How Close is the Lake Fire to Big Bear Lake?

Below is a map from ESRI showing how far away the “Lake Fire” is from Big Bear.  As you can see, it is on the south side of Highway 38 and is currently not a threat to Big Bear.  Yesterday, firefighters made excellent progress in creating a fire break adjacent to Highway 38 in Barton Flats.  As of this morning, the fire has burned 15,000 acres and is 10% contained.  There are over 1300 firefighters working the fire.  Highway 38 is closed for an unknown duration, but Highways 18/330 and 18 are open.

For ongoing information on the fire, visit the link below.  The information is updated morning and evening.

http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4302/

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If You Have Colorado Spruce Trees on Your Property in Big Bear…You Should Read This!

Blue Spruce

Blue Spruce

I received a note this past week from Marty Murie, owner of Nativescapes and certified arborist that I wanted to share….

Alert:  Insect Damaging Spruce Trees on the Rise in Big Bear

I have been seeing a lot of Colorado Spruce trees infected with Green Spruce Aphids (Elatobium abietnum) this Spring.  The population explosion can be attributed to the mild winters we’ve had the last few years.  Spruce trees are one of the most prized ornamental trees planted in Big Bear appreciated for their shape, density, color and ability to adapt to our climate.

Symptoms:  The aphid typically attacks interior needles which turn yellow.  You may notice a shiny wet look on the needles referred to as “honeydew”.  Most damage occurs on the lower portion of the tree but severe infestations can work their way to the top of the tree.  The affected needles detach and drop early so you may notice an unusual amount of dead needles under your tree.

Life Cycle:  The aphids actively feed in the Spring and Fall.  Quite often the damage is done by early Summer and the adult population declines before a homeowner notices there is a problem.  Trees that have been infected in the past will likely get infected again during the next cycle unless treated.  Severe infestations can defoliate the tree leaving only the new years growth on the tips of the branches.  It can take up to 5 years of growth for a tree to recover to its full density and appearance.

Control:  Spraying the tree with an appropriate insecticide will get rid of the current population.  Trees should be checked during the next cycle to insure they are free of aphids.  Remember your plant biology; photosynthesis takes place in the needles which provides energy to support all functions of your tree.  Less needles means less energy available.  To off set the reduction of functioning needles we are recommending soil injections with a mixture of a mild fertilizer, micronutrients and microbial cultures to provide all elements necessary to promote a healthy recovery.

If you notice any of these symptoms on your Spruce trees I would recommend contacting Marty’s office immediately to discuss treatment options at 909-878-0050.

Big Bear Paddlefest 2015 at New Venue

Photo courtesy of Scott Hoffman

Photo courtesy of Scott Hoffman

Big Bear Paddlefest is July 18, 2015

As the lake level changes, so too, does the Big Bear PaddleFest.  For the third time in its eight years of existence, the Big Bear PaddleFest has a new place to call home. Because of the lower lake level, the most recent venue, Swim Beach, is unavailable for 2015. But that didn’t worry event organizers Jim and Janet Dooley. They found a new place for this year’s fest, at The Pines Lakefront just east of Pine Knot Marina.

The Big Bear PaddleFest features a vendor expo, clinics and racing in all paddle sports categories. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there is a race for you in kayak, canoe and standup paddleboard.

Registration begins at 6 a.m. with a mandatory quagga mussel inspection. Races are scheduled to start at 7 a.m. for 20K, around-the-lake racing. A SUP yoga class is at 7:30 a.m. followed by 5K races at 8:30 a.m. SUP yoga is also available at 9 a.m. before the 10K races, which start at 9:30 a.m.

There is a kids Bear Challenge at 11 a.m. followed by a Kids fun race for ages 5 to 12. Standup paddleboard clinics are at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

SUP sprints are at 11:30 a.m. and the popular SUP relay races are at noon.

