“BLM” stands for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. On this page, you’ll find California BLM hunting laws and general use. For hunting in particular, topics include restrictions related to ATV’s, boats, camping, dogs, firearms, natural resources, OHV’s, registration, and trapping. However, these rules apply to all BLM land, water, and facilities.
Warning shot!!! When hunting or enjoying other activities, these rules are in addition to all other applicable Federal, State, and local laws. Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all applicable rules and procedures, plus any postings of closed and special use areas. See 43 CFR §§ 423.3 and 423.21. Unless noted otherwise, all legal references are to Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 423.
- Boats, Canoes, & Kayaks.
- Conditions For Use.
- Controlled Substances.
- Cultural Resources.
- Disorderly Conduct.
- Dogs & Pets.
- Government Officials.
- Knowledge of the Law.
- Metal Detectors.
- Natural Resources.
- Off-Road Vehicles.
- Personal Property.
- Public Uses.
- Reclamation Facility.
- Reclamation Lands.
- Reclamation Project.
- Reclamation Waterbody.
- Special Use Areas.
- Vegetation & Plants.
- Water Skiing.
- Winter Activities.
See Section 423.41
Possession or consumption of alcohol must comply with applicable Federal, State, or local laws, plus any rules established for BLM Special Use Areas. [423.43]
Boats, Canoes, & Kayaks
See “Vessels” below.
Camping is defined as “erecting a tent or shelter; preparing a sleeping bag or other bedding material for use; parking a motor vehicle, motor home, or trailer; or mooring a vessel for the intended or apparent purpose of overnight occupancy.”
- Duration: a permit is required to camp longer than 14 days in a 30-day period of time
- Ground: digging and leveling is NOT allowed
- Latrines: when near a waterbody, toilets are NOT allowed (a) when the lowest point is lower than the high water mark or (b) within 150 of the high water mark
- Personal Property: may NOT be used in an effort to reserve a campsite for future use
- Prohibited: a permit is required to camp in areas that are posted, reserved, or closed
- Refuse: the site must remain clean and all refuse properly disposed of
- Special Use Areas: allowed in compliance with restrictions, conditions, limitations, or prohibitions
- Structures: only tents are allowed
The following areas are closed to the public:
- Areas fenced or gated
- Areas with signs indicating that the area is closed or posted
- Roads that are identified as being closed
- Areas blocked with barriers and/or locked doors
- Areas identified with 30 days advance public notice in the newspaper
- Emergency situations
Conditions For Use
Compliance with all Federal, State, and local laws, as well as all BLM-specific regulations in Part 423, is a condition for public use. [423.20]
Possession, consumptions, delivery, or being under the influence of controlled substances included in Schedules I – V is NOT allowed except when legally obtained through a valid prescription or order [423.44]
A Cultural Resource “means any man-made or associated prehistoric, historic, architectural, sacred, or traditional cultural property and associated objects and documents that are of interest to archaeology, anthropology, history, or other associated disciplines. Cultural resources include archaeological resources, historic properties, traditional cultural properties, sacred sites, and cultural landscapes that are associated with human activity or occupation.” [423.2]
- Climbing: except in designated special use areas, do NOT walk on, climb, enter, ascend, descend, or traverse cultural resources, including monuments or statues, [423.29(e)]
- Tampering: except for renewable resources (picking berries and mushrooms, collecting antlers, etc.), do not destroy, injure, deface, remove, search for, disturb, or alter cultural resources, which may include abandoned buildings or structures. [423.29]
- Visitors: are responsible for the use and treatment of cultural resources [423.21(c)]
Disorderly conduct is NOT allowed and includes, for example, fighting, threats, obscenities, offensive behavior, public nuisances, unreasonable noise, and violence. [423.22]
Dogs & Pets
- Abandoned: animals may be removed or confined by the BLM
- Prohibited: animals are NOT allowed in public buildings, public transportation vehicles, or sanitary facilities except for properly trained animals assisting persons with disabilities (e.g. seeing-eye dog).
- Public Nuisance: vicious, aggressive, and threatening pets and animals are NOT allowed
- Wild & Exotic Animals: a permit is required (e.g. cougars, lions, bears, bobcats, wolves, snakes)
- Authorization: are allowed–
- Hunting: for hunting, subject to all Federal, State, and local laws
- Special Use Areas: in special use areas subject to BLM prohibitions or regulations
- Stowed: if they are stowed in compliance Federal, State, and local law
- Transported: if they are transported in compliance Federal, State, and local law
- Shooting Ranges: in areas authorized for target shooting and archery practice
- Prohibited: are NOT allowed at or in Reclamation Facilities (see below)
Fires are allowed subject to the following regulations and restrictions:
- Attendance: fires must be attended and extinguished before leaving
- Gasoline: gasoline is allowed, but ONLY in containers designated for that purpose
- Smoking Materials: visitors must properly dispose of lighted smoking materials (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, matches)
- Toxins: visitors are NOT allowed to burn toxic materials (e.g. tires, plastic, treated wood.
