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BLM>California>Bakersfield>What We Do>Land Use Planning>Caliente Resource Area: RMP>Chapter 7 Wild & Scenic River Eligibility & Preliminary Classification Report
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Chapter 7- Part II
Recreation Management Guidelines

Wild and Scenic River Eligibility
and Preliminary Classification Report

Introduction

The BLM is mandated to evaluate potential additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (NWSRS) during the Resource Management Plan (RMP) process by Section 5(d) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA). NWSRS study guidelines are found in BLM Manual 8351, U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior guidelines  published in Federal Register Vol. 7, No. 173, September 7, 1982, and in various BLM memoranda and policy statements.

The NWSRS study process has three distinct steps:

l. Determine what rivers or river segments are eligible for NWSRS designation.

2. Determine the potential classification of eligible river segments as wild, scenic, recreational, or any combination thereof.

3. Conduct a suitability study/legislative EIS to determine if the river segments are suitable for designation to the NWSRS.

Any river found to be eligible for inclusion in the NWSRS, would result in the associated BLM administered lands, within 1/4 mile of the river, being managed as if the river were an actual component of the NWSRS, until the suitability issue is resolved. If a river is found to be suitable for inclusion into the NWSRS, Congress must then pass legislation designating the river before it is added into the system. The State of California can also include the river as a State designated Wild and Scenic River and then apply to the Secretary of Interior for its inclusion into the NWSRS.

The following discussion provides information on how BLM considered streams and rivers for potential inclusion in the NWSRS. The first section portrays what efforts BLM used to identify study river corridors. The second section discusses eligibility criteria. The third section is a brief statement on how BLM addressed classification. Suitability determinations for inclusion in the NWSRS would only be completed when BLM develops activity plans for the management of high priority areas which encompass eligible corridors. Most of the BLM eligible study corridors contain small amounts of public lands. Suitability determinations for these corridors are deferred until BLM is able to consult the parties affected by these determinations (such as state agencies, local governments and private landowners).

The majority of this chapter contains a description of the values within each study river corridor followed by a conclusion on eligibility and recommendation for preliminary classification. The river corridors are listed in order of priority for the accomplishment of suitability studies.

Identification

Prior to conducting any assessment for inclusion into the NWSRS, BLM established a list of study river corridors. BLM considered existing lists of such river corridors (i.e. suggestions from Friends of the River, the Nationwide Rivers Inventory, and Outstanding Rivers List), public input, and BLM staff nominations. Streams lacking public lands administered by BLM, streams with limited public ownership, and streams where information is insufficient to identify the lack of outstandingly remarkable values/free-flowing characteristics were not considered, or were dropped from analysis.

Wild and Scenic designation seeks to enhance a river's current natural condition and provide for public use consistent with retaining that naturalness. Four river segments (Canebrake, Chimney, and Spanish Needle creeks and South Fork Kern River) within the Caliente Resource Area are located mostly on lands designated as wilderness under the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 . The naturalness of these segments is protected through wilderness management which serves similar purposes as the intent of Wild and Scenic designation. In a like manner, Soda Lake is safeguarded by inclusion in the Carrizo Plain Natural Area which is an Area of

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Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) and covered by existing withdrawal from mineral entry. And the Salinas River receives special consideration by being located partially within the Salinas ACEC as well as the Santa Margarita Lake Natural Area of San Luis Obispo County.

Therefore, after additional consideration by the BLM and after review of public comments for the Draft Resource Management Plan, certain river corridors were reevaluated and six changes were made to the eligibility listing. The eligible segments which were dropped from the Draft Resource Management Plan include: Soda Lake, Canebrake Creek, Spanish Needle Creek, Chimney Creek, South Fork Kern River, and the Salinas River. The remaining eligible candidates will be given a priority for suitability study when such study is appropriate in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and private concerns.

Eligibility

The WSRA states that to be eligible for inclusion in the NWSRS, a river or river segment must be free flowing and within its immediate environment, and must possess one or more outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values.

