Fires, Hunting Season, Volunteer Opportunities, 411

 Whittier’s Final Gasp
FIRE FOREST & RESTRICTIONS

It’s been a fiery few weeks around the Los Padres.  It seems like wildfires are popping up just about every day but thanks to the excellent fire crews most of them haven’t developed into much.  That being said, we’ve had quite a few significant fires that have grown large enough to garner incident names and/or attention:

  • We had Hudson, in the eastern Cuyama, that didn’t get onto the Los Padres but burned just over 1,000 acres.
  • There were a series of seven fires in Santa Paula Canyon that burned 35 acres and has caused the closure of the popular Santa Paula Canyon Trail.
  • The biggest has been the Alamo Fire, which burned over 28,000 acres.  It also didn’t get onto LP soil but came really really close and caused multiple forest access closures.
  • And of course the Whittier Fire, which has burned over 18,000 acres, mostly within the Los Padres and remains 87% contained.  Tragically, 16 residences were destroyed at the hands of Whittier and a Forest Closure remains enforced across the Western Santa Ynez Mountains.

In response to the increase in fire activity, the Los Padres National Forest went into Level III Fire Restrictions effective July 17.  You can read all about it here.  The largest change in this order is the banning of target shooting across the Los Padres.

Summer is a tough time in the Los Padres.  Temperatures are really high across most of the forest and water is becoming scarce.  If you’ve got the itch to get into the forest please be careful and plan on doing most of your moving either early or late……..

A-ZONE SOUTH: August 12
Now, that being said, early August is also one of the busiest times in the Los Padres as A-Zone South deer (rifle) season kicks off.  This years general season goes from August 12 – September 24.  You can see on the map that A-Zone South includes just about all of the Los Padres.  If you are a hunter, have at it, be safe and responsible.  If you are not a hunter, you may want to pick your forest endeavors carefully, especially on weekends.  Be prepared to see more activity than usual along forest roads and at campgrounds and leave your antler hat at home.  If you have any questions, please contact your local Ranger District.
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Four Fingers View, Channel Islands, Madulce Trail

MADULCE TRAIL PROJECT: August 4-6

In case you need a Los Padres Fix for your NDD or more likely your TWDD (Trail Work Deficit Disorder), the LPFA will be squeezing in a trail project August 4-6 along the Madulce Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Led by Mike Smith, we’ll be working the top mile of the trail from the Buckhorn Road out to the junction with the Madulce Peak Lookout Trail.  Most of the focus will be fixing tread and broken cribwalls on the north slope of the ridge, which in conjunction with the 5,500ft elevation should mean cooler temperatures.  We’ll be driving in from Santa Barbara Canyon and base-camping at nearby Alamar Camp.  If you’ve never been to Alamar or this part of the forest, it is spectacular and a real treat to be able to drive in 2 hours what normally takes 2 days to backpack.  As usual all food and tools will be provided for the volunteers.  If you have any questions or would like to sign-up, please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org

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Colorful History, Mono Debris Dam

FOREST 411

• Got plans this weekend?  If not, throw the kids in the family roadster and head out tomorrow to Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center to see the Humane Society of Ventura County give a presentation at 11am.  The coolest thing about the Humane Society is that you never quite know what animals they’ll show up with.  They might have a blind corn snake?  They might come with dogs performing tricks?  Maybe a goat?  You never know….  But one thing for sure is that your kids will love it and spend the entire drive home begging you to adopt a cat or a mouse or an iguana.  No thanks needed.  See you tomorrow!

• Were you around 25 years ago?  Does June 19, 1992 mean anything?  It should, that was the day the Los Padres Condor and River Protection Act was signed adding more than 400,000 acres of wilderness and 80 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers to the Los Padres National Forest.  This included the creation of the Silver Peak, Sespe, Matilija, Garcia and Chumash Wildernesses as well as additional land added to both the San Rafael and Ventana Wildernesses.  That was quite a day, cheers to June 19!

• This week also marks the one-year anniversary of the Soberanes Fire, which burned from July 22, 2016 well into the winter months.  Soberanes consumed over 130,000 acres, destroyed dozens of homes and took the life of a dozer operator working on the fire.  Even a year later, we’re still reeling from Soberanes with road closures and forest closures continuing to impact life in and around Big Sur and the Ventana Wilderness.  More updates next time around….

