More than a dozen recreation areas and campgrounds in the Stanislaus National Forest will remain closed through July 15 due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, a spokesperson assigned to forest headquarters in Sonora said Wednesday.
The announcement came out Wednesday afternoon as confirmed coronavirus cases continued to increase in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.
More than 20 day use areas and other developed recreation sites are open, and the number of open campgrounds in the Stanislaus National Forest will increase to 20 on Thursday, when forest staff plan to open Bloomfield Campground, Pacific Valley Campground and Mosquito Lakes Campground.
A partial list of what’s open in the Stanislaus National Forest is at the bottom of this report.
Recreation areas and campgrounds that will remain closed through July 15 or longer include Eagle Meadow Horse Camp, Fence Creek Campground, Herring Creek Campground, Niagara Creek Campground, and Pine Valley Horse Camp. In addition, closed through July 15 or longer are Bower Cave, Cascade Creek Campground, Clark Fork Horse Camp, Donnells Reservoir, Herring Reservoir Campground, Hull Creek / Trout Creek OHV Area, Kerrick Corral Horse Camp, Lodgepole Overflow Campground, River Ranch Campground, and TeleLi puLaya Black Oak Campground. Beardsley Day Use and Beardsley Dam Campground remain closed, and Beardsley Reservoir is closed to vehicle access.
All group campground areas in the Stanislaus National Forest will remain closed indefinitely due to the state’s limitations on group gatherings, a Forest Service spokesperson said.
“I am proud of the work our employees have accomplished under very difficult conditions to reopen sites so our visitors can recreate in this wonderful landscape,” Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken said in a statement.
The Forest Service is working with health authorities in four counties and other local partners to reopen more developed recreation sites. Kuiken urged visitors to the 1,403 square miles encompassed by the Stanislaus National Forest to expect experiences different from ever before because of social distancing and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for health and safety in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.
“Employee and public safety remains our number one priority, and we will closely monitor the situation and make changes accordingly,” Kuiken said. “However, please be prepared to be self-reliant by bringing your own soap, hand sanitizer, toilet tissue and drinking water.”
Trash removal is very limited, Kuiken said, so forest visitors should pack out all trash and waste.
Last weekend trash piled up at trash and recyclable waste receptacles at Pinecrest. Visitors stacked trash bags and loose trash next to already-full containers, with trash propping open containers that are intended to be bear-proof, and hungry, scavenging ravens rooted in the trash in some places, further scattering human garbage at the manmade lake. Volunteers from Pinecrest Resort and Lair of the Golden Bear cleared away weekend trash at Pinecrest on Monday.
“We are seeing tremendous pressure being placed on the forest due to the increased visitation, in terms of visitors leaving trash behind and having too many people dispersed camping, and having illegal campfires,” Kuiken said in the announcement distributed Wednesday. “We need each visitor to be active stewards of nature by leaving no trace of your visit.”
Visitors must also respect the fire restrictions that are in place for the collective safety of the forest and surrounding communities, Kuiken said.
Open day use areas and open campgrounds are identified in forest order STF-16-2020-16.
According to the Forest Service, open day use areas are Big Meadow, Sour Grass, Marmot, Chickaree, Crandall/Deer Creek, Rim of the World, Carlon's, Middle Fork, Cherry Lake, Cottonwood, Douglas Flat, Columns of the Giants, Donnells Vista, North Fork, Riverside, China Flat and Rainbow Pool. Also open are boat ramps at Lake Alpine, Merals Pool, and Cherry Lake, as well as the boat slide at Cherry Creek.
Open campgrounds in the Stanislaus National Forest are Sweetwater, Lost Claim, Dimond O, Cherry Valley, Pinecrest, Pigeon Flat, Brightman Flat, Fraser Flat, Clark Fork, Dardanelle, Sand Flat, Eureka, Baker, Deadman, Lumsden, South Fork, and Pine. Some campgrounds at Lake Alpine are open and some remain closed.
A copy of the new forest order explaining the recreation site closures and campgrounds closures through July 15 is supposed to be posted on the Stanislaus National Forest web page at www.fs.usda.gov/stanislaus. A full list of what’s open and closed according to the Forest Service is at www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/stanislaus/recreation.
Contact Guy McCarthy at email@example.com or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.