Reclamation Announces Temporary Closure of Lake Berryessa’s Capell Cove Launch Ramp Effective Monday, Aug. 8, 2016

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The Bureau of Reclamation, Central California Area Office, will temporarily close the Capell Cove Launch Ramp at Lake Berryessa effective Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, due to drought conditions and receding water levels. The launch ramp will be re-opened when lake levels rise.

The parking lot and small picnic areas at the Capell Cove Launch Ramp will remain open. Additionally, hand launching of kayaks, canoes and other small craft will continue to be permitted.

Visitors are encouraged to use other launch ramps at Lake Berryessa including those at Putah Canyon Recreation Area, Spanish Flat Recreation Area, Steele Canyon Recreation Area, Pleasure Cove Marina, and Markley Cove Resort. Locations of these areas may be found on the map at


Please note that these concession areas charge a fee for the public to use their launch ramps.

For information on lake levels, launch ramp availability or recreation services, please call the Lake Berryessa Administration Office at 707-966-2111, ext. 0 (TTY 800-877-8339).


Napa County Continues Managing Partnership Discussions With Reclamation

Napa County staff analysts have received a draft Managing Partnership Agreement (MPA) from the Bureau of Reclamation. The first in a series of meetings has been scheduled within the next few weeks to review it in detail.

This process is of historical importance to the County and to Lake Berryessa. County analysts are fortunate to have the range of hospitality and recreation management professionals of Visit Napa Valley to assist.

The goal of both parties is to understand each others’ interests and the potential positive benefits of an agreement to the County and to Reclamation in the revitalization of Lake Berryessa recreation. Reclamation sources remain “very optimistic” about the outcome of this process.

An MPA would give the County more flexibility in recruiting professional recreation management companies to run Lake Berryessa resorts and in writing smart contracts to optimize the benefits for the concession companies and for the recreating public. Major issues such as how many of the recreation areas the County may choose to manage are open for discussion, as are budget and staffing requirements.

County staff is still planning to make a presentation to the Board of Supervisors some time in early October. Shortly after that Reclamation has said they will hold another Lake Berryessa Public Forum meeting.

Markley Cove Bid Process Continues

The final bids are in! Although Reclamation will not yet reveal how many bids were received, nor from whom, the review panel is now going over them in detail. The Reclamation deadline for a panel recommendation to senior Reclamation management is the first week of September.

John and Linda Frazier have operated Markley Cove for 29 years, since 2009 on a series of interim contracts, and submitted one of the bids.

Markley Cove’s boat slips and other improvements are worth $6.5 million, according to an appraisal done by the BOR. Any incoming operator wanting to keep these improvements would have to buy them from the Fraziers.


5,731 Acre Cold Fire Contained After An All Out Aerial and Ground Battle

by Evan Kilkus

After an initial three days of intense firefighting, followed by seven days of hard labor doing mop-up work, CAL Fire declared the Cold Fire to be 100% contained, unfortunately leaving one hunting cabin and an outbuilding destroyed. 

1 Cold Fire camp

While the smoke stopped billowing and the fire seemed "out" on Thursday, it took hundreds of firefighters, several bulldozers, and a fleet of helicopters several days of time consuming work to make sure the fire didn’t restart.

A close look at CAL Fire’s map shows the fire perimeter, and how steep the terrain is with one canyon after another. In the first 24 hours of the fire, it got within hundreds of yards of dozens of homes in the Golden Bear Estates Community on the East edge of the fire. Fortunately, thanks to great defensible space created by homeowners, and fast and effective work by fire crews, no homes or structures were damaged.

As you can see in the photos on pg.2 , firefighters had to climb all over the steep hills with thousands of feet of fire hose. Meanwhile several helicopters went back and forth between the lake and beyond the ridgeline to soak the remain smoldering hillsides.

While CAL Fire helicopters were working last Friday doing their mop-up work, someone who probably thought the fire was out unfortunately flew a drone near Markley Cove Resort, temporarily grounding the helicopters. 

CAL Fire wants this be a reminder that they have lots of work to do and they need lots of space. Don't fly within 50 miles or more of a fire scene. It is an operator’s responsibility to know if there is an active wildfire still not fully contained. This goes for curious boaters too - don't go visit the helicopter when they are dipping in for water. Stay 500' to 1000' away at all times.

