Lake Oroville Community Update - March 3, 2023
Loafer Point High Water Ramp in Use
For the first year since its construction in 2020, the Loafer Point Stage I boat ramp is open for use thanks to rising lake levels. Open for water elevations above 805 feet, Loafer Point Stage I has three boat launch lanes and a boarding dock.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) constructed the two Loafer Point facilities in the Loafer Creek Recreation Area to improve boater access to Lake Oroville. Due to dry conditions the last few years in California, DWR has taken advantage of lower lake elevations to build and improve boat ramp and parking facilities. In addition to the Stage I facility, Loafer Point Stage II provides boat launch access between 680 feet and 805 feet elevation.
Loafer Point Stage I also provides lighted parking areas for vehicles and boat trailers, a restroom facility, and easy access to Loafer Creek Recreation Area’s many trails, campgrounds, swimming beaches, and nearby Bidwell Marina and store, making it a full-service recreation destination. Boaters will also appreciate Loafer Point’s immediate access to the wide-open waters of Lake Oroville – there are no marina ‘slow speed zones’ to navigate.
Check the status of Lake Oroville boat ramps on the California Department of Parks and Recreation’s (State Parks) website.
Feather River Hatchery Steelhead Planting
The Feather River Fish Hatchery raised approximately 409,000 yearling steelhead trout around 8.5 to 9.5 inches in length for 2023 releases. Around 4,700 steelhead were released in the Thermalito Afterbay in February to support recreational fishing. In addition, 277 male hatchery kelts, or spawned adults, were released into the Thermalito Afterbay in January and February.
Approximately 404,300 steelhead were released into the Feather River at Boyd’s Pump Boat Launch between Feb. 6 and Feb. 23 to meet mitigation requirements. Releasing the young fish further downstream improves their chances of survival.
Like the salmon that populate the Feather River, steelhead trout migrate from the river to the ocean, returning to the river as adults to spawn. Unlike salmon, they can spawn several times during their lifetime. The name “steelhead” comes from their appearance, a more streamlined shape than Chinook salmon with a silvery or brassy color as an adult.
The Feather River Fish Hatchery is a California State Water Project (SWP) facility built in the late 1960s to mitigate impacts on fish migration resulting from the construction of Oroville Dam which prevented access to spawning grounds further upstream. Daily visiting hours at the facility are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fuel Load Management
DWR continues vegetation management and debris cleanup activities around the Feather River Fish Hatchery to remove overgrown ladder fuels and create a more wildfire resilient landscape. In addition, CAL FIRE, Butte County Fire Department, and the California Conservation Corps (CCC) Magalia Fire Center continue cutting and pile burning activities in the Loafer Creek area and along Oro Dam Boulevard East near the Hyatt Powerplant.
Over the next couple weeks, the Butte County Sheriff crew will be cutting and piling material along Canyon Drive to reduce overgrown vegetation near the community of Kelly Ridge. CAL FIRE will burn the brush piles at a later date.
DWR is implementing a Fuel Load Management Plan (FLMP) at its Oroville Facilities to reduce wildfire risk and increase public safety around Lake Oroville and surrounding communities. Vegetation management activities will continue through the spring, weather permitting. Smoke from pile burning activities will continue to be visible in the Oroville area.
DWR, State Parks, and CDFW maintain over 92 miles of trails in the Oroville area. An interactive map of recreation facilities, including open boat ramps, and their permitted uses (hike, bike, horse, multi) is available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. The marinas at Bidwell Canyon and Lime Saddle are open daily and provide a variety of services such as a shuttle and boat rentals.
The Lake Oroville Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Visitor Center offers numerous educational exhibits, a theater featuring videos about the building of Oroville Dam, walking and hiking trails, and a 47-foot-tall observation tower providing unsurpassed panoramic views.
Current Lake Operations
Lake Oroville is at 834 feet elevation and storage is approximately 2.6 million acre-feet (MAF) and increasing, which is 73 percent of its total capacity and 116 percent of the historical average. Wet weather is expected to continue through the weekend with intermittent rain showers throughout the week.
The Feather River releases are currently at 1,050 cubic feet per second (cfs). Flows through the City of Oroville are 650 cfs with 400 cfs released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 1,050 cfs downstream of the Outlet. DWR continues to assess releases to the Feather River daily.
The public can track precipitation, snow, reservoir levels, and more at the California Data Exchange Center. The Lake Oroville gage station is identified as “ORO”.
All data as of midnight 3/2/2023.