Chapter 12 - Special Management Area Descriptions
South Sierra Management Area

North Fork Kaweah River

The North Fork of the Kaweah River SMA consists of 4,870 acres of Federal surface and subsurface in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, approximately 5 miles north of the town of Three Rivers in Tulare County. The SMA is bounded by Sequoia National Park to the east, BLM public land to the north, private land to the west and private and BLM lands to the south. A locally-maintained paved road (North Fork Drive) runs through the SMA, roughly paralleling the North Fork of the Kaweah River. This road provides access for fire emergency vehicles to private and NPS lands further north.

Within the boundaries of the SMA lies a corridor of the North Fork of the Kaweah River, a river currently being considered for Wild and Scenic River suitability study, and portions of the Sheep Ridge and Milk Ranch/Case Mountain WSAs. Both WSAs have been recommended as unsuitable for wilderness. The North Fork of the Kaweah Special Recreation Management Area falls within the SMA.

Within this SMA there are extensive pendants of metasedimentary rocks, including extensive outcrops of marble.  There is one known tungsten prospect. The SMA has low to moderate potential for the occurrence of tungsten and associated metals.

The SMA contains several rights-of-way and three withdrawals. Most of the area is leased for grazing.

The North Fork area contains the Advance Colony site, a part of the Kaweah Colony, a socialist utopian society formed in the 1880's. In 1884 a group of "utopian socialists" established the settlement of Arcady (or Haskell's bluff) in the vicinity of the present day community of Kaweah. In 1886 they established Advance, a construction camp along the North Fork of the Kaweah, to access timber lands about 8 miles to the east. Road construction began about 3 miles to the north of Advance and terminated in untouched forests of sequoia and other conifers. After four years of hand-labor, the road was finished and a lumber mill erected. At this time Sequoia National Park was established and members of the colony were arrested for cutting timber in the Park. By 1892 the settlements were abandoned.

Ecologically, this area is a good example of a low elevation (2000 feet) river drainage originating from South Sierra alpine elevations. Vegetation is a mixture of riparian forest, scattered oaks and grasses, and dense chaparral on the drier, south-facing slopes. Two sensitive plant species, mouse buckwheat and Kaweah monkeyflower are known to occur within the proposed SMA.

The North Fork of the Kaweah contains important recreational, historical and ecological resources. Land in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, southeast of the river is managed as wilderness. The proposed SMA'stopographic variation, rugged, rocky terrain and vegetative variety combine to create areas of seclusion. A rainbow trout fishery exists in the stream. 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 Paradise. There are five grazing leases in the SMA. The river corridor warrants protection in order to safeguard the public's welfare and the water supply of the town of Three Rivers.

Objective     Manage the North Fork of the Kaweah River to protect riparian resources, cultural resources, and sensitive vegetation (including but not limited to Mimulus norrisii, Eriogonum nudum var. murinum, andBrodiaea insignis), while providing for recreational opportunities related to river access.

Management Prescriptions

The SMA is available for livestock grazing and currently allotted.

Portions of the area may be managed as day use only, and maximum lengths for stays for visitors may be shortened to accommodate more visitors and reduce visitor conflicts.

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Support Actions

A cooperative management agreement for the area should be pursued with the National Park Service and the community of Three Rivers.

The North, Middle, and East forks of the Kaweah River shall be studied for WSR suitability.

Legal Description

T. 16 S., R. 28 E., MDB&M
Sec. 13 S½NE¼, NW¼NW¼, S½NW¼, S½,
Sec. 14 All,
Sec.22 NE¼NE¼, N½SE¼, SE¼SE¼,
Sec. 23 All,
Sec. 24 NE¼, N½NW¼, E½SE¼, SE¼,
Sec. 25 All,
Sec. 26 NW¼, SE¼,
Sec. 34 N½NE¼, SW¼NE¼, NW¼, W½SW¼

T. 17 S., R. 28 E., MDB&M
Sec. 1 All
Sec. 2 Lots 1, 2, 3, S½NE¼, SE¼,
Sec. 12 NW¼NE¼, N½NW¼

Area Map

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