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.
Not every bloom is toxic, but the toxins produced by the
blue-green algae can be harmful and even deadly for pets when
they eat the algae or drink the water, even in small amounts,
water experts warn. Summer heat, stagnant or slow-moving water
and nutrients from agricultural or septic runoff are an ideal
recipe for the toxic stew.
Nowadays there’s about a 7 percent chance that snowy areas in
the western U.S. will get two really bad snow years in a
row—years with snowpack lower than a quarter of the long-term
average. But within a few decades, if climate change continues
apace, those bookending “snow droughts” could occur about 40
percent of the time, according to work published in August in
Geophysical Research Letters.
Guests of Siren Island, a two-tiered wooden isle affixed with
four spindly maple tree branches, were relaxing in the
late-afternoon sun on the calm waters of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta. They took turns plunging their hands into
a steel basin of black lagoon mud then spreading it on one
another’s skin — limbs, torsos and faces.
An estimated 147,000 cubic yards of polluted soils were shipped
to regional landfills and replaced with clean dirt. In 2004,
the Regional Water Quality Control Board declared the cleanup
finished and began overseeing the monitoring. Now Napa’s oil
industry row pollution legacy is officially gone…
Steven and Cindy Bolt couldn’t have been happier. For the first
time since February of 2017 and the Oroville Dam spillway
crisis they could launch their houseboat from the spillway’s
boat ramp. “It’s been our favorite place to come,” said Cindy.
“And it’s been a long time.”
Marin health officials have reopened beaches along Tiburon’s
shoreline after recent water quality tests showed low levels of
bacteria, but the source of contamination that shut those
beaches down for more than two months remains elusive. “I’m
just as confused as I was before,” said Bill Johnson of the San
Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board…
Other than talking of a “planned retreat” from the water and
bluffs, local government has a hard time getting its head
around this crisis. Like so many of our regional problems —
traffic, homelessness, housing — each government unit feels
somewhat powerless on its own. And with no accountability, the
real work is negligible. Meanwhile, California crumbles.
During the past 107 years, daily air temperatures measured in
Tahoe City have increased. The average daily maximum
temperature has risen by 2.25 degrees Fahrenheit, and the
average daily minimum temperature has risen by 4.43 degrees.
According to the report, the number of days when air
temperatures averaged below freezing has declined by about 30
days since 1911, though year-to-year variability is high.
Riverside County supervisors Tuesday approved an aggregate
$1.79 million in expenditures for a project to clear the Salton
Sea north marina of dirt and debris to make the channel usable
again by boaters who dock at the North Shore Beach & Yacht
The Lake Oroville Dam spillway boat ramp will officially reopen
to the public (at least, on a partial basis) on Friday — more
than two and a half years after it was closed in the aftermath
of the spillway incident in February 2017.
Microcystins are poisonous toxins that can form in blooms of
blue-green algae. In recent years, algae blooms – actually
microscopic bacteria called cyanobacteria – have erupted in
hundreds of lakes nationwide, putting at risk Americans whose
drinking water comes from those lakes, or who swim, ski or fish
Next spring, the Yurok Tribe will begin its Redwood Canoe
Adventure Tour and it will utilize six hand-crafted redwood
canoes made using traditional tribal tools and techniques. …
According to the tribe, it’s an opportunity you won’t find
anywhere else in the world due to the unique relationship
between the Yurok people and the Klamath River.
Instead of piles of trash, Larry Metcalf sees things like an
older man who’s out every day picking it up. He’s also seen a
big rise in people out on the trails, “and everybody seems to
like it. … The trails are nice, the jumps are nice. They’re
made for all-around riders.”
There was a glint in Michael Boland’s eyes as he watched cars
zooming along the Presidio Parkway over an ugly panorama of
broken asphalt, weeds and construction debris behind a
chain-link fence next to Crissy Field. The chief of park
development and visitor engagement for the Presidio Trust was
excited as he envisioned what the vacant lot was about to
become — a picturesque lagoon surrounded by walking trails,
vivid greenery and a spectacular view.
Steven Appleton hopes his status as owner will amplify his
voice — and possibly his ability to obstruct — when officials
launch infrastructure projects that disregard his vision for
the river. … “The whole point of this restoration is the
river,” Appleton said. “The river itself right now is the least
attended aspect of it.”
People may want to think twice before taking a dip in the
green-tinted water near the Parrotts Ferry Bridge at New
Melones Reservoir, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
officials. The water’s greenish hue is due to a cyanobacteria
bloom that was first detected in the Middle Fork of the
Stanislaus River upstream of the reservoir on July 17.
Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley was dammed and flooded nearly
100 years ago, but the prospect of draining the reservoir
continues to inspire romantic imaginings… The fantasy of
Hetch Hetchy’s grand return was recently given new dimensions
with the release of an economic assessment concluding that the
valley represents a sunken treasure trove of tourism revenue.
Crews for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
recently bulldozed hundreds of federally endangered plants in
Topanga State Park, and both state and city authorities have
launched investigations into DWP’s actions, part of a wildfire
prevention project aimed at replacing wooden power poles with
The city of Stockton is working to fix a broken bubbling system
that has caused an overgrowth of harmful algae along the
Stockton waterfront. People who work near the deepwater channel
believe the green sludge is preventing others from playing on
County and tribal officials are reporting that new testing at
sites around Clear Lake have revealed half a dozen areas with
cyanobacteria levels that trigger health warnings. Water
monitoring is regularly done by the Big Valley Band of Pomo
Indians and Elem Indian Colony, a valuable service that helps
facilitate safe lake use.
