Recreation survey at Isabella Lake to begin Memorial Day weekend

Published May 23, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District awarded a $98,182 contract May 16 to Gulf South Research Corporation of Baton Rouge, La., to conduct user surveys and collect visitor information at recreation sites around Isabella Lake beginning Memorial Day weekend and lasting throughout the summer recreation season.

The Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project’s environmental impact statement, which was finalized in October 2012, outlines temporary and permanent recreation area closures during construction. Adjacent recreation areas may also experience increased use or visitor crowding as a result of these closures, which are scheduled to begin after the 2016 recreation season. The Corps will inform residents of any schedule changes to the project in order to avoid or minimize impacts to the tourism and recreation at the lake.

“This information will help us understand how people using the lake may be affected by construction, and what they might prefer if areas are closed,” said Corps project manager John Menniti. “Since many of the users don’t live in the Kern River Valley, we want to get their input while they are here visiting.”

Gulf South Research Corporation, a woman-owned, certified small business, will be conducting data collection activities from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Information collected this summer will help support a recreation plan that will further explore and identify options for mitigation to offset the potential adverse effects project construction may have on recreation. The recreation plan is being developed by the Corps in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service, which has managed recreation at the lake since 1991.

“The Forest Service and the Corps are committed to minimizing impacts during construction wherever possible, and to mitigate for those impacts that can’t be avoided,” said Al Watson, district ranger for the Forest Service’s Kern River Ranger District, Sequoia National Forest. “The lake is open for business, both this year and during the project, so come out to the Kern River Valley and enjoy Isabella Lake.”

The Corps and Forest Service plan to hold public scoping meetings this summer to obtain additional comments about recreation. Meeting dates have not been determined at this time.

Completed in 1953, Isabella Lake Dam is located approximately 42 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 help reduce flood risk for Bakersfield and the surrounding region, and are a primary water source for water users throughout Kern County. The Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project looks to address overtopping, seismic and seepage issues identified with Isabella Lake’s main and auxiliary dams to reduce the likelihood of dam failure.

For more information on the Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project, visit our web page:

For more information on the U.S. Forest Service-managed recreation areas at Isabella Lake, visit or follow them on Twitter at


Chris Gray-Garcia

Release no. 2013-S-032