Berryessa Lions Club 39th Annual Bike Rodeo Winners

 The annual bike rodeo at the Pope Valley School is one of the many projects in the greater Lake Berryessa community with which the Berryessa Lions Club is involved. The Pope Valley School has a current enrollment of 46 and is growing. From left to right: Raulito Correa, Julian Gutierrez, Riley Evan, Liam Gallagher, Elisa Ramirez, Diana Sosa, Troy Reed.    

Bike Rodeo winners


NO on Measure Z: The Zombie Tax

There's a better, fairer way which includes the much-neglected Lake Berryessa region. Read the full analysis at 

No on Measure Z: The Zombie Tax Attacks


A Tale of Two Cases

 "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…"

 The Case for the Creation of a Lake Berryessa Recreation Commission.

The Charles Dickens quote above is particularly relevant to the present situation in Napa County. The Napa Valley has recovered from the economic downturn and is showing record improvements in tourism and profits. But the Lake Berryessa region is still suffering  from past mismanagement by the Bureau of Reclamation and decades-long neglect by the county.

The County is now in serious discussions with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding re-assuming the management of the Lake Berryessa Recreation Areas through a Managing Partner Agreement. The county managed the resorts from 1958 to 1975. See the article on Page 4 of this issue describing the controversy of the early 1970s.

A report to the supervisors regarding the costs and benefits of this new arrangement is scheduled to be presented to the supervisors in November. The majority of the businesses and residents in the Lake Berryessa region support this proposal.

Lake Berryessa is not just another “lake in the country.” It is a major economic, social, and recreation resource  whose value to Napa County is being utterly wasted. 

And it is not only the present “recreation areas” (the seven previous “resorts”) that need to be considered. The coordinated management of the whole region, including the public and private lands outside the federal “take-zone”, must be done effectively for the good of  county residents. Only Napa County can do that.

A  Lake Berryessa Recreation Commission should be created reporting directly to the Napa Board of Supervisors. The Commission would consist of members with the professional expertise and competence needed to restore the Lake Berryessa Recreation Area as a successful and profitable family recreation destination.

Members should include representatives of the Board Directors of Visit Napa Valley - Napa’s premier tourism association, other Napa recreation and hospitality management professionals, finance and contract experts, sustainability design consultants, and business owners and residents of the Lake Berryessa region.

The County Planning, Building & Environmental Department already includes a Parks and Open Space Division (actually the present Regional Park and Open Space District).

If Measure Z passes, more than $800,000 per year will be available and much of that total should be dedicated to the revitalization of the Lake Berryessa region. In fact, Measure Z (if passed) funds themselves should be targeted at Berryessa watershed projects like new sewer systems and launch ramps for the recreation areas.

It's time for the county to finally provide the economic and social leadership Lake Berryessa deserves.

The Case for the Elimination of the Park and Open Space District

The Napa Regional Park and Open Space District (RPOSD) was created in 2006. It was born under intense controversy during a low turnout election and won by only 2,500 votes of 29,000 cast - hardly a mandate.

The Napa Register was against it: “The proposal…is flawed in fundamental ways...Supervisors need to address the parks issue, but not by creating an ill-defined new bureaucracy run by a separate set of elected officials.”

Supervisor Bill Dodd strongly opposed it and predicted, “Sooner or later, this new layer of government will create a new tax or fee to fund their program.” That's Measure Z, the Zombie Tax. A strong case can be made that Napa County voters made a mistake by creating it.

The RPOSD, with its policy of questionable land acquisitions and trails-at-any-cost philosophy, has done little of compelling benefit for Napa County residents. Most of what they have accomplished could have been done by a Parks and Open Space Division within the Napa County governing structure. Then the parks and open space strategy could be coordinated directly by  the Supervisors..

This new structure might also make voters more likely to pass a park and open space sales tax.

It's a radical proposal to some, but the county has changed its organizational structure before.

An argument against folding the RPOSD into the county structure is that the Board of Supervisors may be too development-oriented and would ignore open space priorities.

Skyline Park is an example. If the park were finally bought by Napa County it would be possible for the county to change its use of that land from strictly a park to other perceived beneficial uses. One supervisor has suggested that part of the Skyline Park land could be used for affordable housing. The Park and Open Space District could only use it as a park.

If we look at the county as a whole, very little has been done by the RPOSD in the Lake Berryessa Region. But now that the county is in serious discussions with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding taking over the management of the lake recreation areas, a coordinated structure including a county-managed Park and Open Space Division within the Planning, Building & Environmental Department which includes a Lake Berryessa Recreation Commission makes  long-term sense.

State law allows the dissolution of a special district by Petition-Initiated Dissolution, LAFCO-Initiated Dissolution, or District-Initiated Dissolution.

Voters may request a Petition-Initiated Dissolution to dissolve a special district by a petition signed by not less than 10 percent of the registered voters within the district.

