Sierra Pacific's sawmill closes so Modesto country relies on tourism

TUOLUMNE COUNTY — For decades, visitors have enjoyed the peace of the Tuolumne County woods while loggers a few miles away sent trees crashing to the ground.

Tourism and the timber industry long have coexisted in the county, even with the controversy that the cutting sometimes brought.

"The resort has been here since 1922, and we've always had logging," said Laurie Cashman, general manager of the Pinecrest Lake Resort, which has old logging photos in its restaurant.

In recent years, timber's part in the county economy has declined, and it will suffer a major hit with the loss of the Sierra Pacific Industries sawmill at Standard.

The closure, tentatively set for Friday, could mean more reliance than ever on tourism.

"The tourist industry, obviously, is one of the largest categories of business here in Tuolumne County at this point in time," said George Segarini, executive director of the county chamber of commerce.

The county has a wealth of attractions — Gold Rush towns in the foothills, a national forest dotted with campgrounds and reservoirs, and a large chunk of Yo- semite National Park.

Several million people live within a three-hour drive of the county, including the Northern San Joaquin Valley and Bay Area. A smaller number of visitors make their way from other states and nations.

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