Free flowing, as defined in Section 16(b) of the WSRA, means "existing or flowing in natural condition without impoundment, diversion, straightening, rip-rapping, or other modification of the waterway. The existence, however, of low dams, diversion works, and other minor structures at the time any river is proposed for inclusion in the national wild and scenic river system shall not automatically bar its consideration for such inclusion." A river may flow between large impoundments and may qualify if conditions within the segment meet the eligibility criteria.  There are many river segments already in the NWSRS which are downstream from or between major dams which severely regulate and diminish the flow of water in the effected segments. Some examples are: the Trinity River, Klamath River, and Tuolumne River in California, the Snake River in Idaho, and the Deschutes River in Oregon.  Some of these rivers have had certain types of recreation enhanced by the water flow regulation of these dams.  Examples of designated rivers with substantial diversions within the NWSRS segment, at the time of designation, include the North Fork Kern River and the upper Merced River, both in the California Sierra. There are no minimum flow requirements for inclusion into the NWSRS.

There are no minimum river segment lengths in the NWSRS. Congress has designated a segment as short as 4.25 miles. Considerations in defining study segments include substantial changes in land ownership, physical changes in the river and its surrounding land characteristics, and the type and amount of modern human modification.

The term "outstandingly remarkable" is not clearly defined in the WSRA; consequently the determination of what constitutes "outstandingly remarkable" is left to the professional judgement of the managing agencies and their staffs.  Outstandingly remarkable means something which is more than ordinary when considered within a regional (Resource Area wide) context. In order for the river to be considered eligible in this study, the outstandingly remarkable value(s) must occur on BLM administered public lands within ¼ mile of the river.

Some examples of outstandingly remarkable values are as follows: scenic quality rating of "A" (BLM Manual 8400 Visual Resource Management-Scenic Quality); threatened or endangered species critical habitat; physiographical, biological, recreational, geological or ecological type locations (exemplar); and areas which are very natural or primitive in character, showing little, if any, evidence of modern human modification, and which may be very rugged and physically challenging to travel through.

In the following discussion of specific river study corridors, outstandingly remarkable characteristics are marked with an asterisk. Only characteristics on BLM administered lands are considered. Segments or corridors deemed ineligible in this study because of lack of outstandingly remarkable values on BLM administered lands, may have outstandingly remarkable values on non-BLM lands. In this instance, BLM defers to other appropriate organizations and agencies to (re)evaluate these segments and corridors. BLM would participate in any joint studies with the responsible agency(s), as appropriate.

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Classification

To ensure that outstandingly remarkable values located on public lands are not adversely impacted by BLM authorizations, each eligible study corridor has been assigned preliminary classifications. These preliminary classifications are based on the classification definitions found in Section 2 (b) of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Public Law 90-542 of October 2, 1968.

WILD RIVER AREA : Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.

SCENIC RIVER AREA : Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.

RECREATIONAL RIVER AREA : Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.

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Summary of Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Study

 

River
Corridor

Management
Area

Eligibility
Status

Outstanding
Resource
Values
 

Wild, Scenic or
Recreational

  Lower Kern

South Sierra

Eligible

Recreational
Wildlife
Historic

Recreational

  Kaweah

      East Fork

 

South Sierra

 

Eligible

 

Ecological
Visual
 

 

Scenic

      Middle Fork

South Sierra

Eligible

Floral
Visual
 

Recreational

       North Fork

South Sierra

Eligible

Wildlife
Cultural
Visual

Scenic and
Recreational

 

Name of Water Course : Lower Kern River

GENERAL DESCRIPTION : The Lower Kern River runs from Isabella Dam (Hwy 178) in Kern County to the Kern Canyon mouth above Bakersfield. Although most of the Lower Kern is situated in the Sequoia National Forest, the upper BLM reaches form the study corridor. These reaches are situated within the Keyesville/Lower Kern Special Management Area (SMA) and the Monache-Walker Pass National Cooperative Land and Wildlife Management Area. Access is available via a main dirt road within the SMA. A four-lane freeway (Hwy 198) bridge crosses the Lower Kern River in T27S, R32E, M.D.M. Sec. 1 and then runs adjacent to it. The public lands are surrounded by Sequoia National Forest and private land.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION : T26S, R33E, M.D.M. Sec. 30, W 1/2; T26S, R32E, M.D.M. Sec. 25, SE 1/4, Sec. 36, E 1/2; T27S, R32E, M.D.M. Sec. 1, NE 1/4 SW 1/4; Sec. 12, NW 1/4

