Lake Oroville Community Update - May 29, 2020


Boats on Lake Oroville.

Boats on Lake Oroville. DWR/2019

Lake Oroville State Recreation Area Resumes Summer Hours

Lake Oroville boat ramp areas are open for summer hours 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. along with all Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) facility parking lots and day use areas. The Bidwell Canyon and Lake Oroville (Lime Saddle) Marinas are currently providing shuttle service, restrooms, and fuel. The Thermalito Diversion Pool and the North Forebay Recreation Area are also open to the public. The Forebay Aquatic Center at the North Forebay facility is scheduled to open June 5, 2020 for boat and kayak rentals. LOSRA campgrounds, including floating campsites, and the Lake Oroville Visitors Center remain closed to protect public health.


California Department of Parks and Recreation (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 if social distancing cannot be maintained. 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


‘New’ Trails Around Thermalito Diversion Pool

Partnering with CA Parks, 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 Trails. 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, and bringing your own soap for hand washing as well as alcohol-based hand sanitizers when water is not available. 


Anglers Finding Success at Oroville Fishing Spots

As access to area waterbodies is restored, fishing enthusiasts are returning to favorite fishing locations around Lake Oroville as well as the Thermalito Diversion Pool, Forebay and Afterbay. While most practice ‘catch and release’, a local angler saved his catch in order to officially confirm the weight of the 25.25-pound rainbow trout he landed at his favorite fishing hole. Anglers are reminded to comply with all CA Fish and Wildlife requirements, including possession of a current fishing license. Information about sport fishing licenses can be found here.


Algal Blooms 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. Recent water samples sent for analysis tested 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. To learn more about harmful algal blooms (HABs), visit the Water Board’s website.


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 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 previous May episodes of Water Wednesdays are available on DWR’s YouTube channel.


Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 820.9 feet and storage is about 2.43 million acre-feet. Daily average inflows to the lake have ranged between 2,934 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 3,235 cfs over the past week. 

Temperatures are forecasted to cool, and up to 0.5 inches of precipitation are expected this weekend in the Feather River Basin. During the week of June 1, there is a slight chance of precipitation and warmer temperatures. The Northern Sierra Basin rainfall totals remains below average for the year, at 63 percent of normal, and snowpack is also below average, measuring 14 percent of normal for this time of year.

Feather River flows were increased 450 cfs from 2, 050 cfs to 2,500 cfs on Friday, May 29, to meet downstream water quality and flow standards. Flows through the City of Oroville remain about 650 cfs and flows from the Thermalito River Outlet are about 1,850 cfs.

All data as of midnight 5/28/20