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Fall Fun on Lake Berryessa

The Lake Berryessa News crew was out on beautiful Lake Berryessa again September 17. So was a stately bald eagle! (All photos by Evan Kilkus)

´╗┐Although everything seems to be cooling off, the weather was still great - mid-80s. The lake was mostly flat with a bit of breeze in the afternoon. It was uncrowded. Paragliders were flying. The lake level is down to 423.6 feet - 16.4 feet blow Glory Hole. Last year on this date the lake level was down to 396.7 feet - 43.3 feet below Glory Hole.

Water temperature has dropped from 82 degrees to about 77 degrees during the last week. It definitiely felt a bit more brisk then when we swam during our last boat ride two weeks ago. Having been raised in Chicago, Lake Michigan never got above 72 when I was a kid. And of course Lake Tahoe is unswimmable all summer unless your skin is already numb.

But the trick is to scream loudly when you surface after jumping in - that raises your temperature enough to survive.

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Lake Revitalization Process by Napa County Shows Little Progress
 by Peter Kilkus

The latest news is that the date for companies to submit bids for the Monticello Shores concession has been extended to September 29.


Lake Berryessa Statistics: September 18, 2023

The lake level is down now to 423.5' - 16.5 below Glory Hole.

Last year at this time the lake was at 396.6', 43.4' below Glory Hole and we were all worried about the future rainfall.
The dam output has dropped to an average of about 300 cfs (595 AF/day) as irrigation requirements in Solano County decrease.

The Gamble Gauge has dropped to 1,253,986 Acre-Feet or 80.8% capacity.

Lake water temperature dropped to about 75 degrees at the surface to 10 feet down and 52 degrees from 40 feet to the bottom.


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Napa County Fire Update

To date, there have been 883 chipping requests completed, which is more than last year at this point.

A new innovative tool, Defensible Space Fuel Mapper, is now available to assist residents in prioritizing defensible space maintenance projects on their property. The tool generates a free report which includes maps and informational summaries of landscape elements such as vegetation and fuels to help you assess fire hazards. To learn more, visit or watch this video.

To date, 2,522 defensible space inspections have been completed. County Fire continues to follow up on complaints and either working with property owners or issuing Notice to Abate Fire hazard orders for unresponsive property owners that put communities at risk.

County Fire is currently working on constructing 13 miles of dozer line in and around Circle Oaks that can be utilized to provide protection to the community during a fire incident.

CAL Fire in conjunction with Firewise are working on a fuel reduction project at the Veterans Home to provide a shaded fuel break that will not only provide protection to the Veterans Home, but to the Town of Yountville itself.

In the Berryessa Highlands community, over 300 sheep were delivered to graze 144 acres (see below) and we also re-established 5 miles of dozer line.


FEMA recently selected Napa County as a recipient of a $37.5 million Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant. As a condition of the grant, Napa County has committed to an additional 25 percent or $12.5 million match. These funds will help us do the key wildfire prevention work mapped out in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). There will also be some funding available - again, as a match - for homeowners to do “home hardening” projects - that is, projects that make their homes more fire-resistant. More details to come on this!

The County is still getting more details on the BRIC funding, and we expect that the permitting process for the grant projects will begin in late 2024. The funds will be spent over a multi-year timeline. Importantly, BRIC grant dollars will support new projects (e.g. new fuel breaks, or vegetation management) but not maintenance. So the County will need to find ways to fund ongoing maintenance work (e.g. roadside clearing, or mowing and grading of existing dozer lines) which is so critical in keeping our communities safer. But the BRIC grant is very good news for our county because it will allow for new, large-scale, wildfire risk reduction work in the years ahead. (You can read the County’s press release below.)

Napa County to Receive $37.5 Million BRIC Grant for Comprehensive Wildfire Mitigation Program

Napa County announced its selection as a recipient of the federal Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant, amounting to $37.5 million, with an additional 25 percent match to be provided by the county. This grant will play a pivotal role in bolstering Napa County's efforts to implement the previously adopted Napa County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), an all-encompassing wildfire mitigation program, reinforcing long-term wildfire and climate resilience for its residents and communities.

A staggering 36 percent of Napa County's population resides within wildfire hazard severity zones, facing heightened risks due to the county witnessing 26 wildfires since 2015, with a startling 62 percent of its land area scorched since 2017. Responding proactively, the Napa Community Firewise Foundation initiated the Napa County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), structured around two vital phases: the establishment of defensible space or ignition-resistant construction, and the reduction of hazardous fuels.

The CWPP, adopted by the Napa County Board of Supervisors in 2021, sets forth an ambitious agenda to mitigate risks to human life, property, and critical infrastructure. Key actions encompass the strategic removal or modification of vegetative fuels, the creation of vital fuel breaks, and the implementation of fire-resistant vegetation. Additionally, the initiative prioritizes fortifying evacuation routes, securing drinking water reservoirs, and protecting essential facilities while simultaneously enhancing forest health and resilience. These actions collectively reinforce Napa County's enduring wildfire and climate resilience, benefiting countless residents and communities.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognized the paramount significance of this endeavor within the scope of the BRIC national competition. With 124 projects chosen across 115 communities, the selected projects stand as critical measures to mitigate natural hazard risks, ultimately fortifying states, local communities, tribes, and territories against potential disasters.

