Low water levels force busy Lake Oroville boat ramp to close


OROVILLE, Calif. - California State Parks will be closing a very busy boat launch ramp in two weeks due to the low water levels caused by this year's historic drought.

With California in the midst of its driest summer on record, three of the four paved launch ramps at Lake Oroville have already been closed.

The department announced Wednesday it will shut the final one later this month. Bidwell Canyon Marina boat launch ramp is slated to close August 20.

The decision is leaving boaters confused. "How are we going to get our boat in the water?" asked Brandon Acquistapace. Lake Oroville dropped a foot overnight despite receiving two-tenths of a inch of rain Tuesday. No boats in the water will mean rough seas ahead for Bidwell Marina. "We've had to cancel rental reservations, and our slip reservations," said Sherry Cook, office manager of Bidwell Marina. "We have several seasonal people that rent slips for the season to remove their boats."

The marina docks more than 800 boats, but that number is starting to slip.

"We have to refund a lot of money back to the customers because we have no place to put their boats," said Cook. Cook said Bidwell Marina has already refunded thousands of dollars.

The dropping water is also making it difficult for customers to get to the marina on foot. The walking path from the parking lot is becoming more treacherous. Customers will eventually be forced to take a boat shuttle service between the marina and the launch ramp. "Everybody hears that you're closing down your business which is not true," said Cook. "We will be here. We will be here throughout the winter and into next summer."

Department of Water Resources officials have started working on a loose gravel launch ramp at the Oroville Dam Spillway. It's expected to open up a couple days before the Bidwell Marina Launch Ramp closes.