The ASRA Project Summary
ASRA PLAN NEXT STEPS
2022: Click Here for Auburn State Recreation Area Summary of Proposed Projects in El Dorado County for 2022.
California State Parks (Parks) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) prepared a joint Preliminary General Plan and Resource Management Plan to guide the long-term management of Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA) and Auburn Project Lands (APL). In the 1960’s and 70’s, BOR acquired these lands to support construction, operation, and maintenance of the Auburn Dam and Reservoir. ASRA was designated a State Recreation Area in 1979, covering all of these lands except for 105 acres that are managed by other agencies. ASRA is managed by Parks consistent with an agreement with BOR.
Parks prepared a Plan in 1979 for the management of Auburn Reservoir after construction of the dam. A series of complications put construction of the dam on hold for an indefinite period. BOR prepared an Interim Plan in 1992, in coordination with Parks, that provided guidance for the management of the area until the dam was constructed. The current General Plan replaces the 1979 Plan and the 1992 Interim Plan. It provides a long-term and comprehensive framework for the management of ASRA in its current condition, consistent with the missions of Parks and BOR.
If, in the future, funding and approvals for the Auburn Dam are obtained, the federally-authorized dam and reservoir could be constructed. In the event that construction is resumed, Parks and BOR would develop a new or revised General Plan to provide for long-term and comprehensive recreation and resource management that includes the dam and reservoir.
This future Plan will identify goals and guidelines to achieve the purpose and vision for ASRA/APL. It will include management strategies and improvements to serve visitors while protecting natural and cultural resources.
ASRA has been divided into eleven management zones that reflect geographic areas with similar existing conditions and issues. The management zones include:
— Click on a link below for that zone’s management plan summary —
The proposed action anticipates and accommodates increases in regional recreation demand by improving existing facilities and providing additional facilities and improved access. It would also allow for increased resource protection and management.
Major initiatives would:
- Focus new recreation development primarily in existing medium or high-intensity recreation use areas, or previously-disturbed areas.
- Provide additional day use facilities such as picnic sites and toilets, and increase parking capacity up to 25 percent in suitable areas in the Confluence, Knickerbocker, Auburn Interface, Foresthill Divide, Lower Middle Fork, Cherokee Bar/Ruck-a-Chucky, Upper North Fork, and Mineral Bar Management Zones, and
- Increase camping capacity by up to 245 individual campsites and alternative camping facilities and 5 group sites while incorporating wildfire prevention strategies.
- Increase access to the North and Middle Forks of the American River, improve several roads and trails to the river for boating, fishing, picnicking and water play.
- Prepare a comprehensive Road and Trail Management Plan to address trail use, improvements and maintenance, and guide system improvements. Information about this process is available on the Auburn State Recreation Area General Plan/Resource Management Plan Website.
- Selectively inventory, survey, evaluate, and monitor natural and cultural resources; and restore sensitive natural resource values. Prioritize the most significant resources and area of greatest threats, including newly developed areas. Use natural resource management strategies, such as protecting wildlife/habitat corridors and habitat elevation gradients, to maintain the capacity of natural resources to adapt and respond to climate change. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will complete and implement a Fire Management Plan under a separate planning process. State Parks will prepare and implement a separate Road and Trail Management Plan.
- Provide interpretation and education messages, programs, materials, features and facilities to inform the public of recreation opportunities, and promote awareness of natural and cultural resources.
Comprising about 1,610 acres of land on both sides of the North Fork of the American River downstream of the confluence with the Middle Fork, the Auburn Interface Management Zone is adjacent to the southern portion of the City of Auburn. The zone includes the Auburn Dam site, Rocky Point and the China Bar, Oregon Bar and Birdsall areas. Existing facilities include trailheads, trails, parking areas, restrooms, and river access points.
Within the Auburn Interface Management Zone:
- A trail bridge across the North Fork of the American River
- Improved boat launching and landing sites with up to 50 additional parking spaces
- Boater shuttle services between the Confluence and China Bar
- Additional technical mountain bike trails, and
- Expanded day-use facilities on the west side of the river including picnic sites, parking, restrooms, areas for special events, and recreational equipment rentals.
