Sequestration may put a squeeze on summer camping in the Sierra.
That's because many of the lakes and forests popular with vacationers are on lands managed by federal agencies that are being forced to trim their budgets due to the budget stalemate in Washington.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will "delay" the opening of some campgrounds at New Melones Lake as well as reduce the hours of some facilities at New Melones.
There will likely be campground closures in the Stanislaus National Forest, too, although forest authorities were not prepared Wednesday to say which facilities would close or when.
A Stanislaus National Forest spokesman contacted Wednesday referred the question up the chain of command to the U.S. Department of Agriculture national headquarters.
An email from a USDA representative who asked to be identified only as "a spokesperson" said "The Forest Service is planning for the possible closure of 670 campgrounds, trailheads and picnic sites around the country."
The email said such closures will mean that as many as 1.6 million people will lose out on recreation opportunities as a result.
The Stanislaus is one of 155 national forests in the United States. If the planned closures were distributed evenly among all those forests, that would mean four campgrounds or other facilities in the Stanislaus might be closed this summer.
At least for this year, visitors to Yosemite National Park should see relatively few changes, said Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman.
"We've been able to absorb most of the cuts with (leaving vacant) permanent positions. People who have moved on to other parks, we haven't filled those positions," Gediman said.
Gediman said all of the park's campgrounds will be open. Some ranger-led talks or campfires will be trimmed, however. "We are going to have fewer programs at the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias."
Also, the park will not offer evening hours this summer as it has in past years at the Yosemite Visitors Center, Gediman said. Gediman said Yosemite had to trim its budget by about 5 percent.
New Hogan Reservoir near Valley Springs, which is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, will continue to operate all its campgrounds and recreation facilities this summer, said Bob Kidd, a spokesman at the Corps' regional office in Sacramento. He said regional officials made the necessary cuts by eliminating training and travel for employees.
Meanwhile, at Melones, Bureau officials say the Manzanita, Chamise, Oak Knoll, and Big Oak campgrounds as well as several loops of the Ironhorse Campground will remain closed until further notice. Also closed are the Angels Creek Boat Ramp and the Heron Point and Osprey Point day use areas.
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