Lake Berryessa

 Napa County California


Honorable Ken Salazar

            Secretary of the Interior

            U.S. Department of Interior

            1849 C Street NW

            Washington, DC 20240

            Michael L. Connor
            Bureau of Reclamation
            1849 C Street NW
            Washington DC 20240-0001


Lake Berryessa, California – BOR Mismanagement

A call for an Agency Realignment, Contract Revocation, Termination

 & Dismissal for Certain BOR Officials



            Dear Secretary Salazar & Commissioner Connor,

Berryessa For All, is an organization formed in 2004, it was created to seek oversight, monitoring and equal justice for all users of Lake Berryessa Recreation Area. Our collective membership represents 25,000 users, residents of Berryessa Highlands, Berryess Pines and surrounding areas, 1700 former boating users & trailer owners and mobile home owners who had their personal assets forced removed from Federal land managed by the Bureau of Reclamtion (BOR), and all property, buildings, docks and infrastructure of the previous five concecessionaires. During our pursuits for equal and fair justice these 25,000 users of Lake Berryessa have been disenfranchised by the irresponsible actions of BOR Officials, specifically the Mid Pacific Region, based in Sacramento, CA and the Centeral California Regional Office based at Folsom, CA under the direction of Michael J. Finnegan.


Our Board of Directors met on May 12, 2012 in a Emergency Strategy session and have authorized me to develop a working paper to your position and to the Interior Department Leadership and to the Commissioner of Reclamation Michael Connor. We were afforded copies of the letters from US Representative Mike Thompson (D) Napa and Supervisor Diane Dillon of Napa County, California, which they sent to you on May 11, 2012. Our Board of Directors agree 100% with their comments and we share the total disappointment and we likewise agree on the BOR’s total failure to manage concessions and concessionaires at Lake Berrysa, California, under their contract dated 1958 which states that BOR acts in the stead of Napa County since 1974.


We have also in our review a letter sent by CCAO Area Manager Mike Finnegan to Napa County Adminstrative Officer Nancy Watt, after the May 11th letters from Congressman Thompson and Supervisor Diane Dillon. This was Mr. Finnegan’s response and rebuttal from Mid Pacific as a mea culopa story of how well the BOR is trying to restructure. Next comes to our review a letter of Termination for the Pensus Company who was chosen two years ago to run six (6) former thriving resorts. The affected Berryessa For All members and users have suffered a $500M loss due to the poor decision making of the BOR representatives. These decisions included the wanton destruction and removal of not only 1700 trailers and prefabricated homes, but also all the facilities, including waste water plants, docks, stores, public restrooms, parks, entrances, launch ramps and parking lots, literally went thing went into compactors and dumpsters, at the BOR orders to remove improvements from the federal lands.

It is very clear that the contract with the Pensus Corporation was fraudently developed by the named below officials that we will ask you to seek both their resignations and dismissals of said officials (Messer’s Finnegan & Lucero). The revelations of Pensus Corporation recent 27 page document, “Pensus Goes Public” clarifies that the BOR and Pensus are not compatabile for modern day resort and concession management and lack a “Fit Factor” and the capability to accomplish these task in the near future.

Step 1: We call for a Leadership Change

It is clear that the BOR has absolutely no business dealing with managing recreation aspects on lakes and other properties under its control. They manage dams and water sales accounts, power generation with high expertise. A close friend of your’s Senator Max Baucus (D) of Montana has been in direct conflict with the BOR over mismanagement and fostered legislation to remove the BOR from managing lakes and recreation useage in Montana and turned many of the areas over to the USDA Forest Service. The problems went away the first day the BOR was removed.

Our group would highly recommend to you that the entire Lake Berryessa scheme be transfered to the Bureau of Land Management who  manage 14,000 acres of Federal Land which is just North of Lake Berryessa.  BOR & BLM were in discussion as early as year 2000 and I personally was privilidged to have attended those meetings held in Fairfield, California. BOR propagandized the situation at Lake Berryessa, leading BLM to believe BOR needed to handle the “problem” with the concessionaires. While in fact the primary issues were BOR Management. BLM has expertise and guiding documents which support good management practices. Additionally BLM money stays local, giving the agency needed support, and the incentive to work with the private sector to optimize the use and benefit of federal lands.

The change in management would be Step One to bring resolve to our 25,000 disenfranchised members who have been finicially injured by the BOR’s poor decision making. It is our belief that these problems created by these non-professional BOR Officials needs to go away, and a new review and new agency to manage the area and restore confidence and respect in our Governments’s ability to manage Federal Lands.

