Dead and dying trees force recreation site closures

Release Date: May 24, 2016  

Contact(s): Rebecca Garcia (209) 532-3671 X244

Sonora, California, May 24, 2016 – With more than 40 million trees dead across California and even more dying, the face of recreation opportunities on national forest lands is changing.

Four years of extreme drought and bark beetle infestation, combined with ongoing work to mitigate public safety hazards means some Stanislaus National Forest (STF) sites will not be open to the public for Memorial Day weekend and some may not open this summer.   

“Some campgrounds, roads and trails that are usually open by summer will remain closed until the hazard trees have been cleared,” said Jeanne Higgins, Forest Supervisor, STF. “Removing hazard trees and making forests and campgrounds as safe as possible is our top priority.”

Please know before you go, the forest web site and Visitor Information Desks have lists of campgrounds and other facilities that are open or closed. These lists will be updated as hazards are removed. 

Campgrounds on the Stanislaus National Forest that currently remain closed include:  Calaveras Ranger District (RD) – Backpacker's Camp, Highlands Lakes, Lodgepole, Lodgepole Overflow, Mosquito Lakes, Pacific Valley, Pine Marten, and Silvertip Campgrounds (not accessible due to snow), Union West (due to a high number of hazard trees); Groveland Ranger District – South Fork Campground is closed; Summit Ranger District – Cascade Creek, Eagle Meadow Horse Camp, Herring Creek, Herring Reservoir, Kerrick Horse Camp, Niagara Creek, Niagara OHV, Bennet Juniper, Coyote Meadows Trailhead, Sonora Pass, St. Mary’s Pass Trailhead, and Waterhouse Trailhead. Please know that all larger recreation areas may contain smaller sites that are closed due to hazard trees.

“We know there are many families who visit the same campgrounds year after year,” said Regional Forester Randy Moore. “We know traditions are important and we’re doing everything we can to open these facilities as soon as possible. We understand the public is anxious to get out and enjoy their National Forests, but safety must come first. ”

In addition to the hazards on developed campgrounds and trails, there are thousands of hazard trees out on the forest in remote and/or dispersed recreation areas. Several day use areas, and campgrounds have not been analyzed for hazard trees. The lack of cautionary signage or visible closure is not a good indicator that an area is safe. Take caution not to camp under or near trees that appear to be dead or dying. Please keep a safe distance from these trees while recreating in the National Forest.

For information on recreation, roads, and safety tips call Visitor Information Services at the STF Supervisor’s Office at: 209-532-3671; Calaveras RD at 209-795-1381; Groveland RD at 209-962-7825; Mi-Wok RD at 209-586-3234; or Summit RD at 209-965-3434.