State Parks Funding

Staff shortage, sewer failure close Folsom Lake campground

A staffing shortage and equipment failure have led state Department of Parks and Recreation officials to close the Peninsula Campground on Folsom Lake effective July 18.

Because of a lack of staffing and the continued state hiring freeze, the campground off Rattlesnake Bar Road in the El Dorado County community of Pilot Hill can no longer be safely operated, officials said.

In addition, the sewer lift station that services the campground's restrooms and shower facilities failed over the July 4 weekend.

"Sadly, we have reached the point where both staffing and equipment failures have left us with no other options but to close Peninsula," Scott Nakaji, superintendent of State Parks' Gold Fields District, said in a written statement.

The Folsom Lake State Recreation Area is allocated 21 ranger/peace officer positions and generally operates with 13 to 16 of those positions filled, he said. Ten or 11 rangers are considered minimal staffing, Nakaji said, but the recreation area currently is operating with eight.

The Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, which includes Lake Natoma, spans three counties with more than 100 miles of trails and 75 miles of shoreline. Officials said serving the area has been more difficult this year because high water levels have attracted record crowds.

The Peninsula unit, with a 100-site campground and a day use area, is 10 miles from Cool, off Highway 49, down narrow Rattlesnake Bar Road. Because of the remote location and extended response time for law enforcement and emergency services, the park has dedicated two officers to its operation during busy summer weekends.

With current staffing levels, Nakaji said, continuing to staff the campground would take personnel away from more popular areas along the lake, such as Granite Bay and Beals Point.

Ted Jackson, a spokesman for the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, said the vehicle entrance to the Peninsula Campground and day use area will be gated, although the area will remain accessible to pedestrians and boaters. The campground is typically open April 1 through Sept. 30. State parks officials estimate they will lose about $10,000 in revenue by closing the campground.

State parks spokesman Roy Stearns said 70 reservations had been made for campsites at the Peninsula campground for the period from July 18 through Labor Day. Those individuals will be contacted by ReserveAmerica and offered a chance to camp at other campgrounds in the state or given full refunds.