Bureau of Land Management Backcountry Guidelines


BLM Backcountry Guidelines

Much BLM land is extremely remote, with unimproved roads and no services of any kind. Cell phones are not always dependable in some of these areas. Mishaps can be avoided or made less serious with some preplanning. The following is a list of preparations to be made before your departure, a basic list of supplies, and suggestions for what to do if you become stranded.

  • Let someone at home know your travel plans and a time you will return. If you do get lost or break down, the people at home will know whereto start looking. Also, let these people know if your plans change.
  • Check local travel conditions before you depart and again at time of travel.
  • Learn about the area, get accurate maps, and plan your agenda conservatively if you are traveling to an unfamiliar area.
  • Bring gear appropriate to your activity, the expected range of conditions, and the planned length of your stay. Many people have been fooled by changing conditions.

Survival Tools

  • Proper clothing for your activity (sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, or warmer clothing for changes in weather).
  • Good walking shoes (or boots) and walking stick.
  • Food (High energy - non-melting snacks).
  • Water; at least one gallon per person per day. Purification tablets and high tech water filters are recommended also.
  • Know how to read maps, use a compass, and gain a knowledge of the area prior to trip (note landmarks as you travel). Carry a GPS unit with you, and know how to use it.
  • Small first aid kit.
  • Waterproof matches (in a case or film canister).
  • Camping and emergency tools (depending on transportation):
    -- Knife;
    -- Road flares;
    -- Rope or cord/ duct or electrician's tape; and
    -- Small tarp or ground cover.
  • Day pack, cargo carrier or saddle bag to carry the preceding gear
  • Vehicle tools, high-lift jack, extra fuel, and spare parts (spark plugs, fan belts, hose clamps), depending on your vehicle.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working condition. Take vehicle tools, inflated spare tire, high-lift jack, extra fuel, and spare parts (spark plugs, fan belts, hose clamps), depending on your vehicle.
  • Flashlight.

If Lost, Stranded or Broken Down

  • Stay with your vehicle or otherwise make yourself visible.
  • Stay put, unless you have a clear and specific destination.
  • Avoid walking during the heat of the day; morning and evening walking is better for conserving your body's moisture.
  • Seek shelter from the elements, but try to make yourself visible (like with smoke or a signal fire, or a bright colored tarp).

Alcohol and Drug Use

The operation of any vehicle or firearm, maintaining a campfire, and other recreational activities requires skill and good judgment. Alcohol and drugs impair both. You become a danger to yourself and others when you take drugs or drink alcohol.

Laws regarding DWI, open containers and giving or buying alcohol for someone under the age of 21 apply everywhere in the state, even if you are on a back country trail. The penalties are the same, including jail time and the loss of your driver’s license.

Possession or use of illegal drugs on public lands is against the law.

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