February 2017 To February 2018: What A Difference A Year Makes!


Politics Watch History (February 2017)

Napa County is considering whether to take over managing the Bureau of Reclamation’s stalled effort to redevelop five Lake Berryessa resorts. The County is working with consultants from Ragatz Sedgwick Realty which was chosen for its knowledge and experience in developing hotels, resorts and recreational opportunities. 

Sedgwick Realty will assist the County in  identifying interested concession partners by marketing the opportunity to the resort community and performing a feasibility analysis to determine the best use of each site. Richard Ragatz has been in Napa touring the closed resorts, gathering information, and meeting with, among others, the Bureau of Reclamation, Visit Napa Valley staff, and members of the Board of Directors of the Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce.

Politics Watch History (February 2018)

The County received nine responses to the Request for Information and Interest. Given that the proposals contain proprietary information that may be used in a formal Request for Proposal process, they will not release the details of the respondents or the responses. Neither the names of the submitting firms nor the specific sites will be made public until an Intent to Award notification is published in the later RFP process. Discussions continue with the BOR and County staff will report to the Board of Supervisors in the coming months.

The reason for not releasing this information is that it could give an advantage to a submitting firm in the RFP submittal and negotiation process. If, for instance, a submitting firm knows who else submitted and that other particular firm specializes in only one service, they could tailor their RFP submittal to just barely outdo that firm, and not necessarily propose services that are as plentiful as they could be otherwise. Or conversely, they may assume their company cannot compete with “the other folks” and decide not to submit a RFP response at all. 

Additionally, if a firm knows no one else is interested in a particular site, their RFP proposal may not be as competitive in either services offered or other elements of financial  package offered, as it might be otherwise.

Next Steps: April, 2018 - MPA Authorization; May, 2018 - RFP Release


Lake Level as of 2/24/18

The lake has remained at 431 feet - 9 feet below Glory Hole since January 25. With .03 inches recorded at Monticello Dam on February 23, the rainfall total is now at 7.47 inches.

What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time the lake was at 442.9 feet - 2.9 feet above Glory Hole - and slowly dropping from its high of 443.59 feet on 2/21/17. Rainfall was already at  40.86 inches.


Glory Hole Level Watch History (February 2017)

Lake Berryessa water washed over and into the Glory Hole on Feb. 12, 2017 at 1:45 PM for the first time in 11 years! Granted it was helped by California Marine Sports wakeboard boats on a beautiful, clear sunny Sunday, but before anyone objects that this doesn’t count, we were MAKING history.

It was REAL Lake Berryessa water flowing over the lip of Glory Hole. And it was also a bit of good fun the large crowd on hand. Feel the Lake Berryessa spirit after all these years of government turmoil.

2/16/17: Lake Berryessa "officially" hit 439.9 feet - 1 inch below Glory Hole at 7 PM! Wind pushed some small waves over the lip.

2/17/17: Lake Berryessa  OFFICIALLY HIT THE TOP of the Glory Hole Spillway, 400.0 feet, at 1 A.M! It was stable at 440.0 feet as of 6 A.M.

2/21/17: Lake Berryessa hit 443.6 feet, 3.6 feet above Glory Hole, the second highest level in history.

Glory Hole Level Watch (February 2018)

As of  2/8/18 the lake has stabilized at 431.1 feet - 8.9 feet below Glory Hole. Rainfall total is now at 7.44 inches. No rain since January 26 and none expected for the next week or so.

What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time the lake was at 429.7 feet - 10.3 feet below Glory Hole - and still rising fast. Rainfall was already at 28.7 inches.


Weekly Lake Berryessa News Live Drone Reports Coming This Spring!

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Relive the excitement of Lake Berryessa filling last year at:



Atlas Fire Follow-Up: Triumph Over Catastrophe Thanks to Community

by Evan Kilkus

In all the chaos of the wildfires last October, miraculously only one house was lost in the Berryessa area. Despite this misfortune, more than 500 families in the region, who had feared the imminent loss of their own homes which in the end had not been touched, experienced immense relief. Immediately following the wildfire, that relief turned into action to help their neighbor recover. And that they are doing, remarkably faster than many.

When word spread about the loss, the community jumped to do what they could to help this family of four get back home. With the combined effort of all, the Hauck Family has been “comfortably” living on their property in a travel trailer since December, with 2 storage sheds, a landscaped and fenced in yard, pets, farm animals, a cleaned-up home site, and building plans submitted so they can start rebuilding this spring.

Neighbors in Capell Valley were able to help right away after the fire, in giant ways. First, a neighbor fostered the families pet geese, a somewhat simple act of kindness, but one that makes their property feel like home now that they are all back. 

Second, neighbors were able to set them up with a reliable local contractor, American Canyon Builders, who was able to clear the hazardous material and install necessary infrastructure hook-ups to allow the trailer to be lived in per county codes.

Then, to make sure the property felt livable and not like a disaster zone, three separate times groups of ten Berryessa Highlands neighbors showed up to clear burned trees and brush, and help set up a new yard for the family that wasn’t just scorched earth.  

Crown Hill Stone Supply generously donated a full truckload of Cedar wood chips, so in a matter of hours, the dirt around their temporary travel trailer became a yard. And all it took was some great neighbors and 150 hours of volunteer work to make it happen!

Also there was the GoFundMe page that raised more than $3,000 for the Hauck Family, the donation drives and huge donation from the Bay Area Diesels Car Club, the pile of toys from the Capell Valley Volunteer Fire Department Annual Toy Drive, and coming up soon, the Hauck’s are looking forward to extra hands from the local 4-H kids to rebuild the animal pen.

The moral of this story is simple… it turns out that an actual house is not necessary to feel at home.  Just Community.

Please consider making a donation of any size for the next family we will be helping to clean-up so they can rebuild.  We’d love to buy them a storage shed and fencing too!

Donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/NapaFiresBerryessaHelp

burned lot crop
Dump truck
Trailer edited-1

Crown Hill AD


CeCe Feb2018CeCe photo



1021 Arroy Linda Ct Feb2018


The Lake Berryessa Senior Center & Community Hall

A Community Resource for All


February, 2018

LBNews Pg 8&1 Feb18

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

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 2017