Lake Oroville Community Update - September 17, 2021


Photo of Lake Oroville on July 26, 2021

View of Lake Oroville on July 26, 2021.

Salmon Festival

Oroville’s Salmon Festival is scheduled for Sept. 25 to celebrate the return of salmon to the Feather River. Always held on the last Saturday in September, the celebration was canceled in 2020. Due to the ongoing pandemic, additional hand washing/sanitizing stations and free masks will be provided to promote public health and safety at this year’s event. Attendees are required to follow all Butte County public health guidelines relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The event will be centered around historic downtown Oroville and the newly renovated Oroville Convention Center (formerly Memorial Auditorium) with an activity zone, food vendors, music, craft fair, car show, and informational booths. No tours will be provided at the Feather River Fish Hatchery (FRFH) but the Viewing Area, fish ladder, and underwater viewing window remain open to the public. A video virtual tour of the hatchery will be shown at the Convention Center.


Those wanting to see the salmon in their natural habitat can sign up for “Float with the Salmon” raft trips down the Feather River. DWR biologists accompanying each raft will offer “on-the-water” education about the salmonid life cycle and river habitat. For details, visit the Salmon Festival’s website.


Feather River Cleanup

DWR will participate in the annual Feather River Cleanup Event, hosted by the Feather River Recreation and Park District (FRRPD) on Saturday, Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event to restore the health of the Feather River and surrounding trails includes trash pickup and invasive plant removal. DWR will provide a boat and staff to support the in-river portion of the cleanup event and coordinate with FRRPD and Recology on the removal of collected in-river trash and large debris.


Volunteers are directed to check-in at Riverbend Park’s Salmon Pavilion at the end of Montgomery Street in Oroville. Supplies will be provided but volunteers are encouraged to wear long pants, long sleeved shirts, and boots or sturdy shoes. Sunscreen, water, and work gloves are also recommended.


Over 150 Acres Treated Around Lake Oroville This Season

During the 2020-2021 season, DWR partnered with CAL FIRE, CA Conservation Corps (CCC), Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), Butte County Fire Safe Council (BCFSC), and Butte County Sheriff Office (BCSO) to treat approximately 155 acres within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) project boundary around DWR’s Oroville facilities.


A variety of fuel load treatments were successfully utilized including mastication, thinning, chipping, piling, weed eating, and grazing. Areas were treated around Bidwell Canyon and Loafer Creek, along with areas at Lakeland Blvd., Old Ferry Road, and the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville. At Loafer Creek within the North Complex wildfire burn scar, CAL FIRE, CCC, and BCSO crews masticated, hand thinned, piled, and chipped approximately 60 acres of burnt vegetation. Treatment was completed along the Roy Rogers trail, access roads, around seasonal drainages, and along the Highway 162 corridor to increase public safety. Piles will be burnt this winter when crews are available and weather is favorable.   


DWR has temporarily paused Fuel Load Management Plan (FLMP) projects as wildfires throughout California are using available fuels reduction crews. As fire seasons grow longer, the FLMP season, which previously began in September, now runs from December to May -- after fire crews stop fighting fires and before the dry weather returns. Planning for the 2021-2022 season includes defining and scoping site-specific projects, defining and securing permits and approvals, securing funding, and contracting for the work. Emphasis will be given to areas that have been previously treated in order to manage regrowth, removing burnt trees and vegetation within the burn scar, and treating overgrown areas around the FERC project boundary. DWR’s goal is to treat and/or re-treat 1,000 acres over the next five years.


Oroville Recreation

Launching of trailered boats at Lake Oroville’s temporary single-lane boat ramp at the Spillway Boat Ramp area remains closed due to unsafe conditions. Hand launching of small boats such as canoes or kayaks is permitted. As lake levels drop, the condition of the ramp continues to be reassessed for future use.


The Bidwell Canyon Marina at Lake Oroville remains open and is providing shuttle service to boat owners from 8 a.m. until sundown. Boaters are advised to be aware of hazards now that lake levels have reached historic lows. The Thermalito Afterbay and Thermalito South Forebay are open to power boating.


Over 97 miles of trails around Lake Oroville, along the Feather River, Thermalito Diversion Pool, Forebays and Afterbay, and the Oroville Wildlife Area are available to equestrians, bicyclists, and hikers wishing to explore Oroville’s natural beauty.


A map of the trails maintained by DWR and California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) is now available at many Oroville locations including Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) kiosks, Oroville Wildlife Area office on Oro Dam Boulevard West, the Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Feather River Recreation and Parks District.


Visitors to the Thermalito North Forebay will find a full CA Parks facility with restrooms, picnic areas, a swim beach, and the Forebay Aquatic Center with kayaks, paddle boards, and other watercraft available for rent.


Numerous Day Use Area (DUA) facilities with picnic tables and restrooms at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) are open 8 a.m. to sunset. Bidwell, Lime Saddle, and Loafer Creek Recreation Areas are open 24 hours. The Oroville Dam Crest Road across Oroville Dam is available 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and open to pedestrians and bicyclists 24-hours a day. The Lake Oroville Visitor Center anticipates re-opening later this fall.


Visit the California Parks LOSRA webpage for current information on facility status and campground reservations. An interactive map of recreation facilities in DWR’s Oroville-Thermalito Complex is available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. Information about the 11,000-acre Oroville Wildlife Area is available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.


Cold Water Temperatures

Water temperatures in the Feather River and the Thermalito Diversion Pool, Forebay, and Afterbay continue to range between 48- and 58-degrees Fahrenheit as very cold water from the bottom of Lake Oroville is released through Oroville Dam’s River Valve Outlet System (RVOS). Persons recreating on these waterbodies are advised to wear life jackets.


Entering cold water on hot summer days can result in “cold water shock”, causing breathing difficulties as well as changes in heart rate and blood pressure and can be life threatening, especially without a life jacket to help you stay afloat. Find cold-water safety tips at the National Weather Service’s Safety webpage.


Oroville Area Algal Blooms Status

DWR’s Oroville Field Division has concluded recreational swim beach cyanotoxin monitoring. Monitoring for cyanotoxins at the Thermalito Forebay and Afterbay occurs weekly from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This year, no toxic algal blooms were found. DWR’s environmental scientists will continue to assess any reported algal blooms as visitors continue to enjoy these recreation areas.


How can you keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe from HABs? Visit the Water Board’s website and DWR’s digital article on the DWR Updates webpage. The public is encouraged to report algal blooms on the HAB reporting webpage.


Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 628 feet elevation and storage is about 788-thousand acre-feet which is 22 percent of its total capacity and 35 percent of historical average. Cooler temperatures are expected this weekend in the mid-70s to low 80s. Rain is forecasted in the Feather River watershed in the range of 0.5 to 1 inch. No appreciable increase of Lake Oroville inflow is expected due to the dry soils. Temperatures are forecasted to increase during the week of Sept. 20 to the mid-80s to low 90s. 


Total flows to the Feather River are 1,250 cubic feet per second (cfs) for meeting downstream water quality and flow requirements. Flow in the low flow channel, through the City of Oroville, is 650 cfs and flow through the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet is 600 cfs. Total releases to the Feather River are assessed daily.


The public can track precipitation, snow, reservoir levels, and more at the California Data Exchange Center. Lake Oroville is identified as “ORO”.


All data as of midnight 9/16/2021