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Crowded highways, recreation areas in store for holiday weekend

CHP launching Maximum Enforcement Period Friday through Monday
By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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The sun doesn’t set on summer until Sept. 22, but millions will hit the highways this weekend in celebration of the Labor Day season finale holiday. Locally, many of those visitors will end up in the Auburn State Recreation Area, where parking will get scarce in some spots Parking in upper and lower Lake Clementine will fill up early, especially on Labor Day, ASRA State Parks Superintendent Mike Lynch said Wednesday. “The lower lake will probably be full starting Friday,” he said. “Then the upper lake normally fills up on these holidays. Sometimes by 11 a.m. to noon it could be full. Then we close it and make it one in and one out.” However, parking at the confluence is basically unlimited, “because people just park farther and farther away,” he said. For overnight stays, there are reservation-only campsites at Lake Clementine. “Our other two (campgrounds) are first-come, first serve,” Lynch said. “Normally people are moving in Thursday to get one of those sites. So they’ll be filled by Friday, too.” The busy weekend means the entire ASRA ranger staff will be working, he said. And although temperatures are forecast to be in the low to mid 90s — rather than the 100s — it will be hot on the trails. If you are going to be out there, you should carry a lot of water, he said. A $10 per vehicle day-use fee went into effect in July. Camping at Mineral Bar and Ruck-a-Chucky is $28 per night and the Clementine sites are $38 per night. There’s also a $10 motorized boat launch fee and a $10 per day charge for a second vehicle, according to the website. For those planning to remain close to home, Auburn Recreation District offers plenty of space for family fun and shade for relaxation. “The last few years we’ve had quite a few picnic sites fully booked throughout the district (over the Labor Day weekend),” customer services manager Manouch Shirvanioun said. “A lot of people stayed home and spent time here visiting the parks.” It’s a popular time to rent picnic sites for large family events such as reunions. As of Wednesday, Recreation Park still had one picnic site available for Labor Day rental. There were two at Regional Park and two at Meadow Vista Park. Cost is $80 for half-day, which runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., he said. The parks also have first-come first-serve picnic tables. This will be the last weekend to take a dip in Sierra Pool. It will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Shirvanioun said. “At Recreation, Regional and Meadow Vista, there are nice walking paths that go all the way around the parks,” he said. AAA of Northern California is predicting more than 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more over the three-day weekend. “While many Californians are still caught in a fragile state of economic affairs, they’re willing to travel, but will be cutting back on other expenses,” AAA Northern California spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said in a press release. “Those surveyed expect to cut back on shopping, take a shorter trip, travel by an alternative mode of transportation and stay with family and friends to avoid high expenditures over the holiday weekend.” More than 2.9 million Californians will drive to their holiday destination, a 3.6 percent increase from 2011, she said. Drivers will see gas prices up a bit from Memorial Day, when the cost for a gallon of regular unleaded was as low as $3.89 in Auburn. On Wednesday local gas prices ranged from $3.95 at Arco and $3.97 at Valero, to $4.19 at Chevron and Shell for a gallon of regular unleaded. The busy travel weekend also means the California Highway Patrol will have a Maximum Enforcement Period from 6 p.m. Friday through 11:59 p.m. Monday. “All available officers will be on patrol cracking down on impaired drivers, speeders and those who are a danger to themselves and others on the state’s roadways,” officials said in a press release. Last year’s Labor Day weekend saw 29 people killed in traffic collisions across the state, a 38 percent increase from the previous year. Nineteen of them were not wearing seatbelts, according to the release. There are also typically 1,500 DUI arrests during the holiday period, officials said. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com ----------- Driving tips from the CHP Designate a non-drinking driver in advance or plan for alternative transportation if you will be consuming alcohol. If hosting a party, provide non-alcoholic drinks for the designated driver. Buckle up or wear proper safety equipment, depending on your mode of travel. Establish and enforce a distraction-free zone behind the wheel. Leave plenty of time to get to your destination, so you are not speeding to get somewhere. Get plenty of rest and, if possible, coordinate with your passengers so that no one is driving while fatigued. AAA’s Tipsy Tow Program The Tipsy Tow program offers a free tow home for drinking drivers in Northern California, Nevada and Utah from 6 p.m. Monday, Sept 3, to 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept 4. Members and non-members alike may call (800) 222-4357 for a free tow of up to five miles.