Thirty-two years ago, poet Lewis MacAdams, founder of Friends
of the L.A. River, cut a hole in the chain link fence that
blocked our collective access to the Los Angeles River. He was
inspired by a vision of a re-wilded urban waterway brought back
to life for the benefit of the city’s residents and its urban
wildlife. Three years ago, the city of Los Angeles and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers took a big step toward that vision…
Customs and Border Protection commissioned a six-month study,
published earlier this year, of 42 samples from the river and
two culverts during dry, wet, post-rain, and standing water
conditions. … Justin Castrejon, a Border Patrol agent and
regional spokesman, said the report validated the claims of
agents who have complained of physical health ailments after
patrolling the affected areas.
The center, being built at North Natomas Regional Park, will
feature the city’s first 50-meter competition pool with 13
diving boards and lanes. It will also feature a 25-meter pool,
four water slides, a shallow kids’ pool, and a kids’ rope
course and play area…
San Diego County officials are finalizing a list of projects
that could help fix the region’s sewage problems. Sewage flows
from Tijuana regularly foul San Diego’s ocean waters. That
prompted the state, the Port of San Diego, a clean water group
and several municipalities to sue the federal government to fix
Are you planning a road trip this summer? Consider taking a
detour to one of the many beaches along the California State
Water Project (SWP) – you’ll find them teeming with fish,
natural beauty, and fun ways to spend your vacation.
Today, Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51) along with Reps. Susan Davis
(CA-53), Scott Peters (CA-52), and Mike Levin (CA-49), hosted a
press conference to announce the introduction of their Tijuana
River Valley Pollution Solution bill package. The combined
legislation would further support mitigation efforts in the
The initial objectives of the restoration project were to:
improve habitat for the Delta smelt, reduce saltwater
intrusion, reduce submerged aquatic weeds and reduce invasive
non-native fish species that feed on native fish. Carl Wilcox,
a CDFW policy advisor explained the objectives are now more
broad and include accommodations for recreational and economic
activities that are key to the region’s residents.
It’s not unusual to spot the national bird flying around Lake
Oroville every summer. What’s unusual this year is the amount
currently calling Lake Oroville home. Environmental scientists
from the Department of Water Resources Oroville Field Division
are keeping an eye on seven nesting pairs of bald eagles, four
of which are successfully raising a total of eight young
Visitors are being encouraged to stay out of the water at
Mission Bay due to high bacteria levels. On July 17, the San
Diego County Department of Environmental Health issued an alert
for the Bonita Cove part of the Bay that stated: “Bacteria
levels may exceed health standards. Avoid water contact in the
advisory area.” In addition to Bonita Cove, visitors are being
told to not enter the water at Leisure Lagoon.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) urged people to avoid
physical contact with the water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced
County until further notice and avoid eating fish from the lake
due to the presence of blue-green algae. DWR increased the
advisory from warning to danger after detecting an increased
amount of microcystins.
The three design schemes look totally distinct on paper and
come with different names — “Island,” “Soft Edge,” “The Yards”
— but they all have the same goal: restore wildlife habitat,
plant people-friendly landscapes and develop flood-control
strategies for a place that has been the subject of so much
neglect, speculation, dreaming and debate: the L.A. River.
Faced with mounting opposition to its $315 million plan to
restore the tidal marshland on Franks Tract in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the state has begun seeking input
from residents, boaters, fishermen and others on possible
Your perfect river might be one where you float gently along on
inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous
rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft. No problem.
California has got it all when it comes to river rafting, from
gentle half-day float trips for first-timers and mellow family
adventures to adrenaline-pumping, white water, multi-day
In black and white, John Trotter documents the use of water
from the Colorado River, tackling the social, political, and
environmental impact of the way it’s dealt with. Spanning over
years and kilometres, his ongoing essay is a dire political
The Aurora ship has been sitting vacant for years in San
Joaquin County. Its owner wants to move it to Isleton’s public
marina, refurbish it and open it up as a business. If it moves
to Isleton’s waterfront, the ship could be used to host
weddings and parties, be a bed and breakfast and provide a home
for the owner’s family to run the business.
People who fish for carp have a love for them, as I learned
when I joined my guides at the middle of the river in Long
Beach. Lauren Mollica, a former pro skateboarder who now works
primarily as a carpenter, has been fishing the L.A. River for
about a year, and she waxes rhapsodic about the scent freshly
caught carp leaves on one’s hands.
While the local sewerage agencies followed state and federal
law in reporting spills to governmental agencies, the public
wouldn’t necessarily know much about them. In this case, it has
taken Heal the Bay, a statewide environmental organization, to
dig them out of bureaucracies’ files.
Crews are digging and removing 66,000 yards of dirt to make
room for an underground vault. It will be used to catch
rainwater during a storm in order to alleviate flooding around
the park. Behind the fence, crews are hauling away dirt.
Workers will eventually put the 6 million-gallon water vault 22
The Kern County Public Health Services Department recently
received water samples from eight different locations in Lake
Isabella, and two water samples indicated the presence of
blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, at a cautionary level. This
type of algae can be considered potentially harmful.
New legislation authored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier,
D-Discovery Bay, and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom,
calls for the development of a plan to deal with abandoned and
derelict commercial vessels in the Delta. A draft of that plan
is now available for review and public comment.
Weather conditions that make this a landmark year, like more
rain, could be part of the reason for the algae blooms in
Horseshoe Lake, putting the upper Bidwell Park lake off limits
for use for the foreseeable future.
On the last Saturday in June, a road in Butte County was
opened. That in itself isn’t anything unusual. Roads are opened
and closed regularly around here. But it was the significance
of this road that makes it a remarkable occurrence. It was the
road over Oroville Dam.
To find out what’s in Southern California’s oceans, Spectrum
News 1 went below the streets of Los Angeles into a storm drain
to track the flow of water. We’re diving into a question
scientists are facing: what is in L.A.’s water?
