Category Archives: Pit River

Higher Flows Being Reduced on Portion of Pit River

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has begun reducing higher flows on a portion of the Pit River, and will reduce again to seasonal normal flows in late October.

Flows had been above 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in the Pit 5 Reach since February while the Pit 5 Powerhouse near Big Bend has been off line. The powerhouse was unable to operate after winter storms deposited gravel and sand in front of the powerhouse’s tailrace, where water exits the powerhouse and returns to the river.

The Pit 5 Reach is the 9.3-mile portion of the Pit River between the Pit 5 Reservoir and the Pit 5 Powerhouse.

Flows in the Pit 5 Reach were reduced from above 2,000 cfs to about 1,300 cfs after one of the four generating units at the powerhouse resumed operation on October 5.  PG&E continues to remove sediment from in front of the tailrace so it can resume operation to the other three generating units at the Pit 5 Powerhouse.

In late October, PG&E expects to resume operations on a second generating unit at the powerhouse, at which point water will stop spilling from the Pit 5 Dam and flows in the Pit 5 Reach will return to about the season normal of about 350 cfs, depending on rainy conditions.

The other two generating units are expected to return to service in late fall.

The Pit 5 Powerhouse Road and the J.B. Black Powerhouse Recreation Area’s boat put-in, take-out remain closed to the public while the Pit 5 Powerhouse Road is repaired. The road was damaged in last winter’s storms should reopen in late fall.

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PG&E to increase water flows on Pit 1 Reach for whitewater recreation

 From PG&E

BURNEY, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will provide higher flows on a portion of the Pit River in eastern Shasta County over the Columbus Day weekend.

The higher flows will occur from October 6-9. Flows will be increased from about 220 cubic feet per second (cfs) and will reach 1,000 cfs by early morning on Friday, October 6, then to as much as 1,150 cfs over the entire four-day period before being gradually reduced starting the late afternoon of Monday, October 9.

Recreationists in or near this portion of the river are encouraged to use extra caution during the increased flows. This portion of the river contains Class IV and V rapids, which are appropriate only for skilled paddlers. The flows are not safe for tubing.

The Pit 1 Reach is the 6.5-mile portion of the Pit River that extends from PG&E’s Pit 1 Forebay in Fall River Mills to the Pit 1 Powerhouse.

The whitewater flows are a requirement of PG&E’s license conditions for the Pit 1 Hydroelectric Project.

PG&E offers the following water safety tips:

  • Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.
  • Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. Guided trips for inexperienced paddlers are recommended.
  • Recreating in PG&E canals and flumes is strictly prohibited. Stay out of canals and flumes, which are very dangerous due to slippery sides, sub-surface obstacles, fast moving water, and transitions to full tunnels and pipes.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.

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Filed under Kayaking, PG&E, Pit River

PG&E’s Pit 5 Powerhouse Road Closed for Safety During Repair Work

REDDING, Calif. —Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) temporarily has closed to the public the Pit 5 Powerhouse Road near Big Bend while a contractor safely repairs road damage caused by winter landslides.

Repairs are expected to be completed by late fall and the road reopened. PG&E owns the 4-mile road, which leads to its Pit 5 powerhouse and James B. Black Day Use Area along the Pit River in eastern Shasta County. The day use area is also closed for the recreation season due to access and storm damage.

The road also leads to the James Black Bridge, which leads to Oak Mountain Road.

The public can still reach Iron Canyon Reservoir via Big Bend Road.

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PCT Season Coming

In late May, a trickle of trekkers begins to flow through the Intermountain area. This is the beginning of a stream of hikers making their way on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).

PCT sign in Burney Falls Park

The PCT is a 2,659 mile long trail from the U.S. border with Mexico just south of Campo, California to the Canada–US border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia. It passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks.

The PCT was conceived by Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932 and received official status as a National Scenic Trail in 1968 under the National Trails System Act of 1968. The trail was officially completed in 1993.

Thru hikers are those who make the journey all the way from Campo to the Canadian border. One of the first things that they do as they join the PCT community is choose colorful trail names by which they will be known throughout their journey.

Tapafla, 1 Gear, 6 Tacos, and Lo Flo at Burney Falls Park

The journey takes about five months. Hikers generally begin the first part of their journey through the desert of Southern California in April. In order to make it to Canada by late September, they need to establish a steady pace. The pace varies with each hiker but generally averages between 20 and 25 miles a day. A few energetic hikers hike up to 30 miles a day. Sometimes the hikers take a “zero” day to rest. On “nero” days, the hikers take it easy and don’t hike the full pace that they have set.

One of the sayings of the trail is “It’s not the miles, but the smiles.”

But it’s not all smiles. Even in the spring, the first part of the journey through the desert is hot. Many suffer from blisters. People develop strategies to beat the heat, often resting during the hottest part of the day and hiking at night.

The next leg of the trek is through the Sierras. Depending on the snow pack, each year is different. During the drought, the trail was passable early. Last year, there was more snow, which caused a log jam in the southern Sierras as people waited for the snow to melt. Streams were high and perilous to cross. The early hikers had to cross miles of snow and camp in the cold.

