Since World War II and a booming state population that increasingly sought out the great outdoors to relax, the state’s water-based recreational activities have continued to grow more popular and diverse, occurring in a multitude of sources – from swimming pools and spas to beaches, reservoirs, natural lakes and rivers.
Public water supply projects, such as the State Water Project, have helped to provide additional recreational opportunities for Californians. In some cases, reservoir releases can contribute to downstream recreation benefits by improving fisheries or by creating whitewater rafting opportunities that would not be possible in the absence of reservoir regulation. However, there are conflicting values and needs for the same river system.
There may be no more potent reminder of California’s humongous snowfall than the plows still clearing roads that snake across the state’s highest mountains as summer approaches. … The snowpack presented an additional challenge this year because it was heavily saturated with water.
State Parks expects a busy Memorial Day weekend at Lake Oroville even with the spillway dominating the news. … A portion of Lake Oroville remains closed as construction continues at the Oroville Dam spillway.
To say backpackers and hikers will encounter more snow than they’re used to is to drastically understate the problem. The snowpack throughout the Sierra rivals, and in places exceeds, records set during the massive winter of 1982-83. “We are in rare territory here with the winter we’ve had,” said Chris Smallcomb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.
With the Memorial Day weekend almost here, it might be a little difficult for some boaters to get through all the floating debris at Lake Shasta. But with the lake full for the first time in years, it could be well worth the effort.
The deaths of five people in two Tulare County rivers in less than a month are prompting officials to warn the public about the dangers of rushing water fed by the heavy snowpack now melting in the Sierra. “Stay away from the river’s edge, and don’t enter the water,” said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.
A year after they made national headlines for leaving trash, human waste and almost 100 tents at Lake Shasta, University of Oregon fraternities are getting a second chance from the businesses and agencies that had to deal with the aftermath of their Memorial Day bacchanal.
There was going to be a steam train – and a monorail. Plus a major resort featuring a 250-seat restaurant and a 1,000-seat amphitheater. As many as 5 million visitors a year would show up. When it came to wooing Butte County about the construction of Oroville Dam, state officials weren’t shy about setting grand expectations.
Pursuing exiting the settlement agreement with the state Department of Water Resources was on the table Tuesday night at a special meeting of the Oroville City Council, but the decision was set aside for later. Most of the council expressed interest in gathering more public opinion on the issue before taking a vote, with a town hall date set for May 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Auditorium.
The melting of this year’s record snowpack is continuing to create problems, with authorities warning of more flooding in Yosemite National Park and fast-moving, high water at a popular Central Valley river.
The muddy ski slopes of 2015 paired with the powder-covered ones of 2017 show the astonishing difference between a year when snow levels were drastically low and this season when unrelenting storms slamming the northern Sierra Nevada are burying the ski lifts on a weekly basis.
Since 1965, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped protect civil war battlefield sites, national parks and local recreation areas such the American River Parkway in Sacramento and Henry Lake in Idaho.
Lake Oroville will partially reopen on Thursday, nearly two weeks after more than 180,000 Northern California residents evacuated their homes and the lake area closed due to fears that the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam could fail.
Not far from the main drag through Oroville, a dozen local business owners and city officials faced each other in a hotel lunchroom Tuesday. They sought to begin developing an advertising campaign to transform a barrage of negative images and news reports about frantic efforts to prevent catastrophic flooding into a lucrative tourist attraction, albeit after the Feather River Basin’s rainy season ends in April.
A huge Northern California reservoir, held in place by a massive dam, has always been central to the life of the towns around it. Now the lake that has brought them holiday fireworks and salmon festivals could bring disaster.
An East Bay man trying to create a kite-surfing hangout in the delta for Silicon Valley’s elite stepped up his unusual battle with water regulators Thursday, suing them after he was hit with an unprecedented $2.8 million fine for raising dikes across wetlands near Pittsburg.
Each spring, a group of UC Davis student scientists and their professors take a whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon to study a river that sustains 40 million people. Capital Public Radio’s Amy Quinton traveled with them.
California’s five-year drought created ideal conditions for brewing toxic levels of the naturally occurring bacteria, which multiplies rapidly in hot temperatures, low water flows and stagnant water choked with fertilizers and nutrients.
Swimming, boating and fishing are prohibited in Lake Elsinore after water quality officials Friday detected harmful levels of toxins related to blue-green algae. … Algae blooms have also recently forced the closure of Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County, Lake Temescal in Oakland and Discovery Bay in the Delta.
One hundred and eighty reservoirs statewide are contaminated with excessive levels of mercury, according to studies of fish samples from more than 300 reservoirs conducted by the State Water Resources Control Board.
State Water Resources Control Board officials issued a warning last week for the North Coast, noting that high temperatures and continuing drought conditions increase the likelihood of potentially lethal algal blooms in area streams, rivers and lakes.
