Due to vacation schedules, this web site 

will not be updated until June 27.


Reclamation to Hold Lake Berryessa Community Forum Meeting June 22 at the Lake Berryessa Senior Center

(Editor’s Note): Coincidentally(?), this meeting is scheduled for the day after the County Supervisors' meeting (see story below) which will review the staff analysis report regarding the proposal that Napa County take over management of the Lake Berryessa Recreation Areas.)


The Bureau of Reclamation will hold the next meeting of the Lake Berryessa Community Forum on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, at the Lake Berryessa Senior Center. Forum meetings are designed to promote public input on recreation opportunities and services at Lake Berryessa. The public is invited to attend the meeting, which will be held:

Wednesday, June 22, 6-8 p.m.

Lake Berryessa Senior Center

4380 Spanish Flat Loop Road

At the meeting, Mid-Pacific Deputy Regional Director Pablo Arroyave and Central California Area Office Manager Drew Lessard will discuss the next steps in planning for long-term recreation at the lake.


Lake Berryessa Management Analysis  To Be Presented to the 

Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 21

Napa County staff have been gathering data, visiting the lake, and interviewing a wide range of knowledgeable people to determine whether Napa County should take over management of all, or a part, of Lake Berryessa. The County managed recreation at Lake Berryessa from 1962 to 1975. (See story below.)

An initial report will be presented to the supervisors at their regular meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 9 AM, at 1195 Third Street, Suite 310. Staff will ask the Supervisors for future direction on this issue. The report will be available on Friday, June 17th on the County's web site.

Interested business owners and residents should plan to attend this meeting to express their views as to how best to revitalize Lake Berryessa.

To jog your memory about what happened at Lake Berryessa, please watch these short videos:



We need everyone who cares about revitalizing Lake Berryessa to make their feelings known to the Napa County Board of Supervisors now.







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

Another Page in the “History Repeats Itself” Version of the Bureau of Reclamation Mismanagement at Lake Berryessa.

The early 1970s brought much controversy over the management of Lake Berryessa. Napa County was in conflict with the Bureau of Reclamation over how best to provide public recreation at the lake. A moratorium was placed on all construction and development in the concession areas, including remedial construction activities, by Reclamation July 1970. A Board of Supervisors Resolution, No. 71-133, November 1971, refused to continue to allow the Reclamation imposed  “moratorium” and resolved to allow construction activities of  a remedial nature at Lake Berryessa.

Congressman Don Clausen, responsive to his constituents, visited Lake Berryessa in 1972. He worked extensively with all parties involved. In mid 1973 there was a Lake Berryessa Conference called by Congressman Clausen, he analyzed the National Recreation Area Proposal which would acquire the concessions and burden taxpayers with $25 - $40 million, he concluded that it did not provide a solution. He concluded that an expanded, up-dated and restructured cooperative management agreement between the Federal government and Napa County would be the best and most realistic way to resolve the Berryessa question. 

His remarks addressed the failures to develop and manage day-use recreation facilities and activities was attributed to: 

1. Failure of the Federal government to recognize the potential for public recreation when the Lake Berryessa -Solano Project was conceived and constructed. 

2. Failure of the Federal government to provide for the development and management of day-use recreation facilities even when its potential was recognized. 

3. Inability of the State of California to finance or cooperate in financing recreational resources at the Lake. 

He then stated, “Private enterprise, working in concert with government, can do anything better than government alone can --- the only problem is, it was never really given a fair chance to work at Lake Berryessa!” 

He recognized that funds were necessary to develop the day use capital improvements, and vowed to pursue Federal funds. He felt that the public use plan developed by the National Park Service was  an excellent guide in developing a comprehensive day-use recreation plan for the Lake.

The Conference led Congress Clausen to introduce H.R Bill 11758, December 1973. The purpose of the Bill was to authorize the Federal government to direct the development, operation and maintenance of day-use facilities. 

It further authorized the Federal government to create rules and regulations for the administration of the lands and waters at Lake Berryessa, and to enter into agreements for the operation and maintenance of recreational use facilities in the area. It then, authorized funds to be appropriated which were necessary to carry out the provisions of the Act.

