New Melones Reservoir officials have temporarily closed a 2-mile stretch of Shell Road to motorized vehicles as a stopgap to save the road and protect visitors until a road-management plan is in place.
Resource Manager Peggy Brooks wants to hear from the public. She and the New Melones staff will hold an open house on the subject between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Jan. 25 at the new Melones Lake Visitor Center off Highway 49 midway between Sonora and Angels Camp.
People are also encouraged to stop by the visitors' center daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to see a map of the area and express their views.
Comments may also be directed to Jeff Laird at 536-9094, ext. 29, or the Bureau of Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region office in Sacramento at 916-978-5100.
The road will reopen April 15, weather and road conditions permitting. In the meantime, visitors can reach the area on foot, bicycle or horseback. Parking areas and turnarounds are located at each end of the closure.
The unimproved dirt road is on the southeast edge of the New Melones Project between Rawhide Road on the north and Peoria Flat Road on the south.
The goal is to provide access and recreation to as many visitors as possible while preventing further erosion of the road and protecting wildlife habitat, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's New Melones office.
Contact Lenore Rutherford at lrutherford@uniondemocrat. com.