BLM takes measures to protect endangered species at Panoche Hills


Bureau of Land Management

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Central Coast Field Office

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A tan lizard with red spots.

MARINA, Calif. — The Bureau of Land Management is taking measures to protect habitat for the endangered blunt-nose leopard lizard by temporarily limiting vehicle access to the Panoche Hills Recreation Area in Fresno and San Benito counties. Effective at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, March 1, this temporary road restriction is required to protect the lizards as they are released into restored habitat, prevent destruction of plant and wildlife habitat, and protect and preserve ongoing scientific studies. This closure is in advance of the annual seasonal closure which regularly occurs from April 15 to Oct. 15.

“Limiting motorized vehicles in the area will protect this species’ natural environment, found only in Central California,” said Central Coast Field Manager Zachary Ormsby. “We must prevent disturbance during this new phase and during the critical breeding season.”

The Tumey Hills Recreation Area, also in Fresno and San Benito counties, will remain open to vehicle access until April 15. Recreationists can continue to access the Panoche and Tumey Hills by hiking, biking or horseback riding year-round.   

The endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard population that lives on the Panoche Hills Plateau are part of a captive breeding program. The BLM has partnered with the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Fresno State University to recover the species from the imminent danger of extinction on the Plateau. This endeavor to release the lizards back into the restored habitat is a key step in the species’ recovery.

The Panoche Plateau is within the Panoche-Coalinga Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), which was designated to provide greater protection of endangered species and other significant resources. Although the BLM operates on a multiple-use mission that includes grazing, recreational access and minerals extraction, protecting identified significant resources within an ACEC is the priority use of those lands.

Please remain respectful to the local community and do not block private driveways or park on private property when visiting the area. Stay on designated routes to avoid crushing shrubs that are critical to wildlife survival.

Pack It In – Pack It Out: The Bureau of Land Management encourages all recreationists to practice Leave No Trace ethics while recreating on public lands. Help the BLM be good stewards and preserve public lands for future generations.

A copy of the closure order is available here. For more information, please visit the Panoche Hills webpage or the Tumey Hills webpage. For specific questions, contact the Central Coast Field Office at 831-582-2200 or by email at

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.