• A press release was issued earlier this month about the continued closure of Hi Mountain Road in SLO County.  Hi Mtn Rd is an unpaved road that connects Arroyo Grande with Pozo going through both SLO County and Los Padres land.  It leads to a variety of recreational activities and campgrounds but remains closed as SLO and the LP work out an agreement on road maintenance.  The attached PDF tells the story better than we can.  Note that Hi Valley Road remains closed from the first gate down next to the creek coming up from Arroyo Grande out to Pozo.

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Taking it Easy, LPFA Flume Chute Aid Station, SBER 2017

Fires! Fires on the Mountains

 Alamo Fire, Engulfing Pismo, photo Toejam
WHITTIER & ALAMO FIRES
Yes, it is that time of year again….  While we were hoping for an ‘off year’ from wildfires, especially after last year, the Los Padres is off and running again with what is looking like another busy fire season.  While there have been a few smaller fires here and there around the LP, the first two major fires erupted this past week in Santa Barbara County: Alamo & Whittier
Alamo & Whittier Fires 
First was the Alamo Fire, which started the afternoon of July 6 east of Santa Maria, near the border of SLO and SB Counties, close to Twitchell Reservoir.  The fire has burned nearly 30,000 acres and is currently 45% contained.  While Alamo has not yet entered the Los Padres, it is really close and has been knocking on the door the past few days just across Tepusquet Canyon.  Fire crews have made great progress on Alamo in recent days, lets hope for containment soon before the next heat wave hits this weekend.

MORE INFORMATION:

  • Click here for the full list of closures.  Access to the Los Padres is closed along Hwy 166 between 101 and New Cuyama, including Tepusquet Canyon, Rock Front, Sierra Madres and Colson Canyon.
  • Twitter is always a great resource for following crowd-sourced information.
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Painting the Forest Red, SY Mtns Above Goleta
Then came the Whittier Fire, which started dramatically on Saturday July 8 just off Hwy 154 across from Lake Cachuma.  Fueled by 100˚ heat and afternoon winds, the Whittier Fire, named after nearby Whittier Camp, took off like a rocket burning south up the Santa Ynez Mountains through terrain that had not burned since the 1955 Refugio Fire (62 years).  It quickly consumed Rancho Alegre Outdoor School and temporarily trapped 80 students at Circle V Camp.  By that evening the flames had crossed West Camino Cielo and were headed down towards the ocean.  Evacuations were ordered for Paradise Road, West Camino, Kinevan and even western Goleta.  Fortunately, the weather changed starting Sunday bringing two days of tropical flow followed by a thicker marine layer and cooler temps.  The combination of the change in weather along with the great work from the fire crews has slowed the progress of the Whittier Fire.  Whittier has currently burned around 11,000 acres and is 25% contained.  It’s still very active both with smoke plumes as well as air attacks from the tankers that have been hammering it the past day or so.

MORE INFORMATION:

  • Click here for the full list of closures.  Access to the Los Padres is closed along Hwy 154 between Cathedral Oaks and Hwy 246, including West Camino Cielo.
  • Tequepis Trail burned.
  • Twitter is always a great resource for following crowd-sourced information.
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Whittier Fire-Camp Morning Briefing, July 11

It’s devastating seeing the destruction these wildfires bring.  If you are reading this, chances are you’ve either been affected by a recent wildfire or know someone who has.  If you’re able, please reach out and find ways you can help as fire victims rebuild their lives.  And of course, huge praise needs to go to all the fire crews and fire support teams that work day and night fighting these fires.  Their efforts literally saved 80 children.  Not to mention all the other lives and property saved that we’ll never hear about because they stopped it before it happened.  They are absolutely amazing.

Santa Barbara 100 Endurance Race: LPFA AID STATION

The 2016 LPFA Aid Station, lit up for the night!

