Fire Impacts to Lake Oroville
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is a member of the “Watershed Working Group” led by the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal-OES). The working group is a multi-agency team evaluating and identifying areas of concern in the Feather River watershed affected by recent wildfires. Field teams are taking action to address erosion, debris runoff, and water quality impacts. DWR’s Division of Flood Management is currently assisting California Conservation Corps members to install erosion control measures in areas of concern.
DWR water quality experts have expanded water sampling activities at Lake Oroville and continue to monitor for algal blooms and other environmental concerns. After the 2018 Camp Fire, data collected by DWR environmental scientists showed no long-term impacts to water quality in Lake Oroville.
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. Several ancillary DWR facilities around Lake Oroville experienced fire damage. DWR staff are making repairs to the impacted facilities.
The Lime Saddle and Oroville Dam Spillway boat ramps are open. The Bidwell Canyon boat launch is only open weekends, 5 a.m. Saturday to midnight Sunday, while weekday construction continues to build boat ramp lanes to 700 feet, which will provide additional boat access when lake levels are low. The project is expected to be completed mid-November.
Bidwell Canyon and Lake Oroville (Lime Saddle) marinas are open for normal operation under regular winter schedules. 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.
The Potter’s Ravine and North Fork trails near the Spillway boat launch area and trails in the Loafer Creek Recreation Area are closed to repair fire damage. Enterprise, Stringtown, and Foreman Creek boat ramp areas, the Loafer Creek Recreation Area, and Lake Oroville Visitor Center also remain closed. Current recreation facility information can also be found on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. For information about the Oroville Wildlife Area, including the Thermalito Afterbay, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.
Plumas National Forest
While many areas of Plumas National Forest near Oroville and the upper watersheds of the Feather River remain closed due to the North Complex, Walker, and Sheep fires, nearly two-thirds of the Forest is open for recreation, including DWR’s Lake Davis and Frenchman Lake. Campgrounds at these areas, except Lake Davis, which is open until Oct. 31, have closed but trails, boating, and other recreation is allowed. Visitors are advised to be alert for firefighting equipment and personnel. Visit the Plumas National Forest webpage for fire restrictions, alerts, notices, and maps.
Chinook Salmon Return to the Feather River
The fall-run of Chinook salmon is peaking later than usual this fall, delighting fishing enthusiasts, area residents, and visitors. As the salmon return home to the Feather River to lay eggs for the next generation of salmon, the Feather River Fish Hatchery is also continuing their spawning operations which enable millions of Chinook salmon to be released to the river every spring. While the hatchery is not open for tours this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Viewing Area near the Feather River’s Fish Diversion Dam north of the Hatchery remains open to visitors. The public is urged to maintain physical distancing and abide by requirements for mask-wearing to protect personal health and the health of others.
DWR’s Water Wednesdays Feature Flood Preparedness
For a special Halloween treat, find out on the next Water Wednesday why lampreys are called “vampire fish”. 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 episodes are live, allowing participants who have signed up on Zoom to ask real time questions of the speaker.
Visit the DWR Events webpage to join or register for next Wednesday’s chat. Information will also be posted on DWR’s social media pages at @CA_DWR (Twitter) and @CADWR (Facebook). Water Wednesdays began in May 2020 and previous episodes are available on DWR’s YouTube channel – enter Water Wednesdays in the search bar.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 735 feet and storage is about 1.54 million acre-feet. Daily average inflows to the lake have ranged between 1,224 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 2,167 cfs over the past week. Beginning this weekend and into next week, dry conditions and temperatures ranging in the mid to upper 70s are expected.
The total releases to Feather River continue at 2,450 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 1,650 cfs from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 2,450 cfs for the Feather River’s high flow channel downstream of the Outlet.
All data as of midnight 10/22/2020