Helping Hands flyer 081417


Lake Level 8/13/17

The lake level is now at 434.14 feet - 5.86 feet below Glory Hole. 

The lake is now dropping at its usual summer rate - about 5 inches per week.


Putah Creek Trout Film Festival, Saturday, September 9 in Davis

September 30 marks the 8th anniversary of the formation of Putah Creek Trout promoting stewardship and protection of the Trophy Wild trout fishery below Monticello Dam. During that time, we have achieved a catch and release barbless artificial lure only fishing regulation, the Trophy Wild Trout water designation, and increased critical habitat expansion to improve the stability and growth of the trout population..

In support of our conservation efforts, on Saturday, September 9, Fly Fishers of Davis is hosting the Orvis Down the Hatch Film Festival, a series of short films. This is a UNIQUE event - the festival has never been shown in Northern California before and this will be the only screening. Leading off the playbill will be our own short film, Putah Creek Trout: History and Heritage.

The event is designed as a family friendly event, with pre-screening games and activities for kids of all ages, local food vendors, wines from Bogle Winery, beer from local 3 Mile Brewery, and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages.

For more information go to http://flyfishersofdavis.org/downthehatchfilm

Putah event


Turtle Rock (Canyon) Fire - 8/11/17

Here's a short version of the KTVU live footage posted below. From the amazing clip of the fire fighting plane crossing right above Turtle Rock, you can see that Turtle Rock and the complex across the road seem untouched. Some great flying by our fire fighting pilots.



The Future of Lake Berryessa Looks Brighter, 

But The Sun Also Rises A Bit Slowly

by Peter Kilkus

It began almost18 months ago with the Lake Berryessa News headline: A Modest Proposal: Radical Restructuring - Ownership and Management of Lake Berryessa Should Be Transferred to Napa County.

Both Napa County and Reclamation responded positively to this proposal. On April 5, 2016, the Napa Board of Supervisors authorized staff to engage in discussions with Reclamation and the Department of the Interior (DOI) regarding the future of the concession areas of Lake Berryessa.

On June 21, 2016, the Board directed staff to enter into negotiations for a Managing Partner Agreement 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.

In December, 2016, supervisors moved forward by providing direction to staff to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Reclamation and a contract with Ragatz Sedgwick Realty. If Ragatz Sedgwick were successful in identifying interest, the County and Reclamation would move forward with negotiating a Managing Partner Agreement  and creating a formal Request for Proposal process to select concessionaire for five resorts (now refered to as Recreation Areas).

So here we are in August, 2017 - eighteen months after Reclamation announced that no successful bids were received in response to the latest 2015 Bid Prospectus (the third failed bid process since 2006), and almost ten years since the original resorts were demolished.

On August 1, 2017 Dick Ragatz and Grant Sedwick of Ragatz Sedgwick Realty presented their 434 page report, Lake Berryessa: An Untapped Resort Development Opportunity, to the Board of Supervisors.

The report is one of the most comprehensive ever compiled for the Lake Berryessa area. Its preparation involved: (1) meetings and conversations with dozens of appropriate individuals and entities in Napa County, throughout the primary market area and beyond; (2) conduct of a consumer survey with more than 3,200 responses; (3) surveys of lakes, marinas and campgrounds in northern California; and (4) review of numerous reports and documents prepared by Reclamation and others over the past years.

This document should be viewed as a “resource manual” for anyone interested in operating a concession area at Lake Berryessa. It also is meant to educate Napa County about the uniqueness and value of Lake Berryessa.

The report fairly presents the past controversies and decisions that led to the present situation at the lake. But now there is wide concensus that the revitalization of the lake as a recreation destination is important to all of Napa County.

This document represents Phase I of a two-phase assignment. Its primary purpose is to describe the attributes of Lake Berryessa. It provides critical background and educational information for Phase II. The purpose of Phase II is to attract appropriate entities who will develop and operate five available concession areas at the Lake.

The full report (75MB pdf) is available at: www.lakeberryessanews.com/final-lake-berryessa-ragatz.pdf. 

The supervisors were uniformly positive in their responses to the report. “What an opportunity this is for us to envision what Lake Berryessa can be,” said Supervisor Gregory.

The report includes many possibilities such as marinas, campsites, hiking trails, restaurants, motels, grocery stores, a conference center, a golf course, an amphitheater, even an indoor water park. Recreation and hospitality management companies will be expected to figure out what fits, what’s possible, and what's profitable.

