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Rules and Regulations

Sandhill Cranes in SunsetTo protect habitat and keep Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge a safe place for both wildlife and people, please follow these simple rules:

ALL areas of the refuge are closed to public entry unless otherwise explicitly posted as a nature trail,  parking lot, or special public event or activity. Some areas are closed seasonally and are posted as such.

The following rules apply except where otherwise posted:

Visitors to National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all applicable local, State, Federal regulations and signs.

Hours – Stone Lakes NWR "Blue Heron Trails" is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Fees – There are no fees to use the nature trails or parking lots.

Permits – There are no permits required to use the nature trails or parking lots.

State / Federal permits are required for activities that are traditionally highly regulated (such as hunting or fishing) or otherwise prohibited. Common examples include:

A refuge specific Special Use Permit (SUP) is required to enter closed areas or conduct activities that are otherwise prohibited (ex. wildlife trapping and tagging).  For more information contact the refuge manager for the area where the proposed activity will occur at the Stone Lakes NWR Headquarters: (916) 775-4421.

Hunters must comply with State of California license requirements and regulations.  See State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife website for more information:

Speed – Speed limit is 15 mph unless otherwise posted.Drive only on designated roads. No access is allowed in areas marked with “Closed Area” signs.

Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuges must comply with all provisions of state and local law.

Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations during waterfowl hunting.

Dumping any type of animal or fish anywhere in the refuge is in violation of state and federal laws.


Open Areas and Closed Areas

OPEN Areas - Areas open to public use will be posted as such.  Road entrances to public use areas have a large brown refuge sign, open gate, and posted hours.  Areas open to the public include designated nature trails, hunting areas as authorized by permit, and parking lots.  Areas open to the public are listed on the refuge public use maps – follow the “MAPS” tab on the right side of this web page.  Public use areas are DAY USE ONLY.

CLOSED Areas – Areas closed to the public include all property that is not explicitly posted as an area open to the public including a nature trail, hunting area as authorized by permit, or parking lot.  Closed area boundaries are posted along accessible areas with signs that may list the following: “UNAUTHORIZED ENTRY PROHIBITED”; “AREA BEYOND THIS SIGN CLOSED All public entry prohibited.”  Visitors must stay out of posted closed areas.  Visitors that enter posted closed areas are trespassing and are subject to law enforcement action including citations. 


Permitted Activities and Prohibited Activities

PERMITTED Activities:

  • Use of posted nature trails, hunting areas as authorized by permit, and parking lots
  • Day use only

PROHIBITED Activities:

ALL areas of the refuges are CLOSED to public entry unless explicitly posted as a public use area.  Visitors must comply with ALL posted rules and regulations, in addition to what is listed below. Except where otherwise permitted / posted:

  • No trespassing in posted closed areas
  • No entry behind closed gates or fences
  • No night use
  • No fishing
  • No travel off of designated public use road or trail
  • No parking outside of designated parking lots
  • No pets on or off leash when outside of vehicles
  • No dog field trials or dog training
  • No dumping of refuse or animals
  • No remote controlled devices
  • No personal motorized watercraft
  • No non-guided personal non-motorized watercraft
  • No All terrain vehicles or dirt bikes
  • No bicycling
  • No horseback riding
  • No archery
  • No swimming
  • No camping
  • No fires or cooking grills
  • No fireworks
  • No weapons (except shotguns used during lawful hunting activities as authorized by permit)
  • No discharge of firearms (except during lawful hunting activities as authorized by permit)
  • No take, disturbance or collection of wildlife or plants
  • No search for or removal of objects of antiquity or other valued objects
  • No prospecting or mining
  • No removal of any property from refuge
  • No feeding wildlife
  • No spotlighting
  • No interference with persons engaged in authorized activities
  • No marijuana
  • No alcohol


Waterfowl Hunting

Seasonal waterfowl hunting opportunities are offered and require a refuge application and permit reservation. Please check the Waterfowl Hunting page for details on hunting rules and regulations.


Consult the Refuge Manager for any additional regulations or questions about an activity.

Page Photo Credits — Sandhill Cranes at sunset / Marvin de Jong
Last Updated: Aug 26, 2016
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