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Boat restriction between Pyramid, Castaic, and Piru don’t make sense


Get a map of the Interstate 5 corridor from Highway 126 to Highway 138. The map will cover an area south of the Kern County line where Ventura and Los Angeles counties meet. Interstate 5 will roughly cut through the middle in a north-south fashion. In the area of interest, adjacent to I-5, there are three reservoirs -- Castaic Lake on the east side of I-5, Piru Lake roughly due west of Castaic on the west side of the interstate, and Pyramid Lake just north of the other two and adjacent to the freeway on the west. All three would nearly fit in a 15-square mile block.

I explain that in some detail in case you don’t have a map handy and want to visualize this. The terrain is higher to the north. Pyramid, the upper lake, is above Castaic in a different drainage but on the west fork of the California aqueduct, part of the state water project. Water flows from Pyramid downstream into Castaic unimpeded through that pipeline. That is an important point to remember. Piru is in the next watershed to the west of Castaic Lake.

Do you have this picture? Good, now to part two:

In December, it was announced that quagga mussels were discovered in the Pyramid to Castaic portion of the state water project. Immediately, a set of boating restrictions went into place that mandated that boats for these infected waters could not be moved to other waters in the state without being deinfested of quaggas.

One of those restrictions mandated that boats from Pyramid Lake could not be taken a few miles down the road to Castaic Lake without being deinfested, which meant dry dock for a considerable length of time. Prior to the discovery of quagga mussels, boats could go back and forth between those two lakes without any problems.

But now, a boater cannot go from Pyramid to Castaic on successive days or even successive weekends, if the “clean, drained, and dry” rules that prevent the spread of the mussels are followed.

So, state and local agencies are preventing the spread of quagga mussels by stopping boats from in Pyramid from going to Castaic without the cleaning?

Is your head about to explode?

Both lakes are infected! Castaic is downstream from Pyramid! Millions of gallons of water a month run unfiltered, untouched from Pyramid to Castaic. All fish that are found in Pyramid are also found in Castaic because they are in the water. Quaggas are too. But the geniuses in government can create a rule that has no foundation in common sense. The quaggas from uncleaned boats from Pyramid don’t matter if there are already quaggas in Castaic.

Yet, the government regulators had a public meeting this past week where they were trying to explain and rationalize the decision, and then wondered why normal, thinking people were upset by the end of the meeting. This rule makes no sense.

OK, now part three: Remember nearby Piru Lake? It is in the same watershed as Pyramid Lake (Piru Creek runs between the two). Remember that Castaic Lake is joined to Pyramid by a pipeline. Even though Piru is downstream from Pyramid, You might think that boaters and boat anglers would be banned from going to Piru from the other two nearby quagga-infested reservoirs. And you would be right. They are banned until their boats meet the quagga-free requirements.

But wait!. Piru Lake has been certified to have quagga mussels since 2013.

And yet, you can’t take boats between the three without extreme quagga-cleaning measures for some convoluted, nonsensical, non-scientific, bureaucratic bull…. Well, let’s keep it clean.

The rule is impacting recreational boating users (and will a lot more as it warms up), it impacts anglers who used to fish all three waters without restriction (before 2013), and it impacts fishing guides and fishing tournaments. Local businesses are already feeling the pinch because anglers have to choose to fish just one or the other of the lakes. Sadly, a lot of anglers and boaters will just give up and sell their boats if this rule isn’t changed.

This is just insane, especially where there is a simple fix: The state needs to mandate a statewide rule that boats used on quagga-infested waters get a tag that allows them to go on ALL other quagga-infested waters without costly dry-dock or cleaning and inspections. Once quagga mussels are established, a few more off an anchor rope or flushed out by a bilge pump aren’t going to matter at all on infected waters. (I challenge anyone to show us the science that proves otherwise.)

The state/local agencies could start the ball rolling by starting this program on Piru, Pyramid, and Castaic since they are all so close together, joined by the same water system, and would get a lot of boater cross-use.

Instead of throwing up roadblocks, the agencies could tear a few down. These agencies are supposed to be working for the public. Things like this prove how badly they are failing.

For more information, go to the Department of Fish and Wildlife quagga and zebra mussel page on its website at this direct link: You will be amazed at how much money and effort is being thrown at this problem. Most of all, the human impacts of all the rules and regulations are ignored.


Outdoor Note:

Water for Wildlife sets 2017 schedule

There will be four Water For Wildlife projects in 2017 with goals to restore a dozen or more important man-made wildlife water sources in the east Mojave and Bishop region in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. The projects will be on both Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands, but the work stoppage on the Mojave National Preserve is still in effect.

The first project will be Feb. 16-19 in the east Mojave in the Cima region off Interstate 40. This project is targeting the repair of up to four guzzlers, depending on volunteer turnout.

The second project will be March 16-19 in the same area. While the April project date and location is not final, the big project in the Bishop region will be May 15-22.

Over the past 11 years, volunteers with Water for Wildlife have restored over 150 water sources for desert wildlife.

Anyone interested in helping on these projects should contact Cliff McDonald at 760-449-4820 or via e-mail at


[Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 909-887-3444.]

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