Lake Oroville Community Update - October 8, 2021
Loafer Point Stage II Boat Ramp Extension
Historic low lake levels at Lake Oroville are allowing DWR to extend three lanes of the Loafer Point Stage II boat ramp farther into the dry lakebed. Work to create the new boat launch lanes began this week and will continue until winter precipitation causes lake levels to rise. The existing Stage II facility was completed this spring, providing six new boat launch lanes extending to elevation 702 feet and 180 trailered parking spaces.
The Loafer Point Stage II facility is 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 makes Loafer Point a popular boat launching location. The Loafer Point Stage I boat launch facility, completed in 2020, 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.
Visitors and nearby residents are reminded to be aware of construction equipment and vehicles, including those entering and exiting the Loafer Creek recreation area at Oro-Quincy Highway.
Fuel Load Management Continues
Fuel reduction hand crews and heavy equipment operators from Butte Fire Center and CAL FIRE have returned to the Loafer Creek Recreation Area. Crews will be cutting, chipping, and piling burnt vegetation and hazard trees within the North Complex burn scar. Piles will be burned later this season when weather conditions are favorable. Heavy equipment and crews may be visible from Highway 162. Crews will also be prepping previously treated areas throughout Loafer Creek for a possible prescribed burn later this season.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR), in partnership with California Conservation Corps and Butte County Sheriff Office, is developing plans for various fuels reduction projects throughout the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA). When crews are available, they will hand cut and chip prioritized overgrown vegetative areas within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) project boundary. Areas of concern are the Highway 162 corridor, Kelly Ridge area, the Feather River Fish Hatchery, LOSRA, and nearby infrastructure.
The DWR Fuel Load Management Plan (FLMP) goal is to reduce wildfire risk and increase public safety around the FERC project boundary including Lake Oroville. With help from area partners, approximately 840 acres have been manually thinned, re-thinned, grazed, and/or treated with prescribed fire since November 2012. DWR’s goal is to treat 150 acres this season.
Bryozoans Visible Again in Lake Oroville
Have you seen these ‘creatures’ in Lake Oroville? Bryozoans are freshwater, aquatic invertebrates. There are nearly 5,000 species of bryozoans found throughout the world, and the majority are marine animals. Instead of being a single organism like a jellyfish, bryozoans are made up of thousands of individual microscopic animals called zooids, living in a colony. A single colony will vary in size from approximately 12 to 20 inches but some can grow bigger in diameter.
These jelly-like colonies can be found attached to submerged branches, rocks, ropes, and even on houseboat pontoons and motors. They typically appear during the summer and fall months when lake levels are low. Freshwater bryozoans are harmless and non-toxic, though they can occasionally clog underwater objects.
Palermo Tunnel Bulkhead Project
DWR engineers and contractors are working to re-install a refurbished bulkhead (controls inflow of water) at the submerged Palermo Tunnel Intake Structure in Lake Oroville. A frame and pulley system to make future installations easier will also be installed. The work is being done from a barge on the lake positioned near the Hyatt Powerplant intake structures. Cranes are being used to assemble the barge near Oroville Dam’s Spillway Boat Ramp area. Scuba dive crews and remotely operated vehicle work to install the bulkhead is scheduled for early November.
The Palermo Tunnel conveys water from Lake Oroville to the Palermo Canal, a source of water for the South Feather Water and Power Agency, which distributes treated water to the communities of Oroville, Palermo and Bangor.
The Spillway Day Use Area, Trailhead, and car-top launch ramp are now on Winter Hours, open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Launching of trailered boats at Lake Oroville’s temporary single-lane boat ramp at the Spillway Boat Ramp area remains closed due to unsafe conditions. Hand launching of small boats such as canoes or kayaks is permitted. As lake levels change, the condition of the ramp continues to be reassessed for future use.
The Bidwell Canyon Marina at Lake Oroville remains open and is providing shuttle service to boat owners from 8 a.m. until sundown. Boaters are advised to be aware of hazards now that lake levels have reached historic lows. The Thermalito Afterbay and Thermalito South Forebay are open to power boating. The Forebay Aquatic Center at the North Forebay recreation area has closed for the season but the recreation area remains open with picnic tables, restrooms, and beach facilities.
Numerous Day Use Area (DUA) facilities with picnic tables and restrooms at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) are open 8 a.m. to sunset. Bidwell, Lime Saddle, and Loafer Creek recreation areas are open 24 hours. The Oroville Dam Crest Road across Oroville Dam is available 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and open to pedestrians and bicyclists 24-hours a day. The Lake Oroville Visitor Center anticipates re-opening later this year.
Over 97 miles of trails around Lake Oroville, along the Feather River, Thermalito Diversion Pool, Forebays and Afterbay, and the Oroville Wildlife Area are available to equestrians, bicyclists, and hikers wishing to explore Oroville’s natural beauty. Trail maps are available at many Oroville locations including Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) kiosks, Oroville Wildlife Area office on Oro Dam Boulevard West, the Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Feather River Recreation and Parks District.
Visit the California Parks LOSRA webpage for current information on facility status and campground reservations. An interactive map of recreation facilities in DWR’s Oroville-Thermalito Complex is available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. Information about the 11,000-acre Oroville Wildlife Area is available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.
Cold Water Temperatures
Water temperatures in the Feather River and the Thermalito Diversion Pool, Forebay, and Afterbay continue to range between 48- and 58-degrees Fahrenheit as very cold water from the bottom of Lake Oroville is released through Oroville Dam’s River Valve Outlet System (RVOS). Persons recreating on these waterbodies are advised to wear life jackets.
Entering cold water on hot summer days can result in “cold water shock”, causing breathing difficulties as well as changes in heart rate and blood pressure and can be life threatening, especially without a life jacket to help you stay afloat. Find cold-water safety tips at the National Weather Service’s Safety webpage.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 629 feet elevation and storage is about 793-thousand acre-feet, which is 22 percent of its total capacity and 36 percent of historical average. Temperatures are forecasted to be in the low to mid-70s this weekend and into the following week.
Total flows to the Feather River are 1,250 cubic feet per second (cfs) for meeting downstream water quality and flow requirements. Flow in the low-flow channel, through the City of Oroville, is 650 cfs and flow through the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet is 600 cfs. Total releases to the Feather River are assessed daily.
The public can track precipitation, snow, reservoir levels, and more at the California Data Exchange Center at www.cdec.water.ca.gov. Lake Oroville is identified as “ORO”.
All data as of midnight 10/7/2021