Resource Advisory Committees

RRAC Proposals and Public Discussion - BLM San Joaquin River Gorge (June 2010)

Bureau of Land Management Proposal to Charge Use Fees
San Joaquin River Gorge - Special Recreation Management Area (SJRG

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Mission of SJRG:

Through community collaboration and innovative partnerships, the BLM will maintain the character of the landscape, its diversity of settings, and the overall health of public lands and watersheds, ensuring long–term ecological sustainability and preservation of heritage resources while providing public benefits through a diverse spectrum of recreational and tourism opportunities.

Overview of SJRG

  • Approximately 6700 acres of BLM/BOR lands managed as San Joaquin River Gorge
    • 1740 acres acquired by LWCF in 2002 (Patt. Bend) for purpose of connecting SJR Trail, habitat, watershed values and public access to river

Current Management

  • Since the 1960s, Management emphasis has been on recreation and resource conservation, protection and interpretation (Special Recreation Mgt. Area)
    • Scenic San Joaquin river gorge
    • 20+ miles of hiking/mtn. biking/equestrian trails
    • Natural & Cultural Resource Interpretive programs
    • Vegetation managed primarily by grazing
    • Popular area for hunting & fishing (only known landlocked population of American shad, some striped bass; quail, dove, turkey, deer, occasional wild pigs, bear)

From waterfalls and ferns to dramatic rock outcrops and scenic vistas, the Gorge offers a variety of landscapes and opportunities for exploration, physical challenge and relaxation.

Existing Facilities/Programs

  • 5–unit walk–in campground has single, double & triple sites; 2 fully–accessible sites
  • Group camp Capacity is 250–300 persons
  • SST toilets installed in 2005 in both campgrounds, paved parking lots, installed accessible tables, pads and fire rings; 2008 new water system installed
Nuckahee Learning Center
  • Covered area with tables for classroom or group use
  • Full kitchen facility, 2 flush toilets can be rented out for parties
  • Storage shop for BLM supplies and equipment
Visitor Center
  • Interactive displays, exhibits and bookstore focused on natural and cultural resources
  • 20+ miles of trail, includes a National Recreation Trail and San Joaquin River Trail
  • Trail Bridge provides access to Madera County side of Gorge
Interpretive Facilities & Programs
  • SJRG is an award-winning "Hands on the Land" & Project Archaeology education site
  • Learning Center: outdoor classroom, archeological "dig", bedrock mortar site
  • Indian Village (replica)
  • Ponds
  • Nature trail
  • Visitor Center

BLM Partners with other federal & state agencies, tribal and non–profit groups to provide educational programs & facilities.

Partners in Education
  • BLM Partners with Sierra Unified School District:
    • BLM provides limited funding for bus transportation, equipment, materials and supplies
    • BLM provides teacher training & curriculum material
    • SUSD provides internal program coordination
    • SUSD provides curriculum assistance/feedback

    TOGETHER we provide quality educational programs in the field and in the classroom, and Service–Learning projects

    Ex. Student projects, Summer Science work crew

  • BLM partners with California State University—Fresno
    • Utilize aquatic biology and botany students to assist with programs, data collection
    • Provides Service–Learning projects at the College level
Science Education:
Meeting standards, empowering young scientists

Students are exposed to a variety of "real–world", scientific investigative skills as early as possible in their education. Many skills cross curriculums and require an understanding of math and language arts as well as scientific concepts.

Cultural Education:
Meeting standards, instilling RESPECT

Ca. Ed. Standard: History–Social Science

  • kindergarten — Reaching out to Times Past
  • Third Grade — Continuity and Change 3.2: Students describe the Amer. Indian nations in their local region long ago and in the recent past.
  • Fourth Grade — California A Changing State 4.2: Students describe the social, political, cultural and economic life and interactions among people of California from the pre–Columbian societies to the Spanish mission and Mexican rancho periods.
Teacher Workshops
  • BLM sponsors training for teachers
  • BLM provides teacher training for partner organizations


Historic Use
  • During late 1970s–early 1980s our current recreational facilities were developed and Smalley Road was paved and improved to provide year–round access.
  • Prior to this time, use was mainly from hearty sportsmen in the local area.
Current Use
  • Visitors come from local and regional area: Auberry, Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Kerman as well as some repeat visitors from San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas.
  • The Gorge is popular for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, mountain biking, equestrian use, picknicking, kayaking, swimming, photography, caving and gold panning
Visitor Characteristics
  • Estimated use is 50% Caucasian, 41% Latino, 5% Native American, 3% Asian, and 1% African–American
  • Age ranges from toddlers to 90–year old hikers
  • Most visitors appear to be upper middle class with disposable incomes as evidenced by newer vehicles, bicycles and recreation eqpt.

When asked, most visitors expressed surprise that no fee system was in place. They said they would be willing to pay and intended to visit again.

Summary of Visitor Use
  • Visitor use is increasing
  • 2002—6,450 total visits
  • 2003—7,350
  • 2004—8,740
  • 2005—16,931
  • 2006—58,591
  • 2007—69,848
  • 2008—86,577
  • 2009—83,171
  • We expect this trend of increased visitation to continue, especially with marketing to increase visibility of the area and completion of SJR trail.


Financial Investments:
2004: Road and Bridge Repair $429,000
2005: Campground Rehab $138,000
2005: Pole Barn Shop $169,000
2004–09 Trail Mtce. $528,000
2007: Energy retrofit $19,000
2008: SJRG Accessibility $10,000
2006: Well & new water system $38,000
2007: RV Camp Host site $4,000
Total Infrastructure investments: $1,335,000


Interpretive Program Investments:
2003: Hands on the Land grant $25,000
2002–2010: Challenge Cost Share $275,000
2004–2009: BOR contribution $114,000
2003–2008: Volunteer contrib. $38,475
2004–2008: SUSD "in–kind" $120,000
Total: $572,475
Summary of Investments to date
  • Infrastructure investments: $1,335,000
  • Interpretive Program investments: $572,475
  • Total to date: $1,907,475


Item Current Budget Budget Needed
Annual Operations Cost:
Staffing 199,000 252,000
Vehicles 12,200 18,000
Supplies 10,000 25,000
Equipment mtce 2,125 4,000
Contracts/Agreements 30,000 100,000
Totals 253,325 399,000
  • Current staffing: PFT Park Manager + Term Park Rgr.
  • Need PFT Park Rgr, PFT Maintenance Worker/Trails + 1 Interpretive Specialist

Proposed Use Fees

Proposed Fees
  • Standard Amenity Fee of $5.00 per vehicle, per day. This fee includes access to the road and trail system, river, visitor center, interpretive displays, exhibits and kiosks, picnic areas, parking lots, restrooms, water and trash service.
  • An Annual Pass proposed price $25–$50
  • Expanded amenity fees:
    • Camping: $10 single site, $15 for doubles
    • Group Camp: $175 per day
    • Equestrian Camp: $25 per day
    • Learning Center Rental: $300 per day (includes use of full kitchen)
    • Guided Interpretive/Educational activities: $15 per person for half–day/ $20 per person for full day
Exceptions to $5.00 daily fee:
  • If camping, $5 fee is waived for first vehicle per site, extra vehicles would pay only the $5 per day fee
  • Education/interpretive groups do not have to pay the $5 daily fee, included in program fee
  • BLM may waive parent chaperone's fee (limited # of vehicles)
  • SRUP groups $5 fee is included in permit fee


Estimate of Fee Revenues:

Service Fee/Unit Cost Est. Participants or days Estimated Revenue @ 100% compl. Est. Revenue @ 30% Compliance
Camping $10 150 $900 $450
Camping $15/double/trip 80 $720 $360
Group Camp $175/day 60 $6,300 $3,150
Horse Camp $25/day 110 $1,650 $825
Standard Amenity $5/vehicle/day 16,250 $48,750 $24,375
Pole Barn Rental $300/day 15 $4,500 $4,500*
Interp /Ed $15/half-day 1500 $22,500 $22,500*
$20/full day 30 $600 $600*
TOTALS     $85,920 $56,760
How Fees will be Used
  • 100% of fees will remain on–site
  • Fees will be used to maintain campgrounds, restrooms, roads, trails, visitor center, etc.
  • Fees may be used to expand interpretive programs, products and services
  • Fees may be used to provide 7–day staffing, and program assistance

June 23-24, 2010 RRAC Meeting