Feather River Fish Hatchery Opens
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced starting April 7, they will be re-opening 21 of the 22 state fish hatcheries. The hatcheries have been closed for nearly two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. The main Feather River Fish Hatchery facility in Oroville is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. The viewing window and overlook side will continue to be open sunrise to sunset.
The Feather River Fish Hatchery (FRFH) is divided into 2 sections:
- The first section (viewing window side) includes the fish barrier dam, observation platform, and underwater viewing window, located on the east side of Table Mountain Boulevard. The underwater viewing windows are best for viewing fish from mid-September through June. This side of the facility is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
- The second section (main facility) includes the spawning room, hatchery, and rearing ponds located on the west side of Table Mountain Boulevard. Salmon spawning operations can be observed Monday through Friday beginning mid-September until mid-November. Steelhead spawning can be observed mid-December through mid-February. Fish are present in the rearing ponds year-round. This side of the facility is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Learn how the hatchery raises Chinook salmon and steelhead to support California’s salmon populations during your visit. Interpretive panels describing the salmon life cycle, hatchery operations, and more are available for visitors. A virtual tour of the hatchery is also available on the Department of Water Resources (DWR) YouTube channel. Guided tours of the hatchery will resume when the fall-run Chinook salmon return to the river later this year.
Over 8 million spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon are produced by the hatchery annually, along with nearly 450,000 steelhead who are returned to the Feather River or planted in the Thermalito Afterbay for recreational users. To mitigate impacts from this third year of drought conditions, the facility will be raising an additional 1.7 million fall-run Chinook salmon to support the Feather River population. An additional 125,000 Inland Chinook will be planted in Lake Oroville this spring.
The Feather River Fish Hatchery is a California State Water Project facility owned and maintained by DWR, which funds hatchery operations. CDFW operates the hatchery, including fish spawning, rearing, and stocking activities. DWR built the fish hatchery to mitigate the impact of the Oroville Dam on Chinook salmon and steelhead populations because the dam blocks access to natural spawning grounds further upstream.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted the fourth snow survey of the season on April 1 at Phillips Station near Echo Summit. Following a January, February, and March that will enter records as the driest documented in state history, the manual survey recorded 2.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 1 inch, which is 4 percent of average for this location for April.
The snow water equivalent measures the amount of water contained in the snowpack and is a key component of DWR’s water supply forecast. Statewide, the snowpack is 38 percent of average for this date. (One week later, due to high temperatures causing more snowmelt, the statewide average was at 27 percent.)
“The conditions we are seeing today speak to how severe our drought remains. DWR has been planning for the reality of a third dry year since the start of the water year on October 1,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “While DWR has made significant investments in forecasting technology and other tools to ensure we make the most out of the snowmelt we do receive, water conservation will remain our best tool in the face of this ongoing drought and the statewide impacts of a warming climate. All Californians must focus on conserving water now.” The full snow survey news release can be found on the DWR News page.
Governor Gavin Newsom has asked all Californians to cut back water use at least 15 percent compared to 2020 levels. Current water conditions are now available in real time at California Water Watch, a new website launched by DWR. The website will help Californians see their local hydrological conditions, forecasts, and water conditions down to their address or their local watershed. Additional tips on how to conserve can be found at the SaveOurWater webpage.
The Loafer Point, Bidwell Canyon, and Lime Saddle boat ramps are open. The Oroville Dam Spillway boat ramp remains closed for repairs. The Foreman Creek and Stringtown cartop boat ramps are also open. Information on current boat ramp status can be found on the California State Parks’ Lake Oroville State Recreation Area webpage. Scroll down to the link for “Current Launch Ramp Status”.
The Loafer Creek Recreation Area is now open for all activities except group camping.
The Lake Oroville Visitor Center is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pick up the Lake Oroville Trails Map, which shows more than 91 miles of trails available to equestrians, bicyclists, and hikers, at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) kiosks, the Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce, or the 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.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 751 feet elevation and storage is about 1.68 million acre-feet, which is 48 percent of its total capacity and 66 percent of historical average. Temperatures over the weekend are forecasted to be in the mid- to upper-70s and decreasing to the 60s and low 70s into next week with a chance of rain mid-week.
The average daily inflows this week have been between 3,000 to 5,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and projected to continue at this rate next week. Inflows are subject to change based upon on actual weather conditions.
Starting April 2, 2022, DWR has initiated daily reductions in total flows to the Feather River and flows are projected to be at 1,100 cfs by Sunday. At 1,100 cfs to the Feather River, flow in the low-flow channel through the City of Oroville is 650 cfs and flow through the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet currently is 450 cfs. Flows 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. The Lake Oroville gage station is identified as “ORO”.
All data as of midnight 4/8/2022