The latest issue of the Lake Berryessa News has been published and is available for download at:

LBNews Pg 8&1 June20


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Lake Berryessa Is Open - Summer Is Here (Finally!) - 

But Revitalization Delayed Again

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The January 2017 Lake Berryssa News headline was: 

Will 2017 Be Lake Berryessa's Lucky Year?

On June 21, 2016, the Napa Board of Supervisors directed staff to enter into negotiations for a Managing Partner Agreement (MPA) between the County and Reclamation. Under a Managing Partner Agreement, the responsibility to develop and manage public recreation areas would be transferred to Napa County.

At the December 6, 2016 Board of Supervisors meeting the supervisors accepted a recommendation to move forward with this strategy and approved an agreement with Ragatz Sedgwick Realty to 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. The  positive Ragatz Report was released in May 2017.

Napa Supervisors then authorized a Request for Information and Interest process (RFII) to determine how many potential bidders would be interested in participating in the Lake Berryessa revitalization process. The original schedule for the process was:

November 20, 2017: RFII Submittals Due

January, 2018: MPA Authorization

February, 2018: RFP Release

April, 2018: RFP Due

Summer 2018: Concessionaire Selection and Negotiations

Turns out that 2017 was not Lake Berryessa's lucky year. After a negotiation process that seemed interminable, the Napa Board of Supervisors unanimously approved (12:15 PM, Tuesday, March 17, 2020) the Managing Partner Agreement (MPA) with the Bureau of Reclamation - two years behind schedule! 

Under the MPA, Napa County would assume management of the Spanish Flat Recreation Area (the old Spanish Flat Resort), Monticello Shores Recreation Area (the old Rancho Monticello Resort), and Steele Canyon Recreation Area (the old Steele Park Resort) effective November 1, 2020 

Then the COVID19 hammer came down. Due to this crisis the County has been in emergency mode since the signing of the MPA. There has been no official word on the progress of writing and releasing a bid prospectus. That means the lake revitalization process will probably be delayed another year. 

But at least Lake Berryessa is open for the summer!


Lake Level as of 5/31/20

Lake level has dropped to 429.7 feet, 10.3 feet below Glory Hole. Light rain brought the total for the season at Monticello Dam to more than 11 inches - the lowest level in more than 22 years! Water temperature measured at Monticello Dam hit 80 degrees at the surface; still holding holding at 55 - 60 degrees at 40 feet and 53 degrees at 70 feet deep and below.

Lake Temp 052720


Fishing With Sid at Lake Berryessa

After many months of waiting to get back on the lake to fis, this Memorial Day Weekend was perfect. The weather was ideal, the fishing conditions great, and just being outdoors was wonderful. Having to be house bound for so long I was eager to get back to what I love to do. 

I took out my son’s friend Spo (who is like a son to me) the first day. We had a good time and he limited out with five nice bass. The next day I took Roxanne and Andrew out. It was their twentieth wedding anniversary, and they wanted to go for a day of bass fishing. Besides the bass they landed, they caught a good size trout. I think they will do this trip with me yearly they had a great day.  

My son Henry landed a six pound bass.

Henry bass

I got to take my buddy Albert and his grandson Daniel out on Sunday afternoon and we stayed out till dark. We fished all over the lake and each one of us caught limits of quality bass from 2 1/2 to 4 pounds. It was a really good weekend for fishing and I hope it’ll continue this way through the summer.

Albert boy bass
man bass
Sid friends


I hear the government is allowing us to watch the sunrise and sunset now.


What Might Have Been - Really Dumb Names

When Pensus won the contract for the Lake Berryessa Resorts in 2010, they renamed the resorts - an incredibly unpopular decision which was reversed when they were kicked out by the BOR. Can you imagine? Lake Berryessa residents and visitors could not.

Markley Cove = Mahogany Bay

Steele Park Resort = Lupine Shores Resort

Spanish Flat Resort = Foothill Pines Resort

Lake Berryessa Marina = Blue Oaks Resort

Rancho Monticello Resort = Manzanita Canyon Resort

Putah Creek Resort = Chaparral Cove Resort

I suggested that Pensus might wish to form a sister resort arrangement with Lupin Lodge in Los Gatos.

“Lupin Lodge: A Clothing-Optional Getaway For All Seasons Luxury Camping...Try a Lupin Yurt at Lupin Lodge ...the ultimate value in clothing-optional relaxation and nude recreation in the San Francisco Bay Area." My suggestion was declined.