Federal public health officials are urging people to take
precautions to protect themselves against a microscopic
parasite that can live for days in swimming pools and water
playgrounds and cause severe intestinal problems. The Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention published a report last week
about the increased number of outbreaks caused by the fecal
Oroville Dam is officially back open to the public two years
after it was forced to close due to the failure of the dam’s
main and emergency spillways. People can now walk and bike the
more than one-mile-long road across the dam crest. Public
vehicles will still not be allowed.
Heavy snowfall in winter and spring in the Sierra Nevada,
followed by relatively cool then rising temperatures in June,
has led to an ongoing risk of avalanches into the summer —
posing a threat to long-distance hikers on the famed Pacific
Crest Trail, experts say.
We salute Rep. Jared Huffman and Sen. Kamala Harris for their
recent introduction of the Northwest California Wilderness,
Recreation and Working Forests Act, which would better protect
and restore lands and streams vital for water supply, salmon
and steelhead and the growing outdoor recreation economy in
Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz, Keller
Beach in Richmond and Aquatic Park in San Mateo were announced
as four of the top 10 most polluted in the state, referred to
as “beach bummers.”
Maintaining the cleanest water possible is one of the most
significant priorities of the Port of San Diego’s environmental
initiatives. This was the message of a nearly one-hour
presentation and discussion, held between port district staff
and the Board of Port Commissioners on May 14, on keeping
pollution out of San Diego Bay.
A beach closure that has been in place for months for the
southern part of the Imperial Beach was extended Sunday to
include the city’s entire shoreline. The San Diego County
Department of Environment Health issued the order to close the
coastline to swimmers as a result of sewage-contaminated runoff
in the Tijuana River.
An abandoned iron mine on the doorstep of Joshua Tree National
Park could be repurposed as a massive hydroelectric power plant
under a bill with bipartisan support in the state Legislature.
… The bill could jump-start a $2.5-billion hydropower project
that critics say would harm Joshua Tree National Park, draining
desert groundwater aquifers and sapping above-ground springs
that nourish wildlife in and around the park.
Members of Friends of the River and the Sierra Club are
planning a presentation on a controversial episode in Mother
Lode history, when activists unsuccessfully tried to prevent
flooding of a raftable section of the Stanislaus River by
rising water levels in New Melones Reservoir in the 1970s and
1980s. … The event is scheduled at 7 p.m. Wednesday this week
at Tuolumne County Library, 480 Greenley Road in Sonora.
The commission, created in 1965 and comprised of 27 members
appointed primarily by state and local officials, is supposed
to protect the environmental health of the bay. If they won’t
take their job seriously, Gov. Gavin Newsom, legislative
leaders and local officials should replace them with people up
to the task.
Rivers may seem especially appealing as the weather becomes
warmer in the spring and summer, but experts and local
officials warn that the waters may not be as welcoming as they
seem. The snowpack that accumulated during a wet and cold
winter is beginning to melt into rivers, making for extremely
cold water and fast currents. “It’s a very dangerous
combination,” said Chris Orrock, a spokesman for the state’s
Department of Water Resources.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors last week voted
unanimously to move ahead with a $7.5 million improvement
project for the park’s two popular lakes. … Lindo Lake is
thought to be the only natural freshwater lake in San Diego
County, according to the Lakeside Historical Society.
Armed with test tubes and trash bags, a team of environmental
advocates are looking at homeless camps in Riverside as part of
a broad effort to clean up the 2,840-square-mile Santa Ana
River Watershed. The long-term goal is to protect the water and
revive enjoyment of a 96-mile river that once was a center of
life in Southern California.
In an annual California event that marks the changing of the
seasons in the High Sierra, Yosemite National Park officials
plan to open Glacier Point Road to motor vehicles on Friday
morning. … Two years ago, after the wet winter of 2017 that
broke California’s five-year drought and dumped enormous
amounts of snow in the Sierra Nevada, park crews opened Glacier
Point Road on May 11. Other than that, this year’s May 10
opening is the latest in eight years, since 2011.
The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board will hold
workshops Thursday and Friday in Newport Beach about proposed
copper regulation in Newport Bay. … Copper enters the water
via “anti-fouling” paint on boat hulls. … But water experts
say the copper also harms the gills and nervous systems of fish
and kills invertebrates that other marine animals feed on.
Paddlers of every skill and age from the U.S. and abroad will
be making their way down the Sacramento River on May 26 in the
California River Quest. … The course flows through riparian
forests and oak woodlands “teaming with wildlife and plants” as
well as a section that runs through a lava canyon, said
California wildlife authorities say new facilities built at the
state’s Kern River Hatchery will allow breeding of Kern River
rainbow trout that will be planted throughout the Kern River
Basin. The program will allow the territory to be stocked with
its native fish rather than domesticated strains.
The settlement that brought this protracted legal battle to a
close will protect the fragile Eel River Canyon, conserve
native fish habitat and bring economic benefits to five North
Coast counties. … The settlement opens the way for the
creation of the Great Redwood Trail, which was recently
approved by the California State Legislature and which will
allow for public use and enjoyment of the rail corridor.
Approximately 7.3 million skiers and snowboarders hit the
slopes this season at resorts in California and Nevada, a 17%
increase over the previous year, according to preliminary
numbers from Ski California, the nonprofit trade group for the
states’ ski resorts.
Have you visited Woodward Park recently? The 300-acre park in
Northeast Fresno … exist thanks to a little known, but
important federal program called the Land and Water
Conservation Fund. It was started 50 years ago with a simple
yet brilliant goal: Take money from oil and gas drilling and
put it toward the conservation of America’s public lands, parks
and other outdoor places.
An extra wet winter and spring this year means waterfall season
in Yosemite National Park is off to a thunderous, gushing
start. This is also a great time to see many of the park’s
lesser-known falls that only last for a short time.
