South Lake Tahoe and a Retired Forest Ranger

South Lake Tahoo, CA

South Lake Tahoe, CA.

Work took me to South Lake Tahoe, CA this morning.  I was fortunate I did not have to drive in the rain.


Several hours before my next stop in Roseville, CA, I visited the Pacific Ranger Station at Eldorado National Forest.  I was looking to score some topography maps and see if I can pester a Forest Ranger regarding open carry firearm laws.  Last year, I called the office to confirm that I may open carry within the National Forest.  It was a positive outcome.  The lead ranger reassured me that I would not have any trouble.  This time, I was hoping to clarify language in regards to Title 36 § 261.10 (d)(2), “Across or on a National Forest System road or a body of water adjacent thereto, or in any manner or place whereby any person or property is exposed to injury or damage as a result in such discharge.”

My concern?  The general summary is that “[loaded open carry] LOC is legal, provided it is not in an area where shooting is prohibited, at which times only [unloaded open carry] UOC is legal. Prohibited areas include within 150 yards of any residence, building, campsite, or developed site, or on/across a road or body of water” (MudCamper, 09/28/2009; post #80)  MudCamper further summarizes that “California law (PC § 12031) prohibits loading anywhere where discharge of a firearm is prohibited. The CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) prohibits shooting on/across roads in the NF. So, technically you’d be violating California Penal Code § 12031 when you carry a loaded gun on the road [or bodies of water] in the National Forest. It’s not just a fine. It’s a misdemeanor.”

In the National Forest, there are several small/large bodies of water.  This is especially true as the snow runs off the mountains.  With a strict interpretation, I would be breaking the law under California PC § 12031 if I crossed a body of water, i.e., lakes, streams, rivers. For clarification, I spoke with Gary M., a retired LEO of the National Forest Service.  He’s currently the volunteer coordinator.  The active rangers were out shooting.

Gary related to me that the consensus is that the rangers at Eldorado National Forest do not mind if a responsible person were to open carry across a stream or pond, as long as firearms were not discharged.  He assured me that this is true at the Pacific station as well as the others.  In other words, they either do not care about California law or do not know it.

It’s nice to know their potential reaction.  He does carry a S&W Model 66 on his personal hikes.  It appears that Eldorado National Forest is generally gun friendly, too.  He and I shared a nice conversation about guns and his past experience as a LEO.  He appeared confident that National Forest LEO would not harass me.  It’s additional comfort, but as MudCamper stated, “Your milage may vary.”

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Categories: Firearms, Guns, I Live in My Car


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