California Conservation Corps Helps Construct Fish Habitat from Recycled Christmas Trees
The California Conservation Corps (CCC) will start constructing fish habitat structures at Lake Oroville and the Thermalito Afterbay on Jan. 20, using over 950 recycled Christmas trees collected by Chico Boy Scout Troop 2 and the Biggs 4-H Club. To create the habitat, members of the CCC team will bundle the recycled holiday trees together using a system of wire rope to anchor them in various locations on the lakebeds.
These structures provide juvenile fish safe refuge, improving fisheries and recreational fishing opportunities. For over 25 years, DWR has worked with local groups to construct fish habitat structures, which is one of the longest continuously running fish habitat improvement programs in the State of California. The 2021 project is anticipated to be completed by January 29.
Oroville Recreation and Boating Access
Construction of the Bidwell Canyon Stage II boat ramp project is nearly done. The project expands the parking area and provides two additional boat ramp lanes to allow launching when the lake drops as low as 700 feet elevation. The boat ramp area is currently open and is being actively used, especially by bass fishing enthusiasts. Short, intermittent closures may be necessary to complete the project. The auxiliary gravel boat ramp at the Oroville Dam Spillway boat ramp area remains open daily to experienced drivers of 4-wheel drive vehicles only from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Current boat ramp information is available at 916-213-5205.
Area trails and day use areas are open for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. Information on trail restrictions and access status can be found in DWR’s interactive map on the Lake Oroville Recreation webpage at https://water.ca.gov/Programs/State-Water-Project/SWP-Facilities/Oroville/Lake-Oroville-Recreation. Visit the California Parks Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) webpage at https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=462 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 at https://wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/Places-to-Visit/Oroville-WA. The Enterprise, Stringtown, and Foreman Creek boat ramp areas, area campgrounds, and the Lake Oroville Visitor Center remain closed.
Construction of Loafer Point Stage 2 Boat Ramps
Constructing low water access boat ramp lanes in a reservoir presents unique challenges as contractors face rising water levels from winter precipitation. Continued dry weather is allowing substantial progress on construction of the Loafer Point Stage 2 boat ramp project to build six new boat launch lanes and 180 trailered parking spaces to allow boaters to enter the lake when lake elevations are below elevation 805 feet. This year’s low lake levels provided DWR the opportunity to build the ramp down to elevation 702 feet and the contractor has started placing concrete for the ramp this week. When the lake levels are lower due to dry years, the ramp will be extended to lower lake elevations.
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 from a full lake down to 799 feet, a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant parking area, and new restroom facilities.
DWR Fuel Load Management Program
California Conservation Corps members are working in the Loafer Creek Recreation Area to remove ladder fuels, dead and dying vegetation, and thin unhealthy overstocked trees and overgrown vegetation as part of the DWR Fuel Load Management Plan (FLMP). These projects reduce wildfire risk, increase public safety, and enhance forest and watershed health around Lake Oroville.
Previous FLMP projects in the Loafer Creek Recreation area have been identified as contributing to the slowing of the North Complex Fire as it approached Kelly Ridge, increasing firefighters’ ability to establish a secure fire line and preventing the fire from spreading forward. With help from area partners, approximately 660 acres have been manually thinned, re-thinned, grazed, and/or treated with prescribed fire since November 2012. DWR’s goal is to treat an additional 1,000 acres over the next five years.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 696 feet and storage is about 1.22 million acre-feet. Currently, in the Northern Sierra Basin, rainfall is below average, at 40 percent of normal for this time of year and snowpack is also below average at 57 percent of normal. Expect dry conditions through the weekend with dry conditions extending into the week of Jan. 14, with the potential for rain during the latter part of the week.
The total releases to the Feather River have been at 1,250 cfs to conserve storage. The Feather River flows consist of 800 cfs through the Low Flow Channel adjacent to the City of Oroville, and 450 cfs from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 1,250 cfs for the Feather River’s high flow channel downstream of the Outlet.
All data as of midnight 1/14/2021