Topic Author's Original Post - May 4, 2010 - 01:23am PT
BLM Announces Public Scoping for Sawtooth Camping Area Improvements
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announces its intent to write an environmental assessment to consider improvements of the camping area in the Sawtooth Limited Use area of Stoddard Valley about eight miles south of Barstow. This proposed project would enhance the existing recreation opportunities for rock climbers and remote campers with the addition of 12 camp sites, one new restroom, a new kiosk, a picnic area and a host site. Each camp site would have a shade ramada, picnic table, fire pit and grill, and a barbeque.
Community members and interested parties are invited to participate in the environmental assessment by providing written comments by the close of business May 16, 2010. Only written comments will be accepted regarding the proposed camping-area improvements. Please submit your comments to the BLM Barstow Field Office, Attn: Sawtooth, John Kavanaugh, 2601 Barstow Road, Barstow CA 92311, or by email to John_Kavanaugh@ca.blm.gov. For further information about the project, please contact John Kavanaugh at (760) 252-6037.
I spoke to John Kavanaugh today and asked him some questions about the proposed camping improvements at Sawtooth Canyon, AKA New Jack City. I want to thank John for calling me back and taking the time to answer my questions.
Here's what I found out about the proposed improvements.
Four campsites will be near Boy Scout wall, just north of the concrete pad. There will also be a vault toilet and kiosk here. There will be a shade pavilion by the parking area underneath the Crossfire Crag. There will be three campsites on the other side of the canyon from Boy Scout Wall, closer to the existing kiosk. These campsites will be walk-in, in the sense that they'll be 50 feet from the parking area and will have a post and cable fence delimiting the parking area.
Five campsites will be by the White Face Wall, near the existing vault toilet.
The host site will be to the northeast of the White Face, on the other side of the main road into the climbing area, and south of the existing kiosk.
The idea is to encourage campers to congregate in these areas.
An environmental assessment has not yet been filed; the BLM is waiting for the result of the scoping process to start that. Visual impact has been considered, not least because films are often shot there and the BLM doesn't want to affect that.
The BLM is not proposing any changes to the current situation regarding climbing, OHV use, shooting, hunting, and other uses of the area.
The BLM doesn't know yet if these sites will be pay sites, but there are no proposals currently to restrict camping elsewhere in the area.
Hopefully the BLM will work with climbers so that none of the campsites will be directly in front of a climbing area or boulder problem, so that people won't have to hike through someone's campsite to get to a climb.
Mr. Kavanaugh wants to hear your thoughts and comments on the proposed plan. Email is fine. You can email him at John_Kavanaugh@ca.blm.gov, and see the scoping announcement at
We spoke to John Kavanaugh on Saturday. A summary: 12 campsites plus a host site. Five sites near the existing toilet, four near the concrete pad along with a toilet and maybe a climbers kiosk/message board, and three sites around the corner in a semi-walk-in campground, along with a new parking area and fence. Currently this area is grassy and unused. The toilet will sit in or very near an obvious wash. It will not be composting. There will be a shade pavilion and two tables by the parking area below Crossfire Crag. Each campsite will have a fixed concrete picnic table, a fire ring, and a barbecue pit.
The BLM hopes to have a continuous host, at least during the main season (Sept-May). The host will have no enforcement powers. Since there are very few rules, there are very few that someone could enforce anyway - shooting, paintball, off-roading, and partying are not prohibited. There are no quiet hours. The hosts' duties will be up to the hosts. They may choose to greet every new arrival, or keep a low profile.
One of the White Face sites was sited in such a way that climbers would have to hike through the site in order to climb there. We tried to convince Mr. Kavanaugh to move this site around the corner on the theory that if there was a table there, there would <em>always</em> be someone camping there; whereas if the table was around the corner, there might not always be someone camped there. If you write a scoping letter, you might mention this. The other sites are away from climbing and bouldering and are where people usually camp.
Frankly, this seems to be a done deal. The BLM has already ordered the materials and scheduled the bulldozers for May 17, the day after the comment period ends. The Environmental Assessment, something that the USFS told us would take months and require a donation of $50k for Williamson, is going to be done on the evening of the 16th, and the bulldozers roll Monday morning.
More worrisome is that this whole area is being considered as a possible site for windfarms and solar arrays. A windfarm is being proposed just south, atop Granite Mountain. This is a much more serious threat to the entire area.
Just a quick update on New Jack City (Sawtooth Canyon) climbing. Found this thread when looking for info about the area this November. Had read and heard via friends that this area is impacted with trash, off-road use, guns, etc. Also heard that BLM improvements were not ideal.
We had a great experience here and enjoyed the unique rock, quiet camping, and well protected climbing. We did find that there are still a ton of glass remnants around, and some small trash scraps. Climbers in general seem to be cleaning up after themselves. The BLM improvements seem to be what has saved this little area from the wild west shooting and off-road uses. In general it seems like the best strategy for containing use, and the human waste. The BLM campground does limit the space for camping. We found that it was rather crowded here; though spaces were available just not right under the popular crags; it was also easy to make friends and share a site if needed. There are still no fees charged for camping. There are vault toilets, shelters, nice fire pits, grills, and no water. The host was reasonable, and kept to himself. One post here on supertopo complained about the host and the rules- Seems like if you can't follow these rules than you will have trouble just about anywhere. Fairly easy to drive slow, and respect quiet hours..
Find the Southern California Rock guidebook! It does have mistakes but is the most comprehensive guide. I found a PDF online on a wiki page that is kind of useless..