Among the critical remaining issues is how long the lease contracts can be that the county could offer to concessionaires. The Bureau of Reclamation in a recent, unsuccessful attempt to redevelop the five resorts offered 30-year stints, with infrastructure then reverting to the federal government. This was unacceptable to most potential bidders.

Ragatz recommended that concessionaires should ideally have 65 years to recoup investments. Napa County and Bureau of Reclamation officials have been discussing the issue. A county report said the Bureau is open to a 55-year lease with at least one 10-year extension.

The Board has already authorized Ragatz Realty to identify interested concessionaires through a Request for Information and Interest (RFII) process. An RFII is primarily used to gather information to help make a decision on what steps to take next. County staff was authorized to continue discussions with Reclamation to complete a Managing Partner Agreement (MPA).

A report could go to the Board in late fall or winter. The process will include a public meeting with the Bureau of Reclamation and further public hearings with the Board of Supervisors during that time.

The supervisors were urged to speed up this process which has so much potential. How long does Lake Berryessa still have to wait for a beautiful new resort at Steele Canyon with attractive facilities and amenities?

20/20 vision and 20/20 hindsight point to 2020!

Celebrate the past, Create the future!


The public had its say. Evan Kilkus came to the microphone wearing shorts and a flower-print shirt, a fashion choice he called the Lake Berryessa uniform. He sees Berryessa recreation as complementing wine country.

 “We want to add the casualness, fun and excitement,” he said.

Bill Ryan of St. Helena said that bass fishing is popular and Lake Berryessa is a great bass lake. Lake Berryessa could attract anglers who already go to Clear Lake and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, but they’ll need places to eat and sleep, he said.

“Let’s not let them off the hook,” he said.

Amber Payne takes friends boating on Lake Berryessa. They find something missing.

“The lack of amenities is shocking to them,” she said.

Former Napa County Supervisor Harold Moskowite said he had a ranch in Berryessa Valley before the Bureau of Reclamation built Monticello Dam in the late 1950s, flooding the valley and creating the lake. His father had the first contract with the county to create Steele Park resort, now called Steele Canyon.

“I know Berryessa probably as best as anybody … Anything I can do to help, I’ll be happy to do it,” Moskowite told supervisors.


1068 Eastridge Aug2017


Historical Postcards of Lake Berryessa

1 Cover
2 Dam & Glory Hole
3 Steele Park
4 Spanish Flat
5 Rancho Monticello
6 Berryessa Marina
7 Putah Creek
8 Misc


CeCe 910 Cape Cod 06-27-17a


Girl & Fish


Early Season Fires at Lake Berryessa - a Reminder of What People Already Know…ALL IT TAKES IS ONE SPARK

by Evan Kilkus 

A spark from a campfire, a generator catching an RV on fire, a firecracker of some sort… all causes of grass fires around Lake Berryessa this Summer, all calling out a massive showing of force by firefighters. Visitors to Lake Berryessa, and residents, are urged to take extreme caution thru October, as hot temperatures, sporadic winds, and dry grasses can lead to disaster.

JUNE 22 – A generator caught fire, igniting the adjacent RV, 2 trucks, and a couple thousand square feet of grass in Steele Canyon Recreation Area. Fire personnel arrived on scene just in time to extinguish the growing grass fire.

6.22.17 Steele Canyon Fire

JULY 3 – Berryessa Highlands residents heard a truck go by on Steele Canyon Rd and then a bang from an unknow source, and next thing they saw, was the hill on fire. Alert and prepared neighbors started calling each-other to prepare to evacuate, but residents were more interested in fighting the fire than fleeing. Approximately 50 neighbors from all over started showing up with hoses and shovels, and they were extremely successful at slowing the spread of the flames. When fire crews made it approximately 30 minutes later, they were able to quickly fully contain the fire at about 2-3 acres.

Steele Canyon rd


JULY 4 - A fire started by an unknown cause just beyond the Pope Canyon Bridge, but a rapid response by fire crews and CAL Fire Helicopter 104 based out of Boggs Mt. allowed firefighters to contain the fire at under 1 acre.

JULY 6 – The “Winters Fire” started along HWY 128 between the Monticello Dam and Winters, where fires seem to happen almost annually.  Some years it has been documented car crashes, some years the cause is unknow.  This fire started in the early afternoon, and despite crews best and almost successful efforts to contain the fire at about 100 acres, the fire jumped the firebreaks and ended up growing to 2269 acres by the time it was done spreading 3 days later.  This fire resulted in the closure of HWY 128 from Thursday afternoon thru Saturday evening, on a busy holiday weekend, and led to evacuations of adjacent homes.

JULY 24 - Just after 3 PM a camper started a campfire in their fire pit at Steele Canyon Recreation Area, and then went down to the water to go for a swim. Minutes later winds blew a spark into the nearby grass, and the dense grass was ablaze.

6.22.17 Steele Canyon Camper Fire

By the time the campers were able to run up to their campsite the flames had grown, but they were able to slow the growth by dumping their cooler and water bottles on the fire. Within minutes resort staff and a Harvest Sanitation truck were able to help douse the fire with a fresh water hose on the pumper truck. Fire crews then arrived to fully extinguish any hot spots and ensure that the fire was out.

PLEASE let all of these fires be a reminder to anyone camping, visiting, or living at or near Lake Berryessa... All it takes is a spark...

Never leave a camp fire unattended! It is not a good idea to have a camp fire if it is windy and hot, even if there is no official "Red Flag" warning. If you must have a fire in the summer on a cool day/night when conditions permit, please keep it very small. Be careful with any source of fire ignition, from a camp fire, to BBQ, to cigarette ashes, to a hot exhaust pipe.

Defensible Space can eliminate the chance of starting a wildfire. Remove the fuel, remove the hazard.



Click here to find out

Smokey record cover
Smokey cub

120 Parkview Aug2017



In the last issue of the Lake Berryessa News we wrote about the Summer of Love 50 years ago, but only 20 years ago we had the Summers of Chaos. These were the “Rap Concert” summers many of us still remember.

Lake Berryessa 1998 Rap Concert

What if you threw a party and 8,000 people showed up!

The "Berryessa 3" beach party in 1998 attracted more than 8,000 people who generated tons of trash, a traffic gridlock, several accidents, numerous fights and many irate homeowners. Partygoers flocked to the Oaks Shore Park at Lake Berryessa on July 11, 1998 to party, swim, drink, eat and "make our lives hell," said Berryessa Pines resident Rudy Fehrenkamp, 68.

"We tried to go to the seniors citizens' Casino Night - which had to be canceled - and the traffic was horrendous. People were riding on top and in the beds of pickups, throwing beer and whiskey bottles all over. There was no way we could drive on the road," he said. 

"Then, the next day, the area, all the way to Spanish Flat, was one big trashy mess. It took park rangers two and half days to clean up the garbage."

This was the third year the "party” took place. "Lake Berryessa 3" fliers were distributed in the East Bay advertising the event. The posters, which read, "For more information, ask somebody," did not name a sponsor. The fliers tout the party as "The event you've been waiting for! The boat and jet picnic."

The  event  catered  to  the  rap music crowd. The first clue authorities had that the  party was on was Saturday about 5 a.m. when  people started lining up at the gates. There were no legal guidelines covering a no-host event on federal property. The place is a public beach and the highways are public roads. Authorities can't prohibit the public from using public facilities.

More than 8,500 people gathered Saturday at Acorn Beach to party with rap singer Too Short. But it got out of hand and erupted into a series of fights, traffic accidents, and massive gridlock, tying up two-lane traffic for hours.

About 80 Napa County law enforcement officers and backup units from Solano County were called in to control the crowd at the picnic area in Oak Shores Park.

Once the parking lot filled up people parked anywhere, on both sides of the road. They blocked traffic and caused all other kinds of problems. It took a sheriff’s unit about one and half hours to travel three miles. Many store owners close their businesses.

Lake Berryessa 1999 Rap Concert

Listen to Berryessa: The first cut from the Lake Berryessa Soundtrack album   

What if you threw a party and 8,000 people showed up - again?

Large crowds were drawn to Lake Berryessa Saturday, July 13, 1999, for “Berryessa 4”, another impromptu rap music event. Large crowds gathered at the intersection of Highways 121 and 128 causing major traffic congestion after the road into the lake was closed. People were forced to walk for more than an hour to get to the lake Oak Shores carrying their food and drinks.

The “controlled  chaos” was somewhat squelched by unprecedented police presence and a clamp­down of inbound roads. Wary of previous years' problems where thousands congregated in the small Acorn Beach area, law enforcement this year increased lake staff 20-fold and resolved to cut the problem off at the pass.

People started arriving at Oak Shores parking lot about 1 a.m. By 5:30 a.m. there was between 500 to 600 cars waiting to get in. The lot has 367 parking spots. When the lot was full, at about 7:30  a.m., the CHP closed Berryessa/Knoxville Road in both directions. The crowd began to gather at Moskowite Corners at Highway 121 and 128. 