Napa County has 93,331 registered voters as of the June, 2016 primary election.    


1018 Rimrock1


No on Measure Z: The Zombie Tax Attacks

By Peter Kilkus

It may not be World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, where a zombie outbreak erupts in metropolitan areas around the world, but Napa County is having its own County Conflict Z with a Zombie Sales Tax outbreak.

The Napa Regional Park and Open Space District (RPOSD) was created by Measure I in 2006. It was born under intense controversy during a low turnout election and won by only 2,500 votes of 29,000 cast - hardly a mandate.

The Napa Register was against it: “The proposal on the Nov. 7 ballot - Measure I - is flawed in fundamental ways...The Board of Supervisors needs to address the parks issue, but not by creating an ill-defined new bureaucracy run by a separate set of elected officials. We urge a no vote on Measure I.”

Supervisor Bill Dodd was against it and even predicted the present results: “If Measure I passes, a new layer of governmental bureaucracy will be formed…This special district will have no greater power to create access to open space than the county has today, and will have no funds that the county does not have today. In my opinion, the citizens of Napa County will end up paying more taxes if Measure I passes, as this special district will have an unstable source of funding for management and operations functions. Sooner or later, this new layer of government will create a new tax or fee to fund their program.

Ten years later, the predictions have proven accurate. It’s taken that long, but the predicted Zombie (a dead body reanimated through various methods) Tax has awakened and is aimlessly shuffling towards Napa County voters.

Much of the massive open space lands in Napa County are in private ownership and would be impossible or extremely costly to “develop”. With Napa County's strict land use controls and already abundant Agricultural Preserve and Agricultural Watershed open space lands, what taxpayer wants to part with more of their hard-earned money to pay a regressive sales tax to buy land that they will never ever use? Most Napa residents will never benefit from this Zombie Tax.

Read full story here (PDF)...


Amber lots combo 10016


Editor's Note: In my research of the history of Lake Berryessa I came upon this interesting 45-year old Oakland Tribune article. It discusses the turmoil of the early '70s which led to Napa County giving management of the lake back to the Bureau of Reclamation in 1975. I'm sure many local people will remember these times. It appears the federal government was no more competent then than it is now. This was the period which spawned "The Big Lie" about the lake which was  used again in the 2000s and led to the present situation. Let's take back our lake and do it right this time.


County, Lake Businesses Losing in Lake Berryessa Fuss

 By Norm Hannon, Oakland Tribune, Saturday, November 27, 1971

“Pat Botts has completely stymied the government,” says Napa County Administrator Al Haberger, a little helplessly. “Don’t say one person can’t do anything,” he goes on with grudging admiration. “She has raised hell. She’s brought in Nader’s Raiders, Senator Tunney, an the General Accounting Office. The federal bureaucracy is incapable of making a decision because of Pat Botts,” he concludes.

Mrs. Botts is the Lake Berryessa real estate agent and antique dealer who for a number of years has been blasting the way Napa County has been running things at Lake Berryessa, the popular 25-square mile reservoir which it took over in 1958 from the Bureau of Reclamation.

So far her efforts have resulted in:

A moratorium on any further development by the seven concessionaires at the lake whose mobile home developments and docks cover substantial areas west and south sides.

 A broadside in Ralph Nader’s report, “Power and Land in California,” charging misuse of government land.

A report by the National Park Service, issued last month, recommending that it take over and operate Berryessa as a National Recreation Area, which would push Napa County out of the picture and conceivably wipe out the concessionaires.

A bill introduced in Congress by Sen. John Tunney implementing the Park Service’s recommendation.

An audit by the General Accounting Office which absolves the seven concessionaires of any profit gouging and reveals, in fact, that only two of them are making any money.

 In a remodeled schoolhouse on Route 121 near the lake, where she lives with her husband, Mrs. Botts keeps metal filing box full of documents to support her charges. Her concise presentation is followed by a slide showing of conditions at the various resorts, and she will offer to accompany any doubters on a guided tout of the lake.

Her answers are quick and she has hundreds of facts and figures at the ready. Her remarks sometimes get a bit personal.

She admits to one economic motive for her campaign. Real estate n the area is hard to sell when it’s so much cheaper to buy a mobile home and put it on federal land at the water’s edge.

Mobile home sites and hook-ups go for about $500 per year. Taxes outside the federal “take line” runs as high as $18 per hundred.

She would like to see a faster pace of development on surrounding lands, but she says the visual pollution on the lake shore and other ecological considerations also concern her, including lack of public access to most of the 7,000 federal acres surrounding the lake.

This last point hits the crux of the argument over what has happened at Berryessa in the last 13 years.