Some hikers, like the Brit Family Robinson, decided to “skip hike,” renting a car to drive north.

Brit Family Robinson at 299 crossing

The Brit Family Robinson had two of the youngest hikers on the trail last year, Pippy Longstocking, age 12 and Captain Obvious, age 10. Their father Christopher is an international trail guide who has hiked in the Himalayas, Mongolia, Alaska, and the Andes.

Other hikers, waiting for the snow to melt, congregated in towns and camps to rest and socialize. One 63 year-0ld hiker, Desert Steve from Henderson, Nevada, took the opportunity to go home and rest for two weeks before continuing on.

Desert Steve from Henderson, NV

Once the trail becomes passable, the backlogged flow of hikers streams through the Sierras. The highest altitude on the trail is 13,153 feet as it passes though Forester Pass.

After passing over the Sierras, the trail meets the Cascade Mountain range near Chester, California. This is the midpoint of the journey. Crossing over Mt. Lassen the hikers enter the Pit River Watershed area as they descend to Hat Creek at Old Station. Old Station Post Office is one of the places that hikers can pick up resupply packages sent to them from friends and family.

The Family – Farwalker, Thunderfoot, Widowmaker, and Spinner

The flow of hikers through the Intermountain area reaches its crest in July and early August. By that time the summer heat has hit our area. From Old Station, hikers transverse a thirty mile waterless stretch across Hat Creek Ridge to Cassel lake. This is one of the hottest driest stretches of the PCT.

Last year during the hot spell, a trail angel, Coppertone, set up his trailer on top of the ridge, where the trail crosses Bidwell Road to supply the hikers with water, fresh fruit, and ice cream floats. Coppertone is well known for his “trail magic.” He takes his trailer and sets up at locations all the way to Canada to minister to the hikers.

Dilly Dally and Coppertone on Hat Creek Ridge

Trail angels are important benefactors of the PCT. Angels provide food and water stashes, camping sites and lodging, rides to and from the trail and other help.  Another saying is “The trail provides.”

After crossing Hat Creek Ridge, the hikers come to Baum Lake. They can rest and get water at the Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery across the road.

Hikers rehydrating at Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery

Then the trail goes on to cross Hwy 299 where many hikers catch rides into Burney. Burney is a convenient place for hikers to rest, resupply, pick up packages, or even meet friends and relatives mid trail. Safeway, Dollar General, MacDonald’s, and Gepetto’s are some of the most popular stops. Some hikers like to take a day off to refresh and stay at local motels such as Burney Lodging.

Nancy Bobo with Sky Eyes at Burney Lodging

Burney has a lot of trail angels. People have learned to recognize the large packs that PCT hikers carry to differentiate them from other hitchhikers. From late July into early August not a day goes by that one doesn’t see hikers walking along the highway, frequenting the restaurants and stores, or sitting outside Burney lodging.

Many locals enjoy meeting the hikers and giving them rides. PCT season provides an opportunity to meet and talk with people from across the country and all around the world.

Jet Pack and Animal Style at the Alpine

One hiker from Israel named Animal Style left his Brooks Cascadia 11 Trail-Running shoes in a man named Bob’s truck when he got a ride into Burney. Animal Style was desperate. Good shoes are a necessity on a 2500 mile hike through rough terrain. After hours of searching, he was able to locate Bob and call him on the phone. Bob had returned home to Bieber but he drove all the way back to Burney to make sure that Animal Style had his shoes.

Ages of the hikers last year ranged from 9 years old to senior citizens. Most of the hikers are young college educated adventurers. Many have just finished school and are taking the opportunity to take the hike before beginning their careers or going on to graduate school.

One older hiker who came through last year was Donaju from Holywood, Northern Ireland. Donaju said he was a Royal Irish Ranger who had done eleven tours in Afghanistan. He had also served in a number of other hot spots. He was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for the Wounded Warriors.

Irish Ranger Donaju

Several families hiked the trail together last year. Some seniors are taking a break to reflect on their life. Some hike for the challenge. Some hike to experience the diverse natural beauty and wildlife. In addition to thru hikers there are also local hikers and section hikers.

Section hikers hike only one section of the hike in a year. Then another year they may hike another section until they have hiked the entire trail.

One hiker named Sky Eyes said, ““When you hike the trail, you become a part of the Pacific Crest Trail family,” he said. “You meet different people from all over the world. You hike together with some of them. You camp together. You share food. Relationships are deeper than in normal life because you’re free from all of the business of the world. Everybody has the same needs.”

Some couples have met on the trail and later gotten married.

Since 2014 traffic on the trail has grown tremendously. Sky Eyes said that over 14,000 people hiked the trail last year.  One of the reasons more people are hiking is the release of the movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon in December 2014. The movie is based on the 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed that reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

We are fortunate to have the world pass through Pit River country on the PCT. After crossing Hwy 299, the trail progresses though the woods to Lake Britton and Burney Falls Park. The park has a campground frequented by many hikers.

