their toxins. Algal blooms have been found in the upper reaches of Lake Oroville’s North and Middle Forks. Water samples have been sent to the lab for analysis. Preliminary field toxin test results were negative.
There are currently no Harmful Algal Bloom advisories for Lake Oroville, the Thermalito Forebay, or the Thermalito Afterbay. If elevated levels of cyanobacteria toxins are found, DWR staff work with California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board and recreation area managers to notify the public and post advisory signs at affected waterbodies. View the locations where harmful algal blooms have been reported on the California Water Boards website.
USFS Opens Boat Ramps at Upper Feather River Lakes
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has increased public access to National Forests including the boat launch ramps at the State Water Project facilities of Frenchman Lake, Lake Davis, and Antelope Lake in Plumas County, however, campgrounds remain closed. For information on Forest Service facilities, find your national forest at https://www.fs.usda.gov/.
CAL FIRE to Reduce Fire Fuels in the Oroville Wildlife Area Rescheduled
The CAL FIRE/Butte County Fire Department, in cooperation with DWR has rescheduled the burning of 30 acres of grassland at the Rabe Road Shooting Range south of the Oroville Airport to Wednesday, May 27. This important vegetation management project (VMP) burn will clear the area around the shooting range of thick grass, which could easily ignite if left to grow. The project also offers valuable training for firefighters in preparation for fire season. The shooting range will be closed to the public all day Wednesday and smoke from this control burn will be visible during the morning hours near the Oroville Airport and the Thermalito Afterbay.
Online Water Education Program Goes Live on DWR YouTube Channel
Join us for Water Wednesdays at 1 p.m. on DWR’s YouTube channel. These family-friendly programs are designed for kids 10 to 14 but are appropriate for anyone who would like to learn more about California’s water resources. The first five topics feature Delta wildlife including fish, plankton, birds, reptiles, and invasive species. Interested participants can pre-register through Zoom which will allow posting of questions to that week’s speaker.
Visit the DWR Events webpage at https://water.ca.gov/News/Events to join next Wednesday’s chat. Information will also be posted on DWR’s social media pages at @CA_DWR (Twitter) and @CADWR (Facebook). The May 20 episode of Water Wednesdays is available on DWR’s YouTube channel.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 821 feet and storage is about 2.44 million acre-feet. Daily average inflows to the lake have ranged between 4,143 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 7,787 cfs over the past week.
Dry and warm conditions are expected this weekend and during the week of May 25th. So far this May, Northern Sierra Basin rainfall is 181 percent above average, with 4.0 inches of precipitation recorded. While May’s above normal rainfall has helped, the Northern Sierra Basin rainfall totals remains below average for the year, at 31 percent of normal, and snowpack is also below average, measuring 17 percent of normal for this time of year. Flows through the City of Oroville are about 650 cfs and the flows are about 1,400 cfs from the Thermalito River Outlet for a total of 2,050 cfs to the Feather River.
All data as of midnight 5/21/20