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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released on May 10, 2007, a proposed plan amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) plan to re-open a 3.75 mile segment of the Furnace Creek Road in the White Mountains, just north of Death Valley National Park.

Furnace Creek Road has been closed to motorized vehicles under an interim order for more than four years, and it remains closed pending the outcome of the current plan amendment process.  The proposal affects only the lower 3.75 segment of the road that is located on BLM managed lands, whereas the remaining 7.5 miles of the 100+ year old road remain closed by order of the Inyo National Forest.

Read more: BLM Proposes to Re-open Portion of Furnace Creek Road

This week marked the return of Death Valley as having the nation's hottest temperatures. Although Death Valley regularly enjoys this distinction for weeks, if not months, at a time during the summer, in the winter the temperatures are not only mild, but quite pleasant.  With yesterday's temperature reaching 103 F degrees, it looks like summer has made its way to Death Valley.

Visitors should consult the Morning Report prior to visiting Death Valley so they are aware of the temperatures, and to dress and pack accordingly.  Remember to drink plenty of water during your visit!

On May 15th the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) put in place their Stage I restrictions regarding the use of campfires and barbecues in the California Desert District.  This is an annual occurrence in preparation for the hot and dry summer fire season.  Normally, no permit is needed for campfires on the BLM's desert lands, but the State I restrictions now require everyone who wishes a campfire or barbecue to obtain an ordinary campfire permit from any BLM or Forest Service field office, fire or ranger station.  The State I general area of influence includes BLM lands north and east of the Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests.

Remember that within Death Valley National Park, campfires are allowed only in provided fire pits within developed campsites.  Backcountry campfires are not allowed at any time of the year, with or without a campfire permit.  Any person convicted of knowingly or willfully violating a fire prevention order can be fined up to $1,000, receive up to 12 months in jail, or both.  That person also is liable for the cost of damages and suppression of the wildfire.

For more information or to obtain a permit contact the BLM’s California Desert District Office at (951) 697-5200 or local field offices in Barstow (760) 252-6000 or Ridgecrest (760) 384-5400.

A blast of cold, wet weather surprised Death Valley over the weekend and dumped snow in at least the Panamint and Inyo Mountains, if not in other higher elevations of the Death Valley National Park.  The year to date rain total at Furnace Creek also raised from a quarter inch to .31 inch.

Don't look for it to stay long, however, as temperatures are already starting to warm to season norms.  All it takes is one patch of bare ground to start showing through, and before long the rest will be gone.

However, for those currently visiting Death Valley, the cooler weather provides another opportunity to hike the low elevations comfortably, as well as one last opportunity to pelt a loved one with a snowball this year.  As one Park employee put it, "Today we enjoy perfect weather" in Death Valley.

On April 21st, we visited the Southern Inyo Mountains on the edge of Death Valley National Park and only made it to about the 9000 foot level before heavy, knee-deep snow impeded our  progress.  I expect it'll be another two weeks before the Swansea-Cerro Gordo road is again fully passable.
Death Valley Area News
The latest news from inside Death Valley National Park