Belia Ramos, Chair of the Napa County Board of Supervisors, emphasized the monumental impact of strengthening critical infrastructure. She expressed her gratitude for the collaboration between FEMA, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), and dedicated county staff who helped to secure these funds. Ramos conveyed her optimism, stating, "This grant will empower us to take significant strides in safeguarding our community for future generations, especially in the face of impending wildfires."

“This grant amplifies our commitment to resilience—and will have a tremendous impact on our ability to drive and uphold investment in wildfire resiliency projects that bring value to our region in the years ahead,” added CEO Ryan Alsop. “Working in collaboration with CAL Fire/Napa County Fire, Napa Firewise and our community partners to implement our comprehensive wildfire mitigation program, we're charting a course to safeguard not only our land but also the very essence of our community.”

About Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities (BRIC)

The Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities program originated from the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA), with the intent of assisting States, local governments, and Indian Tribal governments in implementing cost-effective hazard mitigation activities that align with comprehensive mitigation programs. BRIC funding aids states, territories, tribal entities, and communities in hazard mitigation planning and project execution, minimizing risks to populations and structures prior to disaster occurrences. By investing in such proactive measures, communities can reduce reliance on disaster declaration funds. FEMA awards BRIC grants through a competitive process, prioritizing capability and capacity building, encouraging innovation, fostering partnerships, facilitating significant projects, maintaining flexibility, and promoting consistency.


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In the last newsletter I mentioned that wildfire smoke is not considered in climate change reduction planning. This article describes the scientific/political issue in California.

California’s wildfire smoke and climate change

California wildfires every year emit as much carbon as almost 2 million cars, posing a threat to efforts to battle climate change. Wildfires and climate change are locked in a vicious circle: Fires worsen climate change, and climate change worsens fires.
Scientists, including have been increasingly sounding the alarm about this feedback loop, warning that fires don’t burn in isolation — they produce greenhouse gases that, in turn, create warmer and drier conditions that ignite more frequent and intense fires. 
Last week, wildfire smoke prompted another round of unhealthy air quality in California. Fires in Oregon and Northern California sent smoke into Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. And it’s a global nightmare: This summer, world temperatures hit an all-time high, the worst U.S. wildfire in more than a century devastated Maui, a deadly fire in Greece was declared Europe’s largest ever, and swaths of the Midwest and Northeast have been blanketed by smoke from Canada’s forest fires. 
As California’s most intense wildfire months approach, the volume of greenhouse gases they emit is expected to grow. A bill introduced this year would have required the state to count wildfire emissions in its efforts to reduce statewide greenhouse gases. But the bill didn’t get far: It was defeated in committee.
Scientists around the world are trying to quantify just how much wildfires contribute to climate change. Last year, California wildfires sent an estimated 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s equivalent to the emissions of about 1.9 million cars in a year. In 2020, California’s wildfires were its second-largest source of greenhouse gases, after transportation. The researchers from UCLA and the University of Chicago concluded that the 2020 wildfires increased overall emissions by about 30%.
When forests burn, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are released into the air. It’s considered part of a natural cycle, with plants absorbing and then releasing the chemicals into the air over time. But experts say the increasing frequency of fires might be throwing this cycle out of balance.
Emissions this year from Canada’s forests have shattered records, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Last year, carbon dioxide from boreal forests — the world’s northernmost forests, which span vast swaths of Canada and Alaska — hit a record high. Fires in these northern latitudes are of deep concern to researchers, as those forests historically were too cold to experience significant burns. They are incredibly dense, and emit methane from the permafrost that lies beneath them.
“These are forests that haven’t burned, not just in decades but probably centuries,” said Char Miller, an environmental professor at Pomona College in Claremont. “Where does that carbon go? It goes up into the atmosphere, it circles all around the globe, it’s affecting all of us. It’s both symbolic and I think really significant. The coldest part of the planet is also exploding in fire.”
Researchers are increasingly calling attention to how forest fires might be eroding the state’s climate goals, with UCLA scientists describing the state’s efforts as “up in smoke.” Michael Jerrett, a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said nearly two decades worth of emission reductions from power plants were threatened by the 2020 fires, which included some of California’s largest and most destructive fires. Essentially, the positive impact of all that hard work over almost two decades is at risk of being swept aside by the smoke produced in a single year of record-breaking wildfires.
Some experts say carbon emissions from wildfires are not much of a concern — that the carbon captured by trees, brush and grasses already existed in the atmosphere so its release during fires is part of a natural cycle. As a result, they say, those emissions shouldn’t be considered net contributors to climate change.
(Lake Berryessa News note: In our opinion, this type of argument above can be defined as a "red herring" (see illustration above.): A red herring fallacy is an attempt to redirect a conversation away from its original topic. A red herring is used by introducing an irrelevant piece of information that distracts the reader. The carbon sequestered by trees hundreds or thousands of years ago was already in the current baseline. Rapid re-introduction of so much carbon cannot, logically, be considered irrelevant or natural.)
For its part, the California Air Resources Board estimates emissions from wildfires, but it doesn’t count them against greenhouse gas targets for 2030. The targets are based only on gases produced by industries, energy, transportation and other human sources


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Lots of Lots Available! 

