An Open Letter to the Students “Houseboating” on Shasta Lake during Memorial Day Weekend

When you visit our beautiful lake, please be careful, be respectful and be clean

By Zach O’Brien

I’ve had my share of youthful fun on Shasta Lake throughout my life. In college, my friends and I had numerous houseboat trips on the lake where, admittedly, we didn’t always make the best decisions. I get it, I really do. But there’s a difference between my youthful self and most of you, the thousands of college students who come to have fun on houseboats during Memorial Day weekend.

The difference? I grew up on the lake. And I know how to respect the lake.

Respecting the lake means a few things. First and foremost, the lake can be dangerous. Every year there are drowning deaths on the lake and I can tell you that most of them involve alcohol. In fact, we sadly already lost one student earlier this week.

Sure, it seems so calm and serene when you wake up to the sunrise on the lake. Heck, that’s the appeal of it, right? But behind all that beauty lies multiples dangerous scenarios, especially when you mix in alcohol. When swimming, always have someone an eyes-view away. Don’t swim while you’re intoxicated. And if you’re going to jump off the top of your boat, check the water around you and don’t jump near other people or boats.



Here’s the point in a nutshell – just don’t be drunk and dumb. When you’re out in the sun, you get dehydrated, so the amount of alcohol you can consume is altered. If you’re going to drink, drink responsibly and not to excess.

Again, I know what it’s like to be young. I understand these “drinking rules” probably won’t be followed by many of you. But just know, if you choose to do these things, it could end tragically. Tread at your own risk.

Now that brings me to my next point – PACK OUT WHAT YOU PACK IN! 

I think most people remember what happened in 2016, when college kids thrashed Slaughterhouse Island leaving behind trash, clothing, food and about 90 tents, which cost $10,000 to clean up. Don’t remember? Here are some photos to jog your memory:




Not only is that sort of littering very illegal and could result in trouble with the law, I think we can all agree it’s just a really lame thing to do. Please remember that there’s a whole community of people who use Shasta Lake daily and your mess could have drastic implications on the overall health of the lake. Your trash could kill wildlife and create a giant eyesore for the locals.

Lastly, please be respectful of the local community. Families want to use the lake as well. So keep your clothes on and keep the noise down as much as you can, especially at night.



I may be in the minority of locals who say this but I’m gonna say it anyway – I want you to come to the lake. I really do. You provide a great economic boost for the businesses on the lake. I also truly believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the awesomeness that is Shasta Lake.

So I would like to extend my arms out to you and welcome you to Shasta Lake. And all I ask in return is one thing – RESPECT THE LAKE. Now go have some fun.

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