A group of Democratic senators and San Diego County-based
congressional representatives sent a letter to multiple federal
agencies Tuesday urging them to address sewage runoff in the
Tijuana River … Local and state officials as well as
environmental activists have decried the condition of the
Tijuana River for years, which regularly causes beach closures
along the county’s coastline, particularly after heavy rain.
Local officials have put a renewed focus on making sure one of
the area’s crown recreational jewels – the San Joaquin River
Delta – is clear and operational. Over the weekend the
California Department of Boating and Waterways, in conjunction
with the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Office boating unit,
removed a sunken vessel from the San Joaquin River that has
been underwater for the past three years.
Work to protect Lake Gregory from a disastrous earthquake is
done. And, just in time for summer. Crews recently finished
retrofitting the 80-year-old seismically unsound dam that
protects the lake, at the heart of Crestline, bringing an end
to years of traffic, noise and other impacts — current and
potential — on the unincorporated mountain community.
Here’s what we know. The lower Klamath dams and reservoirs do
not provide multipurpose water storage, flood protection, or
irreplaceable energy. What they do provide are major barriers
to fish migration, toxic blue-green algae and fish disease (C.
shasta). The dwindling fish populations are proof. We must move
forward with removing the dams and restoring the Klamath to the
free-flowing river it once was.
Should the state of California honor a commitment made in 2003
to restore the Salton Sea, despite moving water away from the
area to thirsty coastal cities? Or should this artificial,
long-festering sea be left alone to dry up entirely? While
politicians have dithered, Bombay Beach’s atmospheric decay has
drawn filmmakers, novelists and other artists who marvel at the
thriving community hidden inside seemingly derelict properties.
A new study released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicts
a release of up to 9 million acre-feet of water from Lake
Powell to Lake Mead this year, which means a possible shortage
declaration looming in 2020 might be averted. The snowpack in
the Colorado River Basin is about 130 percent of average, with
flows into Lake Powell predicted to be 128 percent of average
during the runoff season.
From the first LA River cleanup in April 1989 when 10 people
showed up to the thousands that arrive on the river banks each
April, the group has attracted 70,000 volunteers who have
collectively removed 700 tons of trash in 29 years, the group
reported. … Many argue the cleanup events are the No. 1
reason for the nonprofit’s successes in making the LA River a
When state surveyors measured the Sierra snowpack on April 2,
they found 106.5 inches of snow, with an equivalent of 51
inches of water — … Compared to average measurements for this
time of year, those readings represent 200% of normal levels.
That means the snows that drew skiers this winter will soon
deliver thrills to another group of outdoor enthusiasts:
A new analysis from Trout Unlimited shows the U.S. Geological
Survey underestimates the number of streams nationwide that
flow only following rain. … The analysis comes as the Trump
administration is soliciting comments on its Waters of the
U.S., or WOTUS, rule that would eliminate Clean Water Act
protections for ephemeral streams, which flow only following
Fed up neighbors in Imperial Beach are taking action over the
pollution problem. The coastline in South County has been
plagued by sewage spills coming from Mexico for years. …
After spending the morning cleaning the sand, neighbors took to
the streets to demand clean water. Holding signs, and repeating
protest chants, demonstrators marched on the Imperial Beach
Pier and then held a rally.
Nevada County residents tend to think of the Yuba River or
Scotts Flat Reservoir when they want to go play in the water.
But Rollins Reservoir, while arguably getting less local love,
generates a lot of income for the community from out-of-town
It’s not clear how much water this year’s snowpack will
produce, but the record snowpack in 2017 produced about one
million acre feet of water. That’s too much for a funnel only
about one-third that size. That means that water managers have
to figure out where to put the excess water as it melts off the
mountains. And the problem becomes potentially worse if a warm
streak hits and melts the snow fast
At its core, the Borrego Valley Stewardship Council exists to
ensure that the town of Borrego Springs survives and benefits
from the groundwater sustainability plan process. To that end,
BVSC members are taking a more creative look at the town as the
hospitality hub for the state park, relying on a geotourism
program from National Geographic, and aggressively trying to
buy out 70% of water from farmers.
Specifically, the Feather River Recovery Alliance is asking
FERC to not reissue a license to the state Department of Water
Resources to operate the Oroville Dam until terms of the
agreement are renegotiated, including a new recreation plan.
The group says it received 6,469 local signatures on the
Administered by the National Park Service (NPS), NHAs are
defined by NPS as a grassroots, community-driven approach to
heritage conservation and economic development. They differ
from national parks in several significant ways. Primarily, NPS
does not take ownership of the land encompassed within an NHA
and no land-use restrictions are placed upon landowners.
The use of public art to bring about social change created the
interactive art event called the “Bombay Beach Biennale” on the
shores of the Salton Sea. Organizers hope to bring attention to
the long-ignored environmental issue facing the region, once
one of the premier tourist destinations in Southern California.
An oversight at the Coleman National Fish Hatchery
resulted in the death of some 390,000 fall Chinook salmon this
week. Water was shut off to one of the hatchery’s raceways and
wasn’t turned back on during fish-tagging operations Thursday
Conservationists and weekend volunteers have toiled in the
Bolsa Chica Wetlands for years, weeding out invasive plants and
replanting native vegetation squeezed out by the invaders. …
Now, these wildlife custodians are expanding their botanical
battle across Pacific Coast Highway to the sand dunes of Bolsa
Chica State Beach. After all, no matter how many enemy plants
are removed from the wetlands, ocean winds will carry more
seeds from non-native plants growing in the dunes.
Whitewater rafting businesses are holding out hope of getting a
safe landing area near the Ward’s Ferry bridge over the
Tuolumne River, as a condition of relicensing the Don Pedro
hydroelectric project. At a Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission hearing Tuesday in Modesto, speakers said an
existing takeout for rafts on the Tuolumne, upstream from Don
Pedro Reservoir, is under water because of dam operations. And
the options for getting boats out of the water are not safe.