During the past year of drought, while many Californians have heeded the call to conserve and managed to achieve water-savings of nearly 25 percent statewide, one group of water users hasn’t measured up: the golf courses that spread out across thousands of acres in the desert.
After watching her 13-year-old son throw up everything he ate when they got home from a day of jet skiing at Pyramid Lake, Sharyn Martinez was angered to learn last week that the state is now urging the public to avoid the water there because of a toxic algal bloom.
President Barack Obama mixed business with pleasure here Saturday, touting the importance of national parks and then seeing one up close for himself as he took in the sights at what is arguably the crown jewel of the national park system.
After an emotionally trying week, President Barack Obama is heading West to celebrate the raw beauty of America’s national parks as the system nears its 100th birthday, and highlight challenges threatening it over the next 100 years, including climate change and chronic underfunding by Congress.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area could soon double in size to link a vast chain of hills surrounding the Conejo, Crescenta, San Fernando, Santa Clarita and Simi valleys, according to a federal bill introduced Tuesday.
Instead of working in her office at the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Forest Service spokeswoman Phyllis Swanson spent Tuesday cleaning up after more than 1,000 college students who trashed Slaughterhouse Island during a weekend boating trip.
The sounds of watercraft and families enjoying Lake Shasta on Sunday carried across the water against a vibrant backdrop of the tree line. The scene is a far cry from last year’s low water levels on the lake, which became a visual indicator of the state-wide drought and the impact to the local environment.
A longtime water regulator and a lifelong hunter have been appointed to a powerful state board that lists endangered species and sets hunting and fishing regulations enforced by California game wardens.
Water is once again flowing into Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet for the first time in three years, which will allow boat launches to resume on Southern California’s largest reservoir in mid-May, just in time for Memorial Day weekend fishing.
Building on last year’s declaration of the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region as a National Monument by President Obama, the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water voted 6-2 Tuesday to approve a bill that establishes a state conservancy to protect, preserve and restore the Northern Inner Coast Range.
We were gliding downhill along a river buried in snow, our skis skimming a thin layer of fresh powder toward the setting sun and a wall of darkening clouds. … In California, snow isn’t just for skiers.
Don’t give up on that season ski pass just yet, Tahoe locals. The Monday morning powder dump that disrupted commutes in Reno served as an exclamation point for the 2015-16 season which is likely to be the longest in more than a decade.
For the first time in years the Salton Sea Recreation Area has a public boat launch. The public-private partnership that built the launch hope it brings more fishing, water skiing and recreational boating to California’s largest lake, which has been sinking and which scientists say is need of environmental rescue.
The Sierra snowpack is actually below the historic average, but skier visits, hotel stays and the number of people spending money in the Lake Tahoe area are way up. It’s a welcome turn from last year, when the drought left resorts virtually empty.
Today, the total backlog of needed maintenance at U.S. national parks is $11.9 billion. … Grand Canyon National Park needs $330 million, due largely to outstanding wastewater and water system upgrades.
The early March deluge is arriving just in time across the Bay Area, the Sierra Nevada and throughout Northern California. … Reports from near and far indicate that outdoor recreation will benefit for months to come.
Synthetic turf manufacturers say more than 60 studies over the past two decades have shown no elevated health risks associated with their products, but not everyone is convinced. … With legislators asking for more information, the federal government recently announced a multi-agency study and plans to issue a draft report by year’s end.
After four years of drought and the arrival of great snow conditions, a high-end crowd is arriving at Tahoe for the ski season and driving up prices across the board, topped by peak events like the Super Bowl and the holidays.
Finally, snow. After four winters that yielded only a few lower-elevation storms, and not necessarily at times when families could get away to enjoy them, people couldn’t wait to play in the white stuff.
In a classic Capitol Hill tradeoff, conservatives would get the Clear Creek Management Area reopened to off-roaders while liberals would secure new wilderness and wild-and-scenic river designation for other federal lands.
Thanks in part to El Niño, a series of strong storms have blanketed the Sierras with snow. Another storm this week is expected to deliver another layer of the white stuff — and draw skiers back to resorts.
Should El Niño not live up to the hype and dump heavy snow on the Sierra, skiers and sledders at one resort could be gliding downhill this winter on snow that comes from an unusual source: purified water from the local sewage-treatment plant.
The atmosphere on the ski slopes around Lake Tahoe was giddy this week as beleaguered resort operators planned their earliest opening in years, a response to November storms and cold temperatures that allowed them to supplement nature by making snow.
As California enters a potential fifth year of drought, the swimming pool demolition industry — a niche, to be sure — is thriving, operators say, with new companies entering the business to profit from Californians’ concerns about water scarcity.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has had wide bipartisan support for 50 years. Its name may be little known outside Washington D.C., but many people are likely to have enjoyed the fruits of the fund — it has provided about $17 billion for everything from the expansion of iconic national parks and forests to more than 40,000 local recreation projects across the country.
