QUINCY, CA — After a week that included hot weather, widespread rain and thunderstorms, landslides and gusty winds, area residents and visitors planning to recreate on the Plumas National Forest this weekend are encouraged to plan their trip and be prepared for changing conditions.
While last weekend’s storm only produced three lightning strikes on the Plumas National Forest – all near Belden, widespread rain with heavier amounts in some locations caused landslides in some of the recent fire areas. Forest employees are still assessing slide locations and storm impacts this week.
Some areas of the Plumas National Forest were estimated to have received more than an inch of rain in an hour. There has not been any significant damage to Plumas National Forest facilities or infrastructure as a result of the storm, but assessments are continuing. Priority areas being checked include the 6M40 OHV trail to Tobin Ridge, the Ben Lomond Trail, Pacific Crest Trail up Chips and Forest Road 26N26.
The Feather River received significant sediment, logs and debris. Opapee Creek and Murphy’s Creek had true debris flows with a slurry transporting boulders and logs resulting in damage to State Highway 70.
On Sunday, slides in the Dixie Fire area included Highway 70, closing the highway between the Greenville Wye and Jarbo Gap.
Recreation sites in the Feather River Canyon, including Gansner Bar, Hallsted, North Fork and Queen Lily Campgrounds are still open for those with reservations.
However, the sites can only be accessed heading west on Highway 70, down the canyon from Quincy. Visitors will need to speak with California Highway Patrol or CalTrans representatives at the road closure to travel to the recreation sites.
None of the four campgrounds in the Feather River Canyon were damaged in the storm. Campers should maintain awareness of the forecast and river conditions in case heavy storms trigger additional landslides.
All recreation sites at Little Grass Valley Recreation Area are open for the season.
Lake levels are low at some reservoirs and some boat launches may not have courtesy docks available for boaters. Boat docks are in the water at Frenchman Boat Launch, Lost Cove Boat Launch at Antelope Lake and Sandy Point Boat Launch at Bucks Lake. Repairs are in progress for boat docks at Gold Lake Boat Launch and Honker Cove Boat Launch at Lake Davis.
Despite recent storms and mountain reservoirs including Little Grass Valley, Bucks Lake and Antelope Lake being full, the area is under an ongoing drought. Area residents and visitors are asked to help conserve water at recreation sites in the forest, including ensuring that water spigots are turned completely off.
Fuel conditions also remain unseasonably dry. While there are not fire restrictions in place yet, care should be taken with anything that can spark a wildfire.
Campfires should never be left unattended and should be dead-out and cold to the touch before leaving. Trailer chains should be secured and not dragging, and spark arresters should be functioning properly on motorized equipment, including off-highway vehicles, generators and chainsaws.
Hot temperatures and widespread gusty winds are forecasted over the Plumas National Forest, particularly at lower elevations and over the eastern side of the forest this Thursday into Saturday. Temperatures are expected to be cooler Saturday with a chance of thunderstorms, before starting to warm up again Sunday.
Those recreating in the forest, whether it is a day hike, fishing trip, camping out, backpack adventure or other activity, are encouraged to be prepared for changing conditions, have the right gear for the trip, and plenty of water and other supplies.
If recreating in an area impacted by wildfire, watch for hazards including trees that can fall with no notice, even when green, unstable soils and potential slides. These hazards increase during and following rainstorms. If in these areas and the weather is changing, move to safer ground and avoid low-lying areas.
Higher elevations still have some snow, and trail and road conditions may still be muddy in some places.
Several forest recreation sites are also seeing an increase in bear activity. Area residents and visitors should ensure that food is secured and that there are not food items or smells that can attract bears to a campsite in search of food.
“The holiday weekend ahead should be a great one to explore the Plumas National Forest, especially enjoying the lakes and reservoirs with some cooler daytime temperatures,” said Plumas National Forest Recreation and Lands Program Manager Erika Brenzovich. “We hope everyone has a safe and memorable weekend with family and friends.”
It’s always good for any forest adventure to make sure in addition to the right supplies that you let someone know where you are going, when you plan to be back and start with a full tank of gas.