FAQ / Key Facts

Who owns Pinecrest Lake?

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Stanislaus National Forest (STF) jointly manage Pinecrest Lake reservoir. PG&E owns the dam at Pinecrest Lake and is licensed and regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to manage and operate the Pinecrest Lake reservoir as a component of the Spring Gap – Stanislaus Hydroelectric Project for the purpose of safely generating clean, renewable power.
Pinecrest Lake’s campgrounds, resorts, organization/club camps, commercial areas, post office, beaches, marina and cabins around the lake reside on public land within the Stanislaus National Forest. All recreation and commercial areas are permitted and managed by the STF.

Who manages Pinecrest Lake?

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Stanislaus National Forest (STF) coordinate to jointly manage the lake as a resource. Pinecrest Lake is managed by PG&E to produce hydroelectric power through its Spring Gap-Stanislaus Project. Pinecrest Lake’s campgrounds, resorts, commercial areas, and cabins around the lake are uses permitted and managed by the STF. The Pinecrest Day Use Area, which is located on the south and west shore of Pinecrest Lake and managed by the STF, includes a boat launch, amphitheater, fishing platform and a picnic area.

Hydroelectric projects are regulated and licensed by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), who (a) issues and administers licenses, (b) conducts environmental review of relicensing projects, (c) prescribes conditions that regulate hydroelectric project operations and (d) monitors compliance with license conditions.

When was Pinecrest Lake built?

Pinecrest Lake was built in the logging era of 1914. The lake was to provide drinking water to the lower elevations and generate power through the power house downstream at Spring Gap. Pinecrest Lake is the last in a series of dams constructed on the South Fork of the Stanislaus River. In the beginning the purpose was to divert water via ditches and flumes to the mining claims and towns in and around Columbia and the foothills. Much of this aqueduct system remains intact today and is still used as a portion of the main water system for the surrounding area. Pinecrest Lake today is a component of the PG&E Spring Gap – Stanislaus Hydropower regulated and licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

What parts of Pinecrest Lake’s Recreation are being improved?

Planned improvements include Pinecrest Lake’s beaches, docks, facilities, trails, bathrooms, campgrounds, parking lots and roads. These upgrades will enhance access to Pinecrest Lake with better traffic circulation, parking, boat launch and dock facilities, fish cleaning station, trails and beach and swimming facilities.

The expansion and modernization of public restrooms and the facilities for disabled visitors will improve barrier-free access to recreation resources and create new recreation opportunities.

For specific improvements, visit the Pinecrest Lake Facility Improvements page of this website.

Will these improvements disrupt or harm the environment?

These measures will enrich the Pinecrest Lake recreation experience and help protect scenic and other natural resources through minimizing water use and resource consumption. A throughout environmental review was performed and measures are in place to ensure the improvements minimize any disruption in the environment.

Who is paying for the improvements to the Day Use Areas at Pinecrest Lake?

The improvements are being paid for by Pacific Gas & Electric and managed by the Stanislaus National Forest.

Did the public have an opportunity to comment on the Recreation and other improvements being made to Pinecrest Lake facilities and infrastructure?

Yes. PG&E owns and operates the dam at Pinecrest Lake as a component of the PG&E Spring Gap-Stanislaus Hydroelectric Project (PG&E Spring Gap- Stanislaus Project). Hydroelectric projects are regulated and licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

During the PG&E Spring Gap-Stanislaus Project’s relicensing period, there was a very lengthy public review process which began 1999 with the organization of an advisory team called the Stanislaus Planning Action Team (SPLAT) Collaborative. Over the course of the next 10 years, there were numerous studies, over 300 public and regulatory agency meetings and a public environmental review process.  In 2009, after consideration of public, agency and other input, FERC issued a new license to the PG&E Spring Gap Project.

When will the Recreation and other improvements be constructed? Will the improvements interrupt the high use summer season?

To avoid the summertime high use season, construction is planned annually to start in 2012 after Labor Day weekend and end prior to Memorial Day weekends through 2015.  Frequent users at Pinecrest Lake may have noticed the improvements started in 2011 with the replacement of the courtesy dock at the boat ramp.

What changes are being made to the Pinecrest Campgrounds?

Pinecrest Campground Improvements include rehabilitating all facilities, site amenities, roads, trails and infrastructure within the existing boundaries of the Pinecrest Campground. Specific improvements at the entrance station and within the campground are listed on the Campground Improvements page of this website.

The improvements to the Pinecrest Campgrounds will:

• Provide universally accessible campground facilities in the Pinecrest Basin.
• Provide facilities that minimize resource consumption.
• Provide camping opportunities that meet the experience needs of users now and into the future.
• Minimize impacts to natural resource functions including meadow and drainage areas
• Improve roads, trails and parking spurs.

Why are changes being made to the Pinecrest Campgrounds?

Pinecrest Campground is a popular overnight destination in the Stanislaus National Forest. The campground experiences nearly 80-100 percent occupancy from Memorial Day through Labor Day with less use in the spring and fall and is closed during the winter.

Pinecrest Campground was built over 50 years ago during the 1960’s and has not been significantly modified or updated since. Pinecrest Campground is on Forest Service land and operated under special use permit where fees collected contribute to facility maintenance in the campground. However, due to the age and high use of the campground, the structural integrity of the facilities varies with increasing maintenance challenges and costs. While some facilities within the campground meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), most do not. Improvements are needed to meet current laws and standards for accessibility, health and safety, and to better meet the needs of recreation for the public visiting the Pinecrest area.

