Lake Oroville Community Update - April 30, 2021


boat on lake oroville

Boat on Lake Oroville. DWR/2019

Summer Hours In Effect at Spillway

Summer access hours of 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily are now in effect for the Spillway Boat Ramp Area, Spillway Day Use Area, Potter’s Ravine, and North Fork Trails.  While overnight parking for lake users is permitted in this parking lot, no egress is allowed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.


Hours of access to Oroville Dam Crest Road for motorists is 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round and accessible to bicyclists, joggers, and walkers 24 hours per day. Please note that overnight parking in the lot above the main spillway is not permitted.


CAL FIRE to Conduct Rescue Training Exercise

A confined space rescue training will be held at the Edmund Hyatt Hydroelectric Powerplant on May 6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The training will involve numerous CAL FIRE personnel and equipment which will be visible to the public in different locations around Oroville Dam and the Hyatt Powerplant. The public is advised this is a training exercise to provide participants with “real-time” rescue experiences to learn and refresh skills related to emergency preparedness and response.


Oroville Wildlife Area Habitat Project   

The nearly 12,000-acre Oroville Wildlife Area (OWA) in Butte County is a popular stopping place on the Pacific Flyway for migrating and native birds. Managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for DWR, the OWA also includes DWR’s Thermalito Afterbay reservoir, a prime habitat for migrating waterfowl and several endangered species.


CDFW farms over 300 acres of grains, grasses, and flowering plants in the OWA to provide food (forage), shelter, and nesting cover for migratory and native birds. Recently, 60 acres in various locations around the Thermalito Afterbay were planted with sunflowers and safflowers. Read more about CDFW’s 50 years of using dry-land farming techniques to add diversity to the area’s wildlife habitat on the DWR Updates webpage. DWR will be tracking the success of these 60 acres over the summer and photos can be found on DWR’s photo shelter page “Pixel” by using the search term “Oroville Wildlife Area Planting”.  


Thousands of Salmon Released Into Lake Oroville

On April 23, CDFW released 100,800 triploid fall-run ‘inland’ Chinook fingerling salmon into Lake Oroville at the Spillway Boat Ramp.  These inland Chinook about 4 to 5 inches in length were raised at the Feather River Fish Hatchery to support recreational fishing opportunities at Lake Oroville. 

Triploid fish are infertile, or unable to reproduce. This allows the fish to grow larger instead of putting energy into reproducing.

Hatchery operations mitigate impacts to Feather River fish migration resulting from the construction of Oroville Dam. DWR built, maintains, and funds the Feather River Fish Hatchery in partnership with CDFW staff who conduct fish spawning, rearing, and stocking activities at the hatchery. The Hatchery’s fish planting program has been in operation since 1968. A virtual tour of the Hatchery can be viewed on DWR’s YouTube channel and additional information can be found on the CDFW website.


Loafer Creek Fuels Reduction Work

In partnership with Butte County Fire Safe Council (BCFSC), DWR has removed overgrown and hazardous vegetation from 13 acres along Highway 162 and Loafer Creek Road as part of DWR’s Fuel Load Management Plan (FLMP) to reduce wildfire risk, increase public safety, and enhance forest health in areas around Lake Oroville.


In another project, work crews from the Butte County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) are chipping previously cut and piled underbrush near the Loafer Creek Loop trail on the west side of the Loafer Creek Recreation Area. Work will continue for the next several weeks and may be visible and audible to the public.


CAL FIRE continues hazardous fuels reduction activities at Loafer Creek within the North Complex wildfire burn scar. Crews are using heavy equipment and hand crews to cut, pile, and chip burnt vegetation and trees. The piles will be burned this fall when conditions are safe to burn. Both projects are visible to motorists on Highway 162. The public is advised to use caution around work activities and reduce speeds around crews and equipment.


To date, DWR’s FLMP has treated approximately 700 acres around the Lake Oroville area. DWR has the goal of treating and/or retreating an additional 1,000 acres over the next five years.


Oroville Recreation

The Lime Saddle, Bidwell Canyon, and Spillway boat ramps are open for use. The California Department of Parks and Recreation (CA Parks) has opened their camping reservations for camping areas around Lake Oroville, including the Lake’s floating campgrounds. Lime Saddle group camping remains closed.


Reservations for camping can be made online by selecting the ‘Reservations’ tab on the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) webpage. The reservations system needs 48 hours’ notice to process reservations. “Day-of” access to campgrounds is possible if campsites are available. All day use facilities at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) are open. The Lake Oroville Visitor Center remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.


DWR and CA Parks invite outdoor enthusiasts to visit the area’s 91 miles of trails, including the 41-mile long Brad Freeman Trail. Mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians, and bicyclists can find trail information on DWR’s interactive map on the Lake Oroville Recreation webpage.


Visit the California Parks 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.


Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 728 feet elevation and storage is about 1.48 million acre-feet -- 42 percent full and 52 percent of historical average. Currently, in the Northern Sierra Basin, rainfall is below average, at 48 percent of normal for this time of year and snowpack is also below average at 23 percent of normal. Warm and dry conditions are forecast for the foreseeable future.


DWR continues to reduce releases to conserve water while maintaining flows to meet Bay-Delta water quality needs and outflow requirements. Flows to the Feather River decreased from 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 800 cfs on April 29. Current flows down the low flow channel through the City of Oroville are at 650 cfs and 150 cfs is being released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 800 cfs downstream of the Outlet.

The public can track precipitation, snow, reservoir levels, and more at the California Data Exchange Center at Lake Oroville is identified as “ORO”.


All data as of midnight 4/29/2021