Thomas Fire on the Los Padres

Sisar Peak Fire Cam, Trending Social Media Star – December 10, 2017
THOMAS FIRE UPDATE

Everyone, even that one guy living in a cave, has been following the Thomas Fire and its week long path of destruction across Ventura County, into the Los Padres and crossing into southeastern Santa Barbara County.  We’ve been talking to so many different people involved and impacted by the fire ranging from fire crews to 80 year old LP lifers and the consensus is that Thomas is “the gnarliest fire we’ve ever seen”.   A couple quick stats:

  • Thomas is now 230,500 acres and growing!  That ranks 5th all-time in California wildfire history and the 2nd all-time largest Los Padres wildfire, just a hair behind the 240,207 acre Zaca Fire of 2007.
  • By comparison it took Zaca 117 days to burn approximately the same acreage that Thomas has chewed up in a week.  Thomas could surpass Zaca later today.
  • Thomas also ranks #10 in most destructive California wildfires and #1 for a LP incident with 790 destroyed structures.  Acreage, shmacreage – lets hope Thomas stops at #10 on this list for sure.  #1 on this list was the Sonoma/Napa fires from October 2017 which burned 5,643 homes!  Quite a destructive fall wildfire season.
  • 65,000 of the 230,500 burned acres are within the Los Padres with most of the LP acreage burning within the past 2-3 days.
  • Thomas is currently 15% contained with nearly 6,400 fire crews and support personnel engaged in the fight.
  • The cause of the fire has not yet been shared.

The catastrophic loss of homes is just so sad.  Many of you reading this email probably know someone who has lost their house or a friend of a friend who is now homeless.  It’s really hard to put it all into words and we’re not out of it yet.  The fire rages on now above Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria with still 18,000 structures threatened.  Schools are closed, frequent power outages, middle of the night emergency evacuation messages and those wishing for a White Christmas got their wish as most Santa Barbara County residents have been living in N95 face masks.  It’s been just as the 80 year old man told us, “gnarliest fire we’ve ever seen”.

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North Fork Matilija Engulfed, December 7
LOS PADRES UPDATE
It’s difficult focusing on the Los Padres with all the Thomas urban destruction but we’ve been getting a lot of questions about how the forest is holding up and what impacts are out there at the moment.  We’ll hit on a few of those here:


Q: Is the forest open?
Much of the Southern Los Padres is now closed (closure order and map).  The closure covers large portions of the Santa Barbara and Mt. Pinos Ranger Districts and all of the Ojai.  This closure, in some shape or formation, will be here for a while.  It is expected that the fire will continue burning within the LP until we get some sizable winter rains.  At that point the footprint of the fire will dictate the closure perimeter and based on past FS closure orders we’d expect that footprint to remain closed well into the spring.

Q: What’s the best source of information?
Good question and no shortage of answers.  We’ll share a few links and you can probably find better links that are more appropriate for what you are looking for:
KEYT News Channel 3 has been doing a solid job streaming the fire since it entered SB County.
InciWeb is the best source for overall incident information including evacuation warnings, maps, etc….
– Lots of maps: NWCG, DirectRelief, SARTopo, WIFIRE, Public Information
– Twitter is fantastic in natural disasters, search #ThomasFire and then include your local community for a more specific search.  Ex: #ThomasFire Ojai

Q: What trails burned?
We’ll spend more time on this once the fire is wrapped up but as of now the following areas/trails received at least some fire damage: Santa Paula Canyon (including East Fork), Santa Paula Peak, Topatopas, Sisar, Red Reef, Lion Canyon, Horn, Gridley, Pratt, Bear Heaven, Howard, Cozy Dell, Fuelbreak, Shelf, Wheeler Gorge (the Visitor Center survived!), Dry Lakes, Ortega, Matilija, Matilija Falls, Murietta, Franklin, Monte Arido, South Pot Seco Rd, Upper Santa Ynez, Alder Creek, Ocean View, Divide Peak, Juncal, Romero and Blue Canyon.  Awful seeing a list that long.  We might have missed a few as well, again we’ll focus more on this later and unfortunately this list might continue to grow.  NOTE: Pendola Station is wrapped, fingers crossed!