Step 2:  We Call for the Termination of Conrtracts with Pensus Corporation

As a former USAF IG member I strongly feel that the bidding process was fraudelent and members of the BOR who are named in Step 3 below conceived and devised a scheme to illegally award contracts to Pensus. Matter of fact the Pensus contract was awarded in 2008, but after nearly a year Pensus would not sign it and was bid twice because of BOR errors and contract interpretration. The contracts were never signed by  the Commissioner of Reclamation Connor as required by BOR Manual LND 04-01. It is evident that this Pensus Company who has a 30-year contract has done next to nothing, now going into a third season. In the document it is clear “Pensus Goes Public” which will be received by more than 7000 people via email, this is not a “marriage made in heaven” and brings great embarrassment upon the BOR and themselves. In reading between the lines the Pensus Company carps about the neglected safety features and debris that still are not removed at the five resorts shutdown in 2008 and which the below listed BOR officials squandered Federal Stimulas Funds of $5,500,000. (Finnegan & Lucero managed).

When a person falls into a open manhole in a resort there is no justification, the previously installed manhole heavy covers were stolen by salvagers and/or theives. It is our  belief that these resorts should all be closed until basic infrastructure, electricity, running water, sewage capability is restored.  Bottled water and portable toilets is not acceptable for recreation opportunities in 2012. The safety matters must be corrected first and revisited before further children and adults are exposed to numerous OSHA, ADA and common sense needs for ammenities. There are no docks available in the five Pensus occupied resorts.  Most revealing is Pensus recent argument with BOR is that they do not have to provide Day Use Services. This company seems to be providing lip service and does not have to provide any permanaent structures until 2016.

 There is reason for concern that Pensus does not have the qualifications to be the concessionaire at these resorts which require nearly independent cities to be constructed. Nor does it appear that Pensus has the financial means to accomplish what is required by contract.

Step 3 Request for the Removal and Dismissal of BOR Officials

After dealing with the below named officials it is clear to our members and our Board of Directors that the following offiicals need to be removed and/or dimissed for mismanagment, inappropriate behaivor involving bidding process and causing the ultimate wanton destruction of over $500M of private property owned by residents in the seven resorts, including the failed economic base of Berryessa Highlands development, and a total collaspe of recreation opportunities at Lake Berryessa. These same officials listed below are guilty of alledged criminal posturing and creating a economic disaster in the Lake Berryessa Highlands and Spanish Flats commercial area.

The following named personnel should be removed or be terminated, they are all GS-10 s and can be legally terminated without due cause:

                                              I.     Michael Finnegan, CCAO Area Manager – Folsom, California Office

On May 22, 2012 Mr. Finnegan appeared before the Napa Board of Supervisors and the Napa NBRID Utility District. The 1h:14m video tape shows the ineptness and non understanding of the casue and effect of his decisions for Lake Berryessa. Mr. Finnegan iterates about the maladys of the first and second contract negotiations with Pensus and others.

                                            II.     Pedro “Pete” Lucero, Mid Pacific - Public Affairs Officer, Sacramento    former Lake Berryessa Manager - a very indignant employee at opposition to many people and giving conflicting information related to Pensus, giving direction over Mike Finnegan line of authority. Review Pensus letter Item 3 & Item 6 another infraction occurs in writing on  Page 16, April 5, 2012 date of the same Pensus letter. Information outside his line of authority causing chain of command confusion and favoring the concessionaire.



In 2000 BOR initiated a Visitors Service Plan (VSP) in order to have a smooth transition for the concession contracts expiring in 2008-2009 to new contracts. The VSP process evolved into a calculated destruction of public assets at Lake Berryessa. It began with the elimination of “exclusive use”, directed at the 1700 mobile homes at the lake, but expanded to eliminate all facilties at the concessions. Then the DEIS, and the BOR’s Financial Study, the Dornbusch Report, met with huge opposition in approximately 2400 responses. The Dornbusch Report states that the Preferred Alternative B, which included resort closures, mobile home and facility removals, was not finanically feasible. The FEIS was modified to require a blend of alternatives, but clearly it was the DEIS that BOR followed. The VSP process included the Kleinfelder Report, and anlysis of the concession improvements, and Appraisals completed in 2007. The Kleinfelder Report showed the useful life of improvements and the remediation to extend their life. The BOR Appraisals for the six concessions/resorts totalled more the $40M, appraisals known to not be completeand undervalued.

