Cherry Lake Camping Restriction

Release Date: May 25, 2011  

Contact(s): Public Affairs Office (209) 532-3671 ext. 244


Sonora, Calif. (May 25, 2011)…The Forest Service announced today that the Stanislaus National Forest has issued a Forest Order imposing a camping restriction to the area surrounding Cherry Lake, located on the Stanislaus National Forest (NF), Groveland  Ranger District, Tuolumne County, California.

In response to health concerns related to the impacts caused by use of campsites located near Cherry Lake, the Forest Service has issued a Temporary Forest Order prohibiting camping from the waterline to 100 feet past the high water mark at Cherry Lake.  Boat-in camping is very popular; however at Cherry Lake, boaters repeatedly use a limited number of primitive campsites heavily impacted by foot traffic, human waste deposits and litter. Most of these campsites slope downhill, directly contributing sediment, trash and human waste into the water, degrading resources at locations around the perimeter of Cherry Lake.

The City and County of San Francisco holds the water right for the stored water in Cherry Lake, which is primarily used for hydropower generation as part of the Hetch Hetchy project. However, the water in Cherry Lake is also an approved standby water source for the San Francisco Regional Water System. The California Department of Public Health regulates this domestic water supply to assure that the water is safe for human consumption. With portions of the shoreline littered with garbage and human waste material, San Francisco staff identified these boat-in campsites as a potential source of sediment and bacteriological contamination.

Regulations to ensure public health and safety already prohibit improper disposal of garbage and human waste that may pollute a body of water. Groveland Ranger District staff conducts education through signing, personal contacts and publications. Forest Law Enforcement Officers and Forest Protection Officers also seek compliance with the applicable rules by contacting visitors and issuing warning notices and violation notices as needed. However, due to the scattered location of the campsites and the fact that Forest Service patrols have to boat to each site, patrol work is only partially effective at dealing with this problem.

 “I made my decision to issue a temporary Forest Order because it will help protect water quality and prevent shoreline resource degradation at Cherry Lake,” said Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski.

Groveland Ranger District staff discussed implementing a Forest Order with many recreation users of the Cherry Lake area from early 2009 through early 2010. Most conversations occurred at the Cherry Lake Boat Launch. The Ranger District posted a sign at the District Office front desk informing the public about the necessity to issue a Temporary Forest Order. No one submitted negative comments during that time period.

The City and County of San Francisco expressed concern about the water quality in Cherry Lake and has funded a program to provide a limited number of free sample human waste disposal bags available to the public through contact with Forest Service staff at Cherry Lake. The bags contain a chemical that treats the waste; the bags can then be disposed of in Forest Service or other trash receptacles. The bags can also be purchased at the Groveland Ranger District Office on Highway 120.

Forest Order STF 2011-02 and a map of the Cherry Lake area are available on the Stanislaus NF website at WWW.fs.usda.gov/stanislaus.

Remember; wherever you go in the Stanislaus NF, help keep the Forest safe and clean. Properly dispose of trash and contaminates. When visiting areas outside developed recreation sites a good rule of thumb to follow is, if you packed it in, pack it out.

For more information about reducing environmental impacts to the Cherry Lake area visit the Groveland Ranger District office; 24545 Highway 120, Groveland, CA or call (209) 962-7825.