TOTAL MILES/BLM MILES (approximately): 32/3.5

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RECREATIONAL VALUES : Twenty miles out of the 32 mile Lower Kern River draw thousands of river runners each summer. Two designated launch sites, south of the Lake Isabella Main Dam at "BLM South" and "Keyesville Bridge" are on BLM public lands. At normal flows, BLM south to Sandy Flat (the third launch site, on USFS land) is mostly Class II water with a few short Class III rapids. From Keyesville Bridge put-in, brush and trees overhang the riverbed presenting a floater's special hazard. Rafting during normal water years runs from May to September, with waterflows dependent upon releases from Lake Isabella. Normal flows range from 800-3000 cubic feet per second (cfs). Approximately 12,000 commercial and noncommercial rafters use the area each year. Dispersed camping, recreational mining, shooting, and OHV use occurs on the lands adjoining the river.

ECOLOGICAL VALUES : This segment is an example of a major watershed drainage originating from the Mt. Whitney area of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Riparian vegetation grows intermittently along the boulder-laden channel which has been carved from granitic rock.

WILDLIFE : The Lower Kern River flows through canyons and boulders. Due to the high relief surrounding the river, there is a significant element of solitude and lack of disturbance from the surrounding hillsides. The topographic relief allows for a tremendous variety of micro-climates which provide a wide diversity of habitats.  Sycamores, cottonwoods and interior live oaks line the stream and are bordered by blue oak/digger pine, chaparral and annual grassland. Many game animals reside along the river and on the nearby slopes. Nongame animals reside and migrate through in great numbers. This river system is extremely important to neotropical migrating birds. This river is also habitat for sensitive species such as bald eagle in winter, California spotted owls year-round, and osprey in migration. Dippers nest along this stretch of the river and this may be the only place within Caliente Resource Area where this species nests on Bureau land. This is an important aquatic ecosystem and provides considerable recreational fishing. The fishery that exists on the river consists of rainbow trout, smallmouth bass and channel catfish.

Connected to the Lower Kern River is a large wet meadow complex east of highway 178 and west of the town of Lake Isabella. This meadow is the only natural wetland meadow downstream of Lake Isabella. One California species of concern, tricolored blackbird , occurs here. This large wet meadow adds substantially to the biodiversity of the Isabella area. A willow patch at the southwest corner of the meadow and near the confluence of the Lower Kern may be occupied by southwestern willow flycatcher , a federal endangered and California endangered species.  It is also the southern most nesting area for the Sierran population of the Savannah Sparrow.

SENSITIVE PLANT SPECIES : Alkali mariposa lily, Calochortus striatus , a BLM sensitive species, occurs along this river and may occur within the BLM corridor.

CULTURAL/HISTORIC : Historically, the area was important for the exploitation of mineral resources. Initial settlement in the Keyesville area came with the discovery of gold by Richard M. Keyes in the mid-1850's. Remnants of this early mining is evident along the Lower Kern River corridor. Due to the poor condition of historic resources along the river corridor, there are no known National Register quality sites remaining within or immediately adjoining the river. This segment of the river falls within the Tubatulabal Indian territory. The river has a high occurrence of prehistoric resources ranging from food processing to rock art sites. Although no prehistoric sites have been formally found eligible for the National Register on the public land segments, it is highly probable that sites of this quality are present on BLM. One known pictograph site on a segment of private land is considered significant.

PHYSIOGRAPHY/GEOLOGY : The Lower Kern River flows through Mesozoic granitic rocks. The Kern Canyon fault lies immediately to the southeast of the river. The fault is closest at the Bodfish off-ramp of SR 178 where the freeway is apparently built directly on the fault.

