Lake Oroville Community Update - July 1, 2022
American Icon Increases in Oroville
DWR environmental scientists have discovered a new bald eagle nesting territory at Lake Oroville, bringing the total number of nesting pairs who call this area home to eight. All but one of the eight nesting pairs who live around the lake and the Feather River are raising chicks, called ‘eaglets’.
This year DWR’s scientists have been eagerly watching the development of ten eaglets – an increase from the nine spotted in 2021. The chicks have been spotted around Lake Oroville and in the Oroville Wildlife Area near the Feather River. Chicks typically fledge – grow flight feathers and become strong enough to attempt flying – during the months of June and July.
Lake Oroville and the Feather River area provide ideal habitat for bald eagles, a species with both state and federal protections. Fish are one of the eagle’s main food sources and large water bodies like Lake Oroville provide a wide variety of fish as well as other favorite food sources such as waterfowl, small birds, and mammals. The many trees and snags (tall dead trees) near water areas provide prime nesting and hunting locations for the resident pairs.
When DWR’s first bald eagle surveys were conducted in 2002, three nesting territories were identified for protection. Currently, DWR has management plans and implements protections for all eight territories to help protect America’s national bird.
Fourth of July Fireworks
The City of Oroville’s Noon Rotary Club fireworks will begin at approximately 9 p.m. on July Fourth and will be launched from the Oroville Airport. If necessary, a Red Flag (severe fire danger) Warning from the National Weather Service for July Fourth will cancel the display. The morning at the airport will be filled with an airplane “fly-in”, pancake breakfast, car show, and airplane rides.
Viewers are encouraged to observe the fireworks show from their homes, if possible, or higher locations throughout the City of Oroville and surrounding area. The Clay Pit State Vehicular Recreation Area will close at sunset on Sunday, July 3 and remain closed until 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5. The Nelson Avenue Sports Complex will be open but the pool will be closed. The Oroville Wildlife Area and Thermalito Afterbay will also maintain normal operating hours on July Fourth: opening 1.5 hours before sunrise and closing one hour after sunset. Information on morning activities at the airport, suggested viewing locations for the fireworks, and other event information is available on the Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce website.
DWR and CDFW Release Salmon
The Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville is one of the most productive and successful fish hatcheries on the West Coast of the United States. Millions of fish are raised every year including Chinook fall and spring run salmon and salmon’s cousin, steelhead trout. Between March and June this year, the hatchery released over 11.3 million young Chinook salmon smolts (juvenile fish) into the waters of the Feather River, San Pablo Bay, and San Francisco Bay.
The smolts were loaded onto specialized trucks and transported to their various release locations. Transportation to the Bays, especially in drought conditions such as this year, improves survival by avoiding predators and numerous other obstacles and dangers in the Feather River, Sacramento River, and Delta. From these release locations, the smolts will make their way out to the Pacific Ocean where they will feed and grow for two to five years, supporting California’s commercial and sport fishery, before instinctively returning back to the Feather River to spawn and complete their life cycle. Read more about this annual release on the DWR Updates webpage.
The Feather River Fish Hatchery is a California State Water Project (SWP) facility built in the late 1960s to mitigate fish migration impacts resulting from the construction of Oroville Dam. DWR maintains the facility and funds the hatchery operations, fish spawning, rearing, and stocking activities provided by California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff.
The Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) is open for boating, camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and much more. The four main paved boat ramps at Lime Saddle, Bidwell Canyon, Spillway, and Loafer Point are open, along with the Lime Saddle and Bidwell Canyon marinas, and campground reservations can be made by visiting the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CA Parks) LOSRA website. Restrooms, potable water, and fish cleaning stations are not in service at the Spillway Boat Ramp area but portable toilets are provided – please plan visits accordingly.
Visitors to the Thermalito North Forebay will find a full CA Parks facility with restrooms, picnic areas, a swim beach, and the Forebay Aquatic Center with kayaks, paddle boards, and other watercraft available for rent Thursday through Sunday. The Monument Hill facility at the Thermalito Afterbay also provides boat ramp access, restrooms, a picnic area, and a swim beach. The 11,000 acres of prime wildlife viewing in the Oroville Wildlife Area also contains the Clay Pit State Vehicular Recreation area for Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) (south of Oroville Airport). The OWA is administered for DWR by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and information about the Oroville Wildlife Area is available on the CDFW webpage. The Lake Oroville Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
An interactive map of recreation facilities in DWR’s Oroville-Thermalito Complex is available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. Visitors are encouraged to be fire smart, bring plenty of sunscreen, stay hydrated, avoid leaving valuables in visible areas, be prepared for cold water temperatures, and be mindful of personal safety and the safety of those around you.
Blue Green Algae Monitoring
DWR environmental scientists regularly monitor for blue-green algae and their toxins during the summer months. There are currently no harmful algal bloom (HAB) advisories for Lake Oroville, the Thermalito Forebay, or the Thermalito Afterbay.
Water samples are taken at various locations regularly from Memorial Day through Labor Day and sent to a lab for toxin analysis. If elevated levels of cyanobacteria toxins are found while testing, DWR staff will work with California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board and recreation area managers to notify the public and post advisory signs at affected waterbodies.
To learn more about HABs, or to report a HAB visit the Water Board’s website.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 754 feet elevation and storage is about 1.72 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 49 percent of its total capacity and 64 percent of historical average. Temperatures over the weekend are projected to be in the low-80s and increasing next week to the mid-90s.
The Feather River releases were increased last week and are currently at 4,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to meet downstream Delta water quality and outflow needs. Flows through the City of Oroville are at planned at 1,050 cfs with 3,450 cfs released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 4,500 cfs downstream of the Outlet. Flows through the low flow channel may fluctuate through the week for fisheries purposes.
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 6/30/2022