Here's an article my wife sent me:
Hotspot at lake closed for holidays
Monday, May 21, 2007
Register Staff Writer
By MARSHA DORGAN
Lake Berryessa boaters who plan to party away their Memorial Day weekend under the bridge at Pope Creek best make other plans.
Citing safety reasons, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will be closing the popular party spot -- not only Memorial Day weekend, but on Labor Day and for a 12-day stretch around the Fourth of July as well. On those traditional summer holidays many flock to the Pope Creek Bridge area of the lake to Jet Ski, swim, camp, frolic -- and often to consume large amounts of alcohol.
That's not going to happen this year.
"That area is just overcrowded with boats," said Jeff McCracken, spokesman for Bureau of Reclamation. "We recognize there are problems there, everything from disorderly conduct to people dying. We thought closing the waterway for the three holidays was in the best interest of public safety."
McCracken said it is not unusual for hundreds of boats to be tied together under the bridge.
"It looks like one big party, people having a good time, then something bad happens and everything falls apart," he said.
Another very popular attraction at this spot at the lake is the "jumping rock."
The infamous rock, which juts out over the creek -- and offers jumpers as much as a 50-foot drop depending on the lake level -- could also be known as the Grim Reaper, as it has taken five lives and caused several other serious injuries over the past three years.
"We have signs up there warning people of the dangers of jumping off the rock. But it is up to them to heed the warnings," McCracken said.
The Bureau of Reclamation also will close the parking lot at Pope Creek Bridge at 10 p.m. each night of the holiday weekends.
Napa County Sheriff's Capt. John Robertson has seen and dealt with the problems at Pope Creek Bridge for more than 20 years.
"The problems have changed over the years. The type of crime has changed. Sexual assaults have gone up. And now we are finding drugs out there that are being put in people's drinks, such as Ecstasy and date-rape drugs," Robertson said. "When you get a crowd that big, and the majority of them are on boats, we have very little control over the consumption of alcohol."
Robertson said the department uses boat patrol deputies to police the activities on the lake.
"I have seen up to 400 boats tied together under the Pope Creek Bridge on holiday weekends. It is hard for our lake deputies to patrol the area in that type of scene. We use personal watercraft and our boats, but it can be a challenge when you have that many people -- with most of them intoxicated, partying, swimming and jumping off the rock -- to maneuver around," he said.
Robertson said the boaters usually launch their watercraft at one of the lake resorts and make their way to the Pope Creek Bridge.
Once they arrive at the Pope Creek Bridge, they drop anchor and tie up to myriad other boats, creating a makeshift dock. And then it's time for the party to begin.
Bikini-clad women dance on the boats, often shucking their tops. Couples make out while the music is blaring. Those on shore swim to the boats to join the party.
"It's one non-stop party," Robertson said.
"We feel if we close this portion of the lake, we will remove the audience for those jumping off the rock. Hopefully the boaters will go someplace else and be more scattered over the lake instead of concentrated in this one area," Robertson said. "People are jumping off that rock and dying."
The closed portion of the lake will be marked by bright orange floating buoys linked together with cable. Signs will be posted telling boaters that portion of the lake is closed.
Another problem in the past was people jumping from the Pope Creek Bridge into the lake. It is now illegal to jump off the bridge. Those who choose to leap anyway could be fined, Robertson said.
The California Highway Patrol also hopes to benefit from closing the Pope Creek Bridge party spot.
"We have extra officers, both on motorcycles and in patrol cars, at the lake over the holiday weekends," said CHP Officer Jaret Paulsen. "Our main priority is traffic safety. Because of the large crowd that gathers at the bridge, we have problems with illegal parking and traffic congestion. With the waterway under the bridge closed, it should ease the traffic problems."
Robertson said the Pope Creek Bridge isn't the only place where problems crop up over holiday weekends.
"We have everything from public intoxication to battery to fights to assault with a deadly weapon and domestic abuse," he said. "Underage drinking is a huge problem. We're hoping by closing the Pope Creek Bridge area, people will congregate at other designated areas set aside for the public, such as Oak Shores. There are 160 miles of shoreline at Lake Berryessa, and this quarter-mile stretch has just gotten out of hand."
Hours of closures are:
* Memorial Day Weekend: From May 24 at 1 p.m. to May 29 at 3 p.m.
* Fourth of July: From June 28 at 1 p.m. to July 10 at 3 p.m.
* Labor Day: From 1 p.m., Aug. 29 at 1 p.m. to Sept. 4 at 3 p.m.