At one point. there was about 1,500 people gathered there. Many people opted to hike to Oak Shores Park but they didn’t know how far it was - about 12 miles.

On a perfect summer day in the low 80s, under clear skies at Acorn Beach, about 3,000 people laid out blankets and set up canopies, tents, and listened to music, barbecued and drank beer. 

There was no concert and no central staging area for any events. Police bike patrols and horse teams periodically cruised the area. Sheriff's boats zipped by, and helicopters buzzed overhead.

The  Napa County Board of Supervisors Had banned parking on Knoxvllle-Berryessa Road from Pope Canyon all the way to Highway 128, where parking is prohibited as well. On Saturday, "no parking" signboards with police tape lined the road, including dirt lot pullouts where people normally park on a busy weekend. Several dozen cars risked the $75 fine and parked nearby, though a fleet of 20 tow trucks was said to be at the ready to haul cars away to Capell Valley School.

Some In the predominantly African-American crowd were angry at the road restrictions, and said they believed the motive was racial. "If It was white people, they'd have charter buses bringing people in," one Oakland man who made a 45 minute walk from Spanish Flat to Acorn Beach said. "They're trying to make It as difficult as possible."

Twelve miles down the road, the California Highway Patrol al 11:15 a.m. set up a road block at Moscowite Corners, where Highways 121 and 128 meet. For those who chose to  park and walk to, or toward, the lake, it was a long, hot journey. 

Streams of people attempted the 12-mile trek, some carrying coolers, lawn chairs and sun  umbrellas. Some flashed money to passing cars, offering to pay for a ride. Many asked how far the lake was, and said they did not believe it was 12 miles away. Few carried water.

The road was strewn with abandoned busted foam coolers, plastic water bottles and other garbage. Some drivers whose cars were somehow past the Moscowlte roadblock charged $5 to $10 for one-way rides to the Turtle Rock road block. 

Several who completed the five­mile walk from Moscowlte to Turtle Rock, rather than continue the next seven mile stretch to Acorn Beach, opted to return to Moscowite on a air-conditioned bus provided by the stale Department of Corrections. 

The sheriff’s department had a couple of Napa County Department of Corrections buses on hand in the event of a mass arrest, but authorities ended up using the buses to take people back to their cars. The sheriff’s department also had about 112 law enforcement officers on the scene and CHP had 40 motorcycle cops and 40 patrol officers.

Other than a few driving under the influence arrests and non­injury traffic accidents, the party went off without major incident. Sheriff’s deputies made no major arrests.

The Moskowite roadblock crowd swelled into the thousands as hundreds of cars continued arriving, with no place further to go. Spurned lake-goers set down blankets, lawn chairs and barbecues around the parking lot perimeter, car radios blared music and teens chased each other with large water guns.

By late afternoon perhaps 5,000 people clogged the Moscowite restaurant and gas station area. The general store was packed and a line extended out the door, where a sheriffs deputy stood.

Law enforcement was concerned with traffic, crowd control, and safely, a Napa County sheriff’s deputy said, and not race. "It's not just 8,000 to 10,000 people throughout the lake, but 8,000 to 10,000 people in a place with 367 parking spaces. Our  job is to maintain peace and safety for residents, visitors and businesses."

1998's July's "Berryessa 3" saw an estimated 10,000 people descend on Acorn Beach. In the wake of that event, area residents gathered 1,265 signatures to protest the event's impact and ask for tighter restrictions on parking and attendance. Law enforcement clearly did not want to be caught off guard  this year.

Was law enforcement's strategy simply to make it so difficult to get to the lake that no one will want to come next year? "No. We wanted to provide a safe area for everybody at Lake Benyessa, including the picnickers at Acorn Beach," officers said. "We just wanted to make sure we were covered."

Lake Berryessa Rap Album notes

Next year, “Berryessa 5” in 2000?  No - it never happened. Whether a conscious strategy or not, the zero tolerance approach by officials in 1999 ended the Rap Concert Summers of Chaos.