ONLY dead wood may be gathered as firewood [423.29(d)]
Fishing means “taking or attempting to take, by any means, any fish, mollusk, or crustacean found in fresh or salt water.” In general, fishing is allowed in accordance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws. However, fishing is NOT allowed if the area has been (1) closed to the public or (2) otherwise designated in a special use area. Warning shot!!! Visitors may NOT introduce fish into Reclamation Waterbodies. [423.2, 423.29 and 423.32]
Commercial gambling of any kind is NOT allowed [423.42]
Visitors must comply with all Federal, State, and local officials. [423.22]
Hunting means “taking or attempting to take wildlife by any means, except by trapping or fishing.” In general, hunting is allowed in accordance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws. However, hunting is NOT allowed if the area has been (1) closed to the public or (2) otherwise designated in a special use area [423.2 and 423.32]
For ice fishing, ice sailing, and ice skating, see “Winter Activities” below.
Knowledge of the Law
Visitors are responsible for knowing all applicable laws and regulations, as well as any notices and postings of closed and special use area. Warning shot!!! Ignorance is not an excuse for violations. [423.21]
Memorials are NOT allowed, including, for example, burials, scattering of human remains, vases, markers, and plaques. [423.28]
A permit is required to use any detection device, including metal detectors, for locating or recovering subsurface objects or features. [423.29(f)]
- Renewable Resources: visitors are allowed to gather renewable resources such as berries, mushrooms, and antlers. [423.29(g)]
- Responsibility: visitors are responsible for the use and treatment of natural resources [423.21(c)]
- Rocks: visitors are NOT allowed to drop, place, throw, or roll rocks inside, into, at, or down natural formalities (e.g. caves, caverns, valley, canyons, mountains, thermal features) [423.29 (c)]
- Tampering: except for “Renewable Resources” (see above), visitors are NOT allowed to destroy, injure, deface, remove, search for, disturb, or alter natural resources, which may include abandoned buildings or structures [423.29]
Off-road vehicle means any motorized vehicle (including the standard automobile) designed for or capable of cross-country travel on or immediately over land, water, sand, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, or natural terrain. For restrictions, see “Vehicles” below. [423.2]
Permits are required for any use or activity that is otherwise prohibited or restricted (for details, see Sec. 423.50]
A pet means any “domesticated animal other than livestock. (“Livestock” is any hoofed animal used for agricultural, riding, pulling, or packing purposes.) [423.2]
See “Dogs & Pets” above for restrictions.
Personal property of visitors is considered to be abandoned if left unattended for a period of 24 hours. Abandoned property may be sold at a public sale. [423.23]
Except when specifically closed, all Reclamation land, waterbodies, and facilities are open to the public for lawful use. [423.10]
- Advertising: a contract or permit is required to advertise. [423.27]
- Closures: see above
- Conditions For Use: see above
- Gatherings: a permit is required for public assemblies, meetings, demonstrations, parades, and the like. [423.26]
Reclamation Facility means “any facility constructed or acquired under Federal reclamation law that is situated on Reclamation lands and is used or occupied by Reclamation under a lease, easement, right-of-way, license, contract, or other arrangement. The term includes, but is not limited to, any of the following that are under the jurisdiction of or administered by Reclamation: dams, powerplants, buildings, switchyards, transmission lines, recreation facilities, fish and wildlife facilities, pumping plants, and warehouses.” [423.2]
Reclamation Land means “any real property under the jurisdiction of or administered by Reclamation, and includes, but is not limited to, all acquired and withdrawn lands and lands in which Reclamation has a lease interest, easement, or right-of-way.” [423.2]
Reclamation Facility means “any water supply, water delivery, flood control, or hydropower project, together with any associated facilities for fish, wildlife, recreation, or water treatment constructed or administered by Reclamation under the Federal reclamation laws (the Act of June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388, chapter 1093; 43 U.S.C. 371 et seq.), and Acts supplementary thereto and amendatory thereof).” [423.2]
Reclamation Waterbody means ” as any body of water situated on Reclamation lands or under Reclamation jurisdiction.” [423.2]
Visitor registration may be established to limit public use. [423.62]
Visitor reservations may be established to limit public use. [423.62]
For snow skiing and snow sleds, see “Winter Activities” below.