For the fifth running (get it?) year, the LPFA will be hosting an aid station at the Santa Barbara 100 Endurance Race this coming weekend July 14-15.  This year we’ll be setup at the northern trailhead for the Franklin Trail near Jameson Lake under the flume.  We’ll be driving in to our “Flume Chute” aid station on Friday around 6pm, spending the night Friday night under the flume and then heading home Saturday evening around 7pm after the racers have come through our station.

We’ll be marking (flags) the route on Friday from Divide Peak OHV to the Flume Chute and then waking up early Saturday to mark the route up the Franklin Trail as far as Alder Creek Camp.  We’ll then setup our aid station and the first runners should come through around noon on Saturday.  Our job at the aid station is to count the runners, assist them with whatever they need, get them water and some food, a little encouragement and then set them off on their way as they continue their 60 mile run across the Santa Ynez Mountain.  These aid stations are a lot of fun.  It’s great providing encouragement and we always head home feeling motivated after witnessing what these great athletes are able to accomplish.  Empowering.  The final runners will come through around 6pm, after that we’ll pack up and head home.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please let us know:

INFO@LPForest.org

The Flume at the base of Alder Canyon

2016 Race Start, on your marks, get set, go run 60 miles in 90˚ heat!

Manzana Schoolhouse Weekend Trail Project & Zaca Fire Anniversary

National Trails Day 2017, Santa Cruz Trail

Good Afternoon Everyone – Hope you are doing well!

The Los Padres enjoyed a great weekend of National Trails Day projects across the Los padres.  Reports are still trickling in from the various projects and we hope to share photos and updates in the coming week or so.  It certainly was hot out there this past weekend!  While National Trails Day in June might work for the rest of the country, it’s a hot time of year in the LP.  Thank you to everyone who helped out this weekend, if you have photos from wherever you were, please share, we’d love to see them!

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MANZANA SCHOOLHOUSE
TRAIL PROJECT
June 9-11

The LPFA is going to squeeze in one more long-weekend project before the backcountry gets too hot. Join us June 9-11 at Manzana Schoolhouse as we do some work on the Lower Manzana Trail, clear some downed trees from the Lower Sisquoc and clean up Manzana Schoolhouse Camp. 

The plan is to meet at the Lower Manzana Trailhead on Friday June 9 at 8am. We’ll load our camping gear into trucks that will drive out to the Schoolhouse while we spend the day hiking, clearing trees and a few strategic slides along the Manzana Trail. We’ll get to the Schoolhouse with enough time to cool down in the Sisquoc, get some dinner, enjoy happy hour and watch the full moon creep over Castle Rock. 

Saturday will be spent clearing the downed trees along the Lower Sisquoc, working on the lowest section of the Manzana Trail and fixing a few odds and ends around Manzana Schoolhouse Camp.

We’ll pack up Sunday, the trucks will once again carry our camping gear back to NIRA while we hike up-stream and fine-tune any remaining issues along the Manzana Trail.

As always, meals Friday night – Sunday will be provided for the volunteers. The hike in to the Schoolhouse is about 9 miles. If you can’t make it in on Friday morning, you’re still welcome to attend, we’d just like you to get to the Schoolhouse in enough time to volunteer on Saturday. Please RSVP.  Should be a great time and a special final weekend of volunteering in the backcountry this season. Hope you can make it and email (INFO@LPForest.org) for more information or to sign up!

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One of the endless Zaca plumes, photo Ray Ford
ZACA FIRE ANNIVERSARY TALK
July 4, 2007, the day the Zaca Fire started and a few weeks before it really went.  Can you believe it’s been almost 10 years since the Zaca Fire burned most of the Santa Barbara Backcountry!??!  Join us Thursday June 15 at 6:30pm at the Santa Barbara Library as Ray Ford takes us down memory lane recounting the progress and history of the once-in-a-lifetime conflagration known as the Zaca Fire.  He’ll go over just about every acre of the over 240,000 acres that burned between its start July 4 and sometime in early December when it finally went out.  The talk is FREE, get it on your calendar and we hope to see you there!  More details and information to come…..

National Trails Day 2017: SANTA CRUZ TRAIL

Come join us on National Trails Day (Saturday, June 3) as we begin work on bringing the Santa Cruz Trail back to life!