-Rabbit rabbi joke


Financial Principles for Fun and Profit

by Peter Kilkus

(This is another excerpt from my book, Conspiracy Theory or Automatic Pilot: The Economic Roots of Environmental Destruction, available on Amazon.)

Classical economics is a mythology. Predatory capitalism is a fundamentalist religion based on this mythology. Environmental destruction and income inequality are results of the practice of this mythical religion. But is the present economic and environmental situation a conscious conspiracy or an unintended consequence of simplistic beliefs supported by basic human greed?

The COVID 19 crisis has illustrated the serious problems with classical economics. The fact that the stock market is doing relatively well when individuals and families are suffering great losses is the best indicator that the stock market is NOT the economy - nor does it have any real connection to it.

David Korten says, “I first encountered economics in college when I chose it as my under­graduate major. I soon found it mechanistic, boring, and detached from reality, so I switched to the study of human behavior and organization. I've since come to realize that economic systems are the dominant systems for organizing behavior in modern societies and are most ap­propriately studied as behavioral systems.” 

Economics as a “social science” means it involves people, and that it strives to be considered a scientific discipline. But “people” is a notoriously complex concept to bring under supposedly objective and predictive scientific scrutiny. Therefore, certain abstractions have been used to simplify the process. These abstractions have become principles and, finally, beliefs. These beliefs, or more accurately, myths, are what drive the financial system because they are used to make real people act, unquestioningly, in the best interests of the financial system itself.

Homo Economicus: The Sanctification of Greed

The most important abstraction basic to contemporary economic theory is that of Homo economicus. The chief feature of the abstract Homo economicus is extreme individualism combined with the insatiability of total wants.

There are explicit underlying assump­tions about this abstract Homo economicus:

· Humans are motivated by self-interest, which is expressed pri­marily through the quest for financial gain.

· The action that yields the greatest financial return to the individual or firm is the one that is most beneficial to society.

· Competitive behavior is more rational for the individual and the firm than cooperative behavior; consequently, societies should be built around the competitive motive.

· Human progress is best measured by increases in the value of what the members of society consume, and ever higher lev­els of consumer spending advance the well-being of society by stimulating greater economic output.

To put it in harsher language, these ideological doctrines assume that:

· People are by nature motivated primarily by greed.

· The drive to acquire is the highest expression of what it means to be human.

· The relentless pursuit of greed and acquisition leads to socially optimal outcomes.

· It is in the best interest of human societies to encourage, honor, and reward the above values.

I, among many others, think this picture of human beings is profoundly erroneous and conclusions drawn by economists about the real world from this model must be deeply suspect. On a very personal level, is this the real you? People almost everywhere, when asked about the essential elements of a good life come up with much the same list:

· A secure means of livelihood that provides for our basic material needs while earning us a place of respect in our community;

· A strong, nurturing family, friends, and a supportive, peaceful, and secure community that allows us to explore and develop our capacity for loving relationships;

· The opportunity to learn and to give expression to our awareness and understanding of ourselves and the world around us both intellectually and artistically;

·  Good physical health and the opportunity to engage in athletics, dance, and other forms of physical expression that make our bodies tingle with life's energy;

· A sense of belonging to place, community, and life, yet with the freedom to make personal choices-and sometimes to wander and explore without the obligations of place;

· A clean and healthy environment vibrant with the diversity of life; and

· An assurance that our children will have an opportunity for the same.


More Opportunities to Live at the Lake

Lucky to Live at the Lake
208 Manzanita Jun2020
603 Noah Jun2020
809 Bahia Vista Jun2020
4721 Monticello Jun20
1029 Eastridge Jun2020
9375 Steele Canyon May20 copy


2019 Napa County Agricultural Crop Report

The gross value of winegrape production was $937,961,800. Overall winegrape values decreased 9.7% compared to the record setting 2018 values. Total production dropped by 24,851 tons or 13.5%. The gross value of all agricultural production was $943,552,800. Sustainable agriculture is based on three concepts that are interdependent and equally important. 

First, the operation must be economically viable. If a farmer can’t make a profit, the business cannot be sustained. Second, the industry must be ecologically sound. If a farmer damages the environment, the business will eventually fail. Lastly, the individual workers and the surrounding community must be supported. 

This means that workers need to earn a good living wage and be treated fairly with safe working conditions. It also means that the community needs to feel that farming operations are contributing to the local economy and are being conducted safely and properly. 

