March 5, 2021
Reopening Additional Area at Thermalito Diversion Pool
During the recovery from the 2017 Oroville Spillways Incident, the exclusion zone and buoy line in the Thermalito Diversion Pool below Oroville Dam was temporarily extended approximately one-half-mile downstream. This week, the exclusion zone has been reduced and the buoy line moved back upstream to its historical location just below the spillway, reopening additional area for public access.
The Thermalito Diversion Pool provides opportunity for non-motorized water sports including kayaking, canoeing, and swimming. A car-top boat launch is available off of Cherokee Road. The upper end of the Diversion Pool near the spillway and dam, while open for fishing from the southern shoreline, excludes watersports, including swimming, wading, and paddle sports. Access to this area is available from the Brad Freeman Trail as well as from the new parking area off Oro Powerhouse Road (Oroville Dam Boulevard East towards Kelly Ridge, turn onto Oro Powerhouse Road and make immediate left before reaching the Hyatt Powerplant entrance gate).
Water Wednesday Focus on the Feather River Watershed
The Department of Water Resources Water Wednesday program just completed a series of episodes on watershed health, including a focus on the Feather River watershed that drains into Lake Oroville. Four February episodes discussed how a watershed works; wildfire impacts on watersheds and water quality; how DWR staff work to protect sensitive environments and species; and the anticipated impacts climate change may have on California’s watersheds.
Water Wednesday episodes, started in 2020 to provide online, interactive education to students, cover a wide range of ‘water-oriented’ topics of interest to many viewers and are available on DWR’s YouTube page.
The Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) campgrounds at Bidwell Canyon, Loafer Creek – including the Equestrian Campground, and the Lime Saddle Campground are open. Group camping, including floating campgrounds, and boat-in campgrounds remain closed. Reservation capability does not open until April and camping sites will be allocated on a ‘first come-first serve’ basis.
The Potters Ravine and North Fork trails are open for use. CA Parks encourages users to remain on the trails. Assessments by CA Parks staff of trail safety are ongoing. All day use facilities at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) are open. The Lake Oroville Visitor Center remains closed.
Visit the California Parks LOSRA webpage for current information on facility status as well as current requirements to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information about recreation facilities can be found in DWR’s interactive map on the Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. For information about the Oroville Wildlife Area, including the Thermalito Afterbay, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.
Photo: Hiking along the Thermalito Diversion Pool on the Brad Freeman Trail
Lake Oroville Boat Ramps
The Lime Saddle, Bidwell Canyon, and Spillway boat ramps are open for use. Bidwell Canyon and Lime Saddle boat ramps are open 24-hours per day and the Spillway boat ramp is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The Lake Oroville Marina at Lime Saddle is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the Bidwell Canyon Marina is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Loafer Creek boat ramps remain out of the water. The Loafer Point Boat Ramp area is still closed for construction which is anticipated to be completed this spring.
Bald Eagles Build New Nest
A nesting pair of bald eagles that lost their nest tree in the North Complex Fire have returned. Environmental scientists with the Department of Water Resources have located a newly built nest in an undamaged tree within their territory and observed nesting activity on the new nest by the pair.
Lake Oroville and the Feather River area provide ideal habitat for bald eagles. Fish are one of the eagles’ 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, roosting, and hunting locations.
Protecting the area’s year-round bald eagle population living in the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) Oroville-Thermalito Complex jurisdiction is the responsibility of the Oroville Field Division’s Environmental Scientists. The bald eagle is a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940. They were listed as an endangered species in 1978. Those protections have been successful, and the species is now federally delisted. DWR’s scientists monitor for and, if necessary, act against threats such as public intrusions, habitat loss, or other impacts to the eagles’ nesting areas.
Photo: Bald eagle nest in unburned tree near North Complex Wildfire burn scar - inside red circle
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 713 feet elevation and storage is about 1.35 million acre-feet - 38 percent full and 54 percent of historical average. Currently, in the Northern Sierra Basin, rainfall is below average, at 49 percent of normal for this time of year and snowpack is also below average at 61 percent of normal. A break in the rain this weekend with continuing chance of rain and colder temperatures in the early part of the week of March 8.
The total releases to the Feather River are 1,050 cubic feet per second (cfs) to conserve storage in Lake Oroville. The Feather River flows will consist of 800 cfs down the Low Flow Channel through the City of Oroville, and 250 cfs from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 1,050 cfs for the Feather River’s high flow channel 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 3/4/2021
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