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Free Lake Tulloch Day-Use Public Access Plans Come To Public Hearing

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Copperopolis, CA – After years in the making plans for a free day-use public park providing access to Lake Tulloch are up for final approval.

Tri-Dam Project spokesperson Susan Larson, who has been heading up the effort recalls that Oakdale (OID)and South San Joaquin (SSJID) irrigation districts, which operate Tulloch reservoir under a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license, have since 2004 been trying to develop a day-use public access site as it is a FERC requirement.

“We started on a day-use site – 14 acres on the Black Creek arm near Copper Cove Drive but road access became an issue with the subdivision of nearby ranchland property, making it only accessible by boat,” she recounts.

Tri-Dam subsequently investigated every available site, purchasing a 2.7-acre parcel near Drifters Cove Marina, which it still holds. When a property located on O’Byrne’s Ferry Road close to the Tulloch Bridge on the Calaveras side became available, Tri-Dam bought it and began pursuing a FERC permit to develop it, as reported here.

Commercial-use zoned, the parcel housed a small, now-defunct marina area several years ago, which rented boats and had a launching and fueling facility.

Several Rec Amenities Planned 

Tri-Dam’s proposal to develop a public park there to provide free access to the reservoir outlines less intense amenities. Plans include 15 parking spaces, six picnic tables, a two-stall restroom building hooked up to district water and sewer, a fishing pier, a 600-square-foot storage building, and a launch facility designed to accommodate cartop vessels like canoes, standup paddleboards, and kayaks. (To view a concept sketch, click into the image box.)

FERC approved Tri-Dam’s specific proposal for the O’Byrnes Ferry Road site in March 2018 and the project partners filed a development plan with the county several months later. A public hearing held last October on it was unanimously continued by the planning commissioners due to a neighbor’s concern over the location of the restroom, which Tri-Dam worked out by agreeing to build a wall on the property line. As it is a day-use area, the site will be gated once developed, Larson adds.

“We have received numerous comments as to when the site will be available,” she shares. However, since the planning commissioners’ final approval is still pending, albeit with a staff recommendation to do so, Larson says it is still premature to venture a guess as to when the park might be ready to open. Once given a go-ahead though, she says engineering plans and permit applications will be submitted.

“We’re just excited because once we are allowed to build it we think it will be a quality addition…to add to Tulloch Reservoir,” Larson states happily. Local taxpayers might be happy to know that the park will be a truly “free” one since Tri-Dam will be paying for all development, operations, and ongoing maintenance. Thursday’s meeting and public hearing begin at 9 a.m. in the supervisors’ chambers at the government center 9891 Mountain Ranch Road).