County to manage East Park Reservoir
Colusa County will immediately take over recreation management at East Park Reservoir, which will stay open through Thanksgiving.
County supervisors voted Tuesday morning to enter into a 25-year recreational management agreement with the Orland Water Users Association and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the administration, operation, maintenance and related improvement for recreation uses and facilities at the East Park Reservoir.
The bureau has previously contracted with the Orland Water District to operate and maintain East Park Dam and Reservoir. The reservoirs are part of the Orland Project irrigation project, which was authorized by the secretary of the U.S. Interior Department in 1907.
The Orland Water District has been considering taking ownership of the reservoir for years, but they have no interest in recr ation management.
Colusa County is interested in maintaining recreational opportunities at East Park due to the popularity of the site and money brought in to the region by recreational tourism, with the county estimates to be about $1.5 million annually.
There was urgency in signing the document because the bureau was schedule to close recreational access to the reservoir in mid-September.
"If (the agreement) doesn't come to fruition, the gates will close," said county Public Works Director Scott Lanphier.
Supervisor Gary Evans said there was a lot of interest in continuing use of the lake for fishing, boating and camping.
"This will allow us to keep it open through Thanksgiving, if weather permits," Evans said.
The cost to the county to keep it open for the next two months will be less than $3,000 and will require about 5-10 hours of county employee work per week, according to Michael Azevedo with Public Works.
He said the staff anticipates that the county taking over recreational management in the long-term will be cost neutral.
Colusa County will establish entrance and use fees for day use, camping and boat launching in the spring, although the fee schedule has not yet been set.
In addition, the bureau has agreed to contributing funding toward capital improvements, said Lanphier.
What about Stony Gorge?
Colusa County developed a feasibility study and recreational facility site design study for the East Park and Stony Gorge reservoirs, which provided "evidence of significant direct and indirect economic benefit to the region." In addition, staff recommended that the county form a joint powers authority between Colusa and Glenn counties and the bureau to manage recreation at both reservoirs.
However, Glenn County supervisors decided on July 16 to decline entering into a joint powers authority with Colusa County.
Officials with Public Works said that the agreement signed this week, could be amended if Glenn County decided to form one.
Supervisor Gary Evans said he and Glenn County Supervisor Leigh McDaniel will resume conversations about a joint powers authority after the harvest season, knowing that it would take work.