• We’ll meet at First Crossing (34.545955, -119.779028 – about 30mins from Santa Barbara) at 8am on June 3.  From there we’ll caravan across the river and through locked gates (locked at Lower Oso) to Upper Oso.  We’ll park the cars at Upper Oso and walk the 0.7 miles to the start of the Santa Cruz Trail singletrack.  Parking is FREE!

• If you are running late, we a second caravan leaving First Crossing at 8:30am.

• Once at the Santa Cruz Trail, we’ll do a safety talk, explain the plan for the day and break into teams to start work.  All of the work will be along the 1.3 miles up to 19 Oaks Camp.

• We’ll have hard hats, gloves and provide all the tools for the day.  Please wear long pants, sturdy boots, eye protection (sunglasses are fine) and you might want to bring a helmet (bike helmet is fine), personal gloves and a favorite trail tool if you have one.

• You’ll also need to bring any water and food needed to get you from 8am until 5pm.

• It’s predicted to be sunny with high temperatures in the low 80’s.  There should be a light breeze by mid-morning that will hopefully help keep things cool as well. It will be warm for sure, but not hot by Los Padres standards.  There is plenty of water in the creek and enough shade here and there to cool down during rest breaks.  Take as many breaks as needed!

• Most of the work will be clearing rocks, burned slough and ravel from the trail bed, plan on getting dirty! Everyone likes getting dirty, right?

• We’ll work with our teams until the early afternoon and have two departure times from Upper Oso out through the locked gate at Lower Oso.  The first departure time will be around 12:30pm and the final one will be at 2:30pm.

As you probably know, this portion of the Santa Cruz Trail was burned in the August 2016 Rey Fire and this project will be the first official work to clean up the damage from the fire.  The trail is in bad shape but all things considered it could have been much worse.  The trail is certainly not dead, it just needs a little love.  It will be very rewarding hiking out and seeing all the work that was accomplished out there!  You’ll feel great…..

• Once we’re out past the Lower Oso gate you are free to head home, take a swim in the river or drive up to Rancho Oso for the evening.

Camping is FREE at Rancho Oso for the trail volunteers.  We’ve reserved the Lower Tent Sites down by Arroyo Burro Road.  If you drive into Rancho Oso, tell the front kiosk you are with the LPFA and they’ll point you in the right direction.  Feel free to setup your camp, take a swim in the pool (shower first of course) and then eventually head over to the Screened Pavilion and Chuck Wagon for the REI Chill Zone and some much deserved ice cold beer compliments of Hollister Brewing.

BBQ dinner will be served between 4-5pm.  If you’re not staying the night, let the front kiosk know you are just there for dinner and they’ll guide you to the dayuse parking.

REI will have some games and prizes setup around the Chill Zone and a raffle sometime after dinner.

• After that, we’ll switch to camping mode and retreat to the Lower Tent Sites for a campfire and some needed rest.  There are tables at the Lower Tent Sites as well as a nearby bathroom/shower.

• Feel free to bring your favorite musical instrument or nighttime activity, just know that quiet hours start at 10pm, or is it 11pm?

Dogs are welcome for camping but need to be leashed.  We do ask that you don’t bring your dog on the trail work portion.  We’ve seen that sharp metallic swinging tools and dogs are a bad combination.

NOTE: There is nothing planned for Sunday.  No trail work.  No food.  Bring what you need and plan whatever you’d like to do!

And that’s the plan man.  What did we forget…..?

We hope you can make it and please email an RSVP if you plan on coming so we can make sure we have enough food and camping spaces reserved: INFO@LPForest.org

Special thanks to the following for supporting this great trail project:

– Rancho Oso

– REI

– Sierra Club

– Hollister Brewing

– Los Padres National Forest

National Trails Day in the Los Padres

Madulce, site of the recently completed 10-day Working Vacation    
NATIONAL TRAILS DAY 2017
The first Saturday of June is now observed across the country as National Trails Day (NTD).  Chances are if you are reading this email then you probably think everyday is NTD but for those who don’t frequent the trails, NTD is a great reminder that trails aren’t born, they’re made.  We need to make the time to get out and help the trails so that we can also get out and enjoy the trails.  NTD is this coming Saturday June 3 and there are a variety of trail projects across the Los Padres you can sign up for.  It’s great to see that so many volunteers and trail organizations are using NTD as a platform to help our LP trails – very cool!  We’ve listed most of the Los Padres NTD trail projects below and hope you can find the time this Saturday to get out and volunteer for the trails!
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Santa Cruz Trail, Rey Fried & Water Drenched

