Help Wanted!

Lake Berryessa Boat & Jet Ski Rentals


Lake Berryessa Boat & Jet Ski Rentals is looking for employees to help clean boats, trucks and instruct customers on the safe operation of boats. Must be at least 16 years of age, be able to lift 30 lbs, work in the sun and work well with others. 

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Full-time and part-time schedules are available with flexible hours. If you're interested in more information call or text Marty, the owner, at 707-480-3157, or email him at mrwp@live.com. We are located at 4420 Knoxville Road Napa, CA 94558. 

If you're a local and live in the Highlands area, help with transportation may be arranged. 


Lake Level as of 7/16/18

The lake level is now at 429.10 feet - 10.9 feet below Glory Hole. The lake continues to drop at its normal summer rate of about 6 inches per week or 2 feet per month - this includes evaporation. Evaporation is at the normal hot weather rate of .25 inches per day or 1.75 inches per week. Water temperature is 80 degrees at the surface.



Grandparents Day Barbecue and Senior Health Fair

Saturday, July 21, 4 PM - 8:30 PM

The next big event at the Lake Berryessa Senior Center & Community Hall will be a family fun day. Kids, bring your grandparents. Grandparents, bring your grandchildren.

You in-betweener parent-types are welcome too. See what you can do to control that old grandparent-grandchild dynamic! Friends, family, food, games to enjoy.

This will be an old-fashioned free summertime pot luck barbecue. Hamburgers and chicken served. You’re welcome to bring your own meat to barbecue yourself if you wish. Please bring an appetizer or dessert to share. Adult beverages available. Free soft drinks for kids.

The horseshoe pits will be open for you pleasure. The pool table will be ready to go. Children’s horseshoes, bean bag toss, and ring toss (adults can play too) will be set-up.

 We can use a few volunteers to help out with set-up and clean-up.

Senior Center Eagles logo


July, 2018

Click above to download this issue…


The County Fire Ends at Lake Berryessa

The Lake Berryessa News has been closely following the fire situation. As he did during last year’s October fires, Evan Kilkus has once again provided live Facebook reports. His last report which shows that the fire is finally reaching its end at the lake is available at the link below. Previous reports are also available there.


Below is a good article about the recent fire situation at Lake Berryessa. The lake resorts are fully open. All roads are open to the lake. It promises to be a great summer weekend at the lake. Please come on out and enjoy it.

County Fire rattles nerves at Napa's Lake Berryessa

BARRY EBERLING beberling@napanews.com


Revitalizing Lake Berryessa - Idling Towards Home

by Peter Kilkus

Last week I went out on a patio boat with friends. All went well until we were halfway to the dam from the Steele Canyon Recreation Area. Suddenly our boat engine revved up and lost thrust. The boat would only move forward at idle speed - about 2 miles per hour. Nothing we could do would solve the problem. So we turned around and idled for an hour back to the main lake.

We had a great time picnicking and swimming. Friends from the Highlands came over and tied their boat up to ours for a couple of hours of fun with their kids. But we finally had to start for home - at 2 mph! It took 2 hours to idle from Skiers Cove to the entrance of the Steele Canyon/Spanish Flat cove. Then the wind kicked up and we were down to less than 1 mph. One hour later we finally reached the Steele Canyon launch ramp. Probably the slowest recorded tour of the lake - but we got home and had some great fun doing it.

I was struck by the similarity between our boat trip the present process of revitalizing Lake Berryessa. The excitement of watching Napa County begin the process in early 2017. The ray of hope when the county received nine responses to its Request for Interest and Information. Then the doldrums of Napa County negotiating a Managing Partner Agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation followed by the engine failure somewhere in the process.

Both Napa County and Reclamation profess to be continuing the process with the positive intent to have Napa County take over management of all or some of the recreation areas. One hang-up seems to be the typical bureaucratic “off like a herd of turtles” syndrome. The other is the federal government approving 50 year terms for new concession contracts rather than the 30 year terms proposed by the Department of the Interior.

We’ve lost ten years of family recreation at Lake Berryessa as I documented in my January 2018 lead story "Holes In History" at Lake Berryessa: Simple Incompetence, Fervent Ignorance, Malicious Arrogance. Click here to read it again if you want your blood to boil.

