BLM closes Panoche Hills to vehicle access early due to dry conditions

Vehicle access remains open at Tumey Hills until April 15


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Central Coast Field Office

Media Contact:

Panoche Hills Sign. Photo by Jesse Pluim, BLM

MARINA, Calif. — The Bureau of Land Management Central Coast Field Office will be temporarily closing vehicle access to the Panoche Hills Recreation Area in Fresno and San Benito counties effective at 7 a.m. on Friday, April 2. The closure will help prevent unnecessary destruction of plant life and wildlife habitat due to abnormally hot and dry weather conditions. The Tumey Hills Recreation Area, also in Fresno and San Benito counties, remains open to vehicle access until April 15. Normally, the annual seasonal closure for both recreation areas runs from April 15 until Oct. 15.

Researchers have observed that the endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard has emerged earlier than normal from hibernation in their burrows. The lizards that live on the Panoche Hills Plateau are part of a captive breeding program with the Fresno Chaffee Zoo to try to recover the species. The motorized vehicle closure will prevent disturbance during the critical breeding season to this protected species’ natural environment, which is found only in central California.

Recreationists can access the Panoche and Tumey hills by hiking, biking or horseback riding year-round. The BLM has made facility improvements at the Tumey Hills Recreation Area to provide safer parking options and help reduce impacts to private property, creating a more enjoyable outdoor experience. Please be respectful of our neighbors and do not block private driveways or park on private property.

Similar to the Alabama Hills Don’t Crush the Brush campaign, the shrubs that grow in the Panoche and Tumey hills are critical to wildlife survival. Please stay on designated routes.

Know what to expect: Visitation to BLM-managed recreation sites has increased during the pandemic. While you still may find moments to be alone with nature on the trail, getting there may be more challenging. The key to a relaxing time is to plan ahead and prepare, have a back-up plan and manage expectations. If you are longing to get away to nature, chances are your neighbors and friends are too. 

Recreate Responsibly: The BLM encourages the public to recreate responsibly on public lands and to take precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Know your county’s COVID-19 tier assignment, stay local, do not gather in large groups, practice safe social distancing, take your own soap and hand sanitizer and wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.

Pack It In – Pack It Out: Please practice Leave No Trace ethics while recreating on public lands. Regarding trash, if you pack it in, please pack it out and consider picking up additional trash along your way. Please dispose of pet waste in a trashcan at your next stop, and not along the trail, as it can be hazardous to wildlife. Help the BLM be good stewards and preserve public lands for future generations.

For more information, please visit the Panoche Hills Visit Us webpage at or the Tumey Hills Visit Us webpage at For specific questions, contact the Central Coast Field Office at 831-582-2200 or

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.