Chapter 7 - Part I
Recreation Management Guidelines


The public is attracted to the Caliente Resource Area's recreational resources for both their developed recreational facilities and programs, and also for dispersed opportunities on valuable open space lands. In some places, like Keyesville and the North Fork of the Kaweah River, BLM lands serve as an alternative to Park Service or Forest Service recreation sites. On the other hand, the Carrizo Plain Natural Area represents a destination for many recreational uses such as nature study, hunting, or hiking. Overall, the resource area offers diverse recreational opportunities to suit a wide variety of interests and abilities.

To provide for the varied recreation demand, specific management objectives include:

South Sierra Management Area - Keyesville would be managed with particular emphasis on white-water rafting, mountain bicycling, and recreational mining. In cooperation with the Forest Service, the white-water rafting program would be studied to provide the best funding opportunities for the overall program. Cooperative partnerships and funding of projects with the California Department of Boating and Waterways and rafting companies would be utilized for improvement of the launching facilities in Keyesville South.

Four river segment corridors, including a total of approximately 10 miles, are identified as being eligible for designation in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System (NWSRS). These segments include: the Lower Kern (3.5 miles of a 32 mile river segment), East Fork of the Kaweah (2.4 miles of a 10 mile river segment), Middle Fork of the Kaweah (1,000 feet of a 10 mile river segment), and North Fork of the Kaweah (4 miles of a 6 mile river segment). Cooperative studies with the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, who manage adjacent potentially eligible segments of these same rivers, would be conducted to determine if the river segments are suitable for designation in the NWSRS. In the interim, management requirements ensure that river segment corridors maintain current characteristics.

The Chimney Peak Back Country Byway would be improved to a better standard and the three campgrounds (Chimney Creek, Long Valley, and Walker Pass) would be maintained and improved to provide safe and accessible facilities. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail would be managed in cooperation with the Ridgecrest Resource Area and other trails (such as Long Valley, Chimney Creek, Lamont Peak, and Rockhouse Basin) would be maintained as appropriate with volunteers or staff.

The heavily used North Fork of the Kaweah River would continue to be managed to provide for recreational opportunities related to river access.

The five areas designated as wilderness by the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 (Chimney Peak, Domeland, Kiavah, Owens Peak, and Sacatar Trail) would be managed through an activity plan in cooperation with Sequoia National Forest and Ridgecrest Resource Area. Trailheads (such as Rockhouse) and campgrounds (Walker Pass, Long Valley, and Chimney Creek) would be identified in the activity plan to be maintained and managed as staging areas for back country users.

Valley Management Area - The Carrizo Plain Natural Area would be managed in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and the California Department of Fish and Game for low impact recreational uses. Appropriate visitor facilities (such as camping, parking, and toilets) would be installed and an emphasis would be made on interpreting the area's resources through implementation of the Interpretive Prospectus.

Coast Management Area - An emphasis would be made on providing public access and working with other agencies for cooperative management of public lands.

In some cases, restrictions on recreational use are made to minimize conflicts between different users and to protect the sensitive resources which attract visitors to the public lands. For example, the Keyesville area has a shooting restriction because

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 of the large number of people using the river and adjacent lands. Firearms are not allowed around Painted Rock in order to protect the extremely sensitive cultural site. Generally speaking, equestrian use and foot travel are welcome on most lands, but horses are restricted along riparian areas in the Salinas River ACEC, off routes of travel in the Piute Cypress ACEC, and in the Goose Lake ACEC. Camping is not allowed in the Goose Lake ACEC and the Alkali Sink ACEC and requires a permit in the Lokern ACEC. In all of the resource area, camping is limited to 14 consecutive days and no more than 28 days during the calendar year. This limit is necessary to provide more camping opportunities for a larger number of people.

Further activity level planning documents are being prepared or would be developed for certain areas to respond to recreation interest. The activity plan for the Carrizo Plain Natural Area specifies campground locations and other facilities. The Interpretive Prospectus already outlines the location and guidelines for interpretive facilities in the Carrizo and will be implemented over the next few years. In conjunction with the Ridgecrest Resource Area and the Forest Service, a plan is being prepared for the Southern Sierras to provide management guidance for wilderness and non-wilderness lands. In cooperation with the Forest Service, a plan would be developed for Keyesville which describes facilities to support the white-water rafting program and the other uses along the Kern River. A plan would be prepared for the Case Mountain area providing for recreational users while addressing concerns of the local community.

