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The Latest On Fishing, Forest Rec Under COVID-19 Orders

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Sonora, CA — Although trout fishing season is opening this weekend, park facilities remain closed under the Stay At Home order and forest officials have further illuminated their rules in effect.

As reported here, trout season, aka “Fishmas,” opens Saturday, April 25 except in Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties, who requested it be delayed five weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a special meeting on April 15, reported here, the California Fish and Game Commission (CFGC) gave the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) emergency authority to temporarily delay, suspend or restrict recreational fishing for public health purposes, which it agreed to do using a “surgical” approach following guidance from CFGC, public health and government officials of each jurisdiction.

In Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, public health officials have not ordered a delay to trout season. But it may require some craftiness to cast a line, like heading to a local river or creek. In addition to remaining compliant with Governor Gavin’s Newsom’s Stay At Home and local orders for social distancing and remaining solitary, access to state park facilities is currently not possible nor is it to federally managed New Melones and Yosemite National Park.

Forest Facilities Closed Until At Least April 30

This week, Stanislaus National Forest officials are reminding visitors that all developed recreation sites remain under a forest closure order until at least April 30, urging compliance with the state order and waiting to visit until it is lifted.

For those who maintain that fishing and backpacking are socially distanced activities, public health and law enforcement officials continue to point out that traveling through different areas is necessary to get to recreational destinations during which it is possible to inadvertently spread disease either to or from that location. Plus if anything happens to any recreater, first responders have to risk themselves to help after which the injured may well taking up a bed within the Mother Lode’s limited hospital accommodations.

Hoping to help impress this logic upon cabin owners and other permittees hankering to visit, Forest officials last week sent out a letter. While it emphasized appreciation of their partnering and stewardship, it laid out exactly how recreation residents must comply with state and local requirements under the terms of their special use permit and Newsom’s order.

It went on to say that previously approved cabin maintenance projects should be postponed for the time being and that recreation residence repairs needing immediate work to address urgent health and safety concerns should be coordinated with permit administrators. The letter advised that forest staffing would be limited, specific services such as water systems may not be operational.

The letter also invoked local guidance to all visitors from county health officials of Tuolumne, Calaveras, Alpine and Mariposa counties, further enacting shelter in place and limiting of social interaction. To top it all off, it additionally referenced statements from each of the county sheriffs; using unique wording and citing various reasons they also kindly requested visitors to please postpone plans until the stay-at-home orders are lifted.

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