Read full article here (PDF)

Oakland Trib 1971


2016 Rainy Season: What Are The Chances?

Once again speculation about rainfall at Lake Berryessa has begun. We had an El Nino last year and it did nothing for Lake Berryessa. Will the lake fill this year? Unlikely, since it would take more than 60 inches of rain to go up 40 feet. But there’s always a chance.

The lake rose 38 feet in 1978, 40 feet in 1993, and 61 feet in 1995 due to an unusually wet season with two significant storm periods. But this raises the question as to what would happen if the lake were already at or near the Glory Hole level and the rain still kept coming. Could there be a year when the lake went over the dam?

The water supply for Lake Berryessa is derived from the 568 square mile drainage basin above the dam. There are four principal creeks that flow into Lake Berryessa: Capell Creek, Pope Creek, Eticuera Creek, and Putah Creek - the main drainage of the basin. There is no connection to the Sierras so snow is not a factor.

Lake Berryessa has a storage capacity of 1,600,000 acre-feet (AF) at elevation 440 feet (Glory Hole). The average annual inflow to the reservoir is 369,000 AF and the annual firm yield is 201,000 AF. An additional release of 22,000 AF is required annually to meet prior downstream water rights along Putah Creek. An upstream reservation of 33,000 AF was established by the State Water Resource Control Board to provide water for future development of the area above Monticello Dam. Reclamation appropriated 7,500 AF of the 33,000 AF to provide for future development around the reservoir.

The reservoir water level may fluctuate from 455 feet (lip of dam) to a minimum elevation of 253 feet - no further output allowed. A water level of 309 feet is considered dead storage elevation. During the severe drought of 1977 the level decreased to 388 feet.

Water Elevation Frequency table

The latest Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) study was published on August 28, 1984. Experience since then indicates that the study results were conservative. Worst case results show the lake would overtop the dam by about 7.7 feet to an elevation 463.7' for 51 hours. Of course, the probability of this happening is only 0.01% - a 10,000 year flood. Overtopping the dam is not expected to affect the safety of the dam. The following table, based on an analysis completed in 1986, depicts the water elevation that, on the average, can be expected to be reached or exceeded for various time periods.

See the 50 Year History Chart below.

Flood Graph updated 092716 large

Download full story here (PDF)...


Reclamation Announces Seasonal Recreation Area Closures and Seasonal Changes to Park Hours at Lake Berryessa

The Bureau of Reclamation, Central California Area Office, has scheduled a seasonal closure of the north side of Oak Shores Day Use Area and the two restrooms along the Smittle Creek Trail at Lake Berryessa beginning Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, through Saturday, April 1, 2017.

The south side of Oak Shores will continue to offer restroom facilities, picnic tables, barbeque grills, water access, and a kayak/canoe hand launch. This seasonal closure allows Reclamation to perform necessary maintenance tasks and provides time for natural resource recovery. All other Reclamation-operated locations will remain open year-round.

Seasonal changes to park hours include the following Reclamation-operated areas: Oak Shores Day Use Area, Smittle Creek Day Use Area and Eticuera Day Use Area. Beginning Saturday, October 1, gates will close at 5 p.m. to reflect changes in daylight hours.

The Capell Cove Boat Launch Ramp is currently closed due to drought conditions and receding water levels; the ramp will re-open when water levels rise. Boaters are encouraged to use other ramps at Lake Berryessa, including those at the Putah Canyon Recreation Area, Steele Canyon Recreation Area, Pleasure Cove Marina, Spanish Flat Recreation Area and Markley Cove Resort (see the map athttp://lakeberryessanews.com/_Med…/lake-map-base-032116.jpeg).

Please note that these concession areas charge a fee to use their launch ramps. Please contact the locations to ensure ramps are still in operation prior to traveling, as some will likely be closing soon due to the dropping lake level. For information, please visit the following websites:

Markley Cove: www.markleycoveresort.com

Pleasure Cove Marina and Steele Canyon Rec Areas:www.goberryessa.com

Spanish Flat Recreation Area- http://www.spanishflatcamping.com

Putah Canyon Rec Area:www.royalelkparkmanagement.com

The Dufer Point Visitor Center is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. from Oct. 1, 2016, through April 1, 2017. For information on activities, directions, pet restrictions, or other questions, please call the Visitor Center at 707-966-2111, ext. 113, or the Lake Berryessa Administration Office at 707-966-2111.


Salmon festival

Join us for great food, music and entertaining events. For more information, just Google the “Winters Salmon Festival,” We are on Facebook and the City of Winters website.   

The salmon are protected in all waterways other than the major river systems. Please join us for the Winters Salmon Festival and sign up for email notifications that will alert you when the salmon arrive in Putah Creek.


Click Photo For A Real Time Webcam View of Lake Berryessa



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Lake Berryessa History 2010

The Bureau of Reclamation has 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.    

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.

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".

Full lake level history 2015


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The Winters Express


Lake Level Fifty Year History


pkilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2016