BLM reminds the public to recreate responsibly at Kern River recreation sites



BLM Office:

Bakersfield Field Office

Media Contact:

Photo of water rushing along boulders on the Kern River.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield Field Office is reminding the public to recreate responsibly as summer approaches and visitors start recreating at Keysville day-use areas and fishing, boating, swimming and other forms of water recreation in the Kern River. The safety of visitors to public lands is BLM’s priority.

Visiting public lands is a great way to release some stress and spend quality time with friends and family; however, it can also be a risk for someone who ventures out to them unprepared. The BLM is posting warning signs at Keysville day-use areas and other recreation sites along the Kern River due to the risks involved with swift-moving waterways, treacherous rocks hidden beneath the surface of the water, and undertows and currents, which create very dangerous conditions downstream. 

“The Kern River has many hidden obstacles beneath the water surface, which is creating very powerful currents that can easily sweep you off your feet,” advises Bakersfield Field Manager Gabriel Garcia. “Among BLM’s goals are to provide a safe and secure environment for the public, employees and public land users, so we encourage visitors to stay out of the Kern River.”

According to, water-related accidents are among the most common cause of death in some of our nation’s most visited parks, forests and waterways. The Kern County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team has already responded to one public safety incident this year at the Keysville Special Recreation Management Area. Within this area there is a small rock beach on the south side of the river and the north side has a sandy beach that is a popular swimming area, however, the north-side beach is located upstream from white water rapids.

Keysville Special Recreation Management Area remains open, but the public is warned that life jackets are essential, swimming is discouraged, and you should enter the water at your own risk. The frigid waters can cause a rapid loss of body heat known as hypothermia, which can be deadly. Obstacles and swift currents can easily sweep someone off their feet, leading to a fatality. BLM staff and law enforcement will be patrolling the area.

In addition to dangerous water conditions, rattlesnakes are found throughout the river area and hikers and campers should be careful where they put their hands and feet. Also remember to stay hydrated with extreme temperature changes; it is not uncommon to see more injuries and fatalities in the summer due to heat stroke or dehydration, since temperatures often soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to bring more water than usual – and remember to sip often.

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.