Clovis, CA. May 25, 2023 – 2023 has been a historic year for Southern Sierra snowpack, the largest on record with unimpaired runoff in the Kings River watershed forecast at 266% of historical April – July average. As a result, there are impacts to the normal summer recreation season in relation to Helms, Balch and Haas-Kings Recreation on Forest Service properties of the High Sierra District. Due to the historic weather conditions, we have experienced and with the primary goal of public safety in mind, PG&E and the U.S. Forest Service agree that it is in the public’s best interest to extend the closure of the Dinkey Creek Gate at McKinley Grove Road and the Sawmill Flat Gate on Black Rock Road until JUNE 16, 2023. See below for details.
Dinkey Creek Gate extended closure:
Extensive winter damage has been taken to McKinley Grove Road both on the inbound and outbound sides of the road
Large potholes taking up entire lanes
Sloughing road shoulders
Water intrusion creating streams that spring directly out of the road
PG&E will be able to safely begin some of these repairs without interruption with additional closure time
Short-term repairs will address the most dangerous damages to the road that could potentially cause an accident or vehicle damage
Helms Recreation Facilities:
Many of the campgrounds remain closed and underneath large amounts of snow
The Upper Kings Campground and fishing area are closed and will remain closed until late July due to the need to continue utilizing the Wishon Dam Low Level Outlet.
Wishon Dam will begin spillway releases in early June
Snow prevents access to the spillway side of Wishon Dam with no parking or driving available
Courtright gate remains closed and completely buried in snow
Sawmill Flat Gate extended closure:
Much of Black Rock Road remains unpassable due to snow accumulation.
There have been many road slides along the road leading to the gate.
There are many downed trees across the road that cannot be accessed until snow has melted
Once snow has melted the road will be evaluated for safety and any needed repairs.
The date to open this gate is subject to change again based upon conditions and resources to clear the road for travel, please verify prior to attempting to travel into this area
The new opening date of the gates is slated to be Friday June 16, 2023. If the repairs are completed sooner, we will plan on opening the road. Please check the PG&E and Forest website for updated information regarding these gates.
PG&E and the Forest have determined that keeping the Dinkey Creek gate and Sawmill Flat gate closed is necessary in the interest of public safety.
The Sierra National Forest has developed a map that shows forest roads and recreation sites that are affected by storm damage or forest closure. The most recent map and Closure Order can be found on the Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/sierra/alerts-notices/?aid=80383 Please contact the Sierra National Forest at (559) 297-0706 for more information.
Boaters on all reservoirs should use caution and beware that elevated levels of debris in the water is expected this time of year. Debris conditions can vary rapidly with shifting winds, so visitors should always be cautious and have an eye out for floating debris and underwater obstacles. Be aware that debris might be waterlogged and therefore resting just under the water’s surface out of plain site.
We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience and understanding.
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