Special Use Areas
For details about the designation and public notice of special use areas, refer to Subpart E.
In general, swimming, wading, snorkeling, scuba diving, rafting, and tubing are allowed at the visitor’s own risk. However, those activities are NOT allowed–
- Buoys: within 100 yards of buoys or barriers marking public access limits
- Dams: within 300 yards of dams, power plants, pumping plants, spillways, stilling basins, gates, intake structures, and outlet works
- Diving: when diving, jumping or swinging from dams, spillways, bridges, cables, towers, or other structures
- Docks: at public docks, launching sites, and designated mooring areas
- Drainage: in canals, laterals, siphons, tunnels, and drainage works
- Signs: when otherwise delineated by signs or other markers.
[423.36] Warning shot!!! There are additional restrictions for underwater activities.
In general, trapping is allowed in accordance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws. However, trapping is NOT allowed if the area has been (1) closed to the public or (2) otherwise designated in a special use area. [423.32]
Trespassing is NOT allowed and includes, for example, the following unauthorized activities–
- Commercial activities
- Dumping of personal property
- Entry into closed areas
- Extraction or disturbance of cultural resources,
- Possession or use of BLM property
- Public gatherings
Tubing is allowed, but only during daylight hours and subject to any Federal, State, or local laws. [428.38(k)]
Vandalism is NOT allowed and includes tampering with
- Property belonging to others
- Rocks dropped, thrown, or rolled inside, into, down, or from dams, spillways, dikes, and other structures or facilities
Vegetation & Plants
- Green Trees/Plants: visitors are NOT allowed to damage green trees or plants
- Introduction: visitors are NOT allowed to introduce vegetation or plants to Reclamation lands or waterbodies.
The following requirements and restrictions are in addition to any Federal, State, or local laws, as well as posted restrictions and regulations–
- Off-Road Vehicles: must comply with 43 CFR Part 420.
- Owners: are responsible for the operation and use of their vehicles (also see “Off-Road Vehicles”)
- Obstruction: may NOT obstruct or impede (a) normal or emergency traffic or (b) parking of others
- Safety: may NOT created a safety hazard or endanger people, property, or natural features.
- Reckless Driving: vehicles may NOT be operated in a negligent, careless, or reckless manner that endangers people, property, natural resource, or cultural resources
- Signs, Barriers, & Fences: vehicles may NOT be operated through, around, or beyond restrictive signs, barricades, or fences.
The following requirements and restrictions are in addition to any Federal, State, or local laws, as well as posted restrictions and regulations–
- Construction & Maintenance: vessels must comply with Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- Habitation: may NOT be used as a place of habitation or residence
- Motors: must have proper and effective exhaust muffler
- Operation: owners and operators may NOT operate vessels
- Closed Areas: within closed areas
- Intoxication: while impaired or intoxicated
- Reckless Driving: in a negligent or reckless manner that endangers people, property, natural resources, or cultural resources
- Signs, Buoys, & Markers: in violation of restrictions on signs, buoys or markers
- Overnight: vessels are allowed overnight, but ONLY as (a) designated in special use areas or (b) provided under Federal, State, or local law.
- Safety Equipment: vessels must comply with U.S. Coast Guard boating safety requirements (e.g. personal flotation devices)
- Storage: vessels can remain on Reclamation land or waterbodies, but ONLY if it is either (a) used within 24 hours, (b) securely moored, or (c) stored in a designated special use area.
- Structures: vessels may NOT be anchored or attached to structures (e.g. locks, dams, and buoys) except when designated for that purpose
Violations of Part 423 may result in a fine and/or up to six months in jail. [Subpart F]
Water skiing is allowed, but ONLY during daylight hours and subject to any Federal, State, or local laws [428.38(k)]
See “Firearms” above
- Animal Remains: may not be buried, deposited, scattered, or memorialized except for parts taken during legal hunting, fishing, or trapping [423.28].
- Introduction: visitors are NOT allowed to introduce wildlife into Reclamation lands or waterbodies [423.29]
- Restrictions: visitors are NOT allowed to harass, endanger, or collect animals except when taken in the course of authorized hunting, fishing, or trapping. [423.35]
- Visitors: are responsible for use and treatment of wildlife [423.21(c)]
The following winter activities are allowed subject to posting restrictions and the following conditions–
- Ice Activities: skating, fishing, and sailing are NOT allowed within 300 yards of dams, power plants, pumping plants, spillways, stilling basins, gates, intake structures, or outlet works
- Snow Activities: vehicles may NOT be used for towing people on sliding devices (e.g. skis and sleds) except (a) with sleds designed for towing by a snowmobile with a rigid hitching mechanism or (b) disabled snowmobile.