MINERAL RESOURCES and their HISTORY : After discovery of placer gold in the Kern River in the spring of 1854 a stampede of miners entered into the area. The rush continued through 1855 with a swarm of miners. Soon hardrock gold was also discovered. By 1856 the first mill to recover gold was erected in Keyesville. Over the years a number of mills were erected along the Kern River to serve the mines of Keyesville, only to be destroyed by the floods of 1861-1962.

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In 1865 a twenty stamp gold mill was built on the river. Numerous other mills were also built along the river, however their location is unknown. A stamp mill associated with the Mammoth Mine stood on the west bank of the river in the southeast quarter of Section 35 as late as 1959. Placer gold mining has continued along the river until the present. Gold continues to be recovered from gravel in the bed and banks of the river by various placer mining techniques.

LAND USE : Surrounding private lands contain rural residences with parcels ranging in size from one to five acres.  Livestock grazing occurs on surrounding private lands, and from March 1 to May 31 on BLM lands bordering the river. There are mining claims on nearby BLM lands, and ten rights-of-way (CA 5549 easement from U.S., S 20144 for power line to Southern California Edison Co., CA 16439 for road to E. Lunenschloss, CA 5043 for road to J.  Nemish, S 47496 for power line to Southern California Edison Co., S 78122 for Highway 178 and drainage easement, S 47108 for gaging station to Corps of Engineers, CA 15778 for road to C. Mehalko, CA 14324 for power line to Southern California Edison Co., and CA 14022 for road to D. Anderson).

SCENIC QUALITY : VRM Class II; Scenic Quality B+

WATER QUALITY : Fair

ELIGIBILITY CONCLUSION : ELIGIBLE (due to combination of recreational, wildlife, historic and possibly plant resources). Note: The USFS studied this river corridor and concluded "non-eligibility". However, this conclusion is being reevaluated in their suitability study.

CLASSIFICATION : Recreational

Name of Water Course : East Fork of the Kaweah River

GENERAL DESCRIPTION : The East Fork of the Kaweah River extends approximately 18 miles from Mineral King in Sequoia National Park to Highway 198, just north of the small town of Hammond in Tulare County. The BLM study corridor falls into the Milk Ranch parcel of the Milk Ranch/Case Mountain WSA, recommended unsuitable by the BLM for wilderness. Development along this corridor consists of the Oak Grove/Mineral King access road south of the river. There is limited evidence of human impact along the entire segment.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION : T17S, R29E., M.D.M., Sec. 37 Lots 6  8, SE1/4; Sec. 38 NE1/4SE1/4; Sec. 10 S1/2;  Sec. 39 NE 1/4.

TOTAL MILES/BLM MILES : 10/ 2.4

RECREATIONAL VALUES : The study corridor is located in rocky, steep and rugged terrain with dense mixed chaparral which is difficult to access. Public lands are adjacent to the Milk Ranch/Case Mountain WSA and also the Sequoia National Park boundary. Most recreationists bypass this lower river section for the hiking and horseback riding opportunities offered in the Mineral King Valley, Sequoia National Park, located along the upper reaches of the E. Fork of the Kaweah. This BLM corridor would most likely be used by fishermen.

ECOLOGICAL VALUES : This segment is an outstanding example of a pristine low elevation major drainage originating from the Mineral King segment of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. The stream channel is carved out of solid granite which takes on the appearance of a carved out chain of deep pools for much of the segment.  Occasional riparian streamside vegetation grows intermittently along the segment. A rainbow trout fishery exists in this stream.

WILDLIFE: The diverse riparian community along the entire Kaweah River drainage system provides habitat for mule deer, black bear, gray fox, California and mountain quail, wood duck, common mergansers, many nongame species including Cooper's hawk and osprey, California species of special concern, and the bald eagle (in winter).  This drainage provides a migratory network leading into the Sierra Nevada Mountains which is a crucial link to the higher altitudes, including Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park. This riparian system is an important migratory stopping place and corridor for declining neotropical migrating birds.

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SENSITIVE PLANT SPECIES : Mouse buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum var. murinum , a BLM sensitive species , likely occurs within this segment of the river corridor.

