BOR Betrays Berryessa - AGAIN

Beating A Dead Horse With A Stick

OR Beating A Horse With A Dead Stick?

BOR Betrays Berryessa - AGAIN!

by Peter Kilkus

It’s been a long time since the original promise by the Bureau of Reclamation of a “seamless transition” at Lake Berryessa followed by many years of total chaos leading to the destruction of a local community and economy you see here now.

After the Pensus fiasco of 2010, Reclamation officials appeared to finally understand the serious damage they had done to our community. They scrambled from August, 2013 to January, 2014 to prepare various detailed plans for five concession areas. In July, 2015 Reclamation released its latest Concession Bid Prospectus. In February, 2016 Reclamation announced that no acceptable bids were received - a major disaster for the Lake Berryessa community. There was a period after that last failed bid process that Reclamation felt enough “guilt” to agree to work towards a Managing Partner Agreement with Napa County to allow the County to take over management of the resorts and create its own bid package and subsequent concession contracts.

Original Schedule

November 2017: RFII Submittals Due

January, 2018: MPA Authorization

February, 2018: RFP Release

April, 2018: RFP Due

Spring/Summer 2018: Concessionaire Selection and Negotiations

Modified Schedule  (February, 2018)

April, 2018: MPA Authorization

May, 2018: RFP Release

Modified Schedule  (July, 2018)


Modified Schedule  (August, 2018)


Napa County kept its word! It funded a detailed study showing that Lake Berryessa is a recreational gem that should provide significant financial incentive for resort companies to bid on running the lake resorts. At a December 13, 2017 meeting both Lake Berryessa supervisors, Alfredo Pedroza and Diane Dillon, spoke positively about the potential outcomes. Supervisor Pedroza said, “We’ve made great progress in working with the Bureau of Reclamation that will renew the vibrancy and allow sensible development at the lake.”

In January 2018, Reclamation also said that it is dedicated to coming to a Managing Partner Agreement (MPA) with the County that allows the County to manage the concessions. An MPA would allow Napa County to manage concession contracts with terms that were previously not available through Reclamation, leading to the revitalization of the whole region.

But then something happened. As I reported in last month’s issue of the Lake Berryessa News, “Both Napa County and Reclamation professed to be continuing the process with the positive intent to have Napa County take over management of all or some of the recreation areas. One hang-up seems to be the typical bureaucratic “off like a herd of turtles” syndrome. The other is the federal government approving 50 year terms for new concession contracts rather than the 30 year terms proposed by the Department of the Interior.”

Napa County is well managed with a dedicated professional staff. They have done their due diligence and all indications are that various departments are prepared to move forward with the bid process and concession management plans.

But where is the Bureau of Reclamation? Well, it appears - NOWHERE. We’ve lost another month due to bureaucratic bungling on the part of the Bureau of Reclamation. Apparently no one in that bureaucracy is willing to stand up and make a decision about the 5o year contract term. This is a betrayal of magnificent proportions!

Is the Bureau of Reclamation a dead horse no longer functioning, or is the influence of Napa County just a dead stick when encountering bureaucratic inertia? Maybe it’s time to go with an “old school” stick - a passionate letter-writing campaign. We need to let government officials know that we really, really care. It’s time to speak up again, as we have in the past. Sample below:


Dear -----

I am very concerned that the Bureau of Reclamation is once again ignoring the needs of the Lake Berryessa community. They were supposed to complete a Managing Partner Agreement with Napa County to allow the county to take over management of the lake’s recreation areas, including a new bid prospectus and subsequent concession contracts. 

Why has Reclamation unilaterally delayed this important process? Why has Reclamation not followed through with the critically important approval of fifty years contract terms - which all research has shown to be necessary to attract competent recreation companies to invest in new facilities? 

Please require that the Bureau of Reclamation follow through on this important issue.


(Addresses listed below.)

Mail, email, call, or fax to:

Congressman Mike Thompson

2721 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Napa, CA 94558

Phone: (707) 226-9898, 
Fax: (707) 251-9800



Senator Diane Feinstein

One Post Street, Suite 2450, San Francisco, CA 94104 

Phone: (415) 393-0707, 
Fax: (415) 393-0710


Senator Kamala Harris

333 Bush Street, Suite 3225
, San Francisco, CA 94104

Phone (415) 981 - 9369, 
Fax (202) 224 - 0454


Ryan Zinke, Interior Dept. Secretary

1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240


Brenda Burman, BOR Commissioner

1849 C Street, N.W
. Washington DC 20240

Phone: 202-513-0501, Fax: 202-513-0309


David Palumbo, Deputy Commissioner

1849 C Street, N.W. 
Washington DC 20240

Phone: 202-513-050, Fax: 202-513-0319


David Murillo, Regional Director

2800 Cottage Way
, Sacramento, CA 95825-1898

Phone: 916-978-5001, Fax 916-978-5005


Drew Lessard, BOR Area Manager 

7794 Folsom Dam Road, Folsom, California 95630

Phone: 916-989-7200                       © Peter Kilkus 2018