Will the construction close the campgrounds or make it difficult to reserve a campground?

The planned improvements and construction will not occur during the heavily used summer months. Construction may impede use in some areas during spring and fall after Labor Day. The Forest Service will keep the public updated on construction and any camp closures.

What is the time frame for the Campground Improvements and construction?

The Stanislaus National Forest, Summit Ranger District accepted public comments through June 11, 2012 on the initial scoping for the project prior to preparing an environmental analysis for the reconstruction of Pinecrest Campground. The Pinecrest Campground Improvements is a proposed action by the Forest Service which requires environmental review for the project.

The Forest Service is using the submitted scoping comments to help identify issues and alternatives developing an Environmental Assessment (EA) document which will be available for public review on September 15, 2012. The public will have 30 days to comment on the EA. The Forest Service will then use the EA and public comment to issue a Decision Notice on October 30, 2012.  The Decision Notice can be appealed until December 14, 2012.

Based on the schedule above and availability of funding, implementation of the Pinecrest Campground Improvements could begin sometime in early 2013.

Who is paying for the Campground Improvements?

The Forest Service and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) plan to jointly share the costs to rehabilitate the Pinecrest Campground facilities, site amenities, roads, trails and infrastructure within the existing boundaries of Pinecrest Campground. This joint effort comes from a Settlement Agreement from 2006 associated with the Stanislaus Spring-Gap Hydroelectric Project which PG&E owns and operates under a permit granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Who will administer and manage the Campground Improvement process?

Pinecrest Campground Improvements is a Forest Service project for proposed action. The Forest Service will perform environmental review on the project and administer the rehabilitation and construction efforts

What is a Shoreline Management Plan? What is the purpose of the Shoreline Management Plan?

A Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) is a planning tool that evaluates all lake users and activity levels into account to set rules and standards to best manage shoreline activities to reduce recreation conflicts between uses such as swimming, fishing and boating access by identifying specific use areas by activity.

The purpose of the SMP is to provide a comprehensive blueprint for managing the lake’s shoreline and providing public access to the waters of Pinecrest Lake in a manner that is consistent with the lake’s primary purpose of power generation. The SMP addresses a number of existing shoreline issues and is consistent with the Stanislaus National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.

View or download a copy of the Shoreline Management Plan.

Why is a Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) being prepared?

The SMP is one of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conditions on Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E’s) license for the Spring Gap – Stanislaus Hydroelectric Project (PG&E Spring Gap-Stanislaus Project) issued in 2009. During the PG&E Spring Gap-Stanislaus Project’s relicensing period, recreation studies identified the need for better management of shoreline activities, particularly in the day use area, and for reducing recreation conflicts between uses such as swimming, fishing and boating.

What are the major changes made between the Draft and Final Shoreline Management Plans (SMP)?

Mooring balls: An increase in the total number of moorings allowed from 20 to 148. 85 on the south shore, 15 on the north shore, and one mooring ball for each of the 48 cabins that do not have road access.

Lottery for mooring balls: Due to the increase of moorings and to the number of comments against the lottery to receive a mooring ball, this has been removed. A commercial operator will manage the 100 public moorings. The STF will issue a Special Use Permit (SUP) to the commercial operator to operate the rental and management of moorings. The public will no longer need to provide a mooring ball. The commercial operator will provide the mooring for a nominal fee.

Log booms: Residential log booms were not authorized in the Draft SMP. This has been revised and is authorized as long as the log boom owner can express a need for the boom and will need to obtain a Special Use Permit (SUP).

New south shore courtesy dock: The courtesy dock was removed from the plan since public comments reflected the absence of a need for the dock.

Boats left on the shoreline: Some comments received expressed confusion around whether boats were allowed to be left on the shoreline during the day. This is clarified in the Final SMP. Boats can be left on the shoreline during the day.

Anchorages for docks: The Draft SMP required 8 cubic feet of concrete to be used as anchors for docks. Due to comments received by the public stating that this size is excessive, this requirement has been removed.

Racing buoys: The Draft SMP required any group wishing to install racing buoys in the lake obtain permits from the USFS and Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office. To honor the historic use of sail boat racing this requirement has been removed

When will the changes in the Shoreline Management Plan be implemented?

Many of the policies and provisions identified in the Shoreline Management Plan are already being administered by the Stanislaus National Forest (STF) and they will continue to be enforced. The Mooring Buoy Program will be implemented the season following the completion of the implementation activities associated with the Traffic/Circulation/Parking Plan. 

PG&E and the Forest Service will monitor the situation prior to and after implementation of the plan to determine if changes are needed in the future.

Who will manage and enforce the Shoreline Management Plan’s policies?

A commercial operator permitted by the Stanislaus National Forest (STF) will be responsible for the administration and management of the mooring buoys at the two mooring areas. The buoy allocation will be on a first come first serve system for allocating buoys.

The STF Park Rangers will enforce the Shoreline Management Plan.

Did the public have an opportunity to comment on the Shoreline Management Plan?

Yes. While not required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to solicit public comments, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) recognized the importance of the public's interest and established a public comment period on the Draft Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) released on April 3, 2012. The public comment period ended on May 3, 2012 and PG&E accepted over 150 public comments on the draft plan for consideration. As a result of the public comments, several changes were made to the Final SMP which was submitted to FERC on July 23, 2012 for approval.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Stanislaus National Forest Summit Ranger District (USFS)

Joint Management of Pinecrest Lake

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Stanislaus National Forest (STF) jointly manage Pinecrest Lake reservoir.
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