CULTURAL / HISTORIC : This stretch of the East Fork is ethnographically situated within the territory of a Western Mono group known as the Patwisha. Only one prehistoric site on public land is known along this segment of the river. The area is considered sensitive for the potential occurrence of both prehistoric and historic resources.

PHYSIOGRAPHY/GEOLOGY : The river flows through Mesozoic granitic rock.

LAND USES : Water power generation and production is an important industry in this area. Associated with a Federal Power Commission Order is a conduit, penstock and road in the vicinity of the river corridor. Approximately two miles of the East Fork flows through a grazing allotment and serves as one of its main water sources. Private lands include rural residences. There are three rights-of-way (CA 19079 for a road to S. Quade, S 072970 for a telephone line to Pacific Bell, and CA 20186 for a road to E. Casey). Developments which can be seen from the river corridor include houses and cabins, a flume, jeep road and the paved parallel road.

SCENIC QUALITY : VRM Class III; Scenic Quality A

WATER QUALITY : Good

ELIGIBILITY CONCLUSION : ELIGIBLE (should be studied in conjunction with NPS. NPS should be lead agency to initiate study; has outstanding scenic and ecological values)

CLASSIFICATION : Scenic
 

 

Name of Water Course : Middle Fork of the Kaweah River

GENERAL DESCRIPTION : The Middle Fork of the Kaweah River extends from the confluence of several creeks in Sequoia National Park near Redwood Meadows to the resort community of Three Rivers in Tulare County. Most of the land which the river crosses is within Sequoia National Park or is privately-owned. The BLM study corridor flows next to the main access road, Hwy. 198, to Sequoia National Park, and adjacent to the Milk Ranch/Case Mountain WSA.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION : T17S, R29E, M.D.M. Sec. 37.

TOTAL MILES/BLM MILES : 10 miles / 1000 feet

RECREATIONAL VALUES : Within Sequoia National Park there is a popular hiking trail along their corridor of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah. However, the BLM section is so short that recreational usage is not documented.  The river across BLM lands flows so close to Highway 198 that solitude is limited, but access for fishing is possible.

ECOLOGICAL VALUES : This segment is a typical example of a low elevation major drainage originating from the upper reaches of the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Much of the stream channel has carved its bed through solid granite. Minimal streamside riparian vegetation exists in pockets along the stream channel. Common dominant plants from the Kaweah drainage are sycamore, willow, interior live oak and ash. The adjacent slopes are variously covered by chaparral, blue oak/digger pine and black oak. A rainbow fishery exists in this stream.

WILDLIFE : The diverse riparian community along the entire Kaweah River drainage system provides habitat for mule deer, black bear, gray fox, California and mountain quail, wood duck, common mergansers, many nongame species including Cooper's hawk and osprey (California species of special concern), and the bald eagle (in winter).  This drainage provides a migratory network leading into the Sierra Nevada Mountains,

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which is a crucial link to the higher altitudes including Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park. This riparian system is an important migratory stopping place and corridor for declining neotropical migrating birds.

SENSITIVE PLANT SPECIES : Mouse buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum var. murinum , a BLM sensitive species and Kaweah brodiaea, Brodiaea insignis , a state of California endangered and BLM sensitive species, occur on BLM land within the river corridor.

CULTURAL / HISTORIC : This segment of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah falls within the ethnographical boundary of the Patwisha, a Western Mono group. Two prehistoric sites are known along this short segment of the Middle Fork. No formal evaluation of the prehistoric sites has been completed to determine their significance at present. There are no known historic sites of significance located on BLM public land along this river corridor. The area is regarded sensitive for the potential high occurrence of both prehistoric and historic resources.

PHYSIOGRAPHY/GEOLOGY : This short stretch of BLM administered land is underlain by Mesozoic granitic rock.