One project in particular we’re trying to focus our energy on for NTD is the restoration of the Santa Cruz Trail within the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  If you spend any time exploring the Los Padres, eventually you’ll find your tracks along the Santa Cruz Trail.  It’s one of only two designated National Recreation Trails in the Los Padres and provides access for trail-users to Little Pine Mountain and the backcountry beyond.  The Santa Cruz Trail is popular for just about all non-motorized trail-user groups including mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians and backpackers.  It’s an epic mountain bike ride, a challenging day hike to summit Little Pine, a perfect first-time backpacker trail to 19 Oaks and the start or finish of backcountry adventures to Santa Cruz Station and the San Rafael Wilderness.

Sadly, the Santa Cruz Trail was hammered in the 2016 Rey Fire, destroying much of the upper cribwall structures and just about all the brush along the south-facing portion of the trail.  While the upper portions of the trail need substantial evaluation before we can even get started working the trail, we’re going to start fixing the lower section of the trail specifically the single track up to 19 Oaks Camp – and that work will start this coming Saturday.

If you’re interested in helping, the Santa Cruz Trail can use your help!  We’ll be meeting Saturday June 3 at 8am at First Crossing Dayuse Area along Paradise Rd (all parking is FREE).  From there we’ll caravan to Upper Oso Campground for a safety briefing then start the 1 mile hike to the singletrack and get started restoring the trail.  We’ll work until the early afternoon or until it gets too hot then retreat to nearby Rancho Oso for a BBQ dinner and evening celebration under the stars.  Camping is FREE at Rancho Oso for trail volunteers and dinner/entertainment is provided at no cost.  You just need to invest a little sweat equity in the trail and we’ll make sure you get to bed with a full belly and smile on your face.


19 Oaks View, November 2016

For more details or to sign up please email INFO@LPForest.org.  Please RSVP if you plan on camping with us at Rancho Oso.  Rancho Oso has generously provided us with FREE camping as well as access to their amenities, including pool and miniature golf (not a typo).  We’re also going to be treated to some fun and games by REI who will setup their famous ‘Chill Zone’ at Rancho Oso for trail volunteers to relax after a hard day under the sun.  We also want to send thanks to the Los Padres Sierra Club for helping sponsor the trail project as well as Hollister Brewing Company for supplying the evening refreshments – THANK YOU!

We hope you can make it to one of these projects this weekend and thank you all for the help!

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Mud Creek Slide
April 4, 2015   –   May 22, 2017
FOREST 411

• In case you missed it, the Los Padres made national news this past week when the Mud Creek landslide in southern Monterey County let loose covering Hwy 1 in 40 feet of mud and literally creating a new point of land in the Pacific Ocean.  Experts are predicting the slide will keep Hwy 1 closed between Ragged Point and Gorda for at least another year while they attempt to excavate what’s left of the Hwy.

• First Crossing along the Santa Ynez River in Santa Barbara was opened this past weekend for the first time since the January storms forced its closure.  River Road (aka Paradise) is now open in its entirety to Red Rock as well as Upper Oso Trailhead.  While dayuse is open along River Road, Upper Oso Campground will remain closed for a little while longer until the campsites can be cleared of flood debris.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has also reopened some of its campsites for the first time since the July 2016 Soberanes Fire started.  Not all campsites are open for campers but they’ll hopefully be opening the remainder of the sites throughout the summer as cleanup efforts are completed.

Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is now in full swing with our weekly Summer Interpretive Programs.  While we’re taking June 3rd off, the programs resume on June 10 with a talk by Dr. James Caballero about how to be prepared for hiking.  Check out the full summer program here.

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Valle Vista Campground, one of the most aptly named camps in the Los Padres.  Can you think of others?