Full Moon Kayaking, Free Fishing Day, and Coastal Cleanup This Summer at Lake Berryessa

Media Contact: Erin Curtis, 916-978-5100 

The Bureau of Reclamation invites visitors to join us for an exciting summer of events at Lake Berryessa. There will be something for everyone, from kayaking, to a free fishing day, and more. All activities will be held rain or shine, and best of all, they are free of charge. Upcoming events include:

Full Moon Friday Paddling Tours – limited space, register today! 
Friday, September 1 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Foxtail Flat, Oak Shores Day Use Area
Experience the beauty of Lake Berryessa from a unique perspective during our ranger-led Full Moon Friday paddling tours. These 3-hour trips explore various parts along the western shore of the lake and are open to experienced swimmers. A limited number of kayaks and Coast Guard-approved life jackets are available for participants, if requested in advance. Required items include a kayak or canoe, life jacket, paddles, headlamp and sound device. Other recommended items are sunscreen, a hat, water and a meal/snack. Pre-registration is required. To pre-register or check the availability of equipment email park ranger Todd Eggert at reggert@usbr.gov or call 707-966-2111 ext. 113.

Free Fishing Day
Saturday, September 2, 2017 at 10 a.m. 
Shale Point, Oak Shores Day Use Area
There are a limited number of times during the year the California Department of Fish and Wildlife allows everyone to fish free of charge, and September 2 is one of them! If you ever wanted to learn to fish, this is the perfect time to join our park ranger at Oak Shores Day Use Area for some tips. Fishing equipment will be available for participants to use during this program. Please contact park rangers Dylan Dowe and Matthew Ward at 707-966-2111 ext.113 with any questions or visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days for more information on Free Fishing Days.

Coastal Clean Up Day
Saturday, September 16, 2017, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
Pope Creek Bridge and the Markley Turnouts
Join Reclamation, Solano Resource Conservation District and partners for this annual lake and shoreline cleanup event. Free lunch and beverages will be provided to volunteers. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own work gloves, a reusable bucket, and water bottle. To volunteer, contact park ranger Hugo Martinez at 707-966-2111 ext. 113 or hmartinezroacho@usbr.gov.

Please note, for all events participants should wear sturdy shoes, dress in weather appropriate clothing, and bring water and sunscreen. Children are welcome, but those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Ongoing Recreation Programs

Dufer Point Visitor Center Open
Now through September 10: Weekends and holidays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Weekdays Noon to 3 p.m.
Park rangers are available to answer questions about natural resources, recreational opportunities, wildlife and the area’s history. Brochures, maps, trail guides and other educational information are available free of charge.

Meet a Park Ranger at Monticello Dam!
Now through Labor Day: Saturdays and Sundays 12 to 2 p.m.
Monticello Dam Overlook Parking (Highway 128, 9 miles west of Winters)
Ever wonder who created Lake Berryessa? How much water it holds? What was here before the lake? Where the water goes? Get the answers to these questions and more when you meet a park ranger at the Monticello Dam every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer. Stop by any time between 12 and 2 p.m. to learn fun facts about this essential water resource. Please contact a park ranger at 707-966-2111 ext.113 with any questions.

If you would like to participate in an event or program and need accommodation, please contact the Lake Berryessa Park Ranger Department at 707-966-2111 ext. 113 at least 14 days in advance.

Please visit the Lake Berryessa website at: http://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa/index.html for additional information.



Celebrate Summer




New Open AA Meeting at Lake Berryessa!!

New open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous at Lake Berryessa will take place on Tuesdays at the Community Church of Lake Berryessa. There will be two times on Tuesdays, one at 1:00 pm and another at 6:00pm. So come and join us at Faith and Unity at the Lake.

Faith and Unity at the Lake

Community Church of Lake Berryessa, 6008 Steele Canyon Road

For any questions call Judy at (530) 391-2145.

AA Flyer 2017 001


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.

LBMap & Info Summer 2017


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August 2017

LBNews Pg 12&1 Aug17

Click to download this issue.



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.

It was the second largest annual increase in the history of the lake.

It was also the second highest level the lake has reached in its 58 year history.

The lake has only spilled into Glory Hole 26 times in those 58 years. Also the rainfall total (47.1 inches as of 5/8/17) is the highest in 20 years.

The first video shows how low the lake was 2 years ago. You should watch it before the others to get some perspective on the amazing rise of the lake in 2017.



Full lake level history 2015



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 - 2017

by Peter Kilkus

Download a PDF of the history timeline here.

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.

The Bureau of Reclamation 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.        

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".




Download PDF of this report (2 MB)


The Amazing Foods of Chef Neiman Marxist

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

   Final Ragatz Report (75MB PDF)

Ragatz Summary Recommendations (75 KB PDF)


Winters Express logo

The Winters Express


Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument Report

pkilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2017