Congressman Thompson is working to resolve the present impasse at the lake. He released this statement last week.


September 10, 2018


Rep. Mike Thompson announced that he met with Department of Interior and Bureau of Reclamation officials to tour Lake Berryessa and discuss the progress of negotiations on the Managing Partner Agreement (MPA) to operate recreation areas at the lake with Napa County. Thompson released the following statement at the conclusion of that tour.

“I just finished touring Lake Berryessa with top officials from the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation and was heartened by productive discussions with them about negotiations regarding the MPA and related lease agreements. Finalizing this agreement is critical to the recreational and economic vitality of our region and I was glad to see the positive response from federal officials as they toured the lake and saw it first-hand. I look forward to an outcome that boosts our entire district, following upcoming meetings between the Bureau and the county.”


Glory Hole 083118
Glory Hole 083118a


The latest issue of the Lake Berryessa News, September 2018, has been published. Download a pdf version here.


Napa County Frustrated by Bureau of Reclamation Stalling Tactics at Lake Berryessa as Talks on Resort Redevelopment “Continue”

As reported in the Napa Register and the Lake Berryessa News, there has been no progress in the last few months regarding the completion of a Managing Partner Agreement (MPA) between Reclamation and Napa County for  County management of the lake Recreation Areas (resorts).

Although the County is trying to put a positive spin on bad news, the latest Register article quotes County officials, and even Congressman Thompson, as remaining positive about the outcome. But note that the newly created deadline is "the end of the year". The original date for an MPA was January 2018 with the selection of new resort concessionaires to occur during this summer. The MPA date was then moved to April 2018 - now there is no proposed completion date.

“I think it’s in the interest of all parties to reach some decision by the end of the year,” said Deputy County Executive Officer Molly Rattigan. “I don’t see this going beyond this year,” Supervisor Pedroza said. “We’ve been at it for quite some time. I’m interested in having this end in a very positive outcome.”

Rep. Mike Thompson, sent an Aug. 7 letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke urging that the Bureau of Reclamation reach a deal with Napa County. He wrote that the Bureau appeared “unwilling or unable” to bring concessions to the lake’s shore under Napa County management. “I’m sending this letter hoping that you’ll be able to exercise leadership on this pressing issue,” Thompson wrote.

Thompson released a statement on the latest progress: “Like people across our community, I am frustrated at the long delays in this process and have been doing everything I can to support the county and bring the Bureau of Reclamation to the table for a fair discussion,” he said. “I recently spoke with the Bureau’s commissioner and I’m glad to see that discussions regarding the details of a long-term agreement will continue.”

In an email to the Lake Berryesa News after  a request for his assistance,  Thompson wrote, "I AGREE 1000% with you. I had a conversation last Thursday with BOR Commissioner. I will do all I can for Lake Berryessa and Napa County and will keep you informed."

When contacted by the Napa Valley Register, the Bureau of Reclamation released a statement by email.

“While the process has taken longer than anticipated, Reclamation continues to engage with county officials and is fully committed in this process,” the statement said. “Details will be shared when available.”

Although the County may be trying to impose a new "soft deadline" on Reclamation, which would result in an additional year lost at the lake, Reclamation is not known historically for its responsiveness to any type of outside interference by any form of authority - ethical, political, or rational.

The culpability of the Bureau of Reclamation in this ongoing disaster is clear. But rather than allowing new resorts to be created and help fund  public operations at the lake - which was proposed by the Lake Berryessa Visitor Services Planning Task Force (LBVSPT)  15 years ago and rejected - Reclamation instead proposes creating user fees on all the previously free public recreation sites at the lake. 

(Visitor Services Plan Preferred Alternative A+ for the Future Public Use and Operations of Lake Berryessa prepared by the Lake Berryessa Visitor Services Planning Task Force (LBVSPT).(2004) )

The proposed fee for day use at Oak Shores Day Use Park and Smittle Creek Park will be $5 per vehicle ($50 annual fee). Capell “Free” Boat Launch will become $10 per launch ($100 annual fee). At Oak Shores Day Use Park shade shelters will be $25 per shade shelter.

With the possibility of new resorts actually funding public recreation so that the now free locations remain free in the future, this fee proposal is unfair and unconscionable.

Talks continue between Napa, Bureau on Lake Berryessa resort redevelopment - Napa Register

Shot in foot LB edited-2


Suntex Now Runs Pleasure Cove Marina & Steele Canyon Rec Area

According to the Bureau of Reclamation today (August 27, 2018), Suntex (https://www.suntex.com/) purchased the facilities formerly owned by Forever Resorts, commonly referred to as Pleasure Cove. Suntex is continuing to operate these facilities per the existing contract. Click on title below to download a copy:

United States Department Of The Interior, Bureau Of Reclamation, Lake Berryessa Recreation Area Concession Contract: Pleasure Cove Marina Concession Area, Marinas, Lodging, Food & Beverage, Retail Sales And Associated Facilities And Services At Lake Berryessa, Concession Contract No. 10-LC-20-0113 

"This Concession Contract shall be effective as of the 21st day of June, 2010 until its expiration on December 31, 2040. By mutual agreement, Reclamation and the Concession Contractor will have the option of adding one consecutive 10-year term until December 31, 2050.”