National Trails Day 2017: HOWARD CREEK TRAIL, Ojai Ranger District

Project: National Trails Day, Ojai First Saturday, Howard Creek Trail Maintenance

Leader: Jasonn Beckstrand

Dates: June 3, 2017

 

Description:

Meet at the Ojai Ranger Station at 8:00am sign ups, safety talk and at 8:30am we will be ready to carpool to trailhead.  Group will return to Ojai by 4pm.  Project will focus on fixing the tread a mile from the trailhead. If we have enough people we will also send a crew brushing from the top.

 

Location:

1190 East Ojai Ave Ojai, CA 93023

 

Equipment:

Bring a daypack with lunch, water, gloves, eye protection (sunglasses okay), wear shoes or boots, long sleeves & pants if you are allergic to poison oak, sunscreen, and helmet (bike, skateboard, rock climbing okay.

Forest Service will provide instruction, tools, helmets, communication.

If you plan to attend and have a government driver’s license, please let me know so I can gather up enough vehicles.

 

Howard the Rutt, photo Bardley

Santa Barbara Canyon Oak Clearing

The LPFA scouted Santa Barbara Canyon Trail in March and found this rather large and complicated oak tree blocking the trail.  There was a passable reroute around the tree that both hikers and equestrians were using but it wasn’t right so we scheduled a weekend to get out there and clear the tree.

Using a five foot felling crosscut saw it took two sawyers over 5 hours, spanning parts of two days in order to clear the trail.  The tree required 24 cuts and some crafty levering and rolling to maneuver the heavy cut rounds off the trail.

The end result is a cleared trail and some great satisfaction for a job well done.  Lets just hope that rootball doesn’t fall anytime soon.

If any of you come across large downed trees in your travels across the Los Padres, let us know and we’ll see if we can lineup a sawyer team to help out.

How Bout Them Noodles?

MAY the FOREST be with you

Hi Everyone – Good Afternoon,

Quite a week for celebrations we’ve had…… 

  • Monday was May Day: a celebration of Spring and the giving of flowers.
  • Tuesday was Teachers Day: even to this day we all have teachers, it’s never a bad idea to say thank you!
  • Wednesday we caught our breath.
  • Thursday was Star Wars Day: May the fourth be with you!
  • And today is Cinco de Mayo: you can read about the history of May 5 but generally associated with Mexican heritage, margaritas and family.

All special days of course, but here in the Los Padres we celebrated yet another event this week as well…….

LOS PADRES GATE OPENING DAY: May 1

Generally speaking, the seasonal road closure gates across the forest close December 1 for the winter and then reopen May 1 after most of the rains have passed.  This is a relatively new holiday as many of the seasonal gates have not always been closed but none the less May 1 now provides reason for many of us here in the LP to celebrate.  We won’t get into MVUM or budgets or politics or any of the other reasons the gates are closed, instead lets focus on the good news that once again road access to more of the forest is open.  Here’s the latest and greatest from each of the five ranger districts:

Ojai Ranger District:
– Three seasonal roads have reopened including Reyes Peak Road (Pine Mountain), Dough Flat Road and Nordhoff Ridge Road (permit required).
– Cherry Creek Road remains closed.
– All campgrounds and trails are open!Mt. Pinos Ranger District:
– All roads, camps and trails have been reopened except for Snowy Trail, Cerro Noroeste, Dry Canyon Rd and Tinta / Rancho Nuevo Trailhead Gate at the Cuyama River / Hwy 33 junction.
– This includes Grade Valley, Alamo and Santa Barbara Canyon.
The new Romero Saddle gate at East Camino and Romero-Camuesa Rd, photo USFS
Santa Barbara Ranger District:
– The news is not so good in the SBRD……
– The Romero Camuesa Rd, which connects East Camino Cielo with the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation area sustained major structural damage this winter and remains closed to all vehicles.  A cribwall section of the road was severely undercut near the junction with the North Romero Trail and will require engineering before the road can be reopened.  As a result, the Forest Service has installed a new gate at the junction of East Camino and Romero-Camuesa at Romero Saddle where the pavement turns to dirt.  Divide Peak OHV remains open, so appropriate OHV vehicles (<50″) can pass around the new gate and continue to access Divide Peak but there is no vehicle travel down to Juncal, Pendola, the Calientes, etc…….  Staging for OHV is now at Romero Saddle.  This is major news, we’ll keep you posted as progress develops and timeframes established.
– First Crossing along Paradise Rd remains closed due to storm damage resulting from the Rey Fire.  The Forest Service expects First Crossing to reopen in the next few weeks.  Currently Upper Oso and the day use areas off River Road are closed.
– No news on when or if Buckhorn Rd / Camuesa will be reopened for OHV use.  The Buckhorn was hit hard by the Rey Fire and with most of the road resources going towards public access roads, it sounds like the Buckhorn will have to wait its turn.  We’ll keep you all posted on this as well.
– Happy Canyon has been cleared and is open for 2wd passenger car travel.Santa Lucia Ranger District:
– Santa Lucia is a bit more fluid than the other districts.  We suggest contacting the District before heading out to a trailhead or location.  Here’s the latest:
– All paved roads are open including Fig Mtn Rd, Sunset Valley.
– The dirt roads in the Fig Mtn Recreation Area are closed, including Fig Mtn Lookout, East Pinery, Catway and Old Catway.
– Sierra Madre is open from Rock Front east to McPherson Gate.
– Miranda Pine is closed at the junction with Sierra Madre.
– Bates is closed.
– Rock Front is open.
– Hi Mtn Rd remains closed at both Arroyo Grande and Salinas River sides.
– Pozo is open.
– Colson Canyon is open to Colson Camp but remains locked at the Rattlesnake Saddle gate (more on that below, see La Brea!)Monterey Ranger District:
– The Soberanes Fire Closure continues to impact the Monterey district with most of the Ventana Wilderness remaining closed.
– Hwy 1 is still closed at Ragged Point (south) and Big Sur Station (north).
– Nacimiento Ferguson is open as well as Prewitt and South Coast Ridge Roads.
– All Forest Service Camps along Hwy 1 are open but access is only via Nacimiento Ferguson.
– Palo Colorado is closed.
– Pfeiffer Beach is closed.
– Pfeiffer Big Sur and Andrew Molera State Parks are closed but should open in the coming weeks.Whew, that’s a lot, are you still with us?  It doesn’t feel like much of a celebration when you see all the closures that remain in effect.  We had quite a winter (rain) following quite a summer (fire).  Maybe we should start a band and call it Fire, Rain & Earth.  The FS is working hard to reopen the roads.  It’ll happen.  Remain optimistic we must…….

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An Apple a Day, photo Aanjelae
FOREST 411

First Saturday Trail Project Ojai: May 6 on the upper Pratt Trail.  Meet at 8:30am at the Ojai Ranger Station to carpool to the Nordhoff Ridge trailhead.

La Brea Restoration Plan: The SLRD is hosting an Open House to discuss the proposed restoration project for the La Brea Fire closure that dates back to 2010.  Public is welcome, the Open House is May 8 from 4-7pm at the SLRD Ranger Station on Carlotti Drive in Santa Maria.

• Final LPFA Working Vacation of the season is May 20-29 at Madulce Camp in the Dick Smith Wilderness.  To learn more or to sign up, email INFO@LPForest.org or check here.

• Latest Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Update from our Forest Service wildflower expert Helen Tarbet, see attached.

Wood cutting permits are available later this month at the Chuchupate Ranger Station.  Dates are May 10, 24 and 31 from 10am – 2pm.  Call Chuchupate for more information: 661.245.3731

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Stay Thirsty my Friends, photo Humphrey