Smoke Filled IC Briefing


Q: At least those trails are clear now?
While we appreciate the optimism, in almost all cases fire does not help trails.  Vegetation is what makes trails, especially along steeper trails, it holds the soil in place and keeps the tread intact.  Without vegetation, the trails will (in a best case scenario) be covered in ravel after this winter.  Most likely we’ll have to wait a season or two for the vegetation to come back before removing that ravel and starting to restore the tread.  With all the fires over the past decade we’ve become far too familiar with fire trail recovery.  Most of the trails impacted by the fire will remain closed for a while and might need some major repairs in order to reopen.  Not good.  And there has been so much work done over the past years to repair many of these trails, it’s sad seeing all that work go up in smoke.

Q: What about the animals?  Will they have water to drink?
We’re not biologists but those animals that were able to run away from the fire and/or hunker down should be fine.  Water within the creeks did not evaporate, there will still be water.  Plants regrow quickly and there will be plenty of nearby wild areas that the animals can head towards.  We saw fresh deer tracks well within the black less than a week after the 2016 Rey Fire, we expect the same with Thomas.  That being said, the animal population was certainly hit hard.  Here’s a story regarding California condors threatened by the Thomas Fire.


Q: What does this mean for winter storm damage?
Great question.  There are hydrologists assigned to the fire who are working on this right now.  Most wildfires occur in the summer, giving the burned plant life at least a few months to regrow before winter kicks in.  That plant regrowth helps hold soil in place for when the winter rains start.  We’re in uncharted waters here as the rain could come any week now giving the plants such a short period of time to start coming back.  It might mean unprecedented levels of sedimentation into Matilija, Jameson and Gibraltar reservoirs.  It could also mean extended road closures, Hwy 33 for example is normally closed a few weeks each winter due to landslides, it could be closed all winter.  Who knows…..  Ray Ford wrote an article in Noozhawk this week in regards to previous fires stating “it wasn’t the fire that hurt so much, it was the floods that came through the next winter.”

Q: What does the LPFA do to help, how can we help?
Another great question.  The LPFA has been assisting however we can with fire logistics and sharing information but most important right now is for all of us to just stay away and let the fire crews do their thing.  Once the fire is contained the FS will start getting BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) teams involved in quickly assessing and fixing potential winter storm damage within the forest.  They might be started on that already.  LPFA will assist with that as needed as well.  Then when the time is right we’ll start working with the FS to survey trails, photo-document trail conditions, share that with the public and ultimately work with the FS and other groups to restore and reopen the damaged trails.  As of RIGHT NOW, there’s not much any of us can do within the forest other than stay out.  That being said, if any of you could use help with any fire related cleanup or anything the LPFA might be able to assist with outside the forest, let us know as we’ve received quite a few emails from volunteers asking how they can help.

Thomas Fire Approaching Divide Peak, December 9

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The 2018 Los Padres Calendar is printed and ready to ship!  They turned out great.
Help support the LPFA while at the same time chipping away at your holiday shopping list

And if you like these emails and would like to support the LPFA, donations and memberships are always welcome!

 

1st Thursday Holiday Party and Pritchett Success

The Ojai Pink Moment, Cara Blanca, photo Humphrey

Hello Friends,

We hope this email finds you doing well and hopefully a little sore after a great weekend on the trails!  The LPFA is a little sore as well after having over 70 volunteers on the trails this weekend doing trail maintenance and enjoying their time outside.  The one positive to not having much early season rain is that we’ve been able to host our regularly scheduled trail projects without being shutdown by rain.  That’s the good, the bad is that most of the Los Padres has received very very little rain so far.  It’s early but Santa Barbara County is only at 16% of normal rainfall for the season (Sep-Aug).  The lack of precipitation means that fuel moisture levels have remained low across the LP and as a result the Forest Service has not been able to change the fire restriction level.  Even with the cold/freezing nights we remain in Level III Fire Restrictions.  You can learn more about Level III here.  The fire restrictions were lifted by this time last year but it appears we’ll have to wait a few more weeks this time around.  We’ll keep you posted if anything changes, be patient and you might want to start dusting off the rain dance attire just in case……

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Susan Guy Giving New Light to Some of Our Favorite Los Padres Settings, Recognize Them?

