As we face a fourth straight season of drought — and with Edison dewatering 600 cfs from the rest of the upper Kern — we can be certain of one thing this Spring: non-commercial boaters will be flocking to paddle the class 4- Limestone section. It's the only section on the upper Kern besides the class 2/3 Lickety that will be running.
The established Limestone takeout at Willow Point is essentially just a long dirt turnout. Historically, the southern one-third of this turnout has been marked by two signs as a no parking loading zone to facilitate commercial outfitter operations. The remaining two-thirds of the turnout were available as free public parking for day users, fishermen, and private boaters.
This winter, the Forest Service used its KR3 relicensing money to widen this turnout for additional bus space and improve the wide walking path down to the river suitable for outfitters to carry their rafts.
However, the Forest Service also installed two additional signs marking the entire turnout as no parking, loading only. As currently marked, non-commercial boaters (who do not have buses for shuttle and rely on parking their vehicles at the takeout) will have to park well away from the Willow Point turnout and walk Mountain 99 to retrieve their cars and return them to the loading zone.
KRB recognizes the need for a loading zone at the Limestone takeout to facilitate commercial outfitter operations. However, KRB believes the signage change establishing the entire takeout as no parking, loading-only too strongly favors outfitter interests over those of day users, fishermen, and private boaters.
KRB has contacted the Forest Service with its concerns. Hopefully, the signage change was simply a mistaken part of the improvement project. KRB has voiced its position that the former signage pattern, which balanced the interests of commercial outfitters with the many other users of this site, should be re-established — preferably before the Spring runoff begins. KRB will keep you updated.