Napa County Frustrated by Bureau of Reclamation Stalling Tactics at Lake Berryessa

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                       © Peter Kilkus 2018