Supportive of HR Bill 11758, the County of Napa Board of Supervisors passed a Resolution. The County considered the Bill a solution which would provide for the establishment of much needed day use public recreational facilities at Lake Berryessa by receiving funding to provide recreational uses, while proposing reasonable solutions for the management at Lake Berryessa. 

But after fruitless years of discussion and debate regarding the management agreement, in 1974, Napa County withdrew as the management agency of Lake Berryessa through Resolution 74-444, April 1974: 

“WHEREAS, since the inception of said recreation managerial effort by the County of Napa, the recreational public has been served through the development of seven separate concession complexes individually managed by private enterprise concessionaires under agreement with the County, as approved by the Bureau of Reclamation, and the volume of recreational uses by the general public has expanded to the extent that presently Lake Berryessa is providing more than two million recreational user-days per year; and

WHEREAS, the County of Napa has, during recent years, sought to negotiate certain amendments to the said management agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation for the purpose or providing the resort concessionaires at Lake Berryessa with the contractual interest that would permit their more readily obtaining commercial financing with which to accomplish desirable expansion and capital improvements within their respective concession areas; however, such efforts of County have thus far been fruitless; and …

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Napa, State of California, that it does herewith and hereby determine that the County of Napa shall relinquish and terminate its managerial functions and activities under that certain Agreement entitled “Management Agreement with Napa County for Lake Berryessa Area” and dated January 17, 1962, between the County of Napa and the United States of America, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, said relinquishment and termination to be accomplished at a date convenient to said Bureau of Reclamation but not later than June 30, 1975.”


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Helping Hands Charity Event

This event is sponsored by the Community Church of Lake Berryessa and Valley Christian Church.

Saturday, July 23, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, Moskowite Corners

Rummage Sale , Car Wash, $4 Lunch Deal

Covered rummage sale spaces, 10' X 10', are available for $35 (or you can deduct ten dollars if you bring your own canopy). You keep your earnings and your leftover treasures. 

All proceeds from this event will go to support the effort to open a park/community center at the former Capell Valley School.

Contact Terri Lee at 373-5177 to reserve your space or for information.


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Sixth Annual World Environment Day At Lake Berryessa

June 5, 2016: Lake Berryessa hosted its sixth annual celebration of World Environment Day with a group cleanup of the lakeshore followed by a delicious picnic lunch at Markley Cove.  By 9:30 am, 99 volunteers had joined a group effort to clean up trash and recyclables from the lake and shoreline.  The weather was quite warm, but not scorching, and volunteers worked hard to get the lake ready for the Summer season, removing 437 pounds of improperly discarded waste and recyclable materials, improving ecological function and making the Lake a better environment for everyone.  Participants used reusable gloves and trash pick-up sticks in an effort to ensure the cleanup generated as little of its own waste as possible.

The annual event is sponsored by the Lake Berryessa Watershed Partnership with funding and support from Anheuser-Busch/The River Network, Solano County Water Agency, Bureau of Reclamation and the Cities and County of Solano. The Bureau of Reclamation, Solano Resource Conservation District and Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Fairfield organized the cleanup, and Lake Berryessa Boat and Jet Ski Rental hauled the collected debris for proper disposal. El Pueblo Market in Winters provided a delicious taco bar picnic, hosted by Markley Cove Resort, who provided cool drinks, tables and chairs to the attendees.

The United Nations first started World Environment Day in 1972 to build global awareness of the environment, encourage political attention and support individual and community projects. Locally, World Environment Day is well-timed for the start of Lake Berryessa’s season: volunteers pick up trash after the Memorial Day weekend, helping start the summer with Lake Berryessa in the best shape possible. The Lake Berryessa Watershed Partnership’s long term goal is for participants to find less and less trash on the shoreline as awareness grows that the lake is a drinking water source for almost half a million people, and that trash poses hazards to recreation, wildlife and habitat.

