Corps releases final plan to address loss of recreation during Isabella Lake dam safety project construction

Published Feb. 8, 2016

SACRAMENTO, California – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District released its Finding Of No Significant Impact, or FONSI, today for proposed relocations of U.S. Forest Service administration and recreational facilities at Isabella Lake Dam in Kern County.

The FONSI states that relocations required to construct safety modifications to the main and auxiliary dams would have no significant effects on environmental, social or cultural resources. The determination is based on findings and analyses presented in the final supplemental environmental assessment, which was also released today.

The environmental assessment proposes mitigation plans to address recreation aspects that would be affected by the Corps’ dam safety modification project including loss of recreation facilities, such as boat launches or parking, and administrative offices that are located within the footprint of the authorized project.

Examples of relocation actions addressed include construction of a Forest Service administration building and warehouse at the Kernville Work Center in Kernville, a fire station and interim visitor center at Lake Isabella, and recreation facilities that would be constructed at Main Dam Campground and Auxiliary Dam Recreation Area, among other locations around the lake.

The FONSI and Final SEA are available on the project web page at

To learn more about the authorized dam safety modification project, copies of the Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision are also available on the project web page or by contacting the Sacramento District Public Affairs Office, 1325 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814; Phone (916) 557-5100; email:

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 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. In 2013, the Corps entered the pre-construction engineering and design phase of the project. Relocation construction work is scheduled to begin in 2016. Construction of the dam modifications is scheduled to begin in 2017. 

Rick Brown

Release no. 16-005