dam

A brief post to share about a trip my forest recreation class took to Pine Flat Dam.

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We met up with two rangers from the US Army Corps of Engineers that gave us a tour of the recreational areas around the dam and also led us up to the top of the dam for a view of Pine Flat Lake (really a reservoir) and the Kings River below.

Our first stop was a tour of their tool / equipment room and then to the holding pen of a “T-Rex” (i.e. their onsite crane they use for their maintenance projects on the dam, etc.).

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From there we drove up to the top of the dam for a look at Pine Flat Lake on one side and the Kings River on the other side follow by another stop at one of the recreational areas.

The dam itself is quite an impressive engineering feet.  It was constructed from 1947-1954 and is 429 feet tall.  The dam was originally constructed to aid the San Joaquin Valley with flood control and irrigation needs, but in 1984, a hydroelectric plant was added as well.  Today, the lake provides a lot of recreational benefits in the way of boating, fishing, water sports, picnic areas, and camping locations.  While US Army Corps of Engineer rangers are not law enforcement offers, they are serious about enforcing safety in regards to water.  For example, all people in any moving boat or in the water must have a life jacket on.  Many visitors forget to bring life jackets, so the US Army Corps of Engineers provides free life jackets for guests to borrow.

Pine Flat Lake is actually a reservoir.  Besides simply knowing it to be man-made, you can also identify it as a reservoir due to its jagged shoreline (see the map below or Google map it).  Lakes have smoother shorelines because they have historically been around longer than reservoirs (which are man-made) and hence the water has had a longer time to smooth out theIMG_0947ir jagged edges via erosion. The lake is 20 miles long and at maximum capacity Pine Flat Lake can hold 1,000,000 acre feet of water (acre foot = 1 football field flooded to a depth of 1 foot).

We got to go inside this little lobby (for lack of a better tIMG_0946erm) that is on top of the dam where we saw some old pictures of the construction process of the dam.  We also saw this statistic board that hadn’t been touched since 9/11.  Apparently, when the Twin Towers went down the dam was told to evacuate everyone and go into high security mode.  They left the stat board as it was then as a sort of remembrance.

The drought / water crisis is made evident from the vista point at the top of the dam.  You can distinctly see the high water line exposed and how far below this the current surface level resides.  All that being said, it was still lovely terrain and the weather was fine for some long distant, panorama views.

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