Woody Debris on Shasta and Trinity Lakes

woody debris on lake

Heavier than normal winter rains have caused an increase of woody debris being washed into Shasta and Trinity Lakes causing a possible unsafe condition for lake users, especially near boat ramps and shoreline areas.

Lake users should be aware that debris might be waterlogged and therefore resting just under the water’s surface out of plain site. Lake users should always be cautious and have an eye out for floating debris and underwater obstacles as they can be safety hazards. Also be aware that floating debris locations can rapidly change with shifting winds; a boat launch area that may be clear one minute may be impassable the next.

For more information regarding boating safety regulations and or emergency vessel assistance requests on Shasta Lake, boat operators should call the Shasta County Sheriff’s Boating Safety Unit at (530) 245-6075. For similar requests for information and assistance on Trinity Lake, boat operators should call the Trinity County Sheriff­’s Department at (530) 623-2611.

An annual occurrence on Shasta and Trinity Lakes, woody debris normally washes into the lake from streams, rivers and shoreline. However, with this winter’s higher than normal precipitation amount, there is a significant increase in the amount of woody debris collecting into the lake. Woody debris is beneficial to aquatic species such as bass, which use it for cover once it has sank to the bottom of the lake. Floating debris also serves as basking sites for turtles.

As the water level of the lake drops later in the year the debris will be deposited on the shoreline. Once previously floating debris collects on the shoreline later in the year it can be collected with a free use debris permit available from the Shasta Lake and Weaverville Ranger Stations. For up to date information regarding the impact of woody debris on boat launches or how to obtain a woody debris permit, please call the Shasta Lake Ranger Station at (530) 275-1587 or the Weaverville Ranger Station at (530) 623-2121.

-from press release
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2 Responses

  1. Avatar cody says:

    WOW!  Where was that photo taken?  If I had to guess, I would say maybe the Pit River arm – but it could be any number of areas on the lake…

    I do not recall seeing that much debris and detritus in the lake before.  Maybe one other time in the El Nino of 1997.  That should provide a lucrative opportunity for Phil’s Propellers, as anyone boating through that mess will likely suffer some prop damage!  Among the worst is a stump where you can barely see it in/under the water,  then there are roots/branches around it just under the surface – waiting to seriously damage your vessel.

    They used to haul driftwood, logs, and stumps from the launch ramp areas, and take it to Wheelabrator.  Does anyone know if they are doing that during this storm season?

  2. Avatar Karen C says:


    What a mess.  The last time this happened, I recall it was very dangerous out there for a long time.  We still had our boat and were warned that the logs, and other debris can be below the surface of the water and cause lots of damage to our boat.  It was not pleasant to be out there.  I understand that the marina’s are filling up with reservations for the summer.  I am suspect that many may be disappointed with the quality of their boating experience.