So as we idle towards home in the process of revitalizing Lake Berryessa, it is instructive to compare the original optimistic schedule with present reality - another 4 months lost! At least on our boat trip we could see our destination getting closer. For an interesting historical perspective see the following article from two years ago.


Historical Review: Two Years Ago - A Rosy Scenario Future

Napa County and the Bureau of Reclamation Consider Working Together to Rebuild Lake Berryessa

By Evan Kilkus (July 2016)


Original Schedule

November 20, 2017: RFII Submittals Due

January, 2018: MPA Authorization

February, 2018: RFP Release

April, 2018: RFP Due

Spring/Summer 2018: Concessionaire Selection and Negotiations

Modified Schedule  (February, 2018)

April, 2018: MPA Authorization

May, 2018: RFP Release

Modified Schedule  (July, 2018)



CeCe Highlands bungalow July 2018


Protection, Preservation, or Private Profit?

Another article about "protection" of rural lands at Lake Berryessa has been published. The lands being "protected" are really just a windfall profit to a landowner who could never have conceivably developed that land. A state grant is paying the owner $330,000. The owner still owns the land - he's just prohibited from "developing" it. Even a prominent environmental group, the Greenbelt Alliance, agrees that: "Webber Ranch is in a remote area away from well-traveled roads along the massive federal reservoir. The Greenbelt Alliance rates this part of the county at low risk for development."

The Land Trust of Napa County and the state of California claim to have “preserved” another 722 acres along east Lake Berryessa, bringing the total amount of “protected” land there to more than 6,700 acres. Napa County zoning regulations prohibit land being subdivided into less than 160 acre parcels so the total 6,700 acres referred to here would only support forty-one legal parcels. This recent 722 acres of the Weber Ranch could only have supported four 180 acre parcels or four homes if anyone could actually “develop” the land. Most of this land is in areas that would be extremely difficult allow construction.

A conservation easement will keep the Webber Ranch in private ownership while stripping it of “development” rights. A state grant of $330,000 is paying for the easement from owner Pete Craig, according to the state Department of Conservation.

“He gave up a lot of value,” Land Trust CEO Doug Parker said. “He sold the easement for below the appraised value, quite a bit below.” This is simply spin-doctoring since appraisal of rural land is an inexact process anyway. The most typical way of doing rural property appraisals is look at “similar” properties that have sold in the relatively recent past. There are challenges that come with appraising rural properties. Often they are located in remote areas, where few comps exist. How do you figure in factors such as arable or non-arable land, a working farm, timberland, wetlands, or a forest preserve? A rural ranch might have only 10 similar properties within a 20-mile radius—none of which have changed hands in years. This is the typical situation at Lake Berryessa.

Appraising rural or remote properties like this difficult—and time-consuming. Often the appraiser will have to draw comps from a considerable distance and consider various intangibles. The bottom line is always that the value of a property to the buyer is whatever the buyer is willing to pay for it. Its worth to the lender might be a different matter, and in most cases, that’s what the appraiser is trying to determine.

Webber Ranch has grasslands, oak woodlands and mixed manzanita chaparral. It extends from a federal strip of land along U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Lake Berryessa reservoir east to the ridge that forms the Napa/Yolo counties line, to Bureau of Land Management land that is part of Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

Webber Ranch is in a remote area away from well-traveled roads along the massive federal reservoir. The Greenbelt Alliance rates this part of the county at low risk for development. Still, the Land Trust and state officials say eastern Lake Berryessa could be attractive for ranchettes, estate homes and recreational homes.

The state funding came from the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation Program, which uses state cap-and-trade money for projects deemed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve farmland and support the state’s food security.