Ojai Edition: Wheeler Gorge, Sisar and More

Good Morning Los Padres – We hope you are doing well and have some adventurous plans lined up for this coming weekend.  The weather will be turning a little hotter starting this weekend with most of the forest climbing into the low-80’s.  There is still plenty of water out there to cool off in and slowly but surely some of the unpaved forest access roads are starting to reopen.  If you can’t stand the heat, you might still find a few patches of snow hanging on up around Mount Pinos to really cool off in.  The flowers are doing their thing as well with peak season either underway or a few weeks off at some of the higher elevation spots.  Lots going on, we hope your plans include some Los Padres time as well…….  We’ve got a very Ojai’centric email today.  Lets get to it…..
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WHEELER GORGE OPEN HOUSE
You want to get out this weekend but still don’t have a game plan, try this on for size….  This Saturday is the 12th Annual Wheeler Gorge Open House up at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center (15mins up Hwy 33 above Ojai).  The Open House is FREE and goes from 10am – 2pm.  There will be booths setup from a variety of local organizations sharing some of the great work they do in and around the Los Padres.  Some of the booths will have reptiles and/or birds you can touch (great for the kids), other booths feature geology specialists and there will be a guided nature hike with Lanny Kaufer starting at 1pm.  In addition there will be have some food, rumor is that Smokey Bear will be stopping by (another fan favorite with the kids) and new this year we’ll have a Used Camping Gear Sale featuring backpacks donated by Gossamer Gear.  It’s going to be a great time, the weather is looking fantastic – come stop by, say hello and learn about all the great summer programs we have lined up at Wheeler Gorge!

Back to plans for the weekend.  If you are an early riser, get up Hwy 33 around dawn and go do what you do in the forest.  Bag that peak, run that trail, go for that ride, etc….  Then stop by Wheeler on your way back home and tell us all about it!  Check out the used gear, high-five Smokey and enjoy the afternoon under the Sycamores at the Visitor Center.

Now, if you’re not an early riser or if you have younger kids, wake up slow, get some breakfast and head up to Wheeler in the late morning.  Check out the booths, learn about condors, get some lunch and after the Open House head up Hwy 33 to the Sespe for an afternoon dip in the pools around Piedra Blanca.  Or come with your camping gear and make a weekend out of it at one of the nearby campgrounds or backcountry campsites.  Lots of options, make Wheeler a stop along the journey, there’s always something going on at Wheeler Gorge, especially this weekend!

Rik doing what he loves most, helping people enjoy the trail – Gossamer Gear packs lined up – 2016 Used Gear Sale layout
As far as the Used Gear Sale; we’ll have tents, backpacks, ultralite, car-camping and most of the other necessities you need for getting out into the forest.  We’ll also have a few gear gurus, including Rik Christensen, out there to help get you sized up correctly with the perfect gear for your frame (both physical and of mind).  We’re also taking gear donations if you have any old camping gear you don’t use anymore – tax writeoffs available!  All proceeds go to the LPFA Trail Care program which go directly back into the trails and camps here in the Los Padres.

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SISAR CANYON TRAILHEAD CHANGE
The Sisar Canyon trailhead in the Upper Ojai Valley is a popular starting point for forest users (equestrian, MTB or hikers) heading up the Red Reef Trail or to see the incredible Ojai views along Sisar Rd. It’s used by peak baggers heading to Topatopa or Hines, used by backpackers en route to the Sespe, great for longer loops incorporating other Ojai Valley trails or a pleasant spot for a day trip to see the flowers and listen to the creek. For the past X AMOUNT OF years there were two main parking spots used to access the trails above Sisar. You could park at the start of the dirt road near the large water tanks or continue 0.4 miles further up-canyon along the high-clearance dirt road to the parking area just below the forest boundary locked gates. That’s now changed……

The 0.45 miles of dirt road between where the pavement ends and the forest boundary is privately owned. Over the past decade the owner of the land has been dealing with issues ranging from illegal campfires to 4WD doughnuts across their fields. Despite repeated attempts to stop this misuse of their property, the landowners have now installed a gate at the start of their property which prevents vehicle access to the two established parking areas. Note that the land owners posted signs at the location of the new gate close to a year ago indicating that this change was going to happen. The owner is still allowing passage up the road and across their property but now forest-users will have to either park at a newly created parking area about 100 yards below the new gate (holds approx 8 vehicles) or at the Stagecoach Station Market along Hwy 150.

Note that the new gate is both equestrian and bicycle friendly. This change is not preventing forest access but it is adding additional mileage for forest-users. If you park at Stagecoach Station it’ll add about 0.5 miles of walking/riding to the new locked gate and then another 0.45 up to the forest boundary gate.

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Another Secret Sespe Oasis