-Napa Crop values
-Fruits and Nuts


Bureau of Reclamation: Lake Berryessa



Reclamation will continue to inform the public of the status of operations at Lake Berryessa via our web page and news releases.

Field Office and Dufer Point Visitor Center

5520 Knoxville Road, Napa CA 94558


Call the resorts for the latest information.







Used Motor Oil Recycling

Those of us who live in the country often do our own oil changes on our trucks, cars, dirt bikes, ATVs, boats, and jet skis. Definitely recycle your used oil. For the south lake area there is an oil recycling center at the Steel Canyon Road transfer station within minutes of the Berryessa Highlands.

Napa County Motor Oil Recycling ad Mar2020


Policy and Politics Betray the People: 

The Lake Berryessa Saga: 1958 - 2020

 (Introduction from my new book “in progress”, "Policy and Politics Betray the People: The Lake Berryessa Saga: 1958 - 2020”)

The Four Tragedies of the Berryessa Valley: A History of Heartbreak

As I stood with Brian Hackney of KPIX’s Eye on the Bay looking out at the fantastic view of Lake Berryessa from the site of the demolished Steele Park Resort’s Boathouse Restaurant (https://youtu.be/nP9K8Ai0Lkc), I was struck by the many levels of history we were witness to. And much of that history, unfortunately, was filled with heartbreak.

The First Tragedy: The Destruction of Native American Culture

Formerly known as Talahalusi (Beautiful Land), the Napa Valley is one of California's longest inhabited areas. Archaeological surveys indicate 10,000 years of uninterrupted habitation. "It was a paradise - a cultivated paradise where one only had to reach out their hand to eat. A place rich in beauty, water and food," stated the oral history of Native American Elder Jim Big Bear King.

Native Americans lived peacefully in pole houses, using clamshell beads and magnesite cylinders for money and jewelry. They processed obsidian into shafts, spears and arrowheads, which were used for hunting and export. Acorns, perennial grasses, wild berries, freshwater shellfish, salmon, fowl and game were their diet. These hunter-gatherers lived in a rich environment with a capacity for a dense, socially complex population of 35,000-40,000 people. They established large permanent villages with nearby seasonal resource and task-specific camps.

In 1976 an archaeological survey of lands slated for development for recreational purposes (Oak Shores) resulted in the discovery of a number of prehistoric artifacts along the shoreline of Lake Berryessa. Although the study area (Oakshores Park) is contiguous to Lake Berryessa and appears (at the present time) to be a favorable place for human occupance, prior to the construction of Monticello Dam it was a considerable distance from the principal stream draining the area (Putah Creek).

Spain claimed the land that included California in about 1530.  It stayed in Spanish hands until Mexican independence in 1821 when it became part of Mexico—Alta California as it was called by the Mexicans to distinguish it from Baja California.

After the Spanish and Mexican invasion in 1823, the tribes were nearly decimated by forced marches and smallpox. When forced to relocate to various missions for religious indoctrination, many fled to friendlier territory.

The Second Tragedy: The Destruction of Spanish Culture

Alta California stayed in Mexican hands until an infamous incident in 1846.  John C. Fremont led a group of American adventurers and earlier American immigrants in an uprising to try and free Alta California from Mexican hands.  On 14 June 1846 Fremont and company declared California to be an independent state:  the Bear Flag Republic. What so stains the Bear Flag Republic is the killing by some of Fremont’s men, lead by the famous Kit Carson, of three innocent Mexicans—Jose de los Reyes Berryessa and two of his nephews.

This “republic” only lasted until 7 July 1846.  The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American war and ceded northern Mexico to the U.S.  California, then, became a territory of the U.S.  In 1850 California was admitted to the Union as a state and stayed in the Union during the Civil War.

What, though, of the people of Alta California?  Who were they, where did they come from, and how did they change over time?  Particularly what of the people of Berryessa Valley?

The first people known to reside in the valley were American Indians from the Southern Wintun tribe.  Up until about 1800 members of the Southern Wintun tribe lived in a village in Berryessa Valley named Topai.  Their main diet was acorns which normally grew abundantly.  Unfortunately, no members of the Southern Wintun tribe survive. 

The next known inhabitants of the valley were two Mexican brothers, the Berryessas (Berryessa is a corruption of their actual name—Berelleza).  The Berryessa brothers, Sisto and Jose, received the valley as part of a land grant to them in 1843 from the newly independent Mexican government.  When California became a state in 1850 the Berryessas petitioned to have their land grant recognized by the United States government.

