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Stanislaus National Forest Opens Up More For Dispersed Camping, Rec

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Sonora, CA – For folks pining to recreate at many of the developed facilities on the Stanislaus National Forest the opportunity to begin doing so again is coming Friday at 2 p.m.

Under Forest Order STF-16-2020-15, released Thursday afternoon, forest officials list 19 campgrounds that will be accessible to the public for dispersed camping using social distancing.

Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken says that many of the campgrounds that are opening Friday are concessionaire operations. “I’m glad our concessionaire partners are the first to reopen — all our neighboring communities have been impacted, and it’s good to see some small businesses able to reopen.”

He advises visitors to anticipate a somewhat different recreational experience due to CDC guidelines for health and safety and the need to ensure social distancing for the sake of public health. Plans are to open other areas as Forest Service personnel ready them for public use under COVID-19 limitations.

“Employee and public safety remain our number one priority, and we will closely monitor the situation and make changes accordingly,” he emphasizes. He states that folks should be prepared to be self-reliant by bringing their own soap, hand sanitizer, toilet tissue, and drinking water. Campers need to know in advance that trash removal is very limited so plan to pack out all trash and waste.

In addition to day use sites that were already accessible, the forest order exempted a list of campgrounds from the closure. These are listed below. The campgrounds identified with an (*) are reservable at All other campgrounds are first-come, first served. It is important to note that some campsites or parking areas may be closed to limit capacity for county and CDC guidelines.

Groveland Ranger District
Sweetwater Campground*
Lost Claim Campground*
Dimond O Campground*
Cherry Valley Campground*
Lumsden Campground
South Fork Campground
The Pines Campground

Mi-Wok/Summit Ranger District
Pinecrest Campground*
Pigeon Flat Campground
Brightman Flat Campground
Fraser Flat Campground
Clark Fork Campground
Dardanelle Campground
Sand Flat Campground
Eureka Valley Campground
Baker Campground
Deadman Campground

Calaveras Ranger District
Lake Alpine complex* (partially opened)
Spicer Campground

The Latest On Pinecrest

Pinecrest Lake operators shared via social media that in addition to camping the marina, snack bar, camping, lodging, restaurant, coffee bar, and sports shop will be open, joining the grocery store and post office, which as essential operations, were already accessible. Fish and Game has stocked the lake every other week since April. They are also emphasizing that services and occupancy are being modified to accommodate public health guidelines.

Specific details for USFS facilities such as the public parking and boat launch are still forthcoming “soon” according to Forest officials. Due to its extreme popularity, the day-use area is not yet open yet and might not be in time for this weekend as plans are being worked out to ensure adequate social distancing and keeping employees and visitors safe under COVID-19.

The Dodge Ridge operators share their excitement about the Highway 108 campgrounds opening. They reiterate that among the campgrounds that remain temporarily closed are Meadowview, Pioneer Group, and Boulder. The Dardanelle operators confirm that at this time only the campground will be open.

Concessionaires advise campers to check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, do not go. If it is crowded, have a Plan B. Recreate only with your immediate household. If you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 stay home.

Prepare for facilities to be closed. Pack food and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. With search and rescue responders and health care resources stretched, use extra caution, and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury.

While “pack it in, pack it out” is always a given, Forest officials say it is even more important under COVID-19 guidelines and safety measures.