SUSAN GUY 1st THURSDAY LPFA HOLIDAY OPENING
Local artist, LP explorer and Ojai Search and Rescue alum Susan Guy will be sharing her artwork at The Press Room in Santa Barbara on Thursday December 7 as part of the SB 1st Thursday art events. 1st Thursday has become a monthly tradition where galleries and art-related venues across SB feature visual and performing art within their regular social environment. They are a lot of fun. What’s even more fun about this event at The Press Room is that Susan will be donating a portion of all her art sales from the night to the LPFA Trail Care program – awesome, right? You’ll certainly notice a lot of local Los Padres vistas and landscapes in her paintings.  And, as if it couldn’t get any better, we’re going to try to turn the Press Room into a LPFA holiday party that night as well. So come on down Thursday around 7pm, have a drink, lets talk trails and favorite camp sites, mingle while admiring some amazing art, leave with some of that art, wear that holiday sweater or Los Padres themed attire and keep your eyes peeled for that mistletoe. It’s going to be a lot of fun, hope you can make it!
1st Thursday, Featuring Artist Susan Guy
The Press Room
15 East Ortega St.– Santa Barbara
Thursday December 7
7-10 pm
 

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Don Jack along the Pritchett Trail, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

PRITCHETT TRAIL SUCCESS
Last episode of the LPFA Email Newsletter we talked a little about some of the great partnerships that have developed around the forest.  Along those lines we wanted to share a success story from the Pritchett Trail at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (SBBG).  Earlier this year the LPFA was approached by the Botanic Garden about some trail damage they were dealing with along some of their over 5 miles of trails, in particular the more remote Pritchett Trail.  The trail was sustaining some major erosion damage and had one section near the bottom that was losing its battle with gravity and needed some serious work.  The LPFA does a lot of work in the deeper parts of the backcountry where we really don’t get a chance to visit and see our work during the storms that cause all the damage.  The idea of working on a trail just outside town where we could come and watch the water control structures do their thing right in the middle of a storm was very appealing.  So we reached out to longtime LPFA volunteer and nearby resident Don Jack to see if he’d be interested in helping the Botanic Garden with some trail restoration.  He was all about it and got started immediately working with the SBBG staff on plans and designs to fix the trail.  Fast forward a few months and Don had completed building water control along the entire stretch of trail in addition to constructing a rather complicated retaining wall at the bottom of the trail.  We recently took a tour of the trail with Don and the work he’s done in partnership with the Botanic Garden is amazing!  It will be really valuable for Don to visit the trail throughout the winter months and see how the water structures hold up.  And then we really can’t wait for him to apply that knowledge to the Los Padres on the next Working Vacation as well…………
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2018 Los Padres Calendars are Ready

The 2018 LPFA Los Padres Calendars have been sent to the printers!  Thanks to everyone who submitted well over 200 photos for the calendar!  We had a tough choice paring that down to the best 50 photos but we got it done.  The calendars are currently at the printers and should be ready in the next week.  There is a limited quantity available so if you’d like one be sure to place your order ASAP.  Calendars are $10 each with any proceeds going to the LPFA Trail Care program.  For more information or to order, click the link here!

Thankful Los Padres Givings

Kids + Trail + Forest + Time to Explore = Next Generation of Los Padres Lovers

Hello Friends – Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Throughout the year we hear so much negative noise circulating around the forest.  The media regularly shares articles about what is not working in the Los Padres, the latest forest-related lawsuits, illegal pot grows, destructive wildfires, closures and photos of damaged forest land.  While it’s critically important to stay aware of all these ‘negatives’ and work to prevent unwanted change, it’s just as critically important to revisit why we love the Los Padres and what ‘positives’ are happening around the forest.  It can’t all be negative.  In fact, for every negative we hear, there are dozens of positives across the forest that are most likely not being heard.  It’s easy to leave negative feedback or write a bad review, lets flip that script and instead focus on some of the really cool, helpful and inspiring people, organizations and programs that are working to benefit the forest.  What better time of the year to focus on the positives than Thanksgiving and the Holidays, right?
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FRANKLIN TRAIL
A group of mainly Carpinteria based trail-lovers have been working the past decade to reopen, construct and restore the historic/new Franklin Trail in the hills above Carpinteria.  Unfortunately, here in the Los Padres we don’t hear the words ‘construct’, ‘new’ and ‘trail’ in the same sentence too often.  The idea of bringing the Franklin Trail back from the dead must have seemed farfetched but that didn’t stop the Carp trail community from making it happen.  They got organized, formed an organization called Friends of Franklin Trail, raised funds and worked with the Forest Service to get their dream off the ground.  The Santa Barbara County Trails Council with the guidance of Ray Ford took the lead on the trail design and with the help of countless volunteers and trail stewards they were successful in getting the Franklin Trail back on the map.  If you’ve not explored the Franklin Trail, put it on your list, do it this week if you can – it’s spectacular!  And even more spectacular is how the community of Carpinteria has embraced the trail.  Franklin has become a source of pride for Carpinteria and the local trail-users actively work to keep the trail maintained and improved.  A great example is the 3rd Annual Franklin Trail Turkey Trot where trail-users are sponsored and get donations for each time they use the trail in November which has raised thousands of dollars to continue work on their beloved Franklin Trail.  If you’re interested, the Turkey Trot Celebration is this Friday 12/1 at Island Brewing in Carpinteria.  This example of a community dreaming of more trails, organizing, working with the Forest Service, successfully reestablishing a trail and staying engaged to maintain that trail is an incredible accomplishment.  Big thanks to everyone involved and lets hope other communities can follow this Franklin Trail blueprint in order to build new trails in their neck of the forest as well.
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Recently Restored Tinta Trail

