In the Delano-McFarland area, people enjoy spending their summer days at Lake Woollomes – a 455-acre area where families can have picnics, children can run around, and anyone can enjoy the water, whether they are boating, swimming, or fishing.
Unfortunately, the park is not being kept at its best condition and many feel it is unsafe.
“People go out there – gang related or not – to shoot off firearms,” said McFarland resident Awnica Bergman, who is organizing a Lake Woollomes clean-up day event. “It should be a safe community for everyone to go to and not having fear that someone is going to pull up on them at any time, open or closed.”
Not only do some feel the lake is unsafe, many feel it has been ignored. The lake is currently polluted with broken glass, bottle caps, wrappers left by visitors, and disposable utensils. Glass has even been found inside the lake in some instances, making it unsafe for visitors who want to dive into the water to keep cool in the summer.
Its restrooms are unsanitary and lack soap and toilet paper. Potholes need to be filled on its parking lot and connecting roads, and signs placed around the park have been vandalized or have been knocked down by visitors who fail to follow rules, and park benches and trees in the area have been found with spray painted graffiti.
This has led to the question of who is in charge of this lake?
Lake Woollomes is a reservoir owned by the Bureau of Reclamation and is being leased by Kern County Parks for recreation. Its purpose is simply to provide a place for people to enjoy their day – not to attract outside visitors, according to the Kern County Parks and Recreation Department’s 2010 Master Plan.
The County is in charge of keeping the park in good condition and providing the funding for this to be possible. Currently, the Delano Parks and Recreation District is not open, nor do they have the power to fund the park. Regardless, the park has not been in its best condition in a while.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, money has been limited for everyone. There may not be funds right now to allocate for park upkeep. It seems the pandemic makes it more difficult to give Lake Woollomes the resources it needs to be kept safe and clean for its visitors.
Despite Lake Woollomes being ignored for a while, Bergman has taken initiative and organized a clean-up day on her own. She made a Facebook post asking if anyone would want to participate in a clean-up for Lake Woollomes. To her surprise, many people responded and shared, so she decided to take action and made an Instagram page for the event in order to raise more awareness.
Bergman has been collecting materials necessary for a clean-up event from the Parks and Recreation office and plans to reuse those materials again by organizing more clean-ups for Lake Woollomes and any other areas in need of some tender, love and car.
Depending on the way the cleanup turns out will determine what next steps she can take in order to improve Lake Woollomes.
Regardless, she hopes this clean-up will raise awareness to the visitors and encourage them to clean up after themselves in order to keep the lake safe.
Overall, Bergman is grateful for everyone who has reached out to help.
“I’m really appreciative and respectful of everyone who’s just wanting to get it done,” she said. “Hopefully, it inspires more people to do more for their community.”
The Lake Woollomes clean-up event is on Oct. 10 from 7 a.m. to noon.
A Go Fund Me page has been created to take donations for materials needed to clean up the lake, such as gloves, trash bags, rakes, shovels, and trash cans. Donations will also provide food and water to volunteers. Those interested can learn more here: https://gf.me/u/ywisng