Lake Oroville Community Update - May 1, 2020


Aerial view of Bidwell Bar Bridge.

Aerial view of Bidwell Bar Bridge, Lake Oroville. DWR/2019

Oroville Field Division Work Continues

Oroville Field Division (OFD) staff continue to carry out essential duties including operations of Oroville Dam and affiliated power plants, facility maintenance, and monitoring activities. Following guidance from Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health, OFD has made several changes in response to the dynamic public health emergency including social distancing, telework, and increased sanitary precautions for staff.


Please remember that California's water treatment process removes and kills viruses, including COVID-19. Additionally, tap water is cheaper, easily accessible, and doesn't contribute to plastics pollution.


Oroville and Upper Feather River Lakes Closures Update

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the recreation facilities associated with the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area have been closed, as well as the Lake Oroville Visitors Center and public access to the Feather River Fish Hatchery.


The U.S. Forest Service closed all developed recreation sites indefinitely including boat launch facilities and campgrounds at the State Water Project facilities of Frenchman Lake, Lake Davis, and Antelope Lake in Plumas County. For information on Forest Service facilities, find your national forest at Information regarding the status of California Department of Parks and Recreation facilities can be found at “Flatten the Curve at State Parks”. Information regarding the Oroville Wildlife Area, including the Thermalito Afterbay, can be found at or by calling (916) 358-2900.


Video Allows Students to Experience Juvenile Steelhead Trout Release

The Classroom Aquarium Education Program (CAEP) provides aquarium tanks and Steelhead eggs from Oroville Dam’s Feather River Fish Hatchery to local classrooms to educate students about the fish life-cycle, their importance to the ecology of the Feather River, and the importance of protecting habitats for native fish. Students raise the fish from eggs and observe their development into juvenile fish (fry) able to swim and survive on their own.


The students’ much-anticipated spring field trips to release the fry into the river had to be canceled because of COVID-19 pandemic school closures. Department of Water Resources (DWR) staff and Pacific States Marine Fisheries contractor Jada Simone-Wright arranged for the collection of the growing fry from participating, but closed, classrooms. The group also arranged for DWR public affairs staff to film the release of the fish into Feather River at Oroville’s Riverbend Park. Students can now virtually experience the Program’s success. The video is available for viewing at


The CAEP – formerly called “Eggs in the Classroom” – educational outreach tool is a decades-long collaboration between DWR, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and local schools and non-profits in the Butte County area to support greater awareness of the unique population management challenges for the Feather River’s Steelhead trout and Spring-run Chinook salmon. View the CAEP webpage for more information. View DWR’s article for more details about the trout release.


California Conservation Corps Erecting Fish Habitat Structures at Loafer Creek

Trees removed for construction of a new boat launch ramp at Loafer Point will be used to create fish and wildlife habitat structures near the Loafer Point recreation area. These structures, when submerged, will provide a refuge for many fish species in Lake Oroville including largemouth bass, spotted bass, channel catfish, bluegill, and green sunfish. When dewatered by lower lake levels, the structures also provide habitat for terrestrial species (land animals and birds).


DWR contracted with the California Conservation Corps to anchor the brush and trees into the barren slopes of Lake Oroville beginning May 4. Work is anticipated to last for approximately two weeks. Similar to the Department’s ‘Recycled Christmas Tree Fish Habitat Project’, this work is part of DWR’s commitment to innovative methods of improving fish habitat and promoting fish survival at Lake Oroville, the Thermalito Afterbay, and the Feather River.


DWR Continues Brush Clearing Work

DWR continues to implement the Fuel Load Management Plan (FLMP), which aims to reduce wildfire risk, improve public safety, and enhance forest health around Lake Oroville. Crews continues to remove hazardous fuels, including overstocked trees and underbrush, from approximately 9.5 acres at project sites near the Nelson Bar Car-top Boat Launch and along Oroville Dam Boulevard East near the Hyatt Powerplant.

Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 825 feet and storage is about 2.49 million acre-feet. Daily average inflows to the lake have ranged between 4,845 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 5,548 cfs over the past week. 

A slight chance of rain in the upper Feather River watershed may occur this weekend and dry conditions are expected during the week of May 4. Currently in the Northern Sierra Basin rainfall is below average, at 57 percent of normal, and snowpack is also below average, measuring 25 percent of normal for this time of year. Flows through the City of Oroville are about 650 cfs and about 900 cfs below the Thermalito River Outlet. Total releases to the Feather River are at 1,550 cfs.


All data as of midnight 4/30/20