Sorry, Folks, the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is still “the Dumbest National Monument in the United States”

Some people may have noticed the hysterical response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13792, issued April 26, 2017 directing The Department of the Interior to open the first ever formal public comment period for members of the public to officially weigh in on monument designations under the Antiquities Act of 1906. A public comment period is not required for monument designations under the Antiquities Act; however, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and President Trump both strongly believe that local input is a critical component of federal land management.

Comments may be submitted online by July 10 at http://www.regulations.gov by entering “DOI-2017-0002” in the Search bar and clicking “Search,” or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240.

The Lake Berryessa News has submitted the following comment:

I would like to request a Congressional review of the procedures and standards for proposals to create National Monuments. I would like the review to specifically address the creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

The attached report,  “The History of the Creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument: The Ultimate Political Perversion of the Antiquities Act” documents my specific concerns regarding how this monument was created. My belief is that the analysis of this process should result in redrawing the map to eliminate most of the southern part of the National Monument, potentially add the rest of the Mendocino National Forest, and change the name to the Mendocino Snow Mountain National Monument.  

(Download a pdf of this report at:  Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument)


1 BSM detailed map to use


Milestone Achieved! A Positive Report on the Potential Future 

Rebirth of Lake Berryessa

More than a year since  the Lake Berryessa News began the campaign to give Lake Berryessa management back to Napa County, a major milestone in that campaign has arrived. A 434-page Lake Berryessa marketing report done by Ragatz Realty was just presented to the County and to the Bureau of Reclamation. Reclamation will review and comment on the report by July 3.  Ragatz will formally present this report at the Aug. 1 Board of Supervisors meeting.

But first a bit of historical background for context. For a detailed timeline see http://lakeberryessanews.com/what-happened-at-lake-berry.html

Monticello Dam was finished in 1958 and Lake Berryessa filled. By the end of 1959, Napa County had awarded seven long-term (30 year) concession agreements to newly formed resorts to provide recreation services. Leased mobile home sites provide revenue needed to support short-term uses such as camping and launching.

But in 1975, after years of fruitless discussion and debate with Reclamation regarding the Lake Berryessa management agreement, Napa County turned lake recreation management back to Reclamation.

In 2000 the Bureau of  Reclamation began a to develop a Visitor Services Plan to redevelop the lake. Their primary goal was to remove all mobile homes from the lake while replacing the existing resort owners with a single company to run all the resorts. Reclamation’s search for concessionaires to redevelop and run the resorts still remains stalled after several false starts during the last 10 years.

Reclamation adopted a 2006 Record of Decision followed by a Bid Prospectus to renovate the resorts with new marinas, lodges, campgrounds, restaurants and other features. In 2009, the agency received $4.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money which was, unfortunately, only used to demolish the existing resort infrastructure rather than provide any improvements to facilities. Millions of dollars in functional facilities were simply demolished.

Two bid prospectus attempts finally resulted in a contract with Pensus in 2010 which ultimately failed. A third bid prospectus received no bids by the end of 2016.

In February, 2016, the Lake Berryessa News and Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce began a Renaissance Lake Berryessa campaign aimed at returning management of Lake Berryessa to Napa County. They actively campaigned for this goal during the following months.

In June, 2016 Napa County Supervisors directed staff to enter into negotiations for a Managing Partner Agreement between the County and Reclamation for the management of Lake Berryessa.

By January, 2017 discussions between Napa County and Reclamation had proceeded positively enough to result in the supervisors directing staff to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Reclamation and also a contract with Ragatz Sedgwick Realty who would assist the County in identifying interested concession partners by marketing the opportunity to the resort community and performing a feasibility analysis to determine the best use of each site.

There are several benefits with county management of the resorts. The county has more flexibility than Reclamation. For example, instead of issuing a request for proposals and waiting for potential concessionaires to respond, the county can market the Berryessa opportunity to resort companies. About 300 companies worldwide do this type of resort development. Some may not want to work with the federal government.

