Camping areas restricted in Upper Kern River area due to drought

Showers will be shut off, no fire restrictions yet

KERNVILLE - Drought and fire risk require restrictions on camping in the Upper Kern River area of Sequoia National Forest.

The new restrictions take effect May 1. There is still free camping in the designated sites, and people can still picnic and fish everywhere else, but people cannot camp at a roadside pullout or anywhere else that is outside of the designated dispersed sites.

The area will have regular pay campsites, free designated areas and two group camping sites that can be reserved.

These changes will reduce impacts caused by overcrowding, including extreme littering, improper disposal of human waste, and damage to vegetation, said Cody Norris, with the Kern River Ranger District.

Day-use activities such as fishing and picnicking will be allowed within the rest of the corridor, but camping will not be allowed outside of the named fee and free camping areas.  Boundary markers will be installed along the perimeters of the designated dispersed areas.

Halfway and Thunderbird will be converted into group campgrounds with a total of nine group campsites accommodating between 12-50 people. These will be fee campsites reservable on Recreation.gov and managed by CLM.

In preparation for continued drought conditions, coin-operated showers will be inoperable for the summer to conserve water for drinking and flush toilets.

District Ranger Al Watson will also temporarily waive day-use and overnight camping fees at Auxiliary Dam, Old Isabella, and South Fork Recreation from July 1 to October 1.  Even at low levels, Lake Isabella continues to be a viable option for boating, fishing, and other water recreation.  The temporary fee lift is due to access issues around recreation areas and drought conditions.

Although there are no fire restrictions currently in place, this could change at any time. Please contact the Forest Service prior to your trip for updates.

Seasonal campgrounds will begin opening April 1. Call an office or visit Recreation.gov to find out when a specific campground is opening. Camp 9 along Sierra Way, French Gulch Group Campground along Highway 155, Paradise Cove Campground along Highway 178, and Headquarters Campground four miles north of Kernville will all remain open year-round.  Live Oak North, Live Oak South, and Live Oak Group Campgrounds will remain closed for the duration of 2014 due to extremely dry conditions (unless needed for overflow camping).

California Land Management has undertaken a cost-of-business price increase state wide, and this has impacted CLM-operated campground pricing on the District.

Starting May 18, the Kernville Forest Service Office will be open 7 days a week from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM while the Lake Office will remain open on weekdays from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  The Kernville office will remain the only office open on weekends during the summer until a new location for the Lake Isabella office is determined.

If you have any questions or want more information, please contact the KRRD Kernville Office at (760) 376-3781 or the Lake Isabella Office at (760) 379-5646.

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