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Lake Berryessa Visitor Information

Dufer Point Visitor Center
Park Rangers will continue to staff the Dufer Point Visitor Center from noon to 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Oak Shores Day Use
Starting May 26, the north end of Oak Shores will reopen for day use from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays only. South Oak Shore will be open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Smittle Creek and Eticuera Day Use
Smittle Creek and Eticuera are available for wildlife watching, picnicking, and hand launching watercraft throughout the year. The Smittle Creek Trail remains closed due to damage sustained during the LNU Lightning Complex Fire. Park Rangers will close the parking lot gates by 8 p.m. throughout the summer.

Capell Cove Boat Launch
The Capell Cove Boat Launch is open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the year.

Oak Shores, Smittle Creek, Eticuera, and Capell are propane-only day use areas. No charcoal barbeques are permitted lake-wide per Napa County ordinances.

Annual passes are available at the Dufer Point Visitor Center by appointment during the week or on weekends between 12-3 p.m

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 launching, and are alternatives to Oak Shores and Capell Cove. For information regarding services offered at concession-operated facilities, launch fees, or to make reservations, please call the concession operators or visit their websites:

For information on activities, fees, directions, pet restrictions, or other questions, call the visitor center at 707-966-2111, ext. 113, the Lake Berryessa Administration Office at 707-966-2111 or visit the Lake Berryessa website at


This Book Is Fun To Read!

Thanks to all of you who have bought my new book. I hope you like it. If you have a minute could you please go to the Amazon page for my book, scroll down to the Customer Review section and give it some stars and a good review. I would appreciate it since 5 stars and a good review really help sales.

Although it is not a real moneymaker for me, I would like to sell as many copies as I can so that I don't have to keep answering the same questions over and over on my Lake Berryessa News Facebook page (, the Lake Berryessa Facebook group ( and other emails. Thanks.

Lake Berryessa Technical Manual - $20

Lake Berryessa Political History - $15

Get both for $30

For a signed copy of either or both:

Send $20 plus $3.65 shipping for the the Technical Manual, or

$15 plus $3.65 shipping for the Political History, or

$30 plus $4.25 shipping for both

with your name and mailing address to:

Peter Kilkus
1515 Headlands Drive
Napa, CA 94558


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Policy and Politics Betray the People: The Lake Berryessa Saga: 1958 - 2020

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The KPIX Eye on the Bay interview below is one I did in 2010 and a relevant introduction to the substance of the book. 
I did it after Pensus had been given the contract for 5 resorts. As we all know Pensus was subsequently kicked out in 2012.

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Lake Berryessa Data Sources

There are many sources of Lake Berryessa water and weather conditions available. The Solano County Water Agency site is good for real-time graphs of level, capacity, and water temperature. The California Data Exchange Center has data going back decades for level, capacity, capacity change, dam outflow, dam inflow, and rainfall. Anyone can research their own data and create custom charts. This is the source of many of the charts on the Lake Berryessa News website.

An upgraded wildfire alert camera system will be keeping watch on Napa County day and night and notifying Cal Fire crews of potential fires. Twenty cameras will be part of a system that will use artificial intelligence and other technologies to identify fire and smoke. If they detect something, an alert will sound in the Cal Fire emergency command center near St. Helena.

Cal Fire has made a large investment into the ALERTCalifornia system, partnering with UC San Diego. There are 1,000 cameras across the state and Napa County is one of the test models.
Cameras can see 60 miles during the day, and this can increase to 120 miles on clear nights, with the changes in the air. The system can differentiate among smoke, clouds and dust. A link to this camera system and other relevant weather data is available on the Lake Berryessa News website at:

This website was created by Doug Kunst. It is an amazing resource for Lake Berryessa fire cameras and weather. His business website is

Lake Berryessa Fire Alert Cameras


 Real-Time Lake Level, Lake Capacity, Water Temperature
Solano County Water Agency
Lake Detailed Historical Data
California Data Exchange Center
Research historical data and create custom plots
Lake Berryessa Code: BER
Local Weather Stations (Weather Underground Network)
Berryessa Highlands (Somewhere in the Berryessa Highlands)
Berryessa Highlands - KCANAPA20
Skiers Cove (Below the Berryessa Highlands)
Skier Cove - KCANAPA228
East Side Road (Across from Big Island)
East Side Road, Lake Berryessa - KCALAKEB2
Spanish Flat (Near the Spanish Flat Recreation Area)


New Fishing Website

A is here to make fishing more accessible. When you walk into a pro shop and see everyone looking at gear as if they’ve been doing this every day for 20 years, it’s intimidating. It’s hard to go up and ask someone for a recommendation or advice. We want to take away this fear and intimidation and help people get into the sport.