A key piece of information could be known by the end of the June. The county wants to offer 55-year contracts to run resorts, but needs permission from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for this longer-than-usual time frame. The Bureau of Reclamation offered 30-year contracts when it sought new Lake Berryessa concessionaires. At the end of the contracts, the marinas, parking lots, water systems and other infrastructure installed by the companies would be owned by the federal government. This requirement and the short contract term were the “poison pills” that discouraged interest from large resort companies. In a modest change to policy, Reclamation just signed a contract with Markley Cove Resort for a 30 year contract, but with a possible 10 year extension for a total of 40 years.

In January, Richard Ragatz and his colleagues began touring the closed resorts, gathering information, and meeting with, among others, the Bureau of Reclamation, Visit Napa Valley staff, and members of the Board of Directors of the Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce. A survey of more than 3,000 people in the region found that 92 percent are interested in visiting Lake Berryessa, if it has the right facilities.

Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza, who has consistently approached this process with a positive outlook, sees the county making progress. “I think this is an exciting time for Lake Berryessa,” Pedroza said. Other supervisors have been supportive.

In an interesting bit of historical turnaround, John Tuteur, Napa County’s Assessor and Registrar of Voters, who was a Napa Supervisor in 1975, told the County supervisors at their June 20th meeting that one of his platforms when he successfully ran for the Board of Supervisors in 1972 was to end county management of Berryessa resorts. But 45 years later Tuteur said circumstances have changed. With the professional assistance of Visit Napa Valley, Napa County has a better grasp on the importance, management requirements, and effects of tourism.

“I think the county can do a superb job in helping to run the resorts,” Tuteur told the supervisors.

The five recreation areas the county could manage are Berryessa Point (previously Berryessa Marina), Monticello Shores (previously Rancho Monticello), Putah Canyon (previously Putah Creek), Spanish Flat and Steele Canyon (previously Steele Park). Of these, Berryessa Point and Monticello Shores are closed and the other three are operated in stripped-down versions under interim contracts. Pleasure Cove Marina and Markley Cove Marina, two of the smallest of the smallest of the previous seven, are operating at full strength under formal contracts with Reclamation.

The following table shows the economic loss to the local and extended Lake Berryessa community. Much of the revenue went to employees and local suppliers of goods and services. The appraised value was stupidly driven to zero by Reclamation’s decision to demolish all operational facilities. Having to start all over with multi-million dollar investments to redevelop the resorts has been a major, and unnecessary (too late now), stumbling block to recruiting potential recreation companies.

Resort revenue table

 The practical implications for the Berryessa Highlands, for example, of the rebirth of the Lake Berryessa as premier recreation destination are profound. How about a thriving Corners bar, restaurant, store? How about a fully functioning Steele Canyon marina with gas and a couple of hundred boat slips - and a good restaurant with a dynamite view - within 5 minutes of your home? How about at least one functioning gas station? Steele Park had 50 full-time employees. How about 600 new local jobs around the lake? That was a Pensus planning estimate. How about increasing property values to homeowners?

As this process unfolds the Lake Berryessa News and Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce sincerely ask Napa residents to encourage their supervisors to support a Renaissance Lake Berryessa.


1967 - 2017: 50 Years Since The Summer of Love.

This Year Is The Love of Summer at Lake Berryessa!

Winter rains brought Lake Berryessa to its maximum water storage capacity for the first time since 2006. With the rise in water level, and people's spirits, it is expected to be a busy summer at the lake. 

Markley Cove Resort, Pleasure Cove Marina, Steele Canyon Recreation Area, Putah Canyon Recreation Area, and Spanish Flat  Recreation Area offer a variety of recreation services including camping and boat launching. Oak Shores Day Use Area, will be open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Capell Cove Free Boat Launch is open for launching from 4 a.m.-10 p.m.

Love of  Summer  2017 is building up to be one of the best in 10 years. The lake is full and warm. The weather on Memorial Day was perfect – the best of the summer so far - with many more like it ahead.