Forecasts of an approaching El Niño winter have ski resort operators dreaming of the kind of snowy peaks that were a common sight in California before a four-year drought dried up the state’s $3-billion ski industry.
The state of California plans to contribute $25 million toward efforts to buy a property on the Los Angeles River in Cypress Park, the majority of the purchase price for a parcel that has been called a “crown jewel” of the river’s restoration, state Senate leader Kevin de León announced Sunday.
The Lake Elsinore Grand Prix will bite the dust this year because of the drought. … The water shortage stems from the drought-induced state of emergency declared by Gov. Jerry Brown and mandated restrictions imposed on the area’s purveyor, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District.
Families from San Bernardino to Temecula will still be able to cool off at their neighborhood pools and water slides this summer, despite orders from the state to cut water use an average of 25 percent.
In coming months, his [Jack Nicklaus] design firm will oversee the installation of high-efficiency irrigation and add native plants to the Thousand Oaks course. Workers will strip away seven or more acres of turf in places where members rarely hit the ball.
The California swimming pool and spa industry has launched a campaign to market itself as a drought-friendly landscaping option as the state enters a fourth summer of drought that has residential pools and other conspicuous water users in the crosshairs.
Golf courses across the central San Joaquin Valley — like courses and country clubs throughout the state — are throttling back on irrigation and reducing the acreage of grass that they must water as they cope with California’s drought.
Pressed by the four-year dry spell and state-mandated water cuts, some of the finest courses in California are taking such steps as tearing out the grass in places where it won’t affect the game, planting drought-resistant vegetation, letting the turf turn brown in spots and installing smart watering systems.
When Andy Wirth became the CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Resort in November 2010, he did so amid a precipitation-laden winter that saw enormous snow loads give skiers at Lake Tahoe plenty of coveted powder days.
It’s hard to imagine a California summer without long days lounging by the pool. But as unprecedented drought sears the state, the backyard swimming pool has become a target for cities desperate to save water.
A permit application for the slide said the inflatable requires 16,000 gallons of water. … But Ryan Johnson, Slide the City owner for events in Northern California, said it’s possible the slide that comes to Redding may only need to use 10,000 gallons of water, which would be trucked in from either Idaho or Oregon.
Golf courses in the Coachella Valley and elsewhere that rely on private wells will have to reduce water use by 25% or limit watering to twice a week as part of the governor’s mandate for cutbacks. But the courses will not have to report their water usage, meaning compliance is largely on the honor system.
The fourth year of the devastating drought that has dried up wells, forced mandatory rationing and jeopardized California crops has also put a burden on backcountry skiers in search of their powdery fix.
A long-delayed draft environmental impact report for the 710-acre Monterey Downs race track and equestrian-themed development on Fort Ord confirms what has been known for some time; there’s only enough water for part of the massive proposal until new water supply projects are completed.
A storm system heading to Northern California may bring only a fraction of an inch of rain to the Bay Area, but skiers and snowboarders turned desperate by the drought are stoked after learning that nearly a foot of fresh powder could fall in some parts of the Sierra.
This is the fourth lousy winter season in a row for the ski industry, and it has been economically devastating for the area. Some of the smaller resorts are barely hanging on, while larger players are carving out new ways to turn a profit.
If winter weather doesn’t return soon with a vengeance, Tulloch Lake – a popular fishing and boating spot between Oakdale and Jamestown, and one of California’s few reservoirs lined with thousands of homes – might look more like a puddle by July.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area was the most visited spot in the National Park Service last year, the second year in a row the Bay Area landmark carried the distinction, officials announced Tuesday.
In good years, the blanket of pillowy white snow covering the trees, trails and shores of Lake Tahoe practically demand that residents make the best of the winter conditions and hit the slopes and cross-country trails. Not so much this year.
A potentially far-reaching ruling released Tuesday by a Sacramento-based appellate court rejects two challenges – but not a third one – to a landmark environmental-impact review of California’s network of fish hatcheries and the practice of stocking the state’s waterways with fish.
Because of the lack of snow depth, the U.S. Forest Service has asked snowmobile users in the Lake Tahoe Basin to avoid bare dirt and patchy snow, and not to ride across streams or over small trees and brush.
Like some famous recluse whose profile only increases by remaining hidden – an archaic notion, of course, in these viral days of overexposure and oversharing – the Sutter Buttes don’t give up their secrets readily, if at all, and rarely allow outsiders glimpses into the volcanic core of its being.
On Thursday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will join the X Games in Aspen, Colo., to bring attention to the extreme weather impacts of climate change. A strong economy and a strong environment go hand in hand, which makes acting on climate necessary to protect tourism, recreation and the outdoor industry.