Within the Birdsall, China and Oregon Bar areas:
- Additional trailhead and parking facilities
Within the Rocky Point/Salt Creek Areas:
- Camping opportunities including up to 50 campsites and alternative camping options, such as cabins or yurts on the east side of the river, and
- Vehicle access to the river with up to 100 parking spaces and associated facilities.
This area comprises about 3,657 acres of land along both sides of the Middle Fork of the American River. It includes the Ruck-a-Chucky campground and boat landings, the Cherokee Bar day use area, with trails, trailheads, parking and river access points.
Within the Cherokee Bar/Ruck-a-Chucky Management Zone:
- Improve McKeon-Ponderosa Road and opening it to public vehicles for river access;
- Improvements to the existing Drivers Flat Road;
- Coordination with El Dorado County to improve Sliger Mine Road to Cherokee Bar.
Within the Greenwood/Ruck-a-Chucky area:
- Add up to 10 additional campsites, and
- A trail bridge across the Middle Fork of the American River near Ruck-a-Chucky and Cherokee Bar.
Within the Cherokee Bar Area:
- Add a new campground with up to 20 campsites, and
- Up to 40 parking spaces, 10 picnic sites and restrooms.
Comprises about 2,199 acres of land surrounding the confluence of the North and Middle Forks of the American River. It is adjacent to the northern portion of the City of Auburn. It includes the park office, the Highway 49 and Foresthill ridges, the Mountain Quarries Mine and Cool Cave climbing area, and the popular Confluence area. Existing facilities include trailheads, trails, parking sites, restrooms, river access points and visitor contact stations.
Within the Confluence Management Zone:
- Improve river access and portage trails,
- Additional areas for rock climbing, and
- Transit or shuttle service
Within the Highway 49 Access area:
- Formalize and improve parking and wayfinding; and
- Additional trailheads and restrooms
Within the Cool Cave Quarry and Mt. Quarries Mine Activity areas:
- Guided tours of the Mountain Quarries Mine;
- Opening additional rock climbing areas; and
- Restrooms and interpretive information near the existing rock climbing area.
Within the Confluence View area:
- A small overlook and interpretive facility near the Foresthill Bridge.
Comprises about 2,927 acres of mostly upland areas on both sides of Foresthill Road. This includes trails, trailheads, parking and restrooms.
Within the Road Corridor area:
- Improved trailheads and trail access facilities
- Additional restrooms, up to 100 parking spaces, 20 picnic sites, and
- Up to 20 campsites
Comprises about 3,124 acres of relatively flat land in the southeastern portion of the Park, near the town of Cool. The primary access point is the Cool Staging Area, adjacent to the town of Cool, which includes trailheads, trails, restrooms, parking, picnic sites, and numerous trails.
Within the Knickerbocker Management Zone:
- A new trail connection from the Olmstead Loop to Folsom Lake State Recreations Area.
Within the vicinity of the Cool Staging Area:
- Additional day use facilities, such as picnic tables, restrooms, and interpretive displays; and
- Up to an additional 50 parking spaces, 20 picnic sites and 10 shade ramadas.
Within the Knickerbocker Road Corridor:
- Up to 50 campsites and alternative camping options such as cabins or yurts, and 3 group camps
- Visitor vehicle access to the river from Cool along the existing Knickerbocker maintenance road
- A small maintenance facility (up to ¼ acre)
Comprises about 1,363 acres, including Lake Clementine and the surrounding land. The management zone includes the North Fork Dam, Lake Clementine Marina, a boat-in campground, and the popular Upper Lake Clementine day use area. Existing facilities include trails, trailheads, parking, boast launch, marina, campsite and lake access points.
Within the Lake Clementine Management Zone:
- New trail connections along Lake Clementine and up river to Ponderosa Way
- Motorized and non-motorized watercraft rentals, classes, trips and storage facilities
Within the Upper Lake Beach area:
- Improvement of the access road to Upper Lake Clementine; and
- Restroom at Upper Lake Clementine beach
At the marina and boat ramp:
- Renovation of existing marina facilities without increasing the number of slips
Lower Middle Fork
This area comprises about 3,066 acres of land along both sides of the Middle Fork of the American River. It includes trails, trailheads, parking and popular paddle stops along the river.
