Lake Level as of 5/20/19

Glory Hole officially stopped flowing on Sunday, 5/5/19. The recent rains have caused enough runoff to raise the lake about 3 inches since its low of 439.67’ on Tuesday, 5/14/19.  The real-time monitoring device inside Monticello Dam is reading 440 feet (www.scwamonitoring.com/LakeBerryessa/index.htm)

Thanks to Anthony Southwood for this You Tube video of Glory Hole spilling on Monday, May 20th for the second time this year.


Lake Berryessa has spilled over the Glory Hole twice in the past. During the major rain year of 2006 the lake stayed above Glory Hole from 12/31/2005 to 5/19/2006. It did take a short dip below the lip to 439.93 feet from 2/22/06 to 2/27/06. In 1998 the lake also dipped below Glory Hole on 5/4/98 for several days and then went back over the lip on 5/29/98. Earlier detailed data is not available. The historical chart of lake levels since 1958 does not give enough resolution.

Rainfall totals have now risen to 40.10 inches at the dam - the 4th highest in the last 22 years: 1998 - 46.26”; 2017 - 47.55”; 2006 - 40.56”. Rainfall in the Berryessa Highlands, for comparison, has reached 46.6 inches.  


Video of the presentation to the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday regarding the status of the negotiations toward a Managing Partner Agreement (MPA) with the Bureau of Reclamation is available, including Reclamation's response from Drew Lessard, BOR Area Manager.

For those of you who wish to watch the Lake Berryessa presentation on video, go to


 and click on item 9C

 C. 9:20 AM County Executive Officer requests the Board of Supervisors receive an update on discussions with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding concession management at Lake Berryessa.

The full presentation starts at the 38:43 minutes time stamp and goes to 1:12:00 when Drew Lessard, Area Manager for Bureau of Reclamation, who is doing their negotiating, makes his presentation of Reclamation’s view of the negotiations until time stamp 1:17:00.

A thorough news report of the meeting is available at:



Here’s an old map of Lake Berryessa. The artist took some liberties like leaving out the Narrows.

Lake Berryessa cartoon map



A. Executive Summary: There Is No Such Legal Designation As A "Non-Motorized Zone" Or "Electric Trolling Motors Only" Restriction At Lake Berryessa

In a highly unpopular move with no real public support the Bureau of Reclamation arbitrarily closed Big Island Lagoon, a traditional family boating rest area, to motorized recreation more than ten years ago. This action was taken with no public input, no supporting data, no analysis of need, nor any evaluation of its effects on lake users, violating Reclamation’s own policies and the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

Monitoring of the area for the many years has shown there has been no appreciable use by non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks. This action simply created a wasted recreational resource that had previously been used by thousands of boaters on a regular basis. This area was an historical 5 MPH zone and a heavily-used family recreation gathering spot. It provided a quiet, safe respite from the activity on the main body of the lake.

Hidden on a map in the 2006 Record of Decision are two designations of "non-motorized zone". One is Big Island Lagoon. The other is Steele Park Cove (aka Willi's Cove). The Big Island lagoon entrances now have several buoys stating "Electric Trolling Motor Only" but no signs stating "non-motorized zone". Although warning buoys were placed at Big Island, they were not installed at Steele Park Cove. The “electric trolling motors only” warning can potentially be interpreted to mean that no kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, bass boats, patio boats, or other watercraft will be allowed in the area without a trolling motor attached.

Monitoring of the area for many years has shown there has been no appreciable use by non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards. Statistical reports confirm that there are no safety issues related to the shared use of 5 MPH areas by non-motorized and motorized watercraft.

The 2005 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and 2006 Record of Decision (ROD) noted no safety or environmental issues.

The 2006 ROD also stated that no changes would be made until the Public Forum referenced in this same section was created. Peter Kilkus first raised this issue in a formal recommendation to the Bureau of Reclamation on December 26, 2012. The recommendation was ignored. The subject was never discussed at any of the public forums held after the public process implemented in early 2013 - until it was again brought up by Kilkus at the November 14, 2018 forum meeting. Drew Lessard, Reclamation Area Manager, agreed to review the proposal.

Detailed justification supporting this action is given below. The conclusion is that since there was neither public input nor public support for this arbitrary action; there was no statutory authority or other justification for Reclamation’s decision; there is no enforcement authority applicable to these arbitrary designations; there was no analysis of need; and the action is in opposition to Reclamation’s stated purpose to support and expand recreation at Lake Berryessa, the Bureau of Reclamation should immediately rescind its action and return Big Island Lagoon and Steele Canyon Cove to their long-term 5 MPH status in anticipation of the 2019 recreation season.