Vendors at the expo include New Belgium Brewing Company, Hobie SUP, Yolo Boards, King’s Paddle Sports, Keen Footwear, the US Adaptive Recreation Center, US Coast Guard Auxiliary Paddlecraft, Smith Optics, Clif Bar, Nuun, Elev8 Pictures, Big Bear Vacations, Big Bear Fishing Adventures, The North Face, Gray Whale Paddle, California division of Boating and Waterways, Infinity Surfboard Company, Infinity Boards, Necky Kayaks and Cobian.

The day culminates with the awards ceremony and beach party from 1 to 3 p.m. with food, music and games. Stick around and watch the sun set on Big Bear Lake. Admission is free. There are entry fees for races.

For more information or to register, visit www.bigbearpaddlefest.com.

The Big Bear PaddleFest is sponsored by North Shore Trading Company and New Belgium Brewing Company. North Shore Trading Company is at 39130 North Shore Drive, Fawnskin. The Pines Lakefront is at 350 Alden Road, Big Bear Lake.

MWD Receives $200,000 from State

quagga-mussel-sign

Article written by Katherine Davis-Young of the Big Bear Grizzly.

State Funding Helps MWD in Quagga Fight

Quagga mussels and their relatives, zebra mussels, have made their way into 29 US states since the 1980s. That includes dozens of waterways in Southern California. But the invasive mollusks have not found their way into Big Bear Lake. The Big Bear Municipal Water District wants to keep it that way.

In April, the district was awarded a $200,000 grant from the State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways to go toward quagga control programs.

“When this program first came out everyone said, ‘you’ll never keep (quagga mussels) out,’” said MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson. “I said, ‘we’ll do 100 percent or we’ll do nothing.’ The board voted to do 100 percent.”

The grant will come as a big help, Stephenson said. The district plans to use the money on some new equipment like a mechanical arm to keep vehicles out of the East Boat Launch during unmanned hours. That addition will be added in 2016. Stephenson said the district also plans to put in some improvements like a better decontamination station at the West Boat Launch.

“It’s in order to be efficient with boaters so they get in and out as quickly as possible,” Stephenson said, adding the MWD still wants boaters to have an enjoyable time but needs to be extra cautious to prevent infestation.

The biggest change, Stephenson said, is that the grant has allowed MWD to hire some extra seasonal employees this year. The district used to employ three people to help with inspections, decontamination and permits. This year there are 10 people doing that work.

“(Quagga mussels) have really made it difficult,” Stephenson said. “(Ramp attendants) used to leave for the day at 3 p.m., now you have to have someone standing there at all times.”

Those additional employee hours add up quickly for the district. The work is important though, Stephenson said. Looking for quaggas requires a thorough inspection.

“There are a lot of places you wouldn’t think to look,” Stephenson said. “Boats go to Lake Mead and the whole bottom of that lake is covered in quaggas. They put the anchor down, pull it up, put it in a warm locker and viable quaggas will last in there for weeks.”

It only takes two of the mussels to create a huge infestation, Stephenson said. The small, striped mussels, native to Eastern Europe, are extremely hardy and can reproduce rapidly in a variety of habitats.

In lakes and waterways where the mussels have appeared, they have been known to disturb the balance of native ecosystems. They compete with small fish for food and resources, alter the chemical balance of the water and have even been known to contribute to botulism poisoning among aquatic birds, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The ecological impact is only one of the concerns raised by the mussels, Stephenson said. The mussels, which settle in large groups and cling to a variety of surfaces, can clog pipes. In Big Bear Lake that could mean damaging the dam or destroying the piping system that allows the ski resorts to make snow from lake water.

Recreation could also be affected, Stephenson said. “People don’t want to leave boats in the lake if they know there are mussels in there.”

Stephenson said the threat is very real since many boaters take their vessels from one lake to the next.

“Every year we catch half a dozen vessels with viable mussels on them,” Stephenson said. That estimate is only a portion of the issue. The MWD boat launches represent only a fraction of boats going into the lake, and Stephenson said Big Bear Lake’s marinas have been great partners to the district in helping fight off infestation. Many marina employees even come to the MWD for special quagga inspection training, he said.