HWY 128 was closed from Tuesday evening thru Friday, but thankfully CAL Fire, Caltrans, CHP, and PG&E got the road open for vacationers at about noon on Friday.

Two other small fires were quickly contained in the past week along Berryessa Knoxville Road, keeping fire crews and residents on edge.  All fires started near the road, and the causes are under investigation.  Travelers should remember, as Smokey the Bear says, “Only you can prevent forest fires.”

Cold Fire Photo Album (Click Here…)


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 What Is That Red Stuff Falling From The Sky?

Plane retardant

Planes have been used for water drops since the 1930s, but it wasn't until the mid-'50s that firefighters began using a heavier slurry of water and additives to keep the water from evaporating in the heat or being blown away from the drop zone before it hit the ground. Thickeners also help avoid runoff. Color marks the area hit by the drop, and the fertilizer encourages regrowth of plants in the burn area. 

Newer retardants use ammonium sulfate or ammonium polyphosphate with attapulgite clay thickener or diammonium phosphate with a guar gum derivative thickener. These are not only less toxic but act as fertilizers to help the regrowth of plants after the fire. 

Fire retardants often contain wetting agents, preservatives and rust inhibitors and are colored red with ferric oxide or fugitive color to mark where they have been dropped. Brand names of fire retardants for aerial application include Fire-Trol and Phos-Chek.

As early as 1930, Forest Service fire fighting crews were flying over wildland fire flames delivering water and hoping to either completely obliterate the fire or at least douse it enough to slow its spread. The first recorded water drop in 1930 used a Ford Tri-Motor airplane and a wooden beer keg filled with water.

The first free-flowing water airdrop from an airplane onto a fire was made during the Mendenhall Fire, August 13, 1955, on the Mendocino National Forest when the pilot of a Boeing Stearman 75 Kaydet dropped 6 loads of water in support of ground firefighters. The operation successfully knocked-down the blazing fire.

To increase the effectiveness of fire control operations, in the 1960s, Navy TBM Avengers were converted to handle slurry drops, becoming the first aircraft dedicated to aerial firefighting and capable of dropping 600 gallons of retardant on a single sortie.Through the 1960s, the Forest Service explored using a wider variety of military surplus aircraft and discovered that multiengine PBYs, B-24s, A-26s, DC-6s, and even B-17s could carry up to 2,500 gallons of retardant and were more effective on large fires. 

A wide variety of helicopters are also used for  firefighting. Helicopters may be fitted with tanks (helitankers) or they may carry buckets. Some helitankers, such as the Erickson AirCrane, are also outfitted with a front-mounted foam cannon. 


Lake Berryessa Boater Outreach Program Interns: 

Going Strong, All Summer Long

By Scott Navarro

It’s already half way through the summer and it is unbelievable to think that nearly four months have passed since this amazing group of interns came together. The Lake Berryessa Boater Outreach Program (LBBOP) is the front line of defense against invasive species such as Zebra & Quagga Mussels. We have an outstanding team filled with positive communication, strong leadership and a unifying goal of striving to complete our tasks at the highest standard. 

The LBBOP is going strong and will ultimately finish strong. Our mid-summer stats run through July 24, 2016:

- 6,884 boat screenings, 1,057 boater & day-use surveys

- 2,807 people educated on clean boating practices. 

- 345 bilge pads installed to keep oil out of the water.

- 50% of all boaters surveyed installed bilge pads on the spot.

With the high heat and lower water levels, some launch ramps will end up having to close. The Capell Cove Public Launch Ramp closed August 8. Although it was predicted that Capell was going to close by mid-July, it managed to last a couple more weeks. 

Other locations are down to just several launch ramps. When visiting Lake Berryessa, visitors with boats must plan accordingly to avoid the rush on weekends, especially during the hours of 10am-1pm. Spanish Flat, Pleasure Cove and Putah Canyon, are not as busy and can accommodate more launches. The busier launch ramps, like Markley Cove and Steele Canyon, allows us a chance to interact with visitors who have questions and those who like to receive free boating supplies!

