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Stories from the valley

Making Eldorado National Forest Activities More Accessible

Contributed by Carl Gwyn

The US Forest Service has just finished combining the visitor centers for the Pacific and Placerville Ranger Districts, making finding out about activities in the Eldorado National Forest faster and easier. The visitor center at the Placerville Ranger District in Camino will now handle all information requests and issue forest permits. You can even get those for Desolation Wilderness at the office right next door. For more information on the merger, click here.

So, let’s say you want to get a wilderness permit, a wood cutting permit, or, very soon, a Christmas tree permit for the Highway 50 corridor. You’ll take exit 54 for Cedar Grove just miles east of Placerville, conveniently located on the eastbound side of the roadway. Turn right at the bottom of the off-ramp. The next right takes you into the ranger station. Just follow the road, and you’ll see the visitor center straight ahead.

At the visitor center, you can purchase woodcutting permits ($5/cord), permits to gather landscape rock ($20/short ton), and many other permits for forest products at reasonable prices. Click here for more information on permits. There are also books, maps, hats, T-shirts, and other items related to the forest and history of the area for sale.

Those eager to find the perfect Christmas tree may be interested in the cutting permit introduced last season. You can get a permit to head into the forest from November 12th through December 16th and cut a tree for only $10. This is a real-out-in-the-forest experience, so you’ll have to take your own saw and haul your own tree. However, with this year’s late snow, there’s easy access to great trees at higher elevations, providing a fun family adventure. For more information on this permit, click here.

The Visitor Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday until December 16th, and Monday through Friday from then until the end of May, when it will be open seven days a week for the summer season. The Forest Service folks are friendly, knowledgeable, and ready to help you enjoy the many activities available in the Eldorado National Forest.

Other office locations to obtain permits and information are the Supervisor’s Office, 100 Forni Road in Placerville, Amador Ranger District, 26820 Silver Dr. in Pioneer, and Georgetown Ranger District, 7600 Wentworth springs Rd., in Georgetown.

Oh yes, one last thing. No permit is needed to pan for gold. That’s free!