The bid process, beginning in 2007, gave three awards in April 2008. Markley Cove Resort to existing concessionaires the Fraziers. Pleasure Cove to the interim contractor Forever Resorts, and the five remaining resorts  to Pensus Group. Forever Resorts contract was signed in December, 2008. Pensus refused to sign their contract after nearly a year. The bid process was cancelled, on what BOR called a “technicality”. A new prospectus was issued, but with significant changes including – the BOR removed the negotiating clause of accepting no or lesser franchise fees to allow concessionaires to make improvements (due to the Anti-Deficiency Act), no mention of Public Law 96-375, and BOR would not allow the new concessionaire to purchase ANY of the improvements which existed, with the exception of Markley Cove. April 2010 Pensus was awarded the five concessions they previously were awarded, with the addition of Markley Cove.

Rancho Monticello Resort and Steele Park Resort managed removals themselves in compliance with the prospectus so that they could bid on the new contracts. After 2010, the previous concessionaires were put in trespass, nearly all of the remaining improvements at the five resorts were demolished or removed by BOR with $5.6M in stimulus funds. Most of the $40M in concessionaire improvements, public assets, were literally wiped off the map.

In the propectus BOR also recinded back to BOR certain problem areas in the Pensus concessions, such as the failing peninsula at Berryessa Marina (Blue Oak) and the contamination at Putah Creek Resort (Chaparral), although there is no appropriation allowing them this commitment. Further, BOR has retained the infrastructures at the resorts extending their obligations. BOR is seeking tax payer funds to establish what they have destroyed with tax payer funds. 


This is a totally distasteful situation. The BOR is at fault in all cases – the RAMP required BOR to create Resort Standards, “establish and eliminate facility development and design standards for resorts”. They have twisted everything around to destroy use and steal public lands. Pensus knew they needed the infrastructures and worked with BOR to get them for free. BOR used Stimulus Funds ($5.6 M) to destroy everything and is now trying to use the obstructed Pensus contract to get the concessions into BOR hands. The listed BOR officials possibly illegally used the Stimulus monies against the charging factor of jobs creation and having shovel ready projects on hand.

The Public Use Plan required the Managing Entity to develop at least 10 areas outside the “resorts” – they have failed to do so – they took the $3M from PL 94-474 in 1974 appropriation for developing public access and used about 80% of that to build their administration fortress on the western shoreline of  Lake Berryessa. The answer to this is to go back to the Public Use Plan. Get the right managing agency for the Lake – BLM, Napa County, National Park Service or State of California.  BOR has got to GO. They will NEVER develop the Lake – or support its development. Messer’s Finnegan, Lucero, Waddington, (Bruce Waddington is a former Denver BOR employee who is a frequent sub-contractor for numerous BOR projects)  need to be terminated and held accountable for the destruction of public property, misuse of funds, collusion, corruption… their acts were (and if allowed will continue to be) criminal (if not by law, then by ethics).

Markley Cove Resort Contract was awarded to the Mr. & Mrs. John Frazier. The contract is the Frazier’s.  Pensus did not sign their contract (5 resorts) in April 2008 to March 2009, under any other agency they would have had 60 days to sign the contract or lose the award, only because BOR could dodge the requirement did Pensus not get disqualified and was able to hold onto the award without signing a contract. Pensus should NEVER have been allowed to bid again. The Prospectus and Contract Process needs a full investigation.

A new prospectus needs to be designed which creates a bankable lease, gives the new concessionaire the incentive to invest in the infrastructure improvements, and promotes the greatest family recreation opportunities. The bidder must be financially and professionally capable of constructing required and proposed facilities within specified times. The Managing Entity should require the minimum facilities in accordance with the Public Use Plan for a “high recreation use area” and provide the bidders with a structural analysis of all the permits and other requirements which must be met to construct and operate the concessions.

The concession contracts with the original concessionaires had requirements to provide public access in the first year including, entrances, roads, bathrooms, showers, recreation sites, day use and stores. The Pensus contract is complete deception – not even taking over Manzanita Canyon for years. Pensus may now be the victim of the standard BOR propaganda tactics…but they have not operated in any respectable manner as a developer /operator of the concessions.

What has to happen, needs to happen now? The entire Lake Berryessa community is in Crisis Mode. We plead with you to understand this situation and to expedite the solution.


Hank Howard

Berryessa For All



Attachments:  “Pensus Goes Public Document”

                      US Representative Mike Thompson Letter 5/11/12

                      Supervisor Diane Dillon, Napa County CA Letter 5/11/12


Cc: US Representative Mike Thompson (D) Napa

      Napa County Board of Supervisors, Keith Caldwell Chairman 2012

                  Napa County Board of Supervisors, Diane Dillon

                  US Representative Dan Lungren (R) Sacramento



Note: Mailing & Contact for Co-Chairman Howard

Berryessa For All


700 Fleming Ave. E.

Vallejo, CA 94591

Phone 707-645-8367 H   707-515-8877 Cell