Heavy snowfall this winter is expected to delay the seasonal
opening of many Yosemite tourist attractions, including
Yosemite Valley campgrounds, Half Dome’s climbing cables and
Tioga Road into the high country, park officials announced
Recent plans to enlarge California’s Shasta Dam by 18.5 feet
have raised concerns over possible cultural and ecological
implications on wildlife among the Winnemem Wintu people and
environmental groups alike. … The change in flood patterns
would likely affect vital sacred sites for the Winnemen Wintu
Puberty Ceremony for young women, according to the Winnemem
Wintu website. The project would also relocate roads,
railroads, bridges and marinas, according to a fact sheet from
the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
A wide-ranging bill that revives a popular conservation
program, adds 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, expands
several national parks and creates five new national monuments
has won congressional approval. … The bill would permanently
reauthorize the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which
supports conservation and outdoor recreation projects across
the country. The program expired last fall after Congress could
not agree on language to extend it.
Lake Tahoe is the place to be this winter. It holds the best
snowpack in the western United States and the crowds are
flocking to the world-class slopes. Traffic has been insane,
infuriating and downright miserable at times — all while the
snow continues to fly.
Ominous predictions about the desert lake’s ecological
collapse are beginning to occur. You can see this sea
up close during our Lower Colorado River Tour, Feb. 27-March 1,
when we will visit the fragile ecosystem and hear from several
stakeholders working to address challenges facing the sea.
In the event that water elevation decreases
below 1,050-feet, officials have developed a plan to
address operational needs. Due to the government shutdown,
the public wasn’t able to provide comment on the low water plan
for Lake Mead. So an extension has been provided through
Several areas of the Oroville Dam and lake are undergoing
extensive renovations and improvements, and the Oroville
Recreation Advisory Committee met Friday to hear reports from
the various member organizations overseeing them.
… Aaron Wright of the California Department of Parks and
Recreation said that several of the recently reopened areas
near the dam have received a good amount of traffic.
Sonoma County water officials, under order from the state to
improve the capacity of their sewage system, say a valve
malfunction and leaky pipes resulted in a string of spills this
month that released 2.7 million gallons of waste and
stormwater, some of which flowed into local creeks and San
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman today named
Ernest A. Conant director of the Mid-Pacific Region. Conant has
nearly 40 years of water law experience and previously served
as senior partner of Young Wooldridge, LLP.
A group of Lake Nacimiento residents is suing Monterey County
for $120 million, claiming officials ignored the needs of
recreational users by releasing more water from the reservoir
than necessary. The lawsuit, filed in San Luis Obispo
County Superior Court in Paso Robles, alleges the county agency
has mismanaged the reservoir and “operated the lake in a manner
that renders it almost unusable by property owners and visitors
A simple web search will pull up nearly a million articles,
videos and photos featuring Frank Gehrke. He’s no fashion icon
like Kim Kardashian or a dogged politician like Gov. Jerry
Brown. But he has broken a lot of news. … For 30 years,
you might have seen Gehrke on TV, the guy trudging through snow
with a measuring pole, talking about how deep the pack is each
winter on the evening news. He retired from his post as the
state’s chief snow surveyor in December, but he’s not letting
go of his snowshoes and skis anytime soon.
Congressman John Garamendi, D-3rd District, has
reintroduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National
Heritage Area Act along with a handful of other
representatives. A National Heritage Area designation would
authorize $10 million in federal funding over 15 years to
provide matching grants to local governments, historical
societies, and community nonprofit organizations throughout the
Last week, the relicensing effort reached a milestone when FERC
issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement. The
environmental document essentially looks at what changes a
licensee has proposed for a specific project, the impacts of
those changes and provides conditions they must meet if awarded
a new license.
At Monday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Water District’s
Planning & Stewardship Committee, officials said that with no
Drought Contingency Plan in place (Arizona being the hold out),
they are beginning to draw down their storage in Lake
Mead. “If there is no Drought Contingency Plan, we don’t
want to leave potentially half a million acre-feet or more
locked up in Lake Mead if we go into shortage,”
said General Manager Jeff Kightlinger.
Featuring artists, photographers, first-person narratives,
historical and scientific essays, long-form journalism and
fiction, the magazine revolves around the fascinating people
and wonders that make up the greater Bay – Delta region of
Colorado River water managers were supposed to finish drought
contingency plans by the end of the year. As it looks now,
they’ll miss that deadline. If the states fail to do their job,
the federal government could step in. Luke Runyon, a
reporter with KUNC who covers on the Colorado River Basin
recaps what’s been happening and why it’s so important.
Due to rising average temperatures, snowpacks in the Great
Basin appear to be transitioning from seasonal, with a
predictable amount and melt rate, to “ephemeral,” or
short-lived, which are less predictable and only last up to 60
days. “We might not get as much water into the ground, throwing
off the timing of water for plant root systems, reducing our
supply and use, and even affecting businesses such as tourism,”
says lead researcher Rose Petersky.
There’s every reason to expect that 2019 will be far better,
largely because of Measure W, which was passed by voters in
November. The initiative imposes a Los Angeles County parcel
tax that will generate $300 million per year to reduce
pollution from runoff and capture storm water to add to the
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control
Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four
hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River.
The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by
California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes,
water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the
basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust
responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s
farming and ranching heritage.
Montgomery is known for fostering collaborative relationships
among stakeholders and as a leader in protecting and restoring
water quality within California and throughout the Southwest
and the Pacific Islands. He is currently serving as the
Assistant Director of the Water Division in the US
Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9).
CANCELED: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold one hearing to
provide interested parties the opportunity to present data,
views, or information concerning the proposed rule changes
affecting wetlands and ephemeral waters.
Since 1964 the Land and Water Conservation Fund has used
royalties from oil and gas leasing to protect natural areas,
water resources and cultural heritage, as well as to provide
recreation opportunities. The Fund expired at the end of
September, but both the House and Senate have proposed bills to
permanently reauthorize it so its future doesn’t remain in
To fend off lawsuits over its plans to build a new city in the
rugged countryside northwest of Los Angeles, Tejon Ranch Co.
made a landmark concession to environmentalists. It promised a
decade ago to preserve 90% of its land — 240,000 acres — as an
untouched ecological conservancy for public enjoyment through
educational and research programs.
The National Park Service expects to spend about $25 million to
move marinas and extend boat launch ramps if Lake Mead
continues to shrink in the coming years, according to a new
low-water plan released Thursday. Marina operators would pay an
additional $8 million under the plan, which lays out how
recreational access to the water can be maintained should the
lake drop to a once-unthinkable level 125 feet lower than it is
Riverside County is moving forward with a Salton Sea
restoration plan that officials say could generate more than
$1 billion in tax revenue, which would help fund
construction of a permanent, horseshoe-shaped lake at the
north end of the dying sea.
A request from the state Department of Water Resources to
temporarily make more than 50 miles of trails in Oroville open
to multiple user groups has been denied by the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission. DWR proposed this with backing from the
Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee, or ORAC, as a
compensation for trail closures as a result of the 2017
Oroville Dam spillway emergency.
Williamson Rock is a sheer granite wall that rises from
chaparral in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
Crisscrossed with 300 routes, it has been a proving ground for
Southern California rock climbers since the 1960s. But in a
move that outraged many in the climbing community, the area was
shut down in 2005 to protect an isolated colony of federally
endangered Southern California mountain yellow-legged frogs
from being trampled.
The owners of a Lake Tahoe ski resort in a legal battle with an
environmental group over a redevelopment project have failed to
persuade a California judge to penalize the conservationists
with an order to pay more than $225,000 in attorney bills.
Placer County Judge Michael Jones ruled in August against
Sierra Watch’s claim the county violated public meeting laws
when it approved Alterra Mountain Co.’s expansion at Squaw
Valley Alpine Meadows near Tahoe City, California.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request from
Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla to weigh in on the
long-running battle over Martins Beach in San Mateo County,
turning down a case that could have rewritten coastal access
laws in California and across the United States.
A popular program that supports conservation and outdoor
recreation projects across the country expired after Congress
could not agree on language to extend it. Lawmakers from both
parties back the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but the
program lapsed Monday amid dispute over whether its renewal
should be part of a broader package of land-use and parks
Despite decades of research, the trigger that causes algal
blooms to begin poisoning their environment has long confounded
scientists. Now, researchers from Scripps and UC San Diego
have found the genetic underpinning of domoic acid, a harmful
neurotoxin. … In California, closures due to toxic
blooms have become increasingly common.
America’s national parks are warming up and drying out faster
than other U.S. landscapes, threatening iconic ecosystems from
the Everglades in Florida to Joshua Tree in California to
Denali in Alaska. That’s the conclusion of a new climate change
study published Monday, the first to examine rainfall and
temperatures in all 417 national parks sites.
The clock is ticking down to the Sept. 30 expiration date on
the [Land and Water Conservation] fund, established by Congress
in 1964 to conserve open spaces, fish and wildlife habitat and
cultural, historic and recreation sites. A new poll of roughly
822 owners and managers of outdoor businesses in Colorado,
Nevada, New Mexico and Montana found that eight in 10 business
support reauthorizing the conservation program, speakers in
a teleconference said Thursday.
Under a new legal settlement, the federal government has agreed
to present plans to protect eight California rivers and streams
that Congress designated years ago as “wild and scenic” rivers.
The agreement ends a lawsuit by the Center for Biological
Diversity, which sued in March to demand President Donald
Trump’s administration develop plans for the rivers.
Boating, fishing and hiking will be allowed again at Diamond
Valley Lake near Hemet starting Friday, July 27 —
more than a month after it closed because of an algal
bloom outbreak. Water quality tests confirmed the
potential health effects of a large bloom
of blue-green algae had diminished,
the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
said in a Wednesday, July 25, news release.
The Lake County Department of Public Health is urging boaters
and recreational users to avoid contact with water in Lake
County due to a recent bloom of cyanobacteria, or blue-green
algae. The algae, which is seasonal, is currently active in all
three sections of the Lake — Lower, Oaks, and Upper.
Enhancements to several Lake Oroville recreation areas are in
the works this summer as the state Department of Water
Resources makes good on its promise to improve lake access
ahead of the Oroville Dam relicensing. Some means of getting
more people out on the water include adding boat launch lanes
and parking spots and providing free shuttle services.
The state Department of Water Resources announced plans on
Friday to draw Lake Oroville down to 808 feet elevation by
early next week. This is to provide a second point of access to
the upper chute of the Oroville Dam spillway, through the
radial gates, for construction.
All recreational activities have been suspended at Diamond
Valley Lake near Hemet because of an algal bloom
outbreak. Boating, fishing and hiking won’t be allowed
until further notice as officials monitor the water for
cyanobacteria — also known as blue-green algae,
Metropolitan Water District spokeswoman Rebecca Kimitch said
Thursday, June 21.
For thousands, the salmon opener means months of buildup with
no clear idea of what awaits next weekend off the Bay Area
coast. This year’s opener, delayed for months by new rules, has
become a mystery challenge.
California voters have approved a ballot measure allowing the
state borrow $4 billion for parks and conservation projects
that proponents say will help ensure access to clean drinking
water. Proposition 68 — one of five statewide measures on the
ballot — passed Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote.
