New Melones

In concert with other openings across the Mother Lode as some COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are adjusted, the federal Bureau of Reclamation announced Tuesday Tuttletown Recreation Area camping and day use sites off Highway 49 in Tuolumne County, and the Natural Bridges Trail and parking area off Parrotts Ferry Road in Calaveras County has reopened.

The reopenings at New Melones are effective today, June 23, federal communications staff said in an announcement.

The Bureau of Reclamation is part of the federal Department of Interior. Reclamation and they are following guidance from the White House, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local public health authorities to increase access recreation opportunities at New Melones.

In addition, the lobby to the New Melones Visitors Center and Museum will now be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, so visitors can buy passes for launching boats and pay day use fees when necessary.

Parking on Bureau of Reclamation land is limited and when parking is full, no further visitation will be allowed, Bureau of Reclamation staff said. Camping at New Melones requires reservations, which can be made at www.recreation.gov.

The following facilities remain closed: Glory Hole Recreation Area campgrounds and day use sites; Glory Hole fish cleaning station and RV dump station; Tuttletown RV dump station; the New Melones administration office and Visitors Center Museum exhibits.

The museum portion of the visitors center will remain closed and new building capacity limits will be imposed to meet state facility reopening guidelines, Bureau of Reclamation staff said. Department of Interior staff say they are working with federal, state and local authorities to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are using a phased approach to increase access on a site-by-site basis.

Yosemite National Park and the National Park Service are also parts of the U.S. Department of Interior.

New Melones Marina off Glory Hole Road in Calaveras County is open, Bureau of Reclamation staff said. For more information call (209) 785-3300.

Some restrooms at New Melones may lack hand soap or hand sanitizer. All visitors to New Melones are urged to continue to follow federal CDC guidance to prevent spread of infectious diseases.

New Melones is the Golden State’s fourth-largest capacity reservoir. It can hold 2.4 million acre-feet when full. New Melones was 73 percent full Tuesday with 1.7 million acre-feet impounded behind New Melones Dam. Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the dam and reservoir impound the mainstem Stanislaus River, drowning the old natural river upstream beyond Parrotts Ferry. Other dams are further upstream on the North, Middle and South Forks of the Stanislaus River.

The Bureau of Reclamation is billed as the nation's largest wholesale water supplier and its second-largest producer of hydroelectric power. Dams and basins and other infrastructure owned by Reclamation are intended to provide flood control, recreation opportunities, and environmental benefits.

 

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

 

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