LAND USE: Surrounding private lands include residential and rural residential with parcels ranging in size from half an acre to twenty acres. Approximately .2 miles of the Middle Fork flows through the corner of a grazing allotment (# 00061) which is used from April 1 to September 30 each year. There are no mining claims and only one right-of-way: CA 16680 for water facility to BL&I Industries. There are withdrawals on adjoining public land for power projects including a conduit, penstock, roads and a ditch. The following developments can be seen from the river corridor: houses, gaging station, a power line running parallel to the river, flume, parallel trails and the paved road and the ending of a primitive road.

SCENIC QUALITY : VRM Class III; Scenic Quality A

WATER QUALITY : unknown

ELIGIBILITY CONCLUSION : ELIGIBLE (sensitive plant species and scenic quality); Should be studied for Wild and Scenic River suitability but National Park Service should be lead agency; BLM has very limited public land adjacent to river.

CLASSIFICATION : Recreational

Name of Water Course: North Fork of the Kaweah River

GENERAL DESCRIPTION : The North Fork of the Kaweah flows out of the southern Sierra Mountains and forms part of the border between Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia National Park. BLM's study corridor begins 1000 feet south of the junction of Pierce Creek and the North Fork of the Kaweah River, approximately 5 miles north of the town of Three Rivers and about 24 miles northeast of Visalia, in Tulare County. The North Fork generally flows in a southerly direction to the confluence of the main fork of the Kaweah River. A locally-maintained paved and partially graded road runs within one-half mile along the entire length of the BLM contiguous corridor and has contributed to high use of the BLM parcels. This road serves access for fire emergency vehicles to private and National Park Service lands further north. The North Fork is within the Sheep Ridge WSA and borders the Milk Ranch/Case Mountain WSA. Non-BLM land south of the Forest/Park boundaries is in private ownership.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION : T15S, R28E, M.D.M., Sec. 27, NE 1/4; Sec. 26, S 1/2; Sec. 35, NE 1/4, SE 1/4; Sec. 34 (tangent to BLM parcel),; T16S, R28E, M.D.M., Sec. 2, E 1/2; Sec. 11, NE 1/4; Sec. 13, W 1/2; Sec. 24, W 1/2; Sec. 23, SE 1/4; Sec. 26 SE 1/4; T17S, R28E, M.D.M. Sec. 2, NW 1/4.

TOTAL MILES/BLM MILES (approximately): 6 / 4

RECREATIONAL VALUES : Sections of BLM's North Fork corridor are part of two wilderness study areas: Sheep Ridge and Milk Ranch/Case Mt. WSAs, both of which have been recommended by BLM as unsuitable for wilderness.

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Land in the Sequoia and King Canyon's National Parks, just southeast of the river is managed as wilderness. Three accessible areas along BLM's corridor receive high recreational use in the form of non-commercial kayaking, fishing, picnicking, swimming, sunning, dispersed camping and water play. These areas are Cherry Falls, Advance Site and Picnic Site # 1. The region's topographic variation, rugged, rocky terrain and vegetative variety combine to create areas of seclusion. However, the area is periodically overflown by military aircraft. The majority of the users are local residents; regional and national visitors are drawn to the National Park lands which are in close proximity.

ECOLOGICAL VALUES : This segment is a good example of a low elevation (2000 feet) drainage originating from South Sierra alpine elevations. Vegetation along the North Fork of the Kaweah and the other drainages of the Kaweah contains examples of habitat types often in excellent condition. It is a mixture of riparian forest, scattered oaks and grasses and dense chaparral on the drier, south-facing slopes. Common dominant plants are sycamore, willow, interior live oak and ash. The adjacent slopes are variously covered by chaparral, blue oak, digger pine and black oak. A rainbow trout fishery exists in this stream.

WILDLIFE : The diverse riparian community along the entire Kaweah River drainage system provides habitat for mule deer, black bear, gray fox, California and mountain quail, wood duck, common mergansers, many nongame species including Cooper's hawk and osprey, California species of special concern, and the bald eagle (in winter).  This drainage provides a migratory network leading into the Sierra Nevada Mountains which is a crucial link to the higher altitudes including Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Park. This riparian system is an important migratory stopping place and corridor for declining neotropical migrating birds.