“This event just keeps getting bigger and better,” said Kate Frazier, of Markley Cove Resort and a partner in the World Environment Day Celebration at Lake Berryessa from the beginning. “It was especially great to see so many children actively involved in the cleanup this year.”  Coordinator Marianne Butler of Solano RCD agreed. “Our participation grew by 65% this year. People donated their Sunday morning to care for the lake: employees from Anheuser Busch, Sutter Health, BJ’s Brewery, the Vanden Robotics Team, Shilo Baptist Church in Vacaville and a variety of families and individuals from all over the region. Shilo brought a lot of kids, which really added to the event.” 

Butler, served as team captain for this year’s effort was fatigued from the coordination, but elated. “World Environment Day is a great time to get out and take care of the places you love.  Lake Berryessa is important to Solano County because it provides much of our drinking water.  It’s important to the region because it’s an amazing place for recreation and wildlife. It’s great to spend a morning with folk who care about it and want to give something back with endless smiles on their faces.”

All participants who pre-registered received a free World Environment Day shirt. Butler urges service groups, youth groups and others to keep this event in mind for next year, and to contact her for ideas about getting involved.  If you missed this World Environment Day- there are more opportunities for Volunteer Cleanups at Lake Berryessa.  The next big event is Coastal Cleanup, which takes place on the third Saturday in September.  For more information about that event, or other environmental volunteer opportunities, check out Solanorcd.org or contact Marianne.Butler@Solanorcd.org.

Bilgee group
WED clean up crew


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Lessons from a Sitting Duck

by Suzanne Kilkus


For three weeks this early spring we watched a mallard duck sit on her nest under a bush outside our front door. A pair of ducks has come the last several springs to this same spot. I don’t know if it is the same pair, but the same thing happens every year – the local raccoons discover the nest one night and have a feast on the eggs.

It’s not a pretty sight in the morning to come out and see the egg shells scattered around the front yard. And I can feel pretty upset about this whole annual event. I want to keep the ducks from nesting here. I want to protect them from the rascally raccoons. I imagine building a raccoon-proof fence around the nest. (I know raccoon behavior well enough to know that would be futile!) 

When I saw that the raccoons didn’t get two of the eggs the first morning I thought about bringing them into the house and putting them into the oven to hatch. (When I passed this by my husband, the biologist that he is, looked at me askance, and I was reminded that I’d probably be delaying the inevitable or needing to figure out how to have two ducklings follow me around during my work day.)

This year the mallard pair even brought a wood duck (a live one, not a "wooden" duck, who sat in front of the nest most of the day doing what appeared to be watching and guarding the premises for unwanted invaders. It didn’t work. 

My human brain, used to solving problems, thought there had to be a better way.

But here’s the kicker. Two days later, the ducks were back looking to inhabit the same nest. “What are you thinking????” my survival brain squawked. Then I paused and saw that these little creatures were just getting on with their life as their instincts guided them. 

And so I looked at my thinking, my perceptions, and decided that maybe there are some lessons I’m being reminded of here.

I wanted to interfere with Nature’s way of being.

sitting duck Suzanne

Lesson: Be careful and aware of my actions. There is a difference between interference and intervention – meddling to control something or supportive involvement to influence positive change. I thought I knew better.

Lesson: Imposing my thoughts on Nature is a risky business. Better to be patient and observant and see how to partner in the flow of things. I caught myself up in thinking about doing something so that I would not feel discomfort.

Lesson: Avoiding discomfort is not always the best of motivations. It can cause putting attention on something I have no control over. I took a judgmental view on the flow of natural instinct to move on, to continue engaging life as it is, and respond to life as it shows up.

Lesson: Critical judgment blinds me to the bigger picture of life, i.e., the impermanence of all things. And I got myself stuck in the perception that the natural world lives around me.

Lesson: I live within the Natural World. I am a Being of Nature, not separate and more powerful, but able to be conscious in choosing partnership in the flow of life.

Every day as I pass the site of the empty nest, I nod to these springtime teachers all around me. I’m grateful for the reminders of how to live in right relationship to life as it is.


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Read the Latest Print Edition Here.

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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".



Lake Level Fifty Year History

Full lake level history 2015


pkilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2016