Pope Canyon Sep2018


Reclamation Proposes New Fee Program To Improve Recreation Facilities at Lake Berryessa

The Bureau of Reclamation is proposing to charge and retain fees for day use and boat launch at Capell Cove Boat Launch, Oak Shores and Smittle Creek Day Use Areas located at Lake Berryessa. The proposed fees would be used to improve local facilities, provide increased visitor services and protect natural resources. Special recreation event authorization fees and shade shelter reservations fees are also proposed.

The proposed fee for day use is $5 per vehicle ($50 annual fee); boat launch is $10 per launch ($100 annual fee); and $25 per shade shelter. All interagency Senior and Access Passes will be accepted for day use and discounted boat launching (50% discount). An analysis of the nearby Federal and state recreation offerings with similar amenities shows that the proposed fees are reasonable and typical of similar sites in the area. Funds from fees will be used for the continued operation, maintenance, and improvements of the reservoir area recreation amenities and related programs.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, or FLREA, authorizes federal agencies and bureaus to participate in a fee collection and retention program, issue special recreation use permits and participate in the nationwide parks pass initiative known as the Federal Interagency Pass Program.

A Federal Register Notice announcing the proposed fees was published this week and can be viewed here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/07/25/2018-15909/notice-of-proposed-new-fee-site-lake-berryessa-napa-california-federal-lands-recreation-enhancement.

The Bureau of Reclamation will hold three public meetings to gather feedback on Lake Berryessa’s proposed new fee program. Reclamation is seeking input on how to use collected funds. Public meetings have been scheduled for the following dates and locations.

September 4, 5:30-7:30 pm PDT - Lake Berryessa Senior Center & Community Hall, 4380 Spanish Flat Loop Rd.,Lake Berryessa

September 6, 5:30-7:30 pm PDT - Winters Public Meeting Room/Winters Fire Department, 700 Main St., Winters

September 11, 5:30-7:30 pm PDT, Elks Lodge, 2840 Soscol Ave., Napa

In addition to the public meetings, comments from the public can be submitted until January 21, 2019. Written comments on the proposed new fee site can be submitted to Margaret Bailey, Park Manager, Lake Berryessa Field Office, Bureau of Reclamation, 5520 Knoxville Road, Napa, CA 94558 or emailed to mbailey@usbr.gov.    


1089 Headlands Sep2018
4870 Berryessa Knoxville Sep2018


Why is Big Island Lagoon Closed to the General Boating Public, 

But Not Willi’s Cove?

Although both the 2003 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the 2005 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) proposed that certain new areas of the lake surface be designated as 5 MPH or non-motorized zones, the final 2006 Record of Decision (ROD) simply stated that “certain areas of the lake are reserved for non-motorized water craft and trolling engines.” There was no justification given nor any data supporting this decision. The areas so designated were not actually described in the ROD, but were simply drawn on a map of the lake - Big Island Lagoon and Steele Canyon Cove near Steele Canyon Recreation Area, generally known as Willi’s Cove. (Appendix B: Map No. 413-202-8 – Non-Motorized – 5 MPH Zoning: Map #2, pg. 22)

Big Island ROD map red

The original justification for this designation in the DEIS was “enhanced wildlife habitat, reduce motorized noise and wake effect from power boats, and provide a boating area for the use of canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats, vessels with battery-powered electric trolling motors.” This justification was silly then and has been proven by observation over the following years to be completely false.

The creation of these “exclusive use” non-motorized zones was basically a stealth move by Recreation to buy off various environmental exclusionist groups to get them to vocally support the rest of the plan to eliminate the existing resorts. These groups were successful in getting the Bureau of Reclamation, with no supporting data, to close the Big Island lagoon to families and other vacationers who wished to spend some quiet time in this popular protected area off the main body of the lake. The Big Island Lagoon has been open since 2006 to non-motorized craft or boats with electric motors.

This restriction should be eliminated because years of data show that almost no one now uses that "exclusive use" space except a few random kayakers per year. The Big Island Lagoon should be open to all of the boating public as a 5 MPH or “No Wake” zone as it was previously designated.

What is also odd is that Reclamation never implemented this “non-motorized zone” ROD designation at Willi’s Cove near the present Steele Canyon Recreation Area. In fact, that area is not even posted as a 5 MPH or No Wake zone. Why not? Why this selective enforcement of the ROD - the supposed guiding document for the “Future Recreation Use and Operations of Lake Berryessa"?

Another unresolved issue is whether the Napa County Sheriff’s Department actually has the authority to enforce this “non-motorized” designation. The Sheriff apparently cannot issue citations to boaters who ignore the “non-motorized” restriction and travel slowly through the area or stop to rest there.