Within the Lower Middle Fork Management Zone:
- Improved trail access to the river,
- Improved trailheads including parking areas, trash receptacles and signs, and
- Interpretive signs and materials to describe the area’s mining history.
Comprises about 1,170 acres of land along the north side of the Middle Fork of the American River. It includes all OHV tracks and trails. Existing facilities include parking areas, trailheads, restrooms, river access and picnic areas.
Within the Mammoth Bar Area:
- Additional technical downhill mountain biking trails and other active recreation facilities, and
- Allow OHV use up to six days a week
Within the Castle Rock Area:
- Investigate the potential to relocate the OHV track to an upland location near Castle Rock, which would include parking, restrooms, and picnic sites.
Within the Staging Area:
- Relocate the OHV track farther from the river if it is substantially damaged by flooding; and
- Add camping and day use facilities near the river if the OHV track is relocated.
Comprises about 217 acres of land along both sides of the North Fork of the American River at the northern edge of ASRA. It includes the Mineral Bar campground and river access points. Existing facilities include trails, trailheads, campsites, restrooms, and parking.
Within the Mineral Bar Management Zone:
- Expand the Mineral Bar Campground to add up to 20 campsites, and
- Improve rive access/launch points and up top 20 additional parking spaces, 10 picnic sites, and restrooms.
Upper Middle Fork
This area comprises about 3,919 acres of land along both sides of the Middle Fork of the American River at the eastern edge of the park. It includes trails, trailheads, restrooms and popular paddle stops along the river.
Within the Upper Middle Fork Management Zone:
- Agreement with the US Forest Service for the operation and management of whitewater at Oxbow/Indian Bar put-in and through USFS lands.
Upper North Fork
Comprises about 7,358 acres of land along both sides of the North Fork of the American River between Lake Clementine and Mineral Bar. It includes the Ponderosa and Yankee Jims day use areas, as well as popular paddle stops along the river. Existing facilities include trails, trailheads, parking, restrooms, and river access points.
Within the Upper North Fork Management Zone:
- Improvements to Windy Point Trail and evaluate possible connections to Indian Creek Trail, and
- Improve parking and trailhead access on Iowa Hill Road
Within the Shirttail Canyon/Yankee Jims areas:
- Add up to 20 parking spaces, 10 picnic sites and restrooms, and
- Coordinate with Place County to improve road conditions and river crossing on Yankee Jims Road
Within the Ponderosa Crossing area:
- Add up to 20 parking spaces, 10 picnic sites, and restrooms
ISSUES AND OPPORTUNITIES
The planning team identified key issues and opportunities. The issues and opportunities listed here include the areas of known controversy, including issues raised by agencies and the public, and environmental issues to be resolved:
- Managing Trails, Use and Connectivity
- Providing Adequate Camping Opportunities
- Impact of Adjacent Lands on Visitor Experience
- Providing Access for Disabled Visitors
- Wildfire Management
- Controlling Invasive Plants
- Potential for Facility Inundation
- Providing Adequate Public Information, Education, and Interpretation
- Adapting to Climate Change
- Managing River Recreation
- Recreational Mineral Collection
- Nude Bathing and Beach Use
- Facilities for Camping & Picknicking
- Protecting Cultural Resources
- Protecting Scenic Views
- Parking Limitations and Congestion
- Preserving Special-Status Plants, Animals, and Sensitive Habitats
MANAGEMENT PLAN AND ALTERNATIVES
Four Plan alternatives were developed and considered during the planning process:
- No-Action Alternative – No expansion of facilities.
- Increased Recreation and Resource Management – Expansion of facilities to accommodate more visitors while protecting the environment.
- Resource Management Emphasis – Improvement of environmental protection without increasing the number of visitors.
- Recreation Emphasis – Expansion of facilities consistent with Statewide demand. Additional environmental protection.
Alternative #2 above is ASRA’s recommended Plan.