Category Archives: Boating

Discovery Park will open this weekend after four months of being underwater

After being flooded for months, Discovery Park will open its gates Saturday for Memorial Day weekend, Sacramento County Regional Parks announced Wednesday.

The 302-acre park closed in January during winter storms as heavy rains and high releases from Folsom Lake left it underwater. The popular summer destination sits at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers.

Tiscornia Beach and much of the park will remain closed, but the boat launch, some parking lots and picnic areas overlooking the confluence will be open. The Jibboom Bridge will open and the American River bike trail will be available through the closed areas.

More at SacBee.com >>>

Folsom Lake Winter Debris Still Clogging Boat Ramps For Memorial Day

Boaters trying to get an early start on the holiday weekend are facing problems on Folsom Lake ahead of Memorial Day.

The lake’s boat ramps are clogged with wood and debris washed downstream from a storm winter.

Park rangers will be patrolling the area, but they are concerned about going out on the lake themselves. What looks like a twig from the top of the lake could carry a bigger hazard underneath.

Tony Tonso and his daughter Tiffany tried to get an early start on the upcoming Memorial Day weekend but were faced with a logjam. They had to move around a mass of sticks and larger branches in the pathway.

From above, the enormity of the mess is clear, with debris piled along the shore, washed down by a record winter of rain. Workers are trying to clear it, but there’s only so much a tugboat can do.

More at CBSLocal.com >>>

Wet Winter Leaves Sea Of Debris On Folsom Lake

You might want to think twice about bringing your watercraft to Folsom Lake as debris is blocking most launches.

State Parks officials say they’re aware of the problem and are contracting with a company to remove the debris as quickly as possible.

“It’s a total disaster, absolutely a total disaster; I was shocked, disappointed.”

That was Steven Gelenich’s reaction when he drove up to a launch Tuesday morning, expecting to see a full and clear lake.

“The main launch ramp over there is a total disaster, it’s full of thousands of pieces of wood, absolutely no way to launch,” Steven said.

But the debris wasn’t going to stop Steven.

“I’ll tell you right now I’m gonna find a way to launch today,” Steven said.

He was determined to cruise the lake on his jet ski. Steven drove to different launches and Oak Beach, but he wasn’t having any luck finding a clear spot to launch.

“I feel like I’m going to cry right now, I’m so disappointed,” said Steven.

According to State Parks officials, years of drought led to a build-up of debris as far up as the Sierra. Heavy winter rains washed the debris into rivers, reservoirs and ultimately here, into Folsom Lake.

“It probably started coming in back in January, or February,” said Superintendent Richard Preston.

It’s now May, and with Memorial Day just around the corner, CBS13 wanted to know why wasn’t the debris cleaned up right away?

“We had this up and down of the water which pushed debris back and forth, and we couldn’t get to it effectively,” Preston said.

Crews began removing debris at the end of last week. They have 75 miles of shoreline to clean up.

“If we don’t get it cleaned up it’s definitely going to impact revenues for the park,” added Preston.

More at CBSLocal.com >>>

Folsom Lake surrounded by piles of debris

As boating season returns to Folsom Lake, those ready to set sail will have to get around an obstacle lining the lake shore and boat ramps.

That obstacle is a lakewide pileup of debris.

“Pretty much is a ring completely around the lake,” Folsom Lake State Park superintendent Richard Preston said. “Came down from the reservoirs up above and some of the debris that’s been in the river systems for a number of years through the droughts, and it pretty much all just flushed down this year with large storms in January and February.”

Some of the debris extends hundreds of yards from the lake shore, providing a reminder of just how much rain the area’s received this year and how much debris has come with it.

To clean it up, park officials plan to coordinate with the Bureau of Reclamation on a summertime plan to remove the debris. The process would likely be initiated around June after the lake level has peaked.

Part of that plan includes allowing the lake level to rise high enough for the dried out, dead driftwood to be pulled back into the lake.

More at KCRA.com >>>

Thanks to abundant snow, the West can expect a long, rollicking river rafting season

Chris Moore watched in awe this winter as the snow piled up on his multiple trips to Bear Valley Mountain Resort in the central Sierra.

“I’ve never seen a winter quite like this,” said Moore, California regional manager for O.A.R.S. rafting company.

“What all this snow means is it’s going to be a long and exciting whitewater season, so I’m stoked.

“We’re going to have big flows in the late spring and early summer and a more drawn-out whitewater season on rivers here in California.”

Moore’s enthusiasm is widespread among rafting outfitters up and down the state, some of whom are still recovering from the drought, which just two years ago saw April 1 snowpack measurements of 5% of normal throughout much of the Sierra.

This year, however, the snowpack is 140% of normal for the Northern Sierra and 169% of normal for the Central Sierra, according to the California Data Exchange Center.

Here’s how the season is shaping up.

The Middle, North and South forks of the American River, as well as the North Fork of the Stanislaus River will have high flows in May and June, moderating as the summer progresses.

“The South Fork of the American, which is normally a fun Class III river that’s great for even young kids, is not going to be the kind of stream you’d want to take your 6-year-old on around the start of the season” Moore said. “But it will mellow out, too, as the season unfolds.”

Because the water on the South Fork will be roaring early, O.A.R.S. will offer its one-day, “21-Miler” trips seven days a week from April through June.

These wild rides combine the upper Chili Bar section with the lower Gorge section. At lower flows, covering all 21 miles of the South Fork would make for a long day, but not this spring and early summer.