VOLUNTEER TRAIL WORK

Trails are the main artery used by people to access and enjoy the Los Padres Forest.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a birdwatcher, a mountain biker, a hunter or a backpacker; you’ll be using some of the over 1,200 miles of Los Padres trails to get where you want to be.  Unfortunately, Los Padres trails are some of the most difficult to maintain.  Chaparral grows so fast, needing to be worked every year or two.  Trees fall across the trails and fires can alter the trail landscape for the better part of a decade.  So how are the trails kept open?  The Forest Service oversees trail maintenance but most of the boots on the ground efforts come from the numerous Los Padres non-profit trail organizations and the the volunteers who work with these groups.  If you’ve not taken a day or a weekend to volunteer on a trail project, you have to find a way to make that happen.  You’d be surprised at how much fun a day of hard work along the trails can be.  It’s a chance to meet like-minded friends, get outside in the forest and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel on your way out is what keeps people coming back for more.  The LPFA alone accounted for over 12,000 volunteer hours this past year and there are many other great trail groups up and down the Los Padres who host regular trail projects as well.  Get involved if you can, volunteer, give back to the trails you use and love, you won’t be disappointed.  Check the calendar of projects below and sign up for a project near you.

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HPS Sierra Club Volunteers, photo Mark Allen – Patagonia Volunteers, photo Aanjelae Rhoads

VOLUNTEER GROUP WORK
Another great way to get out and volunteer in the Los Padres is by organizing your company, organization and/or friends to maintain or adopt a Los Padres trail.  There are fantastic examples of companies providing an option for their employees to spend a “service day” working on a trail.  Sort of like a Habitat For Humanity but instead of building homes they’re maintaining trails.  It’s a great way to get outside, often times your company will pay for your service day and trail work is a fantastic team-building exercise as well.  This format also works for groups or organizations who use the forest but aren’t trained in trail maintenance.  Student organizations from university’s and High Schools have also come together to help the forest.  A great example is the Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai which sends students out each year to help for a weekend around Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  The VWA has also had great success getting school groups involved with their programs.  There are great examples of groups and companies up and down the forest partnering with all the usual Los Padres volunteer organizations.  Get involved.  Sign up your company, your church group, your friends – you’ll have a great time and will be helping the forest with a smile on your face.  For more information check with your local Los Padres Ranger District of email INFO@LPForest.org.
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Just Another Cuyama Peak Sunrise

SCOUT PROJECTS
There have been some really great scout projects across the Los Padres over the past year or two.  While the forest has benefited from just about all levels of scouting, the most popular service project is an Eagle Project where the scout performs a larger scale project for the benefit of the community, or in this case the Los Padres Forest.  We’ve seen scouts restore and replace forest signs, rebuild and clean damaged forest structures, maintain campsites and create educational material designed to teach forest-users how to properly recreate in the forest.  The LPFA has had the pleasure of working with a few of these scouts and it’s so refreshing seeing a teenager take a concept, formulate an idea, develop a plan and then execute on that plan.  Scouting projects are a great way to get younger people involved with the forest while at the same time providing a tangible outcome that benefits the forest.  Very cool program!  If you know any scouts who might want to tackle a forest-related project, contact your local Ranger District or email INFO@LPForest.org for ideas and assistance.

