Drought leaves only one boat launch open at Folsom Lake during holiday weekend

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a time to pull the boat out of storage and get out on the water for the summer season, but the drought is making that a lot more challenging.

Folsom Lake is at least 50 feet lower than the past two years.

Granite Bay Boat Launch is now low enough that the area normally underwater is serving as a parking lot and beach.

“In 17 years of my time here, I’ve never seen the lake get down this low,” said Richard Preston-LeMay, the superintendent of California State Parks in Folsom.

“You come here often a couple of times a week, and I’ve been waiting for the water level to start rising,” he added. “It’s kind of bumped up a little bit, but it hasn’t changed much at all.”

Now, the seasonal 5 MPH speed limit has been in place for more than half a year.

“We started late October, haven’t been able to lift it,” said lake-goer Chris Yates.

That means no jet skis, and most boating is off-limits.

As it is, only Brown’s Ravine Boat launch is open. Folsom Point and Granite Bay are closed. 

With paddle sports, fishing and swimming available, Preston-LeMay still expects a crowd this holiday weekend.

“I think people are itching to get out still,” he told FOX40.

The low water levels are the result of recent dry winters. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a drought emergency in 70% of California counties. 

That makes Yates worry about the big picture.

“It’s going to be a scary fire season, for sure,” he said.

Still, Yates and his dog, Max, find joy in coming out to the lake. As low as it is, it still has some natural wonders to offer.

“There’s so much shoreline that’s exposed, you can drive right down to the water, and the lake goes way back into the canyon, so there’s all sorts of rock formations to explore,” he explained.

It sounds more like a hike than a day at the water, but that may be Folsom Lake’s reality for the foreseeable future.

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