However, by the time Lincoln finalized the Berryessa brothers’ right to the land almost none of the land was still in Berryessa hands.  The Berryessas had sold the vast majority of the land in order to cover their plentiful debts, particularly gambling debts.  It seems that Sisto and Jose were overly fond of Three Card Monte and horse racing.  In 1879, the last Berryessa homesteader, Nicholosa Higuera, wife of Sisto Berryessa, died.  Her husband died the year before in 1878.  Both were buried in the valley.  Sisto’s body, unlike that of many of the other homesteaders, was not recovered when the cemetery in Monticello was relocated to Spanish Flat.  Sisto lies beneath the waters of Lake Berryessa even today.

The Third Tragedy: The Destruction of Rural Culture

The town of Monticello was born the next year, 1867, when B.F. Davis built a blacksmith shop.  It became the center of a prosperous agricultural community and was located somewhat in the middle of the valley, along Putah Creek.  The valley itself was flat and fertile and was considered to have some of the best soil in the country.

Monticello was always a fairly small town, usually two to three hundred residents.  The town at different times had a hotel, a school, two gas pumps, a general store, a community hall, and a bar (a roadside spot called “The Hub”).  McKenzie and Sons store (originally McKenzie and Cook) was a center point for much of the activity in the town.  Albert McKenzie, who ran the store for many years, was the grocery clerk, postmaster, community telephone switchboard operator, notary public, crop insurance man as well as the person to go to for free farming and income tax advice.  He was a man who wore many hats.  Monticello became a popular venue for rodeos, baseball games, and “cow roasts” drawing people from miles around. 

The town enjoyed the distinction of being the first community in the state to have a telephone system installed (around 1905).  In 1896 the famous Monticello Bridge over Putah Creek, was built.  It was considered the grandest stone masonry bridge ever built in California, consisting of three 70 foot spans.  Some claim it was the largest stone bridge in the Western United States.  The Bridge is the only thing that remains of Monticello beneath the waters of Lake Berryessa—everything else was either burnt to the ground or carted off. 

Monticello store demolished
Burning house again1
Burning house again

The Solano County Irrigation District was formed in 1948 to obtain irrigation water from a proposed multiple-purpose Solano Project and included the damming of Berryessa Valley at Devil’s Gate.  Shortly thereafter Bureau of Reclamation included the Solano Project as part of its plan to develop water resources in the Central Valley Basin of California.

In 1953 construction began on Monticello Dam.  The rest of the Solano Project includes a diversion dam on lower Putah Creek (creating Lake Solano) and an open waterway stretching 33 miles named the Putah South Canal.

By 1956 all the trees, homes, barns, and other structures were dismantled, burned, or removed from the valley in preparation for its inundation.  Because the land was condemned, compensation for people’s property was minimal. 

The Dam was completed in 1957 and the former valley, now a reservoir, filled within two years leaving no clues that Monticello and Berryessa Valley were once populated.

The Fourth Tragedy: Destruction of  Lake Berryessa Family Recreation

The Bureau of Reclamation and their supporters destroyed family recreation at Lake Berryessa for a generation of families, children, and friends. 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.

Steele Park Restaurant from lake

The goal of my new  book is to provide the history and the context within which such an incredibly destructive course of action took place. The book is dedicated to documenting this final tragedy - and, hopefully, the promised revitalization.


New Book on Amazon

-Kindle cover

Amazon Kindle - $2.99

I've just released my new book: Conspiracy Theory or Automatic Pilot: The Economic Roots of Environmental Destruction. Available on Amazon in Kindle (above) or Paperback (below).

Classical economics is a mythology. Predatory capitalism is a fundamentalist religion based on this mythology. Environmental destruction and income inequality are results of the practice of this mythical religion. But is the present economic and environmental situation a conscious conspiracy or an unintended consequence of simplistic beliefs supported by basic human greed?

Serfs Up for book

This book provides the basics of classical economic theory and the description of the intended or unintended consequences of predatory capitalism based on this theory. It contrasts these to sustainability principles underpinning modern environmental economic theory and the various movement towards corporate responsibility.

Fishing Financial System

The book is not meant to be an academic or scientific exercise for economists or policy makers. The concepts discussed are easily accessible to thoughtful readers. My objective was to explain to myself the structure of economic influence that is at the heart of environmental degradation (including the welfare of individual human beings). Understanding is the foundation of action.