Leaving the Park, the trail goes for a ways down Pit River Canyon and up to Rock Creek Falls. Then the trail heads northwest to Dunsmuir and then north for many more adventures in the Oregon and Washington Cascades.

Get ready, PCT season is coming.

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Filed under Baum Lake, Bieber, Burney, Burney Falls, Cassell, Crystal Lake, Hiking, Lake Britton, Old Station, Pacific Crest Trail, Pit River

PG&E to Increase Flows Below Lake Britton Dam along Pit River

PG&E press release Dec. 27, 2016

REDDING, Calif.—Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will increase water flows on the Pit River below the Lake Britton Dam from early January through mid-April of 2017.

Recreationalists in or near the river are encouraged to use extra caution during the higher flows.

The higher flows are necessary so PG&E can dewater the tunnel which delivers water from Lake Britton to the Pit 3 Powerhouse. PG&E will then inspect the tunnel and perform minor maintenance.

With no water being diverted through the tunnel starting January 2, Lake Britton Dam will spill. Flows in the Pit 3 Reach will increase from about 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) to about 2,900 cfs.

Flows should return to normal seasonal flows on or before April 16 when water flows resume through the tunnel.

The Pit 3 Reach is the 4.5-mile portion of the Pit River in the Lassen National Forest between PG&E’s Lake Britton Dam and the Pit 3 Powerhouse.

PG&E is posting signage about the higher flows along the Pit River Road.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.

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PG&E Urges Caution as North State Reservoirs Spill and Rivers Run High

Press release from PG&E dated December 16, 2016

Several dams full in Shasta, Plumas, Butte, Lassen Counties

CHICO, Calif.— Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is cautioning recreationalists near rivers and streams to be aware of higher flows brought on by recent rains and spilling reservoirs.

Most PG&E’s reservoirs haven’t spilled this early in the wet season in years because of ongoing drought conditions, so recreationalists may be caught off guard by the higher water flows downstream.

Four of PG&E’s six reservoirs along the Pit River are overflowing or expected to be soon, as are four of the six reservoirs along the North Fork Feather River.

Reservoirs spilling or about to spill include the Pit 4, Pit 5, Pit 6 and Pit 7 along the Pit River in Shasta County, and Belden, Rock Creek, Cresta and Poe reservoirs on the North Fork Feather River in Plumas and Butte counties. Mountain Meadows Reservoir in Lassen County and the Grizzly Forebay in Plumas County are also spilling.

It’s not unusual for PG&E ‘s reservoirs to spill during the wettest parts of normal winters, because they tend to have less storage and are located at much higher elevations than state and federal multi-year water storage reservoirs like Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville. PG&E’s reservoirs are designed to capture rain and snowmelt runoff in winter, spring and early summer to generate clean, renewable hydroelectric power.

Below are some water safety tips:

Water Safety Tips

  • Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.
  • Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture deeper into the water.
  • Recreating in PG&E canals and flumes is strictly prohibited. Stay out of canals and flumes, which are very dangerous due to slippery sides and fast moving water.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and pge.com/news.

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PG&E Checking in Shasta County for Drought-stricken Trees

The following is a press release from PG&E dated December 5. The initial import of the release is to notify and explain to residents of Round Mountain, Montgomery Creek, and Big Bend the reasons that helicopters would be flying low over their areas on Tuesday, December 7.

The release gives details about the growing number of trees that have died as a result of the drought or are threatened by insects and disease as a result of weakened resistance. After the aerial check, foresters will follow up on foot to inspect trees. Then private landowners will be contacted. Dead or infected trees will need to be trimmed or removed.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will be flying low by helicopter in Shasta County on Tuesday to check for drought-stricken trees near power lines. Flights will occur over Round Mountain, Montgomery Creek and Big Bend.

Residents are advised that the helicopter will fly low – about 200 to 300 feet – along distribution power lines.

PG&E is using a contract helicopter service to fly foresters to check for trees weakened by the drought. This patrol is in addition to the annual patrols PG&E does along power lines to identify trees and vegetation in need of pruning and removal. Weakened trees and branches can fall into power lines, leading to outages and even wild land fires.

The drought has weakened and killed many trees and left others susceptible to disease or insects.  After the flights, foresters will hike to the trees in question for an up-close inspection to verify tree conditions.  Once a forester confirms a tree needs to be removed, PG&E will work with the property owner to schedule a contractor to cut the tree.

Consecutive years of drought have taken a toll on trees and even some trees deemed healthy six months ago have since succumbed to the dry conditions. The U.S. Forest Service recently identified an exponentially growing rate of tree mortality in California.  In 2014, 11 million dead trees were identified throughout the state. That number grew to 40 million in 2015 and 102 million in 2016.

While tree mortality is more serious in 10 counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada Mountain region, the Forest Service also identified increasing mortality in the northern part of the state.

Weather permitting, all flights will occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.B>>

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Filed under Big Bend, Montgomery Creek, PG&E, Pit River, Round Mountain, Timber and Forestry