See full report here

Download PDF of full report here...


Buoy close circle text edited-1 copy

The following ordinance is the Napa County law that governs activities at Lake Berryessa

Ordinance No. 1287

Chapter 12.08: Berryessa Lake and Park Area


(Read the full ordinance here…)

(Download a PDF of this ordinance...)


Sanderson May2019


8700 Butts Canyon May2019


318 Black Oak May2019
809 Bahia Vista May2019


1040 Blueridge May2018



1325 Steele Canyon May2019
5310 Monticello Road May2019


Reclamation starting summer operating hours at Lake Berryessa

With summer months approaching, the Bureau of Reclamation is preparing for increased recreational use at Lake Berryessa by expanding operating hours, beginning on April 1.

Dufer Point Visitor Center
Starting April 1, 2019, park rangers will staff the Dufer Point Visitor Center from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Staff will provide answers about visiting the lake, volunteering with our birding program and upcoming events.

Oak Shores Day Use Area
Oak Shores opens daily at 7:30 a.m. all the year. The north end of Oak Shores will re-open for day use on April 1. In addition, Lake Berryessa employees will extend Oak Shore’s closing hours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Reserve Oak Shores shade shelters for $25 at www.recreation.gov. Reservations are not accepted on holiday weekends.

Smittle Creek and Eticuera Day Use Area
Smittle Creek and Eticuera are available for hiking, wildlife watching, picnicking and hand-launching watercraft from sunrise until sunset throughout the year. In April, park rangers will close the parking lot gates at Smittle Creek at 8 p.m., nightly.

Capell Cove Boat Launch
The Capell Cove Boat Launch opens from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. all year, weather permitting.

Concession Areas
Markley Cove Resort, Pleasure Cove Marina, Steele Canyon Recreation Area, Putah Canyon, and Spanish Flat offer a variety of recreation services, including boat launch ramps, and are great alternatives to Oak Shores and Capell Cove. For information regarding services offered at concession-operated facilities, please call or visit their websites:

Markley Cove- 707-966-2134, www.markleycove.com
Pleasure Cove Marina- 707-966-9600, www.goberryessa.com
Steele Canyon Recreation Area- 707-966-9179, www.goberryessa.com/campground-at-steele-canyon
Spanish Flat Recreation Area- 707-966-0200, www.spanishflatcamping.com
Putah Canyon Recreation Area- 707-966-9051, 

For more information, call the Lake Berryessa Administration office at 707-966-2111, ext. 113 or visit the website at:  http://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa/index.html    


Lake Berryessa Glory  Hole Spill Watch 2019



See my detailed report on how Lake Berryessa and Monticello Dam function at:



Special Release: New combined report for those who want to know almost everything about how Lake Berryessa works!

As Lake Berryessa Flows:

A Combination of Science, Engineering, and Natural Beauty

by Peter Kilkus

The Science and Engineering Elements of a Major Natural Resource

Download Full Report PDF Here...


Welcome to the best map of Lake Berryessa you’ll ever find!

Click on the map to see a larger version.

Click here to download a pdf copy.

1 Lake Map Base 082317


Lake Berryessa Fills and Glory Hole Spills: The Video History

This amazing series of Lake Berryessa News Drone videos by Evan Kilkus documents the 45 foot rise of Lake Berryessa in 2017.



Full lake level history 2015
Lake Levels 2006 to 031217 edited-1
Lake Levels 1990 2017



Berryessa Valley and the Town of Monticello Historical Photos and Videos from before Lake Berryessa covered it.

Berryessa Valley photo

Thanks to Carol Fitzpatrick for creating the Berryessa Valley Exhibit at the Spanish Flat Village Center described in the first video.




1958 - 2018

by Peter Kilkus


What Happened At Lake Berryessa? The Book! 

(Click to Download the PDF here)

Table Of Contents


Without THE LAKE BERRYESSA NEWS there would be no Lake Berryessa News…and finally there would be no definitive history of what happened at Lake Berryessa. Having participated directly for more than twenty years as an advocate for the lake in the fiasco that was the Bureau of Reclamation’s Visitor Services Plan, its farcical but tragic outcome, and the process of rebuilding, I have very strong views of the causes and results - supported by facts and data which were mostly obfuscated by the proponents of the destruction of the lake’s residential and business community.