Deep, throaty cadenced calls —
sounding like an off-key bassoon — echo over the grasslands,
farmers’ fields and wetlands starting in late September of each
year. They mark the annual return of sandhill cranes to the
Cosumnes River Preserve,
46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge of
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The opening of the Diversion Pool last weekend to kayakers and
hikers appears to have been a big success according to all
involved, and it may happen again. “We’ve already been
discussing it with our partners and probably will,” State Parks
District Superintendent Aaron Wright said Thursday, “but I
can’t commit to that now.”
Deep, throaty cadenced calls — sounding like an off-key bassoon
— echo over the grasslands, farmers’ fields and wetlands
starting in late September of each year. They mark the annual
return of sandhill cranes to the Cosumnes River Preserve,
46,000 acres located 20 miles south of Sacramento on the edge
of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
What to make of the propositions on California’s June 5 ballot?
As ever, the issues span the political spectrum. But two
address the environment, one asking voters to shell out
billions to improve it and another that could make it more
difficult for the state to spend billions on helpful projects.
The Klamath River Renewal Corp., the nonprofit charged with
coordinating the removal for four hydro-electric dams on the
Klamath River, is seeking public comment on new recreation
sites along the river — after the dams are out.
Last year, after more than 250 gallons of sewage spilled into
the Pacific Ocean from the Tijuana River, water pollution in
Imperial Beach became an international story. … Although the
spills have come to the forefront in the last few years, water
pollution has been part of Imperial Beach life for generations,
particularly for the surf community.
For Shasta Marina, where about nine out of every 10 customers
come from out of the area, 2018 business could be better
than last summer, when high water levels were a welcome change
from the drought that made it tough on lake businesses, owner
John Harkrader said.
While the cause hasn’t been determined, a University
of Oregon student’s death at Lake Shasta over the weekend
should be a reminder for people who visit in the future to take
their safety there seriously, Shasta Caverns General Manager
Matt Doyle said. … Doyle said visitors to the lake need
to remember to have “respect for the environment,” which
includes bears, extreme heat, rattlesnakes and, of course, a
huge body of water.
The boat ramps at Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs are
temporarily closed through June, and possibly later, due to a
draw-down of water requested for use by Bureau of Reclamation
for Klamath Project irrigators. … Reclamation will use
the water to keep elevations up to standard at Upper Klamath
Lake and to support water deliveries to Klamath Project
irrigators to cover a shortfall until water deliveries to the
Klamath Project take place in June.
The last time California voters passed a statewide ballot
measure to provide funding for parks, beaches, wildlife and
forests, it was 2006. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in
his first term as governor, Twitter was a fledgling app, and
the iPhone hadn’t been invented yet. Since then, California’s
population has grown from 36 million to 39.5 million — the
equivalent of adding a new San Francisco, San Jose and San
Supporters argue that Prop. 68 is good for parks and good for
improving water quality statewide. … Critics like state
Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, believe the debt payments on
the bond will be anything but small.
In order to get boaters and swimmers back to Lake Oroville
after the Oroville Dam spillway was damaged in 2017, state
agencies have announced they will waive fees for the
recreational area on select days over the summer.
The way people play along Lake Tahoe’s 72 miles of shoreline
could change this year. The latest iteration of theTahoe
Shoreline Plan comes out Tuesday. The proposal would add 138
piers, of which 10 are public.
Any great fishing hole depends on the health and well-being of
its bugs. In a key stretch of the Colorado River below a dam on
the Arizona-Utah border, anglers have been pulling out long,
skinny trout that don’t give up much of a fight with a hook in
their mouths. Turns out, they don’t have enough to eat,
A world-class snowboarder, former Navy SEAL Josh Jespersen
served for four years in Afghanistan and Iraq. … Now he’s
undertaking a different kind of expedition — urging
mountain-state politicians to take seriously the threat of
climate change, and working to vote them out of office if they
When Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was a state senator from
this idyllic mountain town, he drove a Prius, sported a beard
and pushed President Barack Obama to make clean energy a
priority. Today, the beard and Prius are gone, and Mr. Zinke
has emerged as a leading figure, along with Scott Pruitt of the
Environmental Protection Agency, in the environmental rollbacks
that have endeared President Trump to the fossil fuel industry
and outraged conservationists.
We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop
of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad
sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in
the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin
states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this
water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial
needs was the focus of this tour.
Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Interior Department officials are backing away from a plan to
dramatically increase entrance fees at the most popular
national parks after receiving more than 100,000 public
comments from Americans nearly unanimously opposed to
A conservation group is suing President Donald Trump’s
administration to demand officials present plans to protect
California rivers and streams that Congress designated years
ago as “wild and scenic” rivers.
Rangers at Lake Mead National Recreation Area are cracking down
on two popular — but prohibited — spring break ingredients:
glass bottles and Styrofoam containers. … The National Park
Service outlawed glass bottles and plastic foam containers from
the recreation area in 2002 to reduce litter and prevent
injuries to visitors and wildlife, but the prohibition has been
A pair of storms moving across the Bay Area this week and into
the Sierra Nevada could dump eight feet of snow at higher
elevations, said Mike Kochasic, meteorologist at the
National Weather Service in Sacramento. And although rain and
snow are expected to remain far below average for the season
after a bone-dry January and February, it’s still a relief to
everyone from skiers to the state’s drought monitors.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke bristled Tuesday under
questioning by Democrats about his travel spending as the Trump
administration seeks deep cuts to conservation programs and fee
increases at national parks. Zinke testified before a Senate
committee about the agency’s proposed $11.7 billion budget for
The California Coastal Act for decades has scaled back
mega-hotels, protected wetlands and, above all, declared that
access to the beach was a fundamental right guaranteed to
everyone. But that very principle could be dismantled in the
latest chapter of an all-out legal battle that began as a local
dispute over a locked gate.