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Three Concrete Crossings along Davy Brown & Munch Creeks

FOREST 411
• The Forest Service announced last week that longtime Los Padres employee Tony Martinez has been appointed the new Mt Pinos District Ranger.  Welcome and congratulations Ranger Martinez!  For more information click here.

• The Los Padres National Forest, in conjunction with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is working on a proposal to improve aquatic organism passage along Munch and Davy Brown Creeks by removing three concrete water crossings and replacing two of them with bridges.  If you’ve ever driven Sunset Valley Road to NIRA, the two main crossings are between Davy Brown Campground and the lower Manzana Trailhead.  See attached document for specifics.  The Forest Service will be hosting an open house to discuss this proposal on November 30, 4-6pm at the Santa Lucia District Office in Santa Maria.

• The LPFA 2018 Los Padres wall calendars are going to the printer later this week.  They cost only $15 but will provide you a years worth of priceless Los Padres vistas, scenery, wildlife and stoke!  Get em while you can, you can order them here.

Brookshire, La Panza and Miranda Pine Campgrounds are currently closed as older pit toilets are removed and replaced with new vault toilets.  See here for more information, they are expected to be closed for 3-4 more weeks.

Condors continue their remarkable recovery as four new juvenile condors will be released into the San Simeon flock by the end of the year.

• There was an interesting article posted in the SLO New Times earlier this month discussing recent wildlife population trends and how those trends relate to drought, agriculture and changes in hunting restrictions.  It’s a good read.

• Due to potential storm related closures, camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park will become first-come first-serve only starting December 1, 2017 and lasting through April 30, 2018.

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The Epic Thorn Point View, and getting there is more than half the fun!

Opening Soberanes – Get Your 2018 Calendar!

Mid-Fall Colors, Mono Jungle, November 2017
Hello Friends,

It is fall and the weather is changing.  These past few weeks we’ve seen our Los Padres autumn colors coming in, temps are cooling quickly and we’ve even had a few early season storms knock back the summer dust and in some places ash from the 2017 wildfire season.  While we haven’t seen a whole lot of rain up and down the forest, most of the Northern Los Padres has received over an inch of rain with select locations closing in on 2 inches.  Many of the creeks are starting to flow again as the riparian trees settle into their winter dormancy cycle and the trails are ripe for exploring.  Hope you get out there soon and be sure to check the latest conditions of your favorite trail or camp at HikeLosPadres and share your experiences after you get back.

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Highway 1 at Carmel River, Sign Slightly Modified

BIG SUR & MONTEREY OPENING UP
In case you’ve missed the last few episodes, there have been some recent developments in the never-ending epic saga: The Sometimes Island of Big Sur.  As you should know, access to Big Sur and the Monterey Backcountry has been severely limited over the past 17 months due to the 2016 Soberanes Fire followed by 2017 winter storm damage.  After many months of being isolated and/or closed, the area is slowly opening back up:


THE ROADS

• The first domino to fall was the October reopening of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, which amazingly reopened after only 7 months of being closed (BIG round of applause to all involved).  The reopening of the Pfeiffer Bridge once again allowed vehicles to travel between Big Sur and Monterey along Hwy 1.
• Unfortunately, Hwy 1 still doesn’t connect with San Luis Obispo due to the Mud Creek slide in Southern Monterey County.  Mud Creek remains closed between Gorda and the Salmon Creek Guard Station.  Crews continue to work on the slide but Hwy 1 at Mud Creek is expected to remain closed throughout the winter and most likely until summer 2018.
• Access to Bottcher’s Gap Campground and trailhead remains closed as work continues along Palo Colorado Road.
• All other normal public forest access roads should be open across the Monterey Ranger District.  This includes Nacimiento Fergusson, Tassajara, Sycamore Canyon and South Coast Ridge Road.  That being said, this time of year storm closures should be expected so be sure to contact the FS if you have any questions or need clarification.

Western Pine Ridge Trail Remains Closed

THE FOREST

• Effective November 9, the Soberanes Fire closure was adjusted re-opening most of the Monterey Ranger District and Ventana Wilderness areas.  This is good news!
• That being said, it’s not all rainbows and moonbeams just yet.  There was substantial fire damage along the very popular Pine Ridge Trail and as a result the Pine Ridge Trail between Big Sur Station and Redwood Camp remains closed indefinitely.  This includes Sykes, Barlow Flat, Terrace Creek, Ventana Camp, Redwood Camp, