Lake Shasta is expecting students during Mother’s Day weekend

Lake Shasta is expecting students during Mother’s Day weekend

U.S. Forest Service and Shasta County sheriff’s officials expect a busy weekend on Lake Shasta as Oregon students are expected to make the annual trek to California to relax on the water for Mother’s Day weekend.

Most students rent houseboats and flock to Slaughterhouse Island near the Sacramento Arm of Lake Shasta. In recent years there have been problems on the lake as students have left behind large amounts of trash, and some weekends have been deadly.

At least four visiting students from Oregon universities have died at the lake since 2001.

Large numbers of students from Oregon universities, as well as UC Davis, are expected over Mother’s Day weekend and Memorial Day weekend, said Joe Stubbendick, Forest Service recreation officer for the Shasta Lake Ranger District.

For the second year in a row, visitors to the lake will find good conditions for boating and camping.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Shasta Dam, the reservoir is 97% full. And the weather this weekend is expected to be sunny, with high temperatures in the low 90s.

Stubbendick said he has based the number of student visitors in recent years on the number of houseboats seen moored near Slaughterhouse Island.

“I would say we’ve had dozens of houseboats next to each other along the coast, with most of those houseboats being at capacity in terms of what’s allowed on those boats,” Stubbendick said.

Safety is ‘greatest concern’

Officials are trying to get the message out to students and others visiting the lake to pack what they pack and not leave any trash behind. They also urge them to be safe while boating, especially if they drink, Stubbendick said.

“Safety is the biggest concern. We want to provide a safe place for children, not just students, but all recreationalists to recreate, and if they participate in that kind of party scene that they are into, do it in a responsible manner and boats are dangerous “Swimming and alcohol don’t exactly go together,” Stubbendick said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Van Eyck said he expects the Memorial Day holiday to draw an even greater number of students to the lake.

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The Mother’s Day influx will serve as a warm-up for the Boating Safety Unit’s first weekend on the lake this season, Van Eyck said. The rangers and marina owners around the lake are also working with student groups, urging them to drink safely and responsibly and not litter, Van Eyck said.

Background information on past incidents on the lake

University of Oregon students made national headlines in 2016 when members of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity landed other students and left behind so much trash that a campsite on Slaughterhouse Island was declared a biohazard area.

After the weekend party, they left the island littered with trash, human waste and nearly a hundred tents.

Weekend parties have also turned deadly on the lake. The most recent death occurred on May 19, 2018, when a 21-year-old University of Oregon student was found dead in his tent near the lakeshore.

Witnesses told safety officials that he had been drinking before going to his tent the night before, but officials said at the time it was unclear whether alcohol played a role in the death.

Another Oregon State student died in 2001 after slipping and falling from a houseboat. Two students from Oregon schools died in 2005, one who hung himself and another who drowned, officials said.

Van Eyck said officers patrolling the lake try to take an educational approach in working with the students, warning them of violations such as riding on the bow of a boat, wearing life jackets or riding on its side of a boat while it is underway.

He also had a message for others on the lake to be aware of the students on the lake.

“If the general public goes there. Keep in mind that you have an influx of students who don’t necessarily have the boating experience that many citizens in this province have, so be extra careful,” Van Eyck said. .

Reporter Damon Arthur welcomes story tips at 530-338-8834, by email at [email protected] and on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @damonarthur_RS. Help local journalism thrive by subscribing today!