This story is reminiscent of a 2007 story of how public funds have been used to enrich private landowners - the land-locked Berryessa Vista property at Lake Berryessa across from the Capell Public Launch Ramp. (Click here to to read more…)


318 Black Oak July2018


1085 Headlands Jul2018


1117 Headlands Jul2018


A Fishy Fishing Story at Lake Berryessa

Undercover agents and all…plus a new Fishing Guide Policy from the BOR

Say it's a beautiful day at the lake. Say you’re a long-time fishing guide at the lake. Say a nice young couple hired you to take them out fishing. Say they had a fun day and caught some fish. Say the couple thanked you for the trip, paid your fee in cash along with a nice tip. Say you drove them  back to your house with their fish in the live well of your boat to take some photos before putting the fish on ice in a cooler.

But when you pulled into your driveway a black SUV shot in right behind you, blocking your way out. Suddenly you were being interrogated by a local Fish and Wildlife Warden. Your fee and tip are confiscated. (They were marked bills.) You learn that the nice young couple are really undercover Fish & Wildlife agents! You get two tickets - one for not having your state fishing guide license, the other for transporting live fish from the launch ramp to your house.

Was this a new episode of CSI: Lake Berryessa? Was this fishing guide an evil genius behind a fish smuggling ring laying waste to the Lake Berryessa bass fishery? Or was it actually an egregious, and expensive, overreach by a state agency - a total waste of government time and money? Lake Berryessa residents are familiar with the last question since we’ve lived it at the hands of the Bureau of Reclamation for the last 18 years.

And why was this guide targeted? The Warden drives by the guide’s house almost every day - sometimes on his way in the evening to check returning boaters' fishing licenses at the nearby Recreation Area launch ramp. He has access to fishing guide licenses. If he checked that this guide had not renewed his license, he could simply knock on his door to remind him to do so.

Why all this drama? Why this guide, not all the other fishing guides on the lake?

And under what bureaucratic policy and budgetary guidelines would a Fish & Wildlife manager give two undercover agents a paid vacation on beautiful Lake Berryessa, as well as pay two additional wardens to sting someone who forgot to renew his fishing guide license?

And, ethically, how do two people lie about their motivation for that many hours? This was not a dangerous undercover operation against drug dealers or terrorists.

New Bureau of Reclamation Policy

Previously fishing guides did not need a permit from the Bureau of Reclamation to operate on Lake Berryessa. The guide had tried to get a permit many years ago when Janet Rogers was Park Manager. His check was returned saying he did not need a permit.

Some fishing guides who operated as sub-concessionaires at the resorts at that time, under contract to the resort owners, did pay a fee to the resort. Part of that fee went to Reclamation under the resort's concession contract. The guides themselves did not pay the BOR.

Since the new contracts with Markley Cove and Pleasure Cove prohibited sub-concessioners, there has been no requirement for fishing guides to have a permit from the BOR - just from the state.

This may change soon since Reclamation has just introduced a new policy regarding Guides and Outfitters. Although the new policy has only been implemented for boat rental businesses operating outside the recreation areas - one permit issued so far - it clearly applies to all fishing guides, and arguably to RV rental companies and other types of equipment rental companies whose customers use a Lake Berryessa Recreation Area.

The permit request form is: Use Authorization Application 7-2540 (02-2016), which includes Commercial Guiding & Outfitting as a use requiring this permit. The State of California’ definition is appropriate:

“Guide” means any person who is engaged in the business of packing or guiding, or, for compensation, assists another person in taking or attempting to take any bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, or reptile. 

“Guide” also includes any person who, for profit, transports other persons, their equipment, or both to or from hunting or fishing areas.

Reclamation officials did not respond to a Lake Berryessa News request for an implementation date for the new policy.

Use Authorization App edited-1


1243 Steele Canyon June2018 copy


1325 Steele Canyon July2018


4312 SpanFlat Loop July2018


4870 Berryessa Knoxville July2018


2018 Recreation Season Begins at Lake Berryessa

The Bureau of Reclamation announces summer hours and programs for the 2018 recreation season at Lake Berryessa.

Reclamation Facilities are Open

Starting April 1, 2018, Park Rangers will staff the Dufer Point Visitor Center from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Stop-in with your questions about visiting the lake, volunteering with our new birding program, or upcoming events.

Oak Shores opens daily at 7:30 a.m. throughout the year and is free of charge.

Capell Cove Boat Launch will be open from 4 a.m.-10 p.m. and is free of charge.