A popular cross-country ski area near Lake Tahoe has temporarily closed due to a lack of snow, and forecasters say the lingering drought should persist or get worse in the months ahead across most of California and Nevada.
The 862-acre mountain that rises to 8,200 feet — a relatively small site by California standards — was the latest in two days to ground operations as January temperatures climb to near-record highs and weeks pass without wet weather.
More hikers are expected on the Pacific Crest Trail this year thanks to the movie “Wild,” according to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, which preserves and promotes the trail. … And stay tuned for Hollywood’s next hiking movie when “A Walk in the Woods” comes out later this year starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.
Trying to be more inviting to families with children, the Renaissance Indian Wells is considering building a water park and some residential villas at the resort off of Highway 111. … ”A red flag goes up for me when a water park is being proposed and we’re in the middle of a drought,” [Councilman Dana] Reed said.
With a string of storms pummeling the Sierra Nevada, Mother Nature gifted a December dump of powder just in time for the holidays. That means sledding, building snowmen, carving snow angels and snowball fights.
While others in the Inland Empire prepare for the worst from a powerful winter storm Friday, others are hoping for the best. Expectations are high for snowfall at the region’s ski resorts, which are around 7,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation.
For more than 15 years I have lived within a mile of the San Francisco Bay. However it recently dawned on me that I had never actually spent any time on the water exploring this place where Central Valley Rivers and the Pacific Ocean ebb and flow. … For that reason, I am excited by the launch of the San Joaquin River Access Guide, available at SJRiver.org.
[Richard] McFarland-Dorworth, a longtime California resident and rafting guide who now lives in Bali, Indonesia, was one of seven expert rafters on a 950-mile mission to replicate most of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers from Flaming Gorge through Utah and Arizona to Lake Mead — sans most of the roiling waters of the pre-dam era.
At lower elevations, Lake Tahoe still hasn’t donned its rich, white winter coat. … But while they produced rain at the lake itself, this week’s storms have transformed the mountains ringing the lake into snow-capped beauties.
At ski areas up and down the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, where California’s drought has hit historic proportions and the broader threat of climate change hangs heavy over an industry built on optimism, the man-made snow is flying. A couple of resorts have managed to open a few runs.
Following a storm that dropped upward of 10 inches of snow on the Sierra Crest over the weekend, both Boreal Mountain Resort and Mount Rose announced Tuesday that they will open to skiers and riders on Friday.
Windsor could finally be getting a long-desired municipal swimming facility, courtesy of the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, in exchange for the town extending water and sewer service to a planned tribal housing project.
The Santa Ana River, born of snowmelt and natural springs near Big Bear Lake, flows through Southern California as one of the region’s most scenic rivers — until it hits Orange County. … Under the legislation by state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), the Santa Ana River Conservancy Program will operate within the state Coastal Conservancy …”
The pending closure of the Paradise Pines Golf Course may be a matter of simple economics, but it may also be a sign of these dry times in California. … The course is an economic asset, a recreational asset, and a scenic asset for many of the residences built along the fairways.
The Water Education Foundation’s popular Northern California Tour features a diverse group of experts talking about groundwater, flood management, the drought, water supplies, agricultural challenges, and the latest on salmon restoration efforts. The tour also includes a houseboat cruise on Lake Shasta. … The tour travels the length of the Sacramento Valley with visits to Oroville and Shasta dams.
Federal officials confirmed Wednesday that the Mount Baldy ski area and village are outside the boundaries of the newly designated San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, settling days of uncertainty.
A popular rock climbing area and other recreational facilities on the southeast side of Lake Perris will be closed for three years starting this week so that seismic work can begin on the dam, state officials said.
On Oct. 8, 1964, the day Congress voted to designate the country’s largest man-made reservoir as its first National Recreation Area, visitors also were struck by the sight of a giant white bathtub ring marking where water used to be. That ring was a little smaller in 1964, but not by much.
The lure of a San Gabriel Mountains wilderness teeming with wildlife, rivers and breathtaking panoramas is so strong that it now draws 3 million annual visitors whose presence, paradoxically, has overrun the region and degraded its beauty. President Obama will address that reality Friday by announcing that he is designating part of the mountains a national monument.
Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.
A companion to the Truckee River Basin Map poster, this 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explores the Carson River, and its link to the Truckee River. The map includes Lahontan Dam and Reservoir, the Carson Sink, and the farming areas in the basin. Map text discusses the region’s hydrology and geography, the Newlands Project, land and water use within the basin and wetlands. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region, Lahontan Basin Area Office.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how non-native invasive animals can alter the natural ecosystem, leading to the demise of native animals “Unwelcome Visitors” features photos and information on four such species – including the zerbra mussel – and explains the environmental and economic threats posed by these species.
A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.
Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and manmade reservoirs and aqueducts - including federally, state and locally funded projects - the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.