My name is Scott Navarro. I am a junior studying at CSU: Sacramento, and as an Environmental Studies major, I have found it is important to know that different environmental problems require knowledge from a variety of disciplines. By working together with people from different specializations, we can solve many problems. Invasive species are an important topic in the environmental classes I have taken and working with Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) has really amplified my interest in the invasive species topic. I am very fortunate that I have the opportunity of a sneak peek on the inner workings of SCWA. This has been an opportunity of a lifetime, a highlight of my professional career, and has shown me a glimpse of the future that I want to pursue.



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Don’t Flush This! 

Only You Can Prevent Sewer Clogs Caused By Flushing 

Trash Down The Toilet

(Note: Although this story was targeted at Berryessa Highlands residents, it also applies to the rural residents of the Berryessa Estates, Circle Oaks, Spanish Flat, Berryessa Pines, and all private properties that use septic systems for their sewage. Sewage is the waste matter carried off by sewer drains and pipes. Sewerage refers to the physical facilities (e.g., pipes, lift stations, and treatment and disposal facilities) through which sewage flows. Too many people, especially children, think that sink and toilet drains simply carry stuff to a magic place where it disappears.)

In May 2016, the pump at Lift Station 2 on Steele Canyon Road near Arroyo Lindo was severely damaged by a large clog of trash. Expenditures nearing $50,000 were needed to rent a temporary pump to keep the wastewater flowing to the treatment plant preventing a spill and to purchase parts and new equipment to repair the damage.  

 The content of the clog was mostly  disposable wipes, feminine products, and  underwear, and clogs like this are still occurring several times a week. These clogs are costly to you, the rate payer, but can be avoided—but only with help from you. The toilet is not  a  trash  can - re‐think what you flush! 

Sewer clog

The ONLY things you should ever flush down a toilet are 

human waste and toilet paper

Here is a list of things to keep OUT of the toilet by disposing in the trash:

Disposable Wipes of ANY kind (includes baby, personal and cleaning wipes, etc)



Disposable  diapers 

Tampons and tampon applicators 

Sanitary  napkins/pads 

Cotton balls and swabs 


Cat Litter 

Facial  Tissue 

Bandages and bandage wrappings 

Unneeded  medications - Do NOT dispose in trash. 

Unneeded medications can be safely disposed at these Napa locations: Clinic Ole,1141 Pear Tree Lane; Napa Family Drug, 1805 Old Sonoma Road, Napa; Kaiser Permanente,1675 Permanente Way, Napa

NO FOG  down the drain!

FOG image

FOG (Fat, Oil, Grease) can cause clogged sewer lines, leading to overflows that can contaminate our streets and waterways, and wreak havoc with the treatment process. Helping to prevent sewer overflows and backups is easy. Just follow the simple tips below!

The FOG problem...Even if you wash FOG down with hot water and soap, when the water cools the FOG solidi- fies in your pipes and ours. Pipes clogged by F.O.G. can cause sewer over- flows in your home and yard. Overflow clean-up is expensive and unpleasant, and often paid for by the property owner. Raw sewage can reach waterways, polluting the water and harming aquatic life.

F.O.G. problems can increase operating costs for the District, which can cause higher sewer bills.

What can you do?

1. Never pour F.O.G. down the drain or into toilets.

2. Scrape all fat, grease, & food scraps into the trash can.

3. Put baskets/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps, and empty them into the trash.


For a beautiful real-time web cam shot of Lake Berryessa, try this link:




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Paddle with a Park Ranger!

Saturday, September 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Friday, September 16 from 7 to 10 p.m.

Foxtail Flat, Oak Shores Day Use Area

Experience the beauty of Lake Berryessa from a unique perspective during Ranger-led, 3 hour paddling tours. August 19 and September 16, Rangers will lead Full Moon Friday paddles. September 5, Berryessa Rangers will lead a Geology Paddle. These outings are open to experienced swimmers with a kayak or canoe. Coast Guard-approved life jackets will be available. Participants should bring their boat, life jackets, paddles, sunscreen, hat, water and a lunch/snack. A headlamp and sound device are required to participate in the night paddles. Pre-registration is required. For more information please call 707-966-2111 ext. 113.


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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".


Winters Express logo

The Winters Express


Lake Level Fifty Year History

Full lake level history 2015


pkilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2016