Smoke on the (Whiskeytown) Water

Wednesday was the final day of public commentary for the proposed smoking ban on public beaches at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

On Tuesday, however, Whiskeytown Superintendent Jim Milestone said letters and e-mails sent this week would all be viewed as part of the record.


Photo by Brian Rueb, courtesy

At issue is a ban on smoking on the public beaches at Brandy Creek, Oak Bottom, East Beach (known by many as Dog Beach) and the Whiskey Creek Group Picnic Site. Visitors could still smoke at designated sites away from the beach areas.

The ban wouldn’t apply to smoking along the rest of the 34 miles of shoreline around the lake.

Thus far, much of the public commentary has been in support of of the ban, although there have been some opponents who have spoke out as well. To comment, write to

My personal opinion — it seems reasonable to ban smoking directly on those public beaches. It’s pretty harsh to set up on the sand with your kids then suddenly have to breathe someone else’s smoke. Smokers would have to take a short walk away from the beach.

Another issue is people snuffing out cigarette butts in the sand and leaving them there. Milestone said the park is committed to preserving the best water quality it can for the lake.

Trash is one issue that has boggled my mind about Whiskeytown. Last year in one of my favorite coves, I found a big bag of fast food trash and soda cans strewn all over the place. There were full cans of Pepsi bobbing in the lake.

But that’s nothing.

Milestone came across an area along the shoreline where people had left more than a dozen dirty diapers. Many were up in trees. Right here is where most rational humans are thinking: How does ANYONE do that?

Milestone said it’s difficult for rangers to catch people in the act of that kind of littering. If you happen to see someone obviously trashing the lake, call 911 and a ranger will be dispatched.

The smoking and trash issues are fairly substantial as some 300,000 people visit Brandy Creek Marina each summer, said Milestone. (That number surprised me, although last summer Whiskeytown did seem to be crawling with people.)

Here are some other goings on at Whiskeytown:

• The week of April 19-23 is Waterfall Week at the park. Some 700 students are already signed up for day trips to hike to Whiskeytown Falls (which is really robust right now). The park is looking to sign up more students.

• Right now is a good time for a hike (or mountain bike ride) on the new section of trail from Brandy Creek (the trail starts at Sheep Camp) to Boulder Creek via Papoose Pass. It’s 2.7 miles from Sheep Camp to the Papoose Pass summit where there are lots of old growth trees — insense cedar, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir.

• Over the next few months, a trail will be built that connects Papoose Pass with Shasta Bally Road. It will open up a new loop option right on Shasta Bally.


The great photo of Whiskeytown above is by Brian Rueb. Here’s a link to his site.

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

5 Responses

  1. Avatar Linda Masterson. says:

    I hadn't heard about this proposed ban but fully support it for all the obvious reasons. The trash and litter problem is as serious as reported and the story about the dirty baby diapers doesn't surprise me. Take a kayak ride along the shoreline after a weekend and make sure you take a big garbage bag and rubber gloves because you will be astounded and mortified that people can leave behind the filth and mess they must feel entitled to do. With 300,000 visitors to Brandy Creek (wow-didn't know) we want to have a beautiful, clean and healthy place to enjoy. Thanks for making me aware of this proposal.

  2. Avatar Brian Rueb says:

    Thanks for the link Jim!

  3. Avatar Carla Jackson says:

    Brian, your photo is amazing!

  4. Avatar Alan Ernesto Phillip says:

    Hey Brian, Eyjafjallajokull called you yet?!
    (You are my new, favorite landscape/nature artist/photog!)

    Thanks, Dyar, for the info from Jim Milestone on the idea to help protect our kids and families – and our natural treasures – from tobacco pollution!! With about 82% of Californians as non tobacco-addicts, I think it only fair to consider giving those addicts a 12% share of contained space at local events to "relieve" themselves, well AWAY from the healthier majority.

    As a father of two young girls, I have kept them away from anyone who smokes for all their years. I don't want my kids to even SEE someone smoking – let alone eyeing some family and friends lighting up at an otherwise fun event or activity, viewing smoking sports heroes, actors, actresses, music icons, etc… To me, people who smoke in front of children mentally-pollutes them and gives license for young ones to think about trying it someday.

    The BIG Tobacco Corporations have literally labeled our impressionable children in that situation as, "Replacement Smokers." It's sad to me to know that (most of) the Shasta County Sups/CAO took the 2.5 million dollars a year we were to receive from the 1998 Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement to build that fancy new building for themselves on Court Street… VERY little of that windfall has trickled out to our citizens as originally intended…

    The closest my kids get to tobacco is on a local road we adopted to clean-up. Most of what we pick up – you guessed it – are spent tobacco products and packaging. Talk about aversively gross! (I'll spare you the article I contributed to ANC last September)

    A couple of really big fires close to our neighborhood were started by careless smokers. I wrote to Jim Milestone in support of a ban in our formerly pristine recreation areas. I would love to hear that idea can be broader in scope someday. Let us know how that goes… (Any word yet?)