Capsized Jet Ski Assistance On The Lake...Just Doing What Any Boater Would/Should Do

by Evan Kilkus

So a couple of weeks ago I'm out on Lake Berryessa on a patio boat ride with my family. On our way back to the dock, about a mile off to my side, I see an upside down PWC with people swimming near it. I keep headed in the direction of the marina, at a normal patio boat speed (slow 10 MPH pace), and after a couple minutes I notice they are still upside down and swimming. So I figured it couldn't hurt to divert over to them and see if, for some reason, they needed a hand.

After another couple minutes we calmly pulled up next to their still-capsized PWC. We see two adults and one young child, a child who is starting to get a little unhappy to say the least. Since they had been swimming for so long I could tell they were not making progress, so I calmly said hello. I told them I have had that (a capsized PWC) happen to me many times, and asked, "Would you like a hand?" They said YES, so I turned my boat off, put on my life jacket, and calmly jumped in the water to help.

It turned out this was their first time visiting Lake Berryessa, and maybe their first time on a PWC. They appeared to have no idea how to flip the PWC back upright. I showed them how to reach up and grab the intake grate, asked them to stay back a bit, and I flipped it back upright. The child right away smiled and climbed back up on the ski. I stayed floating near the back corner of the ski to help keep it stabilized. I could feel there was a bit of water in the ski, but it didn't feel too full of water, so I told them to climb on up. There was a bit of a language barrier so the passenger ended up climbing on first, then the driver, and as they tried to switch positions they tipped over again.

But I was there to keep the mood positive, laugh, and help hold the ski upright, and the kid was able to hold the handle bars and after a moment of fear on his face, he went back to a calm smile. At that point I realized I should also make sure I knew - and they knew - where they were going so that when they got on, they would return to land right way. I found out that they were going to Spanish Flat, and they knew where to go. They were going to go straight that way when they got back on the ski.

Then I clarified who was the driver, had that person get on first, and put the lanyard on the engine cut-off switch. I then held the craft stable so the passenger could board. They all got on, started up the PWC, and off they went with a smile and wave. I hollered "have fun", got back on my boat, watched them make it back to their camp site. And that was that... another lovely Sunday adventure at beautiful Lake Berryessa.

Lessons to be learned for all beginner PWC operators, or owners letting beginners take your PWC for a ride...

1 - Understand how to use your PWC in all common situations, and make sure your friends understand too,

2 - Always ride with another PWC, or stay in sight of the beach so people can help you,

3 - Always wear a properly fitting life jacket and remain calm

Lessons for all of us boaters... hey, we’re are all out there together. Stay alert, not just for hazards and people that may cause harm to you, but always be ready to lend a hand to ANYONE out on the lake. Even if I didn't feel comfortable jumping in the water and helping them solve their problem, at the very least I could have helped the kid and gentlemen onto our patio boat so they would at least be safe.

Another moral of the story... teach your kids to be comfortable around the water, and ready to help their fellow man. The attached picture below is of me on a boat in the SF Bay over 15 years ago. Thanks to both my fantastic parents for raising me on the lakes, rivers, and oceans!    

-Evan in big boat


4312 SpanFlat Loop Sep2018
318 Black Oak Sep2018


Napa County Receives Improved Fire ISO Rating

New Rating Effective November 1, 2018

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) has completed its analysis of the structural fire suppression delivery system provided to the unincorporated community served by the Napa County Fire Department. The analysis, known as the Public Protection Classification (PPC) survey, has resulted in a community rating of “04/4x” for Napa County. The rating scale is from 1-10 with a “1” being the best rating a jurisdiction can receive. Napa County’s previous rating was a “06” or a “09 depending on geographical area.

The PPC plays an important role in the underwriting process at insurance companies. Most major insurers use PPC information as part of their decision making when determining how to write coverage and set premiums for commercial and residential insurance.

The PPC analysis considers three main factors: proximity to a fire station, deployment of fire resources, and water availability. 

Napa County recently constructed two volunteer fire stations within the communities of Berryessa Highlands and Berryessa Estates, which contributed to lower rating. Both communities were previously rated as a “09,” and considered unprotected.

“The Board of Supervisors’ commitment to public safety and the fire protection of the rural areas of the County directly attribute to the overall improvement of the ISO rating. 

Because of these efforts, the residents in the Lake Berryessa area now have the same classification of the residents on the valley floor,” said Napa County Fire Chief Barry Biermann.


1117 Headlands Sep2018
1243 Steele Canyon Sep2018


Coastal Clean-up day


The latest issue of the Lake Berryessa News, September 2018, has been published. Download a pdf version here.

LBNews Pg 8&1 Sep18 small


2018 Recreation Season 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/


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

Napa County Frustrated by Bureau of Reclamation Stalling Tactics at Lake Berryessa as Talks on Resort Redevelopment “Continue”

Beating A Dead Horse With A StickOR Beating A Horse With A Dead Stick? BOR Betrays Berryessa AGAIN!

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

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 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?

Alternative A+ Executive Summary


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


ACDC Intros mix


pKilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2018