SENSITIVE PLANT SPECIES : There are no documented locations of any sensitive plant species within this river corridor.

CULTURAL/HISTORIC : The area ethnographically is situated at an interface between two Native American cultures. The Waksachi, a Mono group, were centrally located in the Epsom Valley area, but they also utilized lands to the south along the North Fork of the Kaweah within the northern portion of the river corridor. The Wukchumni, a Yokuts group occupied lands on the southern portion of the corridor along the Kaweah River extending from the vicinity of Three Rivers community to the west near Lemoncove.

The North Fork of the Kaweah River was the scene of a utopian socialism experiment between 1884 to 1891. This was generally referred to as the Kaweah Colony but also known as the Kaweah Cooperative Commonwealth. It has been described as a form of German socialism that envisioned an idealistic cooperative colony in which the working members would own and control production and profit accordingly.

Arcady, which was later named Haskell's Bluff, was the first colony settlement a few miles up the North Fork. The first task of the colony was to build a road to the timber claims so pine and redwood lumber could be transported from a sawmill in the timber area to a mill for processing. Advance, an area a few miles up the North Fork from Arcady, was a focal area for road construction. Work was initiated in 1886, and as work progressed, other camps in addition to Advance were developed. After four years, the road was completed and a mill was in operation cutting lumber at a rate of 3,000 board feet per day. Due to the creation of the Sequoia National Park by Congress, the Secretary of the Interior soon confirmed timber claims within the Park as invalid. By 1892, the colony disbanded and moved away.

Within one quarter of a mile of the river corridor there are four known prehistoric sites and one historic site (Advance). No formal evaluation of these sites has been developed at present; therefore, the significance of these cultural sites is uncertain. The remains at the Advance Site appear to lack physical integrity; however, the site does possess local historic interest. The river corridor is regarded as culturally sensitive for the occurrence of prehistoric and historic resources.

PHYSIOGRAPHY/GEOLOGY : Most of the North Fork flows through pre-Cretaceous metasedimentary rock.  The northern three miles flows through Mesozoic granitic rock. Live Oak Gulch is granitic rock. The metasedimentary rock has potential for tungsten, but there are no known occurrences on public land.

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LAND USE : Surrounding private lands include rural residences ranging in size from two and one-half to forty acres in size. Livestock grazing takes place on private lands, and several BLM allotments occur on the lands surrounding the River. The North Fork of the Kaweah flows through the eastern edge of allotment 00017. This pasture is unfenced from the river for approximately 1.75 miles, and is seasonally grazed as forage is available from October 1 to July 30. The remaining half mile is fenced from livestock. In allotment 00102, cattle can be grazed at any time of the year, but usually use occurs during winter and spring. The North Fork serves as the eastern boundary of this allotment for 2.5 miles, and keeps cattle from drifting eastward into the Park. Cattle will water at the river in the limited accessible riverbank stretches. The river also flows through .25 miles of allotment 00095. It is accessible for the full length to cattle that graze during the season of March 1 to June 30. There are four rights-of-way on BLM land along the North Fork of the Kaweah (S 074189 for firebreak, CA 1830 for power transmission line to Southern California Edison Co., CA 5076 for road to E&S Mitchell, S 40969 for transmission line to Southern California Edison Co.). From the river corridor the following developments are visible: old mining buildings (in the northernmost section of BLM lands), primitive camping and picnic sites, trails which parallel and end at the river, and the paved and gravel road which parallels the river.

SCENIC QUALITY : VRM Class II; Scenic Quality A

WATER QUALITY : Fair (in drought times, coliform and fecal coliform contamination is high); algae growth and trash is found in the river at high use areas.

ELIGIBILITY CONCLUSION : ELIGIBLE (due to wildlife values, scenic quality and cultural interest);  Suitability study should be done in conjunction with the National Park Service (NPS) and private landowners with BLM (or NPS) as the lead agency.

CLASSIFICATION : Scenic (for the stretch of the river north of the NPS locked gate); Recreational (for the stretch of the river south of the NPS locked gate). Locked gate is in T16S, R28E, M.D M. Sec. 12, SW1/4

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