The public is largely cooperative with the effort, too, Stephenson said. “I think most people already know this is important,” Stephenson said. “The hard part is to convince the last 5 percent to care.”

Stephenson said the new grant will help in those efforts. He said he also plans to apply for more funding next year.

“We’ll continue to fight as hard as we can. We’re not giving up,” Stephenson said.

For more information on the MWD’s quagga efforts, visit www.bbmwd.com/quagga-mussel-education.

MWD Prepares to Chemically Treat Big Bear Lake

Written by Katherine Davis-Young of the Big Bear Grizzly.

The Big Bear Lake Municipal Water District board of directors approved a $772,800 project May 7 to begin treating Big Bear Lake with alum.

The project is intended to improve the health of the lake and to meet total maximum daily load standards for pollutants in a body of water as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The ongoing drought has caused lake levels to drop, and as a result, the chemical balance of the water has changed. The alum will counteract rising levels of phosphorus in the lake water.

Some of the phosphorus is naturally occurring and some comes from runoff from the surrounding community. High levels of phosphorus can contribute to increased chlorophyll or algae. Alum has been used in lakes since the 1970s as a phosphorus treatment.

“(Alum) is used in every drinking water plant,” MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson said. “It’s basically Maalox.”

MWD will spend $400,000 on the project and San Bernardino County and the city of Big Bear Lake will contribute $350,000. Washington-based lake treatment company Aquatechnex will treat the deepest portion of Big Bear Lake, a 420-acre area at the lake’s west end, with about 600,000 gallons of alum.

This is not the first time Big Bear Lake has been treated with alum. In 2004, during another serious drought, the lake dipped as low as 17 feet down from full. MWD treated the lake with 700,000 gallons of alum. The alum did its job, but 2005 brought heavy rain. Stephenson said that caused pollution and runoff to make its way back into the lake. That experience made this proposal a complicated decision for the board. They want to see the lake fill up but they also want to spend their money wisely.

Board member Bob Ludecke said in an April workshop discussing the project, “We’re basically going to spend three quarters of a million dollars then pray that it’s a bust.”

Board president Maryann Lewis said the project would likely be a success. “Unless we have a monster weather event, we’re going to see years of benefit,” she said.

When the board approved the project, Stephenson also reassured the board that the treatment is necessary. “We need to get alum in the water before we start seeing elevated chlorophyll numbers. We need to act quickly,” he said.

Aquatechnex will begin treating the lake in mid May. Stephenson said onlookers can expect to see cloudy water when the treatment is taking place, but when it’s done the lake should look a little clearer.

The Lake Officially Opens April 1st!

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The lake officially opens April 1st….below is a quick article from Kathie Portie of the Big Bear Grizzly….the Marinas are ready!

Marinas Ready to Set Sail

Spring is here and the lake is waking up. Temperatures are rising and the fish are starting to move. The Big Bear Municipal Water District is getting ready for anglers and boaters to take advantage of the great weather.

The MWD planted 10,000 pounds of baby trout on March 19 and is busy building a new and improved larger fish cage to grow the next shipment of fish from California Fish and Wildlife.

Public launch ramps are also gearing up for official opening. The Carol Morrison Public Launch, more commonly known as the East Ramp, will open for early season hours daily beginning Wednesday, April 1. Hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The Duane Boyer Public Launch, or West Ramp, remains closed until May 7.For more information, call the East Ramp at 909-866-5200 or the MWD at 909-866-5796.

Following suit, several marinas have already opened or are planning to open in the next week. Shelly Fengler, owner of Big Bear Marina, is excited about the upcoming season. “Our goal is to open April 1,” Fengler said. “It will be a soft opening because it’s on a Wednesday. But we will have boats available to rent by that weekend.”

