After three years Irvine Lake is set to reopen possibly as early as mid-July for shoreline fishing. Boating and other activities will not be allowed until more details are worked out.
In March 2016, Irvine Lake was closed due to a conflict between Orange County and Serrano Water District regarding recreation rights. The area was once a popular spot for fishing, boating, and other outdoor recreation, but has since become a fenced off and overgrown haven for water birds. Amenities at Irvine Lake included a kids fishing lagoon, archery, boat rentals, volleyball, camping, and more.
Recently, Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner took control of negotiations to reach a deal to restore fishing and other recreational rights stating that, “Political infighting has stalled the usage of this lake, but thanks to the Irvine Company’s generous move, the County is finally in a position with Irvine Lake, Serrano Water District, and Irvine Ranch to bring back fishing for public enjoyment.”
The generous move Wagner was referring to was the Irvine Company’s donation of 29 lake-front acres of land to Orange County on June 11, 2019. Thanks to the Irvine Company, the lake could be open for fishing as early as the middle of July. All parties worked together to develop a plan for a one-year shoreline fishing agreement. Additionally, a board of supervisors vote will determine whether or not the owner of the neighboring RV Storage lot and special events venue, Gary James, will be approved to manage fishing operations and a bait shop for the duration of the one-year agreement.
The current agreement only allows fishing from the shore. Negotiations for additional recreational activities, including boating, will take place at a later date with the hopes of eventually opening the area to camping and hiking. Because Irvine Lake stores potable water used to supply the cities of Villa Park and Orange, bodily contact is not allowed.
Before gates open for the summer, the county will need to do a general sprucing-up of the facility. A few items on the agenda include clearing overgrown weeds, making repairs to cracked asphalt and damaged roads, and installing lighting, fences, and signage.
For now, the one-year plan for Irvine Lake includes a $4500 monthly payment by the County to Serrano Water District for fishing rights. Additional discussions will determine how to split up parking and other fees, and whether or not the RV storage will remain open.
Hope for a long-term agreement to keep the lake open has been restored and local fisherman are looking forward to frequenting the shores of this favorite fishing spot.
Irvine Lake is located at 4621 Santiago Canyon Rd., Silverado, CA 92676
An Irvine Lake Timeline
- June 2019 – Parties reached an agreement to reopen Irvine Lake to shoreline fishing only.
- 2016 to May 2019 – Irvine Park remains closed with negotiations at a standstill.
- March 1, 2016 – Irvine Lake closes.
- February 28, 2016 – Last day of fishing
- 2016 – Orange County notifies Serrano Water District of termination of recreational rights as of March 31, 2016.
- 2014 – 2106 – Orange County and Serrano Water District negotiate; unable to reach an agreement regarding Irvine Lake rights.
- 2015 – Boating and boat rentals banned in response to another drowning. Lake remains open for shoreline fishing only.
- 2014 – Irvine Company gifts their 75% of Irvine Lake Rights to Orange County.
- 2012 – Private boats banned, life jackets required after $1.5 million settlement over accidental drownings of two men.
- 1941 – Irvine Lake open to the public for fishing.