Working with other agencies and the public, the BLM would strive to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. This plan would provide the guidelines for the effective recreation management of those lands with a balance between meeting recreational demands and protecting the resources.

Recreation Management Areas

Recreation management areas are sub-units of resource areas that are the basic land units of recreation management. Each area is identified and managed as a unit based on similar or interdependent recreation values, homogenous or interrelated recreation use, land tenure and use patterns, or administrative efficiency. There are two types of recreation management areas, extensive and special.

1. Extensive Recreation Management Areas:

These are areas where dispersed recreation is encouraged and where visitors have a freedom of recreational choice with minimal regulatory constraint. Significant public recreation issues or management concerns are limited and minimal management, consistent with the Bureau's stewardship responsibility suffices in these areas. There may be one or several extensive recreation management areas in each resource area. Detailed planning is not usually required for these areas.

2. Special Recreation Management Areas:

These are Recreation Management Areas where congressionally recognized recreation values exist or where significant public recreation issues or management concerns occur. Special or more intensive types of management are typically needed. Detailed recreation planning is required in these areas and greater managerial investment (e.g. facilities, supervision, etc.) is likely. There may be none to several of these areas within a resource area. The size of these management units is typically over 1,000 acres, but exceptions can occur for smaller sites (e.g. very large campground units, trail segments, historic sites, etc.).

The RMAs are used to guide recreation management on public lands having similar recreation related issues and concerns. The RMAs are also used to track and report public use of these areas. They guide recreation use and management but otherwise have no effect on other resource values and uses of the public lands. The following Recreation Management Areas are established for the Caliente Resource Area:

  • Keyesville Special RMA: Same as the Keyesville Special Management Area (SMA).
  • North Fork of the Kaweah Special RMA: Same as the North Fork of the Kaweah SMA.
  • Carrizo Plain Special RMA: Same as the Carrizo Plain Natural Area ACEC.
  • Includes the wilderness and non-wilderness lands located on the western side of the resource area in the Southern Sierra.
  • Caliente Extensive RMA: All public lands not included in one of the Special RMAs above.

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Management Guidelines for Roads and Trails

All public lands within the Caliente Resource Area are considered as either limited or closed to vehicles (as defined in the following paragraphs). There are no open areas. At certain times of the year, routes may be seasonally closed (as defined under seasonal closures). Designations are based on resource protection, the promotion of the safety of all the users of the public lands, multiple use management, the need for access, and the minimization of conflicts among various uses of the public lands. Specific guidelines include the following:

1. Limited to existing roads or trails

Except as otherwise noted, travel is allowed on existing roads and trails which appear on BLM Surface Management maps, aerial photographs, and USGS topographical maps at the time this plan is approved. Routes are considered to be open unless indicated as closed on the ground by signs, barricades, or other physical considerations which appropriately direct the user. All authorized public land users that hold a special authorization (i.e. grazing permittees, rights-of-way holders, mining claimants, etc) may drive off road if their authorization allows. Motorized vehicles parked adjacent to any route of travel must be kept as close to the road or trail as practical without blocking the passage of other vehicles.

2. Limited to designated routes of travel

Some areas, such as SMAs or ACECs, may have an activity plan and map prepared for route designations. Specific areas for planning include the Carrizo Plain Natural Area, Keyesville SMA, and Case Mountain ACEC. Route designations are determined with public input and must provide a balanced approach between protecting public land resources and meeting user access needs. Plans and maps would be made available for public review at the Caliente Resource Area Office. Motorized vehicles parked adjacent to any designated route of travel must be kept as close to the road or trail as practical without blocking the passage of other vehicles. Specific approval by the authorized officer is required prior to any off road vehicle use, including valid permit and license holders. Off-road vehicle use for mineral activities is not authorized without prior filing of a notice of intent or approval of a plan of operations.

3. Areas closed to vehicular travel

The areas which are closed to all vehicular travel include wilderness (even if an old pathway appears passable), Point Sal, Blue Ridge, and The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCNST). Point Sal and Blue Ridge are closed to minimize damage to sensitive cultural and natural resources. Vehicles are not allowed on the PCNST and wilderness by Congressional mandate. Wilderness legislation does allow for a very few exceptions, such as grazing operations or access to privately owned land. Vehicles are never allowed on the PCNST. To protect natural resources, travel is restricted on Salt Creek Road and on Caliente Mountain Road. A route plan, though, would be developed for Salt Creek Road with input from users and residents of Three Rivers. Short Canyon, Cholla Canyon, and Cane Canyon are closed for protection of range developments, but administrative access is allowed for grazing operations.

4. Seasonal closures

Roads presenting a fire hazard due to vegetative growth would be closed to vehicular travel during the dry fire season. Roads may be closed seasonally after heavy rains to prevent road damage and to provide for public safety.  All such roads would be posted with appropriate signs to advise of the closures.

5. Other

Except for areas closed to all vehicles, the use of mountain bicycles is allowed on all roads and trails available to pedestrians. Bicycles are not allowed to travel off road.

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Mobility impaired persons may use wheelchairs in any area available to pedestrian travel.

Signing of roads and trails would be in accordance with BLM Manual 9130 and would adequately advise the public of closures, restrictions, and other necessary information.

Emergency services and/or law enforcement activities are exceptions to these policies. Administrative access may be granted by the authorized officer to individuals requiring such access for official business.


1. "Off-highway vehicle": Any motorized vehicle capable of, or designed for, travel on or immediately over land or other natural terrain, excluding:

a. any military, fire, search and rescue, or law enforcement vehicle being used for emergency purposes
b. any vehicle whose use is expressly approved by the authorized officer
c. vehicles in official use
d. any combat or combat support vehicle when used in times of national defense emergencies
e. wheelchairs designed for physically-disabled persons
f. All-terrain (mountain) bicycles which are mechanized, not motorized vehicles, and are considered separately from regulations regarding motorized vehicles.

2. "Official use": Use by an employee, agent, or designated representative of the federal government or one of its contractors, in the course of carrying out required duties.

3. "Trail": An unmaintained path, way or road consisting of one or more tracks, or a path maintained for the sole use of recreational foot, horse, pack animal or bicycle travel only.

4. "Closed area": An area where off-highway vehicle use is prohibited. Areas or trails are designated closed if closure to all vehicular use is necessary to protect resources, promote visitor safety, or reduce use conflicts. Use of vehicles in closed areas may be approved by the authorized officer for special purposes or legal requirements.  Wilderness areas are closed as are the sensitive resource areas listed below in Management Guidelines for Roads and Trails.

5. "Open area" or "Open OHV area": An area where off-highway vehicle use is permitted both on and off roads.  Open designations are used for intensive OHV use areas where there are no special restrictions or where there are no compelling resource protection needs, user conflicts, or public safety issues to warrant limiting cross-country travel. There are no open areas in the Caliente Resource Area.

6. "Limited to existing roads and trails": Off-highway vehicle use is permitted on all roads and trails in the area unless otherwise signed as closed. Off-highway vehicle use is not permitted on roads and trails that have been signed closed or physically closed through reclamation actions. Off-road travel would be permitted only under circumstances as outlined below in Management Guidelines for Roads and Trails.

7. "Limited to designated routes of travel": Off-highway vehicles are permitted only on routes that have been identified as open through the Bureau planning process such as will be considered for the Carrizo Plain Natural Area. Closed routes are signed on the ground and off-road travel is prohibited unless prior approval has been granted by the authorized officer.

8. "Limited to seasonal use": Off-highway vehicle use is regulated by the time or season of year that specific management prescriptions apply and include: number or types of vehicles; permitted or licensed use only; and limitations if restrictions are necessary to meet resource management objectives, such as certain competitive or intensive use areas which have special limitations. Seasonal restrictions are listed above in Management Guidelines for Roads and Trails.

9. "Off-road": Any off-highway vehicle use not on an existing or designated route of travel. This refers to all cross-country travel.

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Chapter 7 -Recreation Management Guidelines Part II
Wild & Scenic River Eligibility & Preliminary Classification Report   Pages 67 - 75

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