Rental options at Big Bear Marina include pontoons, fishing boats, kayaks and paddleboards. “We have fuel available for purchase, fishing licenses and a full pro shop,” Fengler said.
Big Bear Marina is at 500 Paine Court, Big Bear Lake. For more information, call 909-866-3218.

Captain John’s Fawn Harbor & Marina also opens April 1 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Manager Serena Saunders said Captain John’s has the largest fleet of nonmotorized rentals including canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. Boat tours are available on Captain John’s special electric boats. Call 909-866-6478 for more information. Captain John’s Fawn Harbor & Marina is at 39369 North Shore Drive in Fawnskin.

Several marinas already open include Pine Knot Landing and Holloway’s Marina. The Miss Liberty Tour Boat has run all winter at Pine Knot Landing.Pine Knot Landing is at 439 Pine Knot Ave., Big Bear Lake. For more information, call 909-878-5750.Holloway’s Pirate Ship is scheduled to set sail for boat tours Saturday, March 28, according to employee Maria Da Re.  Holloway’s is at 398 Edgemoor Road, Big Bear Lake. For more information, call 909-866-5706.

Pleasure Point Marina will be available for boat and slip rentals the week of April 6. Office manager Jesi Pujda said the marina is also in the process of arranging a partnership with a new charter fishing concession.

Pleasure Point Marina is at 603 Landlock Landing, Big Bear Lake. For more information, call 909-866-2455.

Warm Winter Affecting Lake Levels in Big Bear Lake

Grout Bay january 3 2014

Here’s a quick article from Katherine Davis-Young of the Big Bear Grizzly regarding the lack of precipitation this Winter…not a big surprise, but it’s definitely a concern heading into the Summer boating season.

Water Woes

Warm Winter Leaves Lake Levels Low for Summer

Water in Big Bear Lake evaporated as much this February as it does in an average June, according to Big Bear Municipal Water District General Manager Mike Stephenson. That’s something Stephenson, who has worked for the district since 1996, has not seen before.

“I’ve seen the levels off, but not this much in a February,” Stephenson said. “February was extremely hot, warm, windy and dry. The evaporation just went crazy.”

During an average February, about 200 acre-feet of water will evaporate from the lake. This year, it was closer to 1,200, Stephenson said.

“It was scary because when you start getting summer-like evaporation in the winter, you say ‘jeez, where are we going to end up this year,’” Stephenson said.

The lake is about 11 feet down from full, and Stephenson expects it could dip about 3 feet lower throughout summer and fall if there are no major weather events to bring more water into the lake. Big Bear Lake did receive more precipitation this November, December and January than the previous winter, according to National Weather Service records, but the lake level is still lower than it was at this time last year.

“Just because you receive precipitation, it doesn’t mean it will make it to the lake,” Stephenson said, adding that the past three years have had among the lowest amounts of inflow into the lake for any three-year period on record.

The lake fared a little better in March than February, Stephenson said. Cooler temperatures and a little snow helped slow the rate of evaporation. Lake levels steadied for a few days as snow melted, though they are beginning to decline again. Stephenson doesn’t expect to see much more runoff making it into the lake without more precipitation.

“There’s nothing left in the watershed,” Stephenson said. “(The rain and snow that fell this winter) already pretty much went into the ground or it’s already in the lake.” He added that the unmelted snow still on Big Bear’s ski slopes is “not enough to matter.”

Right now it would take more than 9 billion gallons of water to fill the lake, Stephenson said.

Even in the worst drought in California history, things could be worse. Stephenson said last year the MWD spent more than $1.2 million on its agreement to buy water for Bear Valley Mutual Water Company rather than releasing water from the lake to the company. That has prevented the lake levels from falling much lower. “Without that agreement we’d be in really, really big trouble right now,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson also pointed out that, the lake has been lower than its current level in years past, and the local economy has made do.

“I’m actually not nervous. The lake will recreate wonderfully, the launch ramp will be in full operation, the marinas aren’t going to suffer a lot,” Stephenson said.

