CLOVIS, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Sierra National Forest has announced that closures of certain roads and recreation facilities have been extended, officials with the U.S. Forest Service announced on Thursday.

Forest authorities say that 2023, a historic year for Southern Sierra snowpack, combined with the unimpaired runoff in the Kings River watershed forecast at 266% of the historical April – July average, is going to impact the normal summer recreation season in relation to Helms, Balch, and Haas-Kings Recreation on Forest Service properties of the High Sierra District.

Officials say that PG&E and the U.S. Forest Service have decided to extend the closure of the Dinkey Creek Gate at McKinley Grove Road and the Sawmill Flat Gate on Black Rock Road until June 16 as a safety measure.

These are the areas, roads included in the extension:

Dinkey Creek Gate extended closure:

  • Extensive winter damage has been taken to McKinley Grove Road both on the inbound and outbound sides of the road
    • Large potholes taking up entire lanes
    • Collapsing culverts
    • Lifted asphalt
    • Sloughing road shoulders
    • Water intrusion creating streams that spring directly out of the road
      • PG&E will be able to safely begin some of these repairs without interruption with additional closure time
      • Short-term repairs will address the most dangerous damages to the road that could potentially cause an accident or vehicle damage

Helms Recreation Facilities:

  • Many of the campgrounds remain closed and underneath large amounts of snow
  • The Upper Kings Campground and fishing area are closed and will remain closed until late July due to the need to continue utilizing the Wishon Dam Low-Level Outlet.
  • Wishon Dam will begin spillway releases in early June
  • Snow prevents access to the spillway side of Wishon Dam with no parking or driving available
  • Courtright gate remains closed and completely buried in snow

Sawmill Flat Gate extended closure:

  • Much of Black Rock Road remains unpassable due to snow accumulation.
    • There have been many road slides along the road leading to the gate.
    • There are many downed trees across the road that cannot be accessed until the snow has melted
    • Once snow has melted the road will be evaluated for safety and any needed repairs.
    • The date to open this gate is subject to change again based upon conditions and resources to clear the road for travel, please verify prior to attempting to travel into this area

Forest officials say if the repairs are completed sooner, they will plan on opening the road before the announced opening date on June 16. For updates visit the PG&E and Forest website for updated information regarding these gates.

PG&E and the Forest Service have determined that keeping the Dinkey Creek gate and Sawmill Flat gate closed is necessary for the interest of public safety.

Forest Roads Affected by Storm Damage or Forest Closure

The Sierra National Forest has developed a map that shows forest roads and recreation sites that are affected by storm damage or forest closure. The most recent map and Closure Order can be found on the Forest website.

For more information contact the Sierra National Forest at (559) 297-0706 for more information.

Forest officials advise boaters on all reservoirs to be cautious and beware that elevated levels of debris in the water are expected this time of year.

Debris conditions can vary rapidly with shifting winds, so visitors should always be cautious and have an eye out for floating debris and underwater obstacles, officials stated. Be aware that debris might be waterlogged and therefore resting just under the water’s surface out of plain sight.