More at LATimes.com >>>

Snow survey reveals CA water content at 185% of average

The Sierra snowpack survey conducted Wednesday revealed that the northern Sierra water content is well above average for this time of the year and bodes well for runoff later in the year.

Numbers manually taken by water officials at the Phillips Station in El Dorado County revealed 43.4 inches of water content, which is 179 percent of the long-term average for March 1, and a snow-depth of 112.7 inches.

The water content did not break the record of 56.4 inches for that station, but Frank Gehrke, of the California Department of Water Resources, said it is “a pretty phenomenal snowpack.”

“It bodes very well for runoff much longer than we have had in the past four or five years,” Gehrke said. “It’s a very, very good indicator of good surface water supplies as we head into spring and summer.

As of March 1:

  • The northern Sierra is 159 percent of average.
  • The central Sierra is 190 percent of average.
  • The southern Sierra is 201 percent of average.

The central and southern regions are tracking “very close” to 1983, which is when the maximum snowpack was recorded statewide.

More at KCRA.com >>>

Dam manuals keep California’s water future in the past

“Sacramentans will recall how the operators of the Folsom Lake dam dumped billions of gallons of water last year at this time into the American River, never mind that the region was gripped by drought and a heat wave. The reservoir was down to 40 percent of capacity, under clear skies. But dam operators had no choice.”

The Oroville Dam crisis was about infrastructure. The scare this week stemmed from rickety spillways, not dam management.

But if other aspects seemed familiar, it may be because it again highlighted the gap between modern science and the antique flood-control manuals governing major dams in California. As The Bee’s Ryan Sabalow and Andy Furillo reported, the guiding document determining how full Lake Oroville can be in a rainy season hasn’t been updated since the Nixon administration, and is almost as old as the dam itself.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manual, they reported, was last revised in 1970, two years after Oroville Dam’s completion. A lot can change in 47 years.

Science has advanced, in meteorology and engineering. Weather satellites, computer models and research into atmospheric rivers have made it possible to forecast storms with an accuracy previously unimagined. Climate change has upended assumptions.

Two of the biggest floods ever to hit the region have occurred since the Oroville Dam manual was written; on its sepia pages, it’s as if they never happened. The story is the same for all 54 of the state’s primary flood-control dams, whose manuals are 30 years old or older.

“California’s flood infrastructure is based on the hydrology of the past,” Jeffrey Mount of the Public Policy Institute of California told The Bee. “I don’t know a scientist anymore who thinks the future is going to look anything like the past.”

This isn’t just some clerical issue. The owners of those 54 dams cannot deviate from the manuals’ old models in determining water levels. That inflexibility has become a problem in both wet and dry years.

Sacramentans will recall how the operators of the Folsom Lake dam dumped billions of gallons of water last year at this time into the American River, never mind that the region was gripped by drought and a heat wave. The reservoir was down to 40 percent of capacity, under clear skies. But dam operators had no choice.

The installation of a new spillway at Folsom this year has triggered an update, finally, to its manual. Oroville’s problems, and ensuing repairs, could eventually mean a new and improved manual for it, too.

More at SacBee.com >>>

Folsom Lake is filling fast so flows on swollen American River have been ratcheted up

With heavy rain forecast for Thursday, room is being made in Folsom Lake by increasing flows into the American River.

In about two days, the lake level has climbed 230,000 acre feet. Folsom Lake, with a capacity of 977,000 acre feet, is around 696,000 acre feet Thursday morning.

A strong storm on Thursday is expected to drop an inch or two of rain in Sacramento and perhaps four inches in the foothills. That has prompted Folsom Dam operators to increase flows.

About 40,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) was being released about 7 p.m. Wednesday. As of 4 a.m. Thursday the amount of water from Folsom Dam had been increased to 58,000 cfs.

More at SacBee.com >>>

Heavy snowpack looks good for Folsom Lake

A whopping Sierra snowpack now could mean great boating and water skiing on Folsom Lake this summer.

The state’s official snow survey last week showed the Sierra snowpack is at 173 percent of its early February average.

That means, come summer, steady snowmelt should keep Folsom at relatively high levels.

So tune up the outboard motor and break out the water skis: It’s likely to be a very watery summer.

“We should see strong runoff into Folsom through the summer months,” said Louis Moore, deputy public information officer for the Bureau of Reclamation in Sacramento. “Typically, August is the month with the highest levels at Folsom.”

Recently, the lake held 407,000 acre feet; the maximum capacity is 977,000 acre feet. Dam operators are making sure there is plenty of space for incoming rain and snow runoff from the current storm systems.

More at FolsomTelegraph.com >>>

Folsom Lake less than half full after recent rains. Residents ask, why so dry?

Northern California is on track to break rainfall records. Water has gushed through weirs into the Yolo Bypass flood plain at levels not seen in more than a decade. The Sierra Nevada snow pack is nearly double historical averages.

But you wouldn’t know the region has experienced an exceptionally wet winter looking at the steep, dry shores ringing the Sacramento region’s largest reservoir, Folsom Lake. On Wednesday, the lake was filled to just 41 percent capacity – 80 percent of its historical average.

Folsom Dam operators say the low levels are necessary to protect Sacramento from flooding. With runoff from recent storms subsiding and forecasts of sunny skies through early next week, dam operators are gradually dialing back releases into the lower American River below Folsom Dam. That should allow the lake to rise again.

More at SacBee.com >>>