Beginning May 1, 2018, Oak Shores Day Use Area offers six large group shade shelters at Acorn Beach, Foxtail Flat and Coyote Beach. Group shelters can be reserved for groups of up to 50 for $25, per shelter per day, at http://www.recreation.gov. For more information, or to organize a larger event, please contact the Lake Berryessa Park Ranger Office at 707-966-2111 ext. 113.

Markley Cove Resort, Pleasure Cove Marina, Steele Canyon Recreation Area, Putah Canyon Recreation Area, and Spanish Flat Recreation Area offer services including camping and boat launching. For information on concession-operated facilities, or to make reservations, please call the concession operators or visit their websites:

• Markley Cove, 707-966-2134, markleycoveresort.com

• Pleasure Cove Marina, 707-966-9600, goberryessa.com

• Steele Canyon Recreation Area, 707-966-9179


• Spanish Flat Recreation Area 707-966-0200, spanishflatcamping.com

• Putah Canyon Recreation Area, 707-966-9051, royalelkparkmanagement.com.

For those boating this year, familiarize yourself with the California Boater Card program. As of January 2018, boaters 20 years of age and under are required to possess a valid vessel operator card. Boaters may apply for the $10 card from the California Division of Boating and Waterways at: http://californiaboatercard.com/applynow/ .

Both child and adult-sized life jackets are available for the public to borrow, free of charge, from Oak Shores Day Use Area.

Campfires are only permitted within campfire rings in established campgrounds. Personal charcoal barbecue grills are not allowed anywhere at Lake Berryessa. Those wishing to barbecue with charcoal must use the grills provided in established campgrounds and Day Use Areas. For more information on safely using campfires and barbecues this year, please visit: http://www.preventwildfireca.org.

For more information, please contact the Lake Berryessa Field Office at 707-966-2111 ext. 113, or visit the Lake Berryessa website at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa/


July, 2018

LBNews Pg 8&1 Jul18

Click above to download this issue…


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



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 - 2018

by Peter Kilkus

How Could the Government Have Done Something So Stupid?

Download a PDF of the first 180 pages of the book here....



Without THE LAKE BERRYESSA NEWS there would be no Lake Berryessa News…and finally there would be no definitive history of what happened at Lake Berryessa. Having participated directly for more than twenty years as an advocate for the lake in the fiasco that was the Bureau of Reclamation’s Visitor Services Plan, its farcical but tragic outcome, and the process of rebuilding, I have very strong views of the causes and results - supported by facts and data which were mostly obfuscated by the proponents of the destruction of the lake’s residential and business community.

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.

The goal of this book is to provide the history and the context within which such an incredibly destructive course of action took place.

The initial timeline shows a condensed history of the process. The next section tells the story through the eyes of Lake Berryessa News articles. With the permission of the Napa Register, a parallel history is presented through contemporaneous editorials, articles, and letters to the editor from the Napa Register.

This book is not a traditional academic exercise in historical exposition. Academic historians define history as presenting facts without expressing any opinion or analysis of the events whereas memories are comprised of emotions that can have a great influence on the perception of an actual event. Critical historians live by the old saying of "there are two sides to every story and then there is the truth."

I’m more interested in the narrative approach to defining this history. Almost two decades have passed since this story began, and Lake Berryessa history has been created with every day of that twenty years.

This book is the raw, as-it-happened, unfiltered picture of what many of us lived through. It is organized chronologically; focused on a single coherent story; primarily descriptive but also analytical; primarily concerned with people but also the abstract circumstances in which they find themselves. To me a big part of the fascination with any history is trying to discover what was going on inside people's heads in the past, and what it was like to live in that past.

The future is finally looking brighter for Lake Berryessa. History continues to unfold.

Peter Kilkus, Lake Beryessa, 2018


Table Of Contents

Lake Berryessa History Timeline

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

Will History Repeat Itself In Reverse? What Happened in 1975?

