Bethel Island Boating Nightmare

Op-Ed By Jan McCleery, STCDA President


The California Department of Fish & Wildlife via UC Davis research is asking for more people from Discovery Bay to answer their survey, “Franks Tract Feasibility Study,” If you boat or fish, please fill out this online survey (linked below) as this project should be of great concern to all Delta boaters.

Their plan is to fill the western half of Franks Tract and Little Franks Tract with dirt making a high-tide marsh, put up a salinity barrier wall and dam on the east side of that fill (down the center of Franks Tract).

RESULT: It would wall off key marinas and businesses from direct boat traffic (everyone would have to come in/out via Piper Slough) and basically destroy Bethel Island’s economy and Northern California’s key bass fishing site. Franks Tract IS a State Recreational Area, after all. While the new tidal marsh is labeled as smelt habitat, they admitted the project is (1) a salinity wall so they can continue to export at the current high level as salt water intrudes and (2) a project to help the endangered smelt . . . BECAUSE the smelt being endangered and caught in the pumps keeps causing the pumps to get shut down. So it’s to yet another project to keep exporting more water than they should be exporting.

So if you boat, if you take your big boat out through False River and don’t want to always go all the way around when heading to Pittsburg, Benicia, San Francisco, (this puts a dam on False River north of Franks Tract, so same as when there was the other False River Dam), then let them know that.

If you are a bass fisherman and don’t like the idea of them filling in so much of a designated State Recreation Area, known throughout the U.S. as one of the primo bass fishing sites, let them know that.

If you think it’s a big problem to wall off Bethel Island marinas that boats can now get to directly by going through Franks Tract, where Big Cat Poker Runs make a stop at Rusty Porthole and that levee opening will be filled in, and where the bass fishing tournaments go in/out from Russo’s or Sugar Barge from their openings in the levee which will be filled in, let them know.

And if you like the Frozen Bun Run where skiers head out directly from Rusty Porthole into Franks Tract, and that will be walled up, let them know. There’s a big concern in general by restaurants and marinas that will get walled off from Frank’s Tract so that boats would have a long way to go around and up Piper Slough to visit those establishments. Will they go out of business?

If you boat in or around Franks Tract and/or visit establishments there, please fill out the survey.

For more information, see