Big Bear Lake City Council Approves Funds for Pedal Path

alpine pedal path

Written by John Emig of The Big Bear Grizzly

Using grant funds, and money from the U.S. Forest Service and the city of Big Bear Lake, the Alpine Pedal Path on the North Shore will get a much-needed makeover.

The Big Bear Lake City Council voted 4-1 to approve $70,000 in city funds for the $560,353 project. The Forest Service will contribute $240,353, with the rest of the money coming from a $250,000 California State Parks grant obtained by the city.

The Alpine Pedal Path Rehabilitation Project will include two replacement bridges.

Mayor David Caretto cast the lone vote against the project, citing his long-standing objections to spending city money on projects outside the city.

In their decision to approve the expenditure of city funds, the rest of the council agreed that, despite its location outside city limits, the Alpine Pedal Path is an asset to the city as a tourist destination.

Plans call for work to rehabilitate the pedal path during the summer with completion in the fall of this year.

The Alpine Pedal Path is located on Forest Service land on the North Shore. Easily accessible for hikers, cyclists, skaters, joggers, strollers and wheelchairs, the Alpine Pedal Path is a paved path that starts at Stanfield Cutoff and ends at the Big Bear Solar Observatory

for a total of 2.5 miles. Along the North Shore there are main access points at Juniper Point, Stanfield Cutoff, the Big Bear Discovery Center and Serrano Campground.

Back Flow Testing your Big Bear Lake Fire Sprinkler System

I’ve had some clients recently ask about “back flow testing” for their newer constructions in Big Bear Lake.  Below is some information from the Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power which I hope will be useful.   This test needs to be done annually.  I would recommend contacting either Bob with A Plumbing at 909-585-5203, or Rick Williamson from Running Springs at 909-867-3684.  Both are on the approved contractor’s list at the DWP and can test your system.

Backflow (Cross-Connection) Prevention

In water supply systems, water is normally maintained at a pressure to enable water to flow from the tap, shower etc. When water system pressure drops or declines, contamination may be drawn into the system.

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Where Can Cross-Connections Occur?

Cross-connections can occur at many points throughout a distribution system and a community’s plumbing infrastructure. Cross-connections can be identified by looking for physical interconnections between a customer’s plumbing and the water system. Some specific examples are:

  • Lawn chemicals backflowing (backsiphoning) through a garden hose into the distribution system.
  • Backsiphonage of “blue water” from a toilet into a building’s water supply.
  • Carbonated water from a restaurant’s soda dispenser entering a water system due to backpressure.
  • Backsiphonage of chemicals from industrial buildings into distribution system mains. Backflow of boiler corrosion control chemicals into an office building’s water supply.


What Technologies are Available to Control Cross-Connections and Prevent Backflow?
The type of backflow that is most likely to occur in your system (either from backpressure or backsiphonage) and the related health effects will determine which backflow prevention technology is best for your water system. The available technologies are described briefly below. Backflow prevention devices can protect your health and are mandatory to safeguard public health.

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Good News for Trout Anglers in Big Bear

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Good News for Trout Anglers

The summer of 2015 went down in Big Bear Lake history as one that was lacking if you enjoyed competively fishing for trout. Two tournaments—the Jim Hall Memorial May Trout Classic and the Fishin’ for $50K Trout Derby—went on hiatus for a variety of reasons.

Here’s a little advance notice to all you anglers out there. Check out your fishing gear and get ready. Two trout tournaments are on the schedule for May and June in the summer of 2016.

The Big Bear Visitors Bureau recently applied for and received a permit to bring back the Fishin’ for $50K Trout Derby in June. Dates for the two-day fishing tournament are set for June 11 and 12. More information will soon be available online at

The other tournament is considered a new derby hosted by the Big Bear Municipal Water District, but there will be a familiar face at the helm. The MWD presents the Hall Family May Trout Classic tournament with Jason Hall as the volunteer executive director. Hall told The Grizzly that registration forms will soon be available at the MWD office. The event is scheduled for May 14-15 with the weigh-in station at the MWD parking lot.

The event is also co-sponsored by the Big Bear Visitors Bureau. There will be an awards ceremony at The Convention Center at Big Bear Lake.

More details will soon be available, according to Hall. Meetings are being held to finalize all the details.

This is great news, not only for anglers, but for the spring economy of Big Bear Lake. Fishing tournaments attract large numbers of eager anglers, providing local lodges, marinas and restaurants with a much-appreciated boost during what is usually considered the shoulder season.

If El Niño comes through with a stellar rain and snow season in February, March and April, the lake level will rise. And with Fishin’ for $50K and the Hall Family May Trout Classic, along with Aaron’s Bass Tournament series, the Carp Round-Up and the World Outdoor News October TroutfesT, Big Bear Lake’s sport fishing season is shaping up to make 2016 a very good year.

Kathy Portie writes about sports and recreation for The Grizzly.

Follow her on Twitter @BBGrizzlyKathy.


Big Bear is Getting Snow!

Big Bear is getting snow this week.  How much snow depends on who you ask.

Ben Brissey, our local meteorologist at is calling for at least 1-2′ of snow.

Snow Summit has several graphs on their website ( indicating as much as 4-5′ of snow by the end of the week.

Pacific Southwest Radar provided by Snow Summit

Pacific Southwest Radar provided by Snow Summit

5 Day Precipitation Forecast provided by Snow Summit

5 Day Precipitation Forecast provided by Snow Summit

Jetstream Forecast provided by Snow Summit

Jetstream Forecast provided by Snow Summit

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Many have said that January and February is when El Nino kicks in…regardless, it’s vital for our small community and economy here in Big Bear and everyone is embracing it with open arms.  Good for the ski resorts and hopefully it’ll fill up the lake (which is currently 14.5′ down).

Drive safe this week!   Here’s a link to road conditions.

MWD Prepares for EL Nino Season

Stranded Dock off of Gibralter Road

Many private docks around Big Bear Lake are either stranded or nearly stranded because of the falling lake level.  The Municipal Water District encourages dock owners to secure their docks for the Winter in case of a significant El Nino event.

The drought over the last several years has definitely impacted Big Bear Lake…let’s hope the lake fills up this Winter!  Article written by Kathie Portie of the Big Bear Grizzly.

The lake rose 12 feet during the last El Niño event in 2005. Ten years later, employees of the Big Bear Municipal Water District are still finding pieces of runaway docks.

Because of the drought prior to El Niño’s arrival, many of the docks were sitting on dry land before the winter. Winter storms caused several docks to float away, many of them crashing against the shoreline and breaking into pieces.

“We had 96 tons of unidentifiable dock chunks (picked up) after the winter,” MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson said. “People were saying ‘where are our docks.’ They were blowing to the east and breaking up. People lost their stuff.”

This time around, with predictions of a strong El Niño in the air, the MWD is being more proactive, Stephenson said. “You can definitely expect at least an average fill, which is about 2 feet,” he said.

The MWD encourages dock owners to take necessary steps to secure their docks prior to the upcoming winter season. The owners of licensed docks can store their docks in a variety of ways—move the dock out of the water and above the high water line on property owned by the licensee, or store the dock with any commercial marina authorized by the MWD to store docks.

Another option is to securely anchor the dock offshore in the vicinity of the licensed property no more than 100 feet from the water line or within the center line of a bay or cove. The dock cannot interfere with adjacent properties or navigation channels.

Stephenson said one of the simplest ways to protect the dock is to keep the dock poles from sliding out of the sleeve brackets. This way, he said, the poles stay with the dock if it drifts away. “The poles will hit the ground and keep the dock from hitting the shoreline and breaking up,” Stephenson said. “That’s where the value is. Last time, the docks slid off the poles and then broke up when they hit the shore. We’re still running around pulling up dock poles from the last time.”

Ways to secure the poles to the dock include using a straight bolt, a U clamp or a bolted collar.

During the TroutfesT weekend, Stephenson said a Lake Patrol boat found one such pole, which caused quite a bit of damage to the boat’s propeller.

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MWD Approves Lake Release Agreement

Big Bear Lake photo

Big Bear Municipal Water District will likely begin releasing water from Big Bear Lake Dam (written by Jonathan Riley of the Big Bear Grizzly).

Big Bear Municipal Water District’s board of directors approved an amended agreement Oct. 1 that could lead to a lake release starting as early as Oct. 8.

The board approved an amendment to an agreement with San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, also known in local water agency lingo simply as Valley, a water wholesaler that provides water to Bear Valley Mutual Water Company, also known simply as Mutual, on behalf of Big Bear MWD.

As the company that originally built Big Bear Lake Dam, Mutual owns and has rights to water in Big Bear Lake. To prevent Mutual from taking too much water and drastically affecting the lake level, Big Bear MWD has an agreement with Valley to provide water to Mutual for a set price.

If the lake is high enough, Valley can take water straight out of the lake and keep the money. If it’s low, Valley usually has to find some other source to supply Mutual. But in 2012 the agreement was changed, allowing Valley to take water from the lake even when it’s low if the company previously didn’t take water it had rights to when the lake was higher.

Between the time it came up for discussion at the Sept. 3 MWD board meeting and the Oct. 1 meeting when it was approved, there was a sentence added to the agreement relating to the flow rate of the proposed lake release, which had originally been proposed at 5 cubic feet per second.

“Valley District and Big Bear will work together to increase this flow rate, if possible,” the amended agreement stated as proposed in the Oct. 1 meeting agenda. “Costs for any infrastructure upgrades needed to accurately meter flows greater than 5 cfs will be shared by Valley District and Big Bear.”

Despite this clause sounding like it puts a greater burden on Big Bear and the lake, MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson and MWD directors agreed that there’s little chance of the clause practically coming into effect. MWD does not currently have the infrastructure to safely and accurately release more than 5 cfs.

MWD board member Bob Ludecke questioned whether the use of the word “shared” in the clause implied that costs would be shared 50-50.

“That wording almost seems like a lawyer’s paradise,” Ludecke said.

After consultation with district legal counsel, the board members were told the wording was ambiguous, so they approved a slightly different tentative version with the phrase “shared equally” replacing “shared.”

In making a motion to approve the amended agreement, director Vince Smith said that despite the wording sounding like something that could be expensive for Big Bear, it’s unlikely to lead anywhere. The cost of making improvements to allow MWD to release water at a faster rate would be more than the value of the water Valley is entitled to, according to Smith. The idea doesn’t make financial sense.

Stephenson didn’t go as far as saying that the actual total value of the water is less than the cost of making the necessary infrastructure changes to release more quickly, but said it was indeed prohibitively expensive. The value of Valley’s water is about $300,000, Stephenson said, and the infrastructure improvements would cost about $200,000.

Because of the minor change to “shared equally,” the agreement now has to go back to Valley once again for final approval.

“Tentatively, they would approve on the 7th, and someone would designate a delivery point, and we could deliver 5 cfs starting on the 8th of October,” Stephenson said. But there’s one important condition: Mutual has to designate a location where it wants its water delivered for the lake release to start. As of Oct. 6, Mutual hadn’t done so, and until it does the lake release is on hold. For Big Bear, that’s good news.

In September, Stephenson calculated that between Oct. 8 and the end of the year, if water was consistently released at a rate of 5 cfs, about 2.75 inches of the lake would be released. But Stephenson says he was told since then by Mutual’s general manager that Mutual won’t be needing any Big Bear Lake water during December. Stephenson now estimates the release will be less than 2 inches, probably totalling 1.5 to 1.75 inches of the lake. If Mutual doesn’t quickly designate a location where it wants the water sent, it could hypothetically be even less.

Stephenson also said at the Oct. 1 meeting that MWD had spent the past couple of weeks checking the calibration of its release system.

“I feel very confident that we’ll be able to measure and deliver water as accurately as anybody can do,” Stephenson said.

Lower Lake Level Changes Launch Ramp Late Season Schedule


East Boat Launch Ramp

East Boat Launch Ramp

A quick but informative article from Kathy Portie of the Big Bear Grizzly.

There’s another casualty of the California drought, and it’s right here in Big Bear. The Carol Morrison Public Launch Ramp, locally known as the East Ramp, will close to trailered boat launching beginning Oct. 5.

The East Ramp usually stays open later in the season, but the low lake level on the east end of Big Bear Lake has made launching boats from trailers more difficult. The shoreline will still be accessible for hand-launch vessels such as kayaks from Oct. 5 to Nov. 2 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. The parking lot will remain open during the same time period for vehicle parking.

To make up for the loss of the East Ramp during the late season, the Big Bear Municipal Water District will keep the Duane Boyer Public Launch Ramp, or West Ramp, open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily from Oct. 5 to Nov. 30.

“We hoped to push it to the October TroutfesT and we’ve made it,” MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson said. “It’s not a big impact this time of the season. We had 15 boats on Sunday and today (Sept. 22) there wasn’t a single trailer in the parking lot when I went by. We can accommodate pretty much what we get in a weekend with the one ramp.”

The East Ramp is closed for the winter from Nov. 3 through March 31. The West Ramp closes for the winter on Dec. 1 and remains closed through March 31.

“We’ll keep the East Ramp staffed until it gets cold,” Stephenson said. “People can still use the rest room, and the fishing pier and the pedal path. And people can hand-carry launch.”

The East Ramp is located at 41911 North Shore Drive, a quarter-mile west of Stanfield Cutoff. The West Ramp is at 38925 North Shore Drive, 1.5 miles west of Fawnskin.

For more information on boating on Big Bear Lake, visit


Another Article on Big Bear in the LA Times

Photo taken by Rosemary McClure

Photo taken by Rosemary McClure

Saw this quick little write up in the “Weekend Escape” of the LA Times this past weekend.  Written by Rosemary McClure.

Chill Out at Big Bear Lake

When the air-conditioning unit in my home goes on vacation every summer — it breaks down annually during the hottest days of the year — I hit the road in search of a place where I can chill with my two sweltering pups. This year’s respite was less than 100 miles from Los Angeles: Big Bear Lake. This (usually) snow-fed reservoir, surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest, offered trails to hike, a dog-friendly boat tour and, best of all, temperatures so cool I was forced to wear a jacket at night. The tab: This year’s forced three-day home retreat took place at the end of July and cost less than $350, including $141 per night at Big Bear Chateau.

The bed

Big Bear has plenty of dog-friendly cabins and other accommodations. (For a list, call [800] 424-4232 or go to Also ask about the $25 free gas deal.) I wanted to stay near the Big Bear Alpine Zoo in Moonridge, so I tried a nicely landscaped lodge in the area, the Best Western Big Bear Chateau, where beds of flowers brightened the grounds and the words “free breakfast” beckoned (42200 Moonridge Road, Big Bear Lake; [909] 866-6666, The hotel is more faux Versailles than faux Alps, but I appreciated the pool and my dogs, Darby and Piper, liked the grassy grounds.

The meal

It’s not hard to find dog-friendly patios in this pup-loving town. One, in fact, is about a block from the hotel. Grizzly’s Bear Belly Deli & Cafe [42530 Moonridge Road, Big Bear Lake; (909) 585-4266] seems to be everyone’s favorite lunch stop, with sandwiches piled high with pastrami and other meats. My favorite meal, though, was at Evergreen Restaurant, overlooking the lake (40771 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake; [909] 878-5588, The menu features an interesting mix of entrees, such as beef Wellington and black tiger shrimp. One of my faves was the artistically presented roasted tomato bisque.

The find

Big Bear Lake is still blue and beautiful, more than two miles wide at one point, even though the drought has reduced its size. What better way to explore it than aboard Miss Liberty, a 64-foot-long paddle-wheel boat that allows well-mannered dogs (439 Pine Knot Ave.; [909] 866-8129, We cruised the lake for 90 minutes while the captain recounted the lake’s history and clued us in on the celebrities who have homes along the shoreline. No damage was evident from the Lake fire, which earlier this summer burned more than 30,000 acres in the wilderness 22 miles southeast of Big Bear.

The lesson learned

At the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, I found that the community’s effort to expand the 21/2-acre facility may pay off soon. Curator Bob Cisneros said the animal rehab center is about to go to bid for the construction of a 7-acre zoo nearby. I visited some of my favorite pals: three grizzlies; Hucklebeary, the three-legged black bear (the center thinks it was hit by a car); a pack of white wolves and the newest addition, two snow leopards. The zoo, a rescue and rehabilitation center, returns 80% of the animals rescued to the wild annually. “Those that can’t be returned end up here as our ambassadors,” Cisneros said (43285 Goldmine Drive, Big Bear Lake; [909] 584-1299,

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.

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