Memorial Day was officially the first weekend of the summer recreation season, so start planning your future trips to the lake. There's a lot to do besides boating - with our local wineries, beautiful roads for bicycles and auto touring, a large shorefront public picnic area, quiet coves and inlets for kayakers, and miles of hiking trails.

The Lake Berryessa region has so much to see and enjoy, nothing is really that far away. There are many day trips that you can plan!

Summer collage


Summer 2017 is here, so it's time to go wakesurfing and check out the Monticello Dam with California Marine Sports and their Supra Boats.

We'll start with a visit to Monticello Dam and the World Famous Glory Hole Spillway to send off winter. Then we'll show off how easy, fun, and safe it is to get out and wakesurf. As you will see at the end of this video, if a kid can make it look so easy, you can do it too!


Glory Hole Spillway Unofficial (Assisted) 2017 Overflow Dates:

The First Day Lake Berryessa water flowed into Glory Hole: February 12th 

The Last Day Lake Berryessa water flowed into Glory Hole: June 4th 


Thanks to California Marine Sports for helping to make this winter so much fun! CMS and their great friends are looking for volunteers with boats for an event that takes kids and families, who otherwise couldn't afford to have this fun, out for a day on the lake.

Wednesday, August 3rd, Rollins Lake www.WakeTheWorld.org. Be there!

California Marine Sports wants to thank Steele Canyon Recreation Area for being a great host for their 2017 Customer Appreciation Weekend!

Drone Video & Edit: Evan K.

Safety Reminder: These were experienced drivers and riders, in a controlled area. Stay at least 100' from other boats while driving at all times.  


Welcome to the best map of Lake Berryessa you’ll ever find!

Click on the map to see a larger version.

Click here to download a pdf copy.

LBMap & Info Summer 2017


Highlands 053017


Political Economics Intelligence Test

It’s often amusing when conservative corporatists (aka predatory capitalists) attack union leaders because of the leaders’ salaries - which is actually a strategy to try to weaken unions and harm their members. The lame idea is to get union members to resent there own leaders because they may make more than the workers themselves.

This is quite stupid when you look at the salaries of corporate CEOs. There is absolutely no comparison between a union CEO’s $300,000 salary and the $10 million salary of a corporate CEO. The reason corporate CEO salaries are so high has nothing to do with the effectiveness of senior management or the profitability of a company. It is simply a strategy to raise the top managers’ salaries as high as possible because then all the lower level managers can also demand higher salaries - another Ponzi scheme. So Boards of Directors, who are typically also CEOs of other companies, vote for higher salaries for the CEO of that company so that their own Boards will subsequently vote to approve higher salaries for them.

In 2016, CEOs of S&P 500 Index companies received, on average, $13.1 million in total compensation, according to the AFL-CIO’s analysis of available data. In contrast, production and nonsupervisory workers earned only $37,632, on average, in 2016—a CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 347 to 1. Here’s a pop quiz to see if you get it.

Do corporate CEOs deserve multi-million dollar salaries?

Here are the 10 highest-paid CEOs for 2016, as calculated by AP and Eqular, with change from last year:

Tom Rutledge, Charter Communications, $98 million, Up 499%

Les Moonves, CBS Corp., $68.6 million, Up 22%

Bob Iger, Walt Disney Co., $41 million, Down 6%

David Zaslav, Discovery Communications, $37.2 million, Up 15%

Robert Kotick, Activision Blizzard Inc., $33.1 million, Up 358%

Brian Roberts, Comcast Corp., $33 million, Down 9%

Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner Inc., $32.6 million, Up 3%

Ginni Rometty, IBM, $32.3 million, Up 63%

Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron Pharma, $28.3 million, Down 40%

Steve Wynn, Wynn Resorts, $28.2 million, Up 36%

The 10 highest-paid women CEOs for 2016, as calculated by AP and Equilar, with change from last year:

Ginni Rometty, IBM, $32.3 million, up 63%

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo. $27.4 million, down 24%

Indra Nooyi, Pepsico, $25.2 million, up 13%

Mary Barra, GM, $22.4 million, down 22%

Phebe Novakovic, General Dynamics, $21.2 million, up 4%

Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin, $19.4 million, down 4%

Irene Rosenfeld, Mondelez International, $15.8 million, down 13%

Lynn Good, Duke Energy, $13.5 million, up 26%

Heather Bresch, Mylan, $13.3 million, down 27%

Susan Cameron, Reynolds American, $13.1 million, down 3%


 If you actually believe that any of these CEOs are worth what 

they are being paid, you are a moron!


50 Years Ago At Lake Berryessa

The Berryessa Highlands

Summer of Love - 1967

A new concept in “second-home” and permanent home development became a reality as earth-moving equipment started work on a planned $50 million development at the southern end of Lake Berryessa. The development, Berryessa Highlands, is the first major land promotion opened to the public at this desirable resort area.

Just 55 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area and less than 50 miles from Sacramento, Lake Berryessa, one of California’s largest lakes, offers abundant recreational facilities to those who want to build a second home. Its closeness to urban centers also appeals to permanent home seekers and to retired persons as well.

The ground-breaking marked the culmination of nearly three years of planning in which the developers and Napa County officials worked together on this planned community which may well serve as a model for resort community development for years to come.

Electric and telephone systems will be underground to eliminate unsightly poles and wiring and preserve the natural beauty. Wide paved roads will keep dust to a minimum and broad greenbelt areas will provide residents with room for recreation.

Riding trails, park areas, planned shopping center facilities and golf course will be designed to preserve privacy for home owners. From the Vallejo Times-Herald.    

1969 Highlands ad
Highlands Plan - Original copy


1115 Westridge


The Spanish Flat Village Center Has It All!

If Lake Berryessa were a town, the Spanish Flat Village would be its town center. Camping, boat launching, boat repair, great food, day use picnic area, Bureau of Reclamation Visitor Center, and even a history exhibit about the Berryessa Valley before Monticello Dam! All within a few minutes of each other. This is where you can stock up on food and drink at the Spanish Flat Country Store and Deli before you drive another few feet to rent your boat or jet ski at Lake Berryessa Boat and Jet Ski Rentals.

Meet your watercraft rentals or launch your own boat at the Spanish Flat Recreation Area which has the lowest launching fee at the lake. Cucina Italiana and its bocce court is also in the Village Center with light lunches or elegant dinners for vacationers. Check out available lake property at CeCe Short’s California Outdoor Properties office right next to the Handmade Store.

Spanish Flat Country Store and Deli !

The best stocked little country store at Lake Berrryessa is in the best location for your west shore fun. Minutes from the Spanish Flat Recreation Area and Oak Shores Day Use Area, owner Marcia Ritz wants your vacation days to be memorable. She wants to see you again and again. Marcia is a superb cook and her deli selections prove it.

Marcia in store


The Handmade Store

A fascinating place to poke around for gifts and mementos, stocked with handcrafted jewelry, soap, candles, dragons, wooden toys and whirlygigs, as well as handmade jellies and oriental sauce. Collectors can also find many gently-used items including a selection of vinyl opera records, original Calistoga Water bottles, historical photographs, and a couple of walls of Willie Nelson memorabilia.    

Donna in Handmade Store


1068 Eastridge


Paddling Lake Berryessa: From the Serene to the Exciting 

“The water was so calm I could hear the air breathing. The trees were motionless; the wind unnoticeable. Surrounded by crystalline water and low rolling foothills, it's nearly impossible not to be drawn to Lake Berryessa’s stunning views, diverse nature, and wildlife that make the lake an extraordinary paddling get-a-way." 

