PINECREST -- After the summer visitors depart and before the snow starts to fall, workers hope to begin recreation improvements at Pinecrest Lake east of Sonora.
Construction is scheduled to begin in October on a series of projects at the lake, a popular spot for Merced-area residents and other visitors, the Stanislaus National Forest announced.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is paying for the estimated $3.8 million worth of work as a condition of a renewed federal license for generating hydropower with the lake's water, forest spokesman Jerry Snyder said Friday.
The construction will run to 2015 but will not be done between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, so as not to disturb visitors during the peak season, he said.
The work includes new or improved picnic sites, parking lots, roads, water and sewer systems, restrooms and boat launching sites.
Swimming beaches will get extra sand. The fish-cleaning station will be rebuilt. The trail around the lake will be improved, as will the amphitheater used for movies, ranger programs and church serv-ices. Access will improve for disabled visitors.
Along with providing recreation, the lake stores part of the water supply for the 44,000 customers of the Tuolumne Utilities District.
Earlier this month, a state board approved a 2-foot drop in the lake level, to 5,606 feet above sea level, to help the district deal with dry conditions this year.
The California State Water Resources Control Board weighed the district's need for water against the wishes of people who preferred a larger lake surface for recreation.
The board ordered the TUD to step up its water conservation efforts as a condition of lowering the lake.
Water from Pinecrest flows down the south fork of the Stanislaus River to Lyons Reservoir, which feeds the Gold Rush-era ditches that bring water to Sonora and several other communities.
More information about the recreation improvements is at www.pinecrestlakeupdate.com.
Modesto Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2385.