Sand replenishment began last week at Cardiff State Beach, one
of the first milestones in a $120 million, four-year effort to
restore the San Elijo Lagoon. Improved water quality, greater
wildlife diversity, more public recreational trails and a
greater resilience to environmental change are among the
long-term goals of the restoration, which has been planned for
The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, which
co-manage the [Sand to Snow National] monument’s 101,000 acres
as wilderness, said they plan in March to dispatch a team of
federal land managers, biologists and representatives of the
nearby Morongo Band of Mission Indians reservation to come up
with a strategy and funds to eliminate the unbranded cattle and
The Fish and Wildlife Service faces a $1.3 billion deferred
maintenance backlog that can sometimes get overlooked despite
its ominous size. … With some 5,000 buildings and 6,938
other structures to tend across 566 wildlife refuges, among
other responsibilities, FWS has to struggle to keep up with
problems that the public may not see.
It’s been a painfully slow start to the ski season in the
Western U.S. Some places have seen record warm temperatures and
record low snowfall, prompting resorts to open late. … And
all this means an economic hit.
The California Water Commission, which is evaluating the Nevada
Irrigation District’s application in pursuit of state funding
for the proposed Centennial dam, was greeted by a surprise
group of visitors Wednesday. Dressed in lifejackets and
wielding kayak paddles, about 60 demonstrators stood outside
the Commission’s monthly meeting in Sacramento Wednesday to
show their opposition to the Centennial project on the Bear
A recent study has found that virtually all United States-based
winter recreation locations could experience shorter ski
seasons, exceeding 50 percent by 2050 and 80 percent in 2090
for some downhill skiing destinations.
From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Bureau of
Land Management oversees some of the nation’s most prized
natural resources: vast expanses of public lands rich in oil,
gas, coal, grazing for livestock, habitat for wildlife, hunting
ranges, fishing streams and hiking trails.
This winter marks the 60th anniversary of China Peak, the
1,300-acre ski area in the Sierra National Forest east of
Fresno. But instead of celebrating, owner/operator Tim Cohee is
contemplating the ultimate bummer while struggling through what
he describes as the worst season he’s experienced during more
than 40 years in the business.
Few groups have been closer and more involved in Interior
Department policy and management than the National Park System
Advisory Board, an appointed and nonpartisan group established
83 years ago to consult on department operations and practices.
California skiers and riders are facing the best conditions of
the season after recent storms dumped snow from Lake Tahoe to
Mammoth Lakes, frosting slopes ahead of the long Martin Luther
King holiday weekend.
his week President Trump angered environmentalists and other
groups by reducing the size of two large national monuments in
Utah—Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. Using
Presidential Proclamations and invoking the 1906 Antiquities
Act, he slashed these monuments by about 1 million square
acres. While groups of Utahns and especially the state’s
Republican politicians applauded these executive actions,
lawsuits alleging the president exceeded his powers were filed
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump ordered U.S. Interior
Secretary Ryan Zinke to conduct an unprecedented review of 27
monuments established by former presidents over more than two
decades on lands and waters revered for their natural beauty
and historical significance.
Two national monuments in Utah that President Donald Trump is
going to significantly reduce include ancient cliff dwellings
and scenic canyons as well as areas that could be used for
Politicians and river guides are calling upon the state
Department of Water Resources to mitigate sediment build up in
the Feather River following the Oroville Dam
crisis. … The state Department of Water Resources
is currently assessing the impacts of sediment on the river
system, with the study expected to be complete in December,
said Jon Ericson, acting division chief for the division of
This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River
where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand
is growing from myriad sources — increasing population,
declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in
the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin
states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this
water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial
needs is the focus of this tour.
Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Six of America’s national monuments — from Utah’s red rock
canyons to remote islands in the South Pacific — would be
reduced in size, under recommendations that Interior Secretary
Ryan Zinke has sent to President Trump.
Levels of E. coli bacteria found in the lower American River
exceed the federal threshold for safe recreational use, in part
due to human waste from homeless camps, state regulators say.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has
proposed adding the bacteria to a list of pollutants that make
the lower American River a federally designated impaired water
Tribes, ranchers and conservationists know that none of the
national monuments ordered reviewed by President Donald Trump
will be eliminated, but the changes in store for the sprawling
land and sea areas remain a mystery after the administration
kept a list of recommendations under wraps.
At a rally Tuesday, four local members of Congress blasted
President Trump’s executive order that called for the review of
dozens of national monuments, which they fear could mean
scaling back or eliminating those protected natural areas
Under the bill, the National Park Service would be prevented
from regulating the hunting of bears and wolves in Alaska
wildlife preserves, including the practice of killing bear cubs
in their dens. It also would be prevented from regulating
commercial and recreational fishing within park boundaries and
from commenting on development projects outside park boundaries
that could affect the parks.
The Trump administration this week is expected to release plans
for potentially shrinking or revoking the status of 21 national
monuments, setting the stage for a years-long legal battle that
could pit the White House against Indian tribes,
environmentalists and some western states.
Two popular swim spots — Lake Temescal in Oakland and Quarry
Lakes in Fremont — will reopen Saturday after blooms of
toxic blue-green algae finally cleared up, the East Bay
Regional Park District announced Friday.
Many lake users have complained to the state about fewer
recreational opportunities on the lake in the aftermath of the
Lake Oroville spillway disaster in February. Since then, the
lake level has dropped significantly, meaning boaters have
farther to walk after parking their vehicles at the high-water
Several years of drought had severely depleted the Kern, a
popular whitewater rafting destination known for its dramatic
rapids. But this year’s wet winter created a record Sierra
Nevada snowpack, and the melt has engorged the river with
swift, frigid water.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he’ll ease the impact of
potentially huge National Park Service budget cuts by shifting
more resources to the “front line.” But it’s not clear yet what
that actually means.
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.