Serena Saunders, of Captain John’s Fawn Harbor & Marina, said she will likely have to move docks out farther, but she plans to just keep following the water. “That’s really the only thing we can do,” Saunders said. “It’s tough, but it’s a cycle that’s happened in Big Bear before and we’ve made it through. We’ll still be open and ready for business. This summer will be just as fun as any other summer,” she said.

Leo McCarthy, general manager and harbor master at Pine Knot Marina, said the business will definitely be making adjustments, but said, “It’s a crapshoot, you never know what the weather will bring.”

Stephenson estimates it would take about two more dry years before the lake dipped 17 feet below full, like it did in 2004. Until that happens, he said he’ll stay optimistic.

“There’s still a lot of lake out there,” he said.

Trout Derbies on Hiatus

Madison fishing

Trout Derbies on Hiatus

Written by Kathie Portie of the Big Bear Grizzly

Big Bear’s spring outdoor sports calendar was lightened considerably this past week. Two of the Valley’s largest trout tournaments—the May Trout Classic and Fishin’ for 50K—will not take place in 2015.

The Jim Hall Memorial May Trout Classic is the oldest and most successful of the two tournaments, having enjoyed 32 years of existence. The 2015 tourney was slated for May 16-17 until event organizers decided to pull the plug, at least for this year.

In a letter from event organizers, Jason Hall explained the factors that led to the decision. “… we find ourselves in litigation over an incident that occurred in the 2013 May Trout Classic,” Hall wrote. “Our current insurance company, Scottsdale, has still not made a decision as to whether or not they will defend us. They have allowed many deadlines to pass to respond to the court, and we have had to retain our own attorney at the expense of the Trout Classic. This may eventually deplete our startup funds irreparably.”

Hall went on to say that they have been unable to secure new insurance at an affordable price in time for the 2015 event. “The mission of the May Trout Classic has been to maintain Big Bear Lake as a premier trout fishery by planting trophy sized fish each year,” Hall wrote. “We are making every effort to resume this event for 2016.”

“This is not a goodbye, but just so long for a while,” Hall concluded.

According to the Big Bear Events Resource Office, the May Trout Classic contributed between $85,000 and $100,000 to the local economy in 2012 and 2013. According to Rick Bates, Events Resource Office director, Fishin’ for 50K primarily attracted visiting anglers who contributed an estimated $210,000 into the local economy in 2014.

Fishin’ for 50K was scheduled for early June, sponsored by the Big Bear Visitor’s Bureau, formerly known as the Big Bear Lake Resort Association. According to Visitors Bureau spokesman Dan McKernan, the organization is heavily involved with the Amgen Tour of California Big Bear Time Trial in May and the Outdoor Writers Association of California Conference in June. Adding the trout derby responsibilities was proving difficult to manage. But it’s not the only reason the trout derby is going on hiatus, McKernan said.

“We need to take a rest,” McKernan said. “We’re going to freshen it up for 2016. We want to give a fresh new look and new focus for next year.” The plan is to bring it back in 2016, he said.

Local marinas are expected to feel the pinch. Bait, gear, licenses and boat rentals are items visiting anglers often purchase from the local marinas. Leo McCarthy, manager of Pine Knot Landing, said the bulk of his business comes during the boating season rather than from fishing tournaments, but could see that it would affect others such as Big Bear Marina. Attempts to contact other marinas by The Grizzly were unsuccessful as most offices are closed until April.

Anglers may feel the pinch as well. The Big Bear Municipal Water District depends on tournament entry fees to help with fish plants. MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson said it’s probably too late to get anything organized to replace the two lost tourneys for the spring. When asked if the MWD could perhaps host a tourney, Stephenson said it’s something he hopes the MWD board will consider, or at least discuss the options.

Several other tournaments are still on the 2015 calendar including Aaron’s Bass Tournament, the Carp RoundUp and the TroutfesT.

“We still have the October TroutfesT holding on,” Stephenson said.“They are working on their paperwork right now.”

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