-Paperback Cover

Amazon Paperback - $7.99


Lake Berryessa Interview with Peter Kilkus on KVON Radio with Larry Kramer


Lake Berryessa issues - 1971

In my research of the history of Lake Berryessa I came upon this interesting publication from 1971 documenting the situation at the lake. It mirrors the same controversy that occurred in the early 2000s. There were people spreading falsehoods about the lake’s water quality then as there were in 2001 and later. 

Lake Berryessa is and always was the cleanest lake in northern California. The mobile homes never caused any pollution of the lake. This statement is not an opinion - it is supported by all the relevant facts and data. At that time the National Park Service was pushing a plan to develop Lake Berryessa to serve 8 million visitors per year at more than 12 public sites all around the lake.    

Download the full four page bulletin here...


See my detailed report on how Lake Berryessa and Monticello Dam function at:



Special Release: New combined report for those who want to know almost everything about how Lake Berryessa works!

As Lake Berryessa Flows:

A Combination of Science, Engineering, and Natural Beauty

by Peter Kilkus

The Science and Engineering Elements of a Major Natural Resource

Download Full Report PDF Here...


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.

1 Lake Map Base 082317


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.



Full lake level history 2015
Lake Levels 2006 to 031217 edited-1
Lake Levels 1990 2017



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.



Policy and Politics Betray the People 

The Lake Berryessa Saga: 1958 - 2020 (draft)

by Peter Kilkus

(Click to Download the PDF here)


Lake Berryessa Project Primary Document Index

Table Of Contents


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".

How It All Began: The Origins of the “Big Lie”

Lake Berryessa History Timeline: 1958 - 2018

Click here for PDF version

Lake Berryessa News (2010 - 2018): A VERY SLOW MOTION Disaster! 

Click here for PDF version


Some Interesting Past Stories

April Fools 2020 Edition Stories

Grass-Fed People to Replace Grass-Fed Beef

Triploid Trout Getting Bigger and Smarter in Lake Berryessa

Becoming REALLY Green to Help Our Planet

Chlorophyll skin to help solve climate crisis

University of Lake Berryessa Promotes Solutions to Climate Change, 

Global Food Security, and Animal Cruelty Prevention

The meat grape, steak potato, chicken nugget bush,and braunschweiger avocado

January 16, 2020 - KVON Radio Interview

Larry Kamer talks w/ author Peter Kilkus, about the many aspects of the Lake Berryessa Saga

Download the interview here...

The Stock Market IS NOT the Economy, Stupid!

Bird Goes Over the Glory Hole Waterfall Without A Barrel

Glory Hole: Awesome, Frightening, But Dangerous?

February 2019: 2nd Anniversary of Glory Hole Spilling

My First Fishing Trip on Lake Berryessa

Berryesa Oil Rush 1900 & 1920

Analysis of the Creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument - the Dumbest National Monument in the United States

Rattlesnakes: Friend or Enemy – or just a primal fear?


Special Publications (PDF)

As Lake Berryessa Flows:

The Science and Engineering Elements of a Major Natural Resource (Combined Reports)

Combined Report Title Page and Index


As Lake Berryessa Flows: 

A Combination of Science, Engineering, and Natural Beauty 

(Single Report)


As Lake Berryessa Turns!

Temperature and Fishing in a Warm, Monomictic Lake 

(Single Report)  


Seeing Underwater at Lake Berryessa 

(Single Report)


Silly Septic System Standards Harm Rural Napa


The History of the Creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument: The Ultimate Political Perversion of the Antiquities Act

By Peter Kilkus (6/20/17)

The Twisted Ten-Year Political Path From a Modest Nature Area Partnership to a Local Blue Ridge Berryessa National Conservation Area to a Large Disjointed Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area to an Incoherent Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

Is it the “Dumbest National Monument in the United States”? An objective review of the process by which it was created and the final formal designation suggests the answer is YES. I personally support the creation of legitimate national monuments, but this is not that. Being part of the ten year political process that led to its creation convinced me that in many situations the Antiquities Act is being abused. The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is a perfect case study of this abuse. 

Read the full report here.


Chef Neiman Marxist French

The Amazing Foods of Chef Neiman Marxist


Glory Hole Overflows: February, 2017 (ACDC version)

Bird Down Glory Hole (video)

ACDC Intros mix



Hot Tramp 1000 Video

pKilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2018