May 7, 2021
Loafer Point Stage II Boat Ramp Opens
The newly completed Loafer Point Boat Ramp facility is now open for use. The six-lane boat ramp has 180 trailered parking spaces and provides immediate access to the open waters of Lake Oroville. This Stage II facility will provide boat launch capability when lake elevations go as low as 707 feet above sea level. As lake levels are anticipated to drop further due to drought conditions, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is planning to extend the ramp to lower lake elevations this fall and winter.
The Loafer Point Stage I boat ramp was completed in 2020 and added three new boat launch lanes from a full lake down to 805 feet and a new parking area. The new restroom facilities will be in service when the water levels rise above elevation 805 feet. Both boat ramps are adjacent to the Loafer Creek Recreation Day Use Area and Campground, rounding out a full-service recreation destination with nearby trails, campgrounds, boating, and marina.
Photo: Loafer Point Boat Ramp Facility - Stage I in background, Stage II in foreground with Bidwell Canyon Marina in distance on right
Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee to Meet
The Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee (ORAC) met May 7. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was not open to the public to protect public health. ORAC was established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review and provide recommendations regarding the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Recreation Plan for the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. To obtain a summary of the meeting, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upper Feather Lakes Open for Recreation
Many Plumas National Forest recreation sites in the Frenchman Lake and Lake Davis Recreation Areas are now open. Lower water levels may affect placement of boat docks and limit what size boats may be launched. Information about campground availability and reservations can be found at www.Recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777. Campgrounds along Caribou Road in the Feather River Canyon (Highway 70) are also open; however, Lakes Basin and Gold Lake campgrounds remain covered in snow and will open later in the season. Visit Plumas National Forest’s recreation webpage for information.
CAL FIRE Announces Wildfire Prevention Week at Loafer Creek
CAL FIRE chose the Loafer Creek Recreation Area as one of three locations in California to kick off their annual “Wildfire Preparedness Week”. The CAL FIRE events are held to raise awareness and encourage the public to take a hands-on approach in wildfire preparedness.
The event also highlighted how CAL FIRE is preparing for the 2021 fire season, including using prescribed fire and vegetation management programs such as their partnership with DWR’s Fuel Load Management Plan (FLMP) to reduce wildfire risk, increase public safety, and enhance forest health in areas around Lake Oroville.
CAL FIRE continues hazardous fuels reduction activities at Loafer Creek within the North Complex wildfire burn scar. Crews are using heavy equipment and hand crews to cut, pile, and chip burnt vegetation and trees. The piles will be burned this fall when conditions are safe for burning. The project is visible to motorists on Highway 162. The public is advised to use caution around work activities and reduce speeds around crews and equipment.
Photo: Before and after photos showing removal of overgrown vegetation and hazardous fuels at Bidwell Canyon recreation area.
The Lime Saddle, Bidwell Canyon, and Spillway boat ramps are open for use, along with the newly opened Loafer Point boat Stage II launch facility. The California Department of Parks and Recreation (CA Parks) has opened their camping reservations for camping areas around Lake Oroville, including the Lake’s floating campgrounds. Lime Saddle group camping remains closed.
Summer access hours of 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily are now in effect for the Spillway Boat Ramp Area - gates close at 11 p.m.
Hours of access for motorists to Oroville Dam Crest Road is 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round; it is accessible to bicyclists, joggers, and walkers 24 hours per day. Please note that overnight parking in the lot above the main spillway is not permitted. Day use facilities and trails at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) are open 8 a.m. to sunset, except for Bidwell, Lime Saddle, and Loafer Creek, which are open 24 hours. The Lake Oroville Visitor Center remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Visit the California Parks LOSRA webpage for current information on facility status, campground reservations, and to find current requirements to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information can also be found on the Lake Oroville Recreation webpage and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.
Oroville Wildlife Area Habitat Project
The nearly 12,000-acre Oroville Wildlife Area (OWA) in Butte County is a popular stopping place on the Pacific Flyway for migrating and native birds. Managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for DWR, the OWA also includes DWR’s Thermalito Afterbay reservoir, a prime habitat for migrating waterfowl and several endangered species.
CDFW farms over 300 acres of grains, grasses, and flowering plants in the OWA to provide food (forage), shelter, and nesting cover for migratory and native birds, including 60 acres in various locations around the Thermalito Afterbay were planted with sunflowers and safflowers. Read more about CDFW’s 50 years of using dry-land farming techniques to add diversity to the area’s wildlife habitat on the DWR Updates webpage. DWR will be tracking the success of these 60 acres over the summer and photos can be found on DWR’s photo shelter page “Pixel” by using the search term “Oroville Wildlife Area Planting”.
Photo: Plowing and seeding at Oroville Wildlife Area near the Thermalito Afterbay
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 728 feet elevation and storage is about 1.48 million acre-feet -- 42 percent full and 51 percent of historical average. Currently, in the Northern Sierra Basin, rainfall is below average, at 48 percent of normal for this time of year and snowpack is also below average at 10 percent of normal. Warm and dry conditions are forecast for the foreseeable future.
Because of warmer temperatures and dry conditions, additional flows are needed to meet Bay-Delta water quality and outflow. Flows to the Feather River increased from 800 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 1200 cfs on May 5 and May 6. Current flows down the low flow channel through the City of Oroville are at 650 cfs and 550 cfs is being released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 1,200 cfs downstream of the Outlet.
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 5/6/2021
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