Notice of Intent: Solano Project--Lake Berryessa; Napa, California

The “Big Lie” Continues: Task Force 7 Protests Reclamation’s Unjustified Negative Propaganda

The Facts Fight Back: What You Need to Know About the Battle for Berryessa

Local Businesses Fight Back: Chamber of Commerce Critique of Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Residents Fight Back: More Than 900 Unleash Scorn on Reclamation Plan

The Perversiopn of Public Law 96-375: Demolition Hardball by the Bureau of Reclamation

Reclamation Defends Unjust Requirement to Demolish ALL Existing Facilities At Lake Berryessa

The Pensus Years: The Lake Berryessa News View

Pensus: The Short Story That Was Actually A Fantasy

Pensus Signs Berryessa Contract – Begins Facilities Development – Announces Resort Openings

Springtime at Lake Berryessa: Pensus in Bloom?

They’re Off Like a Herd of Turtles! Bureaucracy at Berryessa

Lake Berryessa: When Do Past Memories Actually Become “HISTORY”?

Goodbye 2011: Another Year of Process Without Progress! Will 2012 Be Any Better?

A Lake Berryessa Midsummer Night’s Dream (With Apologies to William Shakespeare)

Applehood and Mother Pie! What’s Right, What’s Wrong, and Why

Catch-22: The Bureaucratic Double Bind Theory in Practice

Seasons, Cycles, and Radical Change: Chaos Theory - Lake Berryessa Style

Floundering About at Lake Berryessa (This is not a fishing story.)

SNAFU, FUBAR and BOHICA: Deciphering Berryessa’s Ancient Rock Sculpture at Steele Park

Feds Final Folly: The Destruction of Steele Park - Public Law 96-375’s Unintended Consequence

A Modest Radical Proposal: Transfer Management of Lake Berryessa to Napa County

A Path Forward To Revitalize Lake Berryessa: Fire The Feds!

Open Letter to the Federal Government: Get Out of Lake Berryessa!

Napa County and the Bureau of Reclamation: Working Together to Rebuild Lake Berryessa?

Will 2017 Be Lake Berryessa's Lucky Year?

Milestone Achieved! A Positive Report on the Potential Future Rebirth of Lake Berryessa!

The Future of Lake Berryessa Looks Brighter, But The Sun Also Rises A Bit Slowly

Napa County Releases Lake Berryessa Request For Information & Interest

Lake Berryessa History Through Napa Register Articles    

Lake Berryessa History Through Napa Register Editorials

Dueling Napa Register Letters To The Editor 


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".


Some Interesting Past Stories

Revitalizing Lake Berryessa - Idling Towards Home

Protection, Preservation, or Private Profit?

A Fishy Fishing Story at Lake Berryessa

Undercover agents and all…plus a new Fishing Guide Policy from Reclamation

A Tale of Two Aircraft Tragedies - Twenty Years Apart

Reclamation Releases Final Environmental Assessment (EA) For Lake Berryessa Recreation Areas Development

"Holes In History" at Lake Berryessa: Simple Incompetence, Fervent Ignorance, Malicious Arrogance

Who Will Run The New Lake Berryessa Resorts?

2017: The Year In Review Through Lake Berryessa News Headlines

Christmas Calls To Action For The Survival 

Of The Human Race

The Great Lake Berryessa (Atlas) Fire of 2017

Atlas Fire Timeline From The Berryessa Highlands

What Is That Red Stuff Falling From The Sky?

Circle Oaks Fire - The Great Escape

Lake Berryessa Boater Outreach Program: Summer 2017

Download full report pdf here...

Lake Berryessa 1971: Controversy Begins (Oakland Tribune)

My First Fishing Trip on Lake Berryessa

The Destruction of Steele Park Resort

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

Napa County Wildfire Awareness Resources

Lake Berryessa History: The Summer of Love (1967) versus The Summers of Chaos (1998-1999) 

Exciting New Game Fishing Opportunity at Lake Berryessa

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


Special Publications

Final Ragatz Report (75MB PDF)

Ragatz Summary Recommendations (75 KB PDF)


Conspiracy Theory Or Automatic Pilot: The Economic Roots Of Environmental Destruction        

By Peter F. Kilkus 

Download PDF of this report (2 MB)


The Amazing Foods of Chef Neiman Marxist

Chef Neiman Marxist French rev1


Winters Express logo

The Winters Express




pKilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2018