Cheryl Wood

Kayaking is becoming one of Lake Berryessa's most enjoyable diversions, providing  an  opportunity to view the lake from its best vantage point, all the while enjoying the option to spontaneously swim or picnic wherever you choose. As you paddle your way around the lake, keep on the lookout for the migrating or nesting birds, present almost year round.

Outstanding paddling opportunities can be found throughout this gigantic lake in beautiful wine country. The lake’s size need not prevent you from having a pleasurable paddling experience, thanks to the numerous boat launch locations. The arms located on the southwestern shore provide an abundance of secluded inlets to explore, which offer protection from the wind and fast-moving powerboats. Paddling a few miles up Putah Creek at the north end of the lake is sheer kayaking pleasure.

For those whose perfect kayak getaway includes dropping a line and hook, a variety of fish can be found here.

Lake Berryessa’s warm summertime water temperatures and gusty winds attract many jet and waterskiing, windsurfing and sailing enthusiasts, but the lake is so large you scarcely notice them. With pleasant air temperatures throughout the year, Lake Berryessa offers superb year-round kayaking, canoeing, kayak angling, and SUP paddling prospects. The lake has comfortable weather through all four seasons, and is open year-round, 24 hours a day, with running lights at night. 

Kayak collage


1090 Headlands


California Marine Sports Will Help Make Your Summer Fun!

California Marine Sports gained fame this Spring when their wakeboard boats helped the Lake Berryessa News splash lake water into the Glory Hole for the first time in 11 years. See their boats in action here:

California Marine Sports will be hosting their annual CMS Campout at Steele Canyon Recreation Area on June 2-4. Come out to see these beautiful boats on the water that weekend.

California Marine Sports final


Lake Level Status: 6/12/17

The lake level is at 438.5.0 feet - 1.5 feet below Glory Hole. Rainfall total has risen to 47.51 inches (.29" due to the short intense lightning and thunderstorm on Sunday, June 11). This is officially the highest annual rainfall in 20 years. Water temperature is about 75 degrees.

Lake level Feb2 Jun12
Lake Level increase 2017


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June 2017

LBNews Pg 12&1 Jun17

Click to download this issue.


The Cleanest Lake In Northern California Is 

FULL And OPEN For Summer Fun! 


Marty Rental Ad 040717


Lake Berryessa Fills and Glory Hole Spills

The Video History

This amazing series of Lake Berryessa News Drone videos by Evan Kilkus documents the 45 foot rise of Lake Berryessa in 2017.

It was the second largest annual increase in the history of the lake.

It was also the second highest level the lake has reached in its 58 year history.

The lake has only spilled into Glory Hole 26 times in those 58 years. Also the rainfall total (47.1 inches as of 5/8/17) is the highest in 20 years.

The first video shows how low the lake was 2 years ago. You should watch it before the others to get some perspective on the amazing rise of the lake in 2017.



Full lake level history 2015



Berryessa Valley and the Town of Monticello Historical Photos and Videos from before Lake Berryessa covered it.

Berryessa Valley photo

Thanks to Carol Fitzpatrick for creating the Berryessa Valley Exhibit at the Spanish Flat Village Center described in the first video.




1958 - 2017

by Peter Kilkus

Download a PDF of the history timeline here.

How Could the Government Have Done Something So Stupid?

Many people ask me about the history of the process that led to the present situation at Lake Berryessa. When I explain what happened most become incredulous and can't believe the government could have done something so stupid. "How could they have gotten away with that?" they exclaim.

The Bureau of Reclamation destroyed family recreation at Lake Berryessa for a generation of children. Here's an interview I did in 2010, three years after the interview below with Pat Monaghan and just after Pensus had been given the contract for 5 resorts. As we all know Pensus was subsequently kicked out in 2012.        

Here's a 2007 TV interview with Pat Monaghan, cofounder of Task Force 7 at Lake Berryessa, to give you some historical insight. Those of you who remember Pete Lucero will recognize his description of what we called "The Big Lie" - which turned into the "Epic Fail".


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The Winters Express

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pkilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2016