Rules and Regulations

Sandhill Cranes in Sunset

To 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. NO overnight parking or leaving vehicles all day unattended.  Vehicles left overnight or all day unattended may or will be towed at owners expense.

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:  https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/

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. No dogs or pets.


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, fishing in designated area, and parking lots

Day use only. NO overnight parking or leaving vehicles all day unattended.  Vehicles left overnight or all day unattended may or will be towed at owners expense.

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 overnight parking or leaving vehicles all day unattended.  Vehicles left overnight or all day unattended may or will be towed at owners expense.

No fishing unless in designated fishing area (see below)

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 drones

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 see the Waterfowl Hunting page for details on the hunting application process.

Fishing

Fishing opportunities are offered in designated area only via boat access through Snodgrass slough. Please see Fishing Map (680KB PDF) for map of designated fishing area. No bank fishing. All State fishing license and regulations apply.

 

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