Sonora, CA – New Melones Lake will open for the summer on Thursday, May 23rd, after a forced delay due to federal budget cuts. In the beginning of April, the Bureau of Reclamation Central California Area announced the lake would continue with its winter hours and smaller ranger staff. They blamed the changes and a six week opening delay on the federal sequestration. Now Reclamation Officials say they are in the process of hiring 5 more rangers to bring the number to 21 for the busy summer season. Reclamation Officials released the details below:
• All campgrounds will open with the exception of Chamise Campground in the Tuttletown Recreation Area, which will remain closed until further notice due to necessary infrastructure repairs. Individual and group campsites and group picnic reservations can be made a minimum of two days in advance through the National Recreation Reservation Service at 1-877-444-6777 or at www.recreation.gov.
• All Day Use Areas at New Melones Lake will open on May 23. The exception is the Angels Creek restroom and fish cleaning station, which will remain closed until further notice. A portable restroom will be available at the Angels Creek boat ramp for the convenience of visitors. Please note that if the lake level drops below 975 feet, the Angels Creek boat ramp will be closed.
• The gates into the Glory Hole and Tuttletown recreation areas will be open from 4 a.m. until 11 p.m. from Thursday, May 23, through Monday, Sept. 30. (The gates are currently open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
• The Visitor Center and Museum will be open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or as staffing allows.
• The New Melones Lake Administration Office will continue to be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; however, effective May 23, the office will begin accepting special use and right of use permit requests, including all fishing tournaments. Park Rangers will continue to accept educational program requests.
Reclamation Officials says they expect 20 to 30 thousand people to flock to the lake this weekend.