The Bureau of Reclamation and their supporters destroyed family recreation at Lake Berryessa for a generation of families, children, and friends. Many people ask me about the history of the process that led to the present situation at Lake Berryessa. When I explain what happened most become incredulous and can't believe the government could have done something so stupid. "How could they have gotten away with that?" they exclaim.

The goal of this book is to provide the history and the context within which such an incredibly destructive course of action took place.

The initial timeline shows a condensed history of the process. The next section tells the story through the eyes of Lake Berryessa News articles. With the permission of the Napa Register, a parallel history is presented through contemporaneous editorials, articles, and letters to the editor from the Napa Register.

This book is not a traditional academic exercise in historical exposition. Academic historians define history as presenting facts without expressing any opinion or analysis of the events whereas memories are comprised of emotions that can have a great influence on the perception of an actual event. Critical historians live by the old saying of "there are two sides to every story and then there is the truth."

I’m more interested in the narrative approach to defining this history. Almost two decades have passed since this story began, and Lake Berryessa history has been created with every day of that twenty years.

This book is the raw, as-it-happened, unfiltered picture of what many of us lived through. It is organized chronologically; focused on a single coherent story; primarily descriptive but also analytical; primarily concerned with people but also the abstract circumstances in which they find themselves. To me a big part of the fascination with any history is trying to discover what was going on inside people's heads in the past, and what it was like to live in that past.

The future may finally looking brighter for Lake Berryessa or does it? History continues to unfold.

Peter Kilkus, Lake Beryessa, 2018


Here's an interview I did in 2010, three years after the interview below with Pat Monaghan and just after Pensus had been given the contract for 5 resorts. As we all know Pensus was subsequently kicked out in 2012.        

Here's a 2007 TV interview with Pat Monaghan, cofounder of Task Force 7 at Lake Berryessa, to give you some historical insight. Those of you who remember Pete Lucero will recognize his description of what we called "The Big Lie" - which turned into the "Epic Fail".

How It All Began: The Origins of the “Big Lie”

Lake Berryessa History Timeline: 1958 - 2018

Click here for PDF version

Lake Berryessa News (2010 - 2018): A VERY SLOW MOTION Disaster! 

Click here for PDF version


Some Interesting Past Stories

Lake Berryessa Glory Hole Swallows Senior Center Gambling Bus

Bird Goes Over the Glory Hole Waterfall Without A Barrel

Glory Hole: Awesome, Frightening, But Dangerous?

February 2019: 2nd Anniversary of Glory Hole Spilling

Moskowite Corners: A Landmark in Lake Berryessa History 

Gets A New Owner - Again!

My First Fishing Trip on Lake Berryessa

Silly Septic System Standards Harm Rural Napa

A Fishy Fishing Story at Lake Berryessa

Undercover agents and all…plus a new Fishing Guide Policy from Reclamation

Analysis of the Creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument - the Dumbest National Monument in the United States

Lake Berryessa History: The Summer of Love (1967) versus The Summers of Chaos (1998-1999) 

Lake Berryessa 1998-1999 Rap Concerts

Rattlesnakes: Friend or Enemy – or just a primal fear?


Special Publications (PDF)

As Lake Berryessa Flows:

The Science and Engineering Elements of a Major Natural Resource (Combined Reports)

Combined Report Title Page and Index


As Lake Berryessa Flows: 

A Combination of Science, Engineering, and Natural Beauty 

(Single Report)


As Lake Berryessa Turns!

Temperature and Fishing in a Warm, Monomictic Lake 

(Single Report)  


Seeing Underwater at Lake Berryessa 

(Single Report)


The History of the Creation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument: The Ultimate Political Perversion of the Antiquities Act

By Peter Kilkus (6/20/17)

The Twisted Ten-Year Political Path From a Modest Nature Area Partnership to a Local Blue Ridge Berryessa National Conservation Area to a Large Disjointed Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area to an Incoherent Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

Is it the “Dumbest National Monument in the United States”? An objective review of the process by which it was created and the final formal designation suggests the answer is YES. I personally support the creation of legitimate national monuments, but this is not that. Being part of the ten year political process that led to its creation convinced me that in many situations the Antiquities Act is being abused. The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is a perfect case study of this abuse. 

Read the full report here.


Conspiracy Theory Or Automatic Pilot: The Economic Roots Of Environmental Destruction        

By Peter F. Kilkus 

Download PDF of this report (2 MB)


The Amazing Foods of Chef Neiman Marxist

Chef Neiman Marxist French


Winters Express logo

The Winters Express


Bird video

No on C - Oak Woodlands Initiative

ACDC Intros mix


Glory Hole Overflows

County Berryessa Map Lar

pKilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2018