SACRAMENTO, Calif. – With the arrival of summer in the Golden State came extreme heat conditions, which means more people will be visiting public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management for cooler recreational opportunities like fishing, swimming, hiking or camping in shady areas, bicycling, paddleboarding and boating. The BLM encourages everyone to recreate responsibly and safely, while enjoying your public lands.
“Fourth of July is approaching and brings an increase of visitors outdoors to celebrate and enjoy the holiday with family and friends,” said California State Director Karen Mouritsen. “The safety of visitors and wildfire prevention remains our top priorities. We want to remind visitors that fireworks are not allowed on BLM-managed public lands and hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday by being prepared and recreating responsibly.”
Visiting public lands are a great way to experience the outdoors and the natural environment. However, visiting public lands can be a risk for someone who ventures out to them unprepared. As such, the BLM would like to offer some summer safety tips for recreating on rivers and public lands during these hot days of summer:
Beat the summer heat
It is the time of year where temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the BLM wants you and your loved ones and pets to be prepared and have plenty of water when enjoying outdoor spaces. The summer heat can quickly create a life-or-death situation. Remember to bring water and drink plenty of it to stay hydrated, and never leave your child or your pet in a hot car. Children and animals can sustain brain injury or die from heat stroke within minutes. Many BLM-managed public lands are pet friendly, so bring them on a hike with you or leave them at home. Check with your local BLM field office for more information on hiking and camping with pets.
Given the current state of California’s ‘mega-drought,” many naturally occurring water sources, such as springs and creeks, are running dry for the season. While water caches sometimes exist near roads, they should never be relied upon as these water sources are unreliable. There have been serious incidents in the past where hikers counted on water caches, found them dry, and had to call emergency services for survival.
Visitors venturing out on trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail, should bring extra water, sun protection, and communication devices with them during their outings. Trails and campgrounds on BLM-managed lands remain open but please remain vigilant, many of these areas are very remote, without cell reception, and all visitors should stay within their own abilities. Heat and exposure can affect all people, but some members of the public such as children, the elderly, pets and stock animals may be affected even more easily. Visit www.ready.gov/heat to get the 411 on #heatsafety.
By now, many BLM-managed public lands in California are under fire and target shooting restrictions to reduce the risk of wildfires and protect the public. Often these preventative measures focus on human-related activities, such as campfires, setting off fireworks, off-roading, equipment uses and recreational target shooting, since human-related activities are the number one cause of wildfires. Before venturing outdoors, public land users are advised to go online to the BLM California Fire Restriction website ahead of their trip and research restrictions by field office.
Restrictions on target shooting do not apply to hunting with a valid hunting license, as hunting on BLM public lands is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Please visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/hunting for more information.
Since nine out of ten wildfires are human-caused and completely preventable, help prevent the next one by following a few guidelines about campfires:
- Ensure campfires are allowed by checking current fire restrictions.
- Get your California campfire permit online or at any BLM, Forest Service or CAL FIRE office.
- Prepare your campfire site appropriately.
- Completely extinguish campfires by using the “drown, stir and feel” method.
Visiting rivers, lakes and other waterways can be excellent ways to cool off in the summer, but before you dive in please follow these safety tips:
- Wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device. Some beaches and lakes have borrowing stations along public waterways.
- Be cautious and never swim alone; always check the surf report for tide information, wave height, and water temperature. Not all beaches are good for swimming. And never, ever turn your back to the ocean; be on the watch for rogue or sleeper waves.
- Learn how to swim, watch out for hazards, and always supervise children and pets in or near water. If someone needs help call a lifeguard or call 9-1-1.
Wildfire prevention tips
Nearly all fires sparked along roadways could be prevented by following these safety rules:
- Do not park on dry grass. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires.
- Ensure tow chains are not dragging and tow straps are secured so they do not throw sparks.
- Check tire pressure and maintain brakes.
Recreate Responsibly wherever you may go
- Follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace to minimize your impact on ecosystems and habitats.
- Learn what it means to Tread Lightly while recreating, to leave the area better than you found it.
- Bring supplies for sanitation with you and pack out your trash. Facilities, including bathrooms and visitor centers may not be open or available for in-person contact.
- Check with local offices for current conditions, including closures and changes in service, before visiting popular areas and visit blm.gov for operating status updates.
In California, the BLM oversees 15 million acres of public lands that support the agency’s multiple use mission, which includes 735,000 acres open for off-highway vehicle use, 1,759 miles of designated trails, and 350 miles of rivers for recreation. This Fourth of July and every day we hope you ‘Use, Share, and Appreciate’ your BLM-managed public lands while recreating responsibly for the continued enjoyment of present and future generations! Follow us on social media for the latest updates.
- BLM California Wildfire Dashboard: https://bit.ly/39IubK0
- National wildfire information: https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm
- CAL FIRE One Less Spark: https://bit.ly/3blmf1S
- CDC information on protecting yourself: www.coronavirus.gov