A Guide to Outside: Public Lands
Land. Public land. Land that belongs to the public. We are the public that this land belongs to, and our land is scattered throughout the country, just waiting for us to enjoy it.
Public land has many different uses, designations, and vastly different regulations. They are marked by a large rectangular brown sign. You may see one on the side of the freeway, leading down a dirt or gravel road with nothing but sagebrush, cactus, and Joshua trees along the white empty landscape. They may also look like a closed cattle gate next to an alfalfa farm with a small brown sign saying welcome to public lands. Or it may look like a developed campground with RVs, Trailers, and tent campsites, which may or may not include showers, bathrooms, and water.
On public lands near the Sacramento River, I have had a bald eagle soar within 10 feet of me. I have ridden ATVs for miles in the Mojave Desert, rafted down the Kings River, and hunted doves on opening day. All without the government asking for more of my hard-earned money to visit, camp, or travel on. These lands have been set aside for us, the public, to both take care of and enjoy. So get out there, and Explore!
Where Is It?
Everywhere! The best tool for locating where to find BLM land is to visit the organization's web page. Enter "www.BLM.gov" into your web browser. Look at the top of the page, then click on the top dropdown option that says "Visit." At the bottom of the list, you will click on "Maps."
Then you will click on the BLM Recreation Opportunities Interact Map. Any area highlighted in light yellow is land that is managed by the BLM. Explore the map and you have a guaranteed place that you are free to use as long as you follow a few simple guidelines.
This means that you should not drive in areas that do not have an established road or over the top of vegetation. Pick-up litter, and make sure to leave an area that you use better than when you found it. Specific regulations can be found on the BLM website, but the basic regulations for dispersed camping are as follows:
You may camp in an area for up to 14 days before having to move at least 25 miles from your original spot. You may not return to that area for 28 consecutive days.
Choose sites that are already established.
Camp at least 200 feet away from water sources.
Use existing fire rings or camp stoves.
Check current fire conditions.
Properly dispose of human waste (away from water and in a 6" or deeper hole).