Final environmental documents released for USFS visitor center relocation in Lake Isabella

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District
Published June 30, 2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District has released its final supplemental environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for the relocation of the U.S. Forest Service visitor center at the Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project in Kern County.

The former USFS visitor center was displaced by construction of a new emergency spillway as part of the modification project.

The final SEA, released earlier this week, evaluated the environmental impacts on vegetation and wildlife, special status species, water resources and quality, and four other environmental factors for five alternative visitor center site locations, plus a “no action” plan.

Based on the environmental study results and other factors, USFS identified the formerly operated Bank of America building located at the corner of Lake Isabella Boulevard and Nugget Avenue in Lake Isabella as the preferred alternative site for their new location.

USACE has initiated the planning and design phase with next steps including a detailed site and building assessment. Construction of the replacement facility is expected to begin in spring 2023 and take about one year to complete.

Completed in 1953, Isabella Lake Dam is located approximately 40 miles northeast of Bakersfield. The reservoir is impounded by two earthen dams on the Kern River and Hot Springs Valley. Today, Isabella Lake and its dams reduce flood risk for Bakersfield and the surrounding region and is a primary water source for water users throughout Kern County. The Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project will address overtopping, seismic and seepage issues identified with Isabella Lake’s Main and Auxiliary dams to reduce the likelihood of dam failure. Construction of the dam modifications began in 2017 with the relocation of facilities within the project footprint and are estimated to be complete in 2022.

To view the project documents or for more information on the Lake Isabella Dam Safety Modification Project and the USFS visitor center relocation, visit

Rick Brown

Release no. 21-009