SHASTA LAKE, Calif. - Recent storms have made a mess in Shasta Lake as wood debris flowed off the banks and into the water.
Lake Shasta Caverns General Manager Matt Doyle said the debris is nothing new for the lake and happens every year, but he's noticed even more at the start of 2017.
"It's actually been a tremendous amount of debris that we've seen this year, of course it's the first time that we've seen these levels since 2012," said Doyle.
Business at Lake Shasta Caverns depends on water levels as guests take a boat to the other side of the lake for tours. Doyle said some days the wood debris can hurt his bottom line and force cancellations.
"Today we're closed because of the high winds, but even last week because of the high debris field we've had to shut down tours just because we wanted to save our equipment," said Doyle.
Employees at Lake Shasta Caverns are not the only ones warning guests about the debris. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is asking everyone to be cautious when on the water.
In a press release the USFS wrote, "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."
"The debris can be something as small as the size of a pea that's just floating, from sticks, wood and things like that. But we've seen several trees, large full size trees floating out there in the lake," said Doyle.
The USFS said wood debris normally washes into the lake from streams, rivers and the shoreline every year but they've seen an increase this year.
Last year the agency set out booms to collect the driftwood. When the wood became stranded on the shore visitors could them pick it up for free with a special permit.
Doyle said with the large amount of wood this year, he wants to work with the USFS to help clean it up.
"So it's going to be a teeter-totter, going back and forth with debris on the lake, but as we start nearing the end of the water season, as the water finally starts going down that's when we'll pretty much see the rest of [the debris]," said Doyle.
According to the USFS, wood debris is beneficial to the ecosystem of the lake. Floating debris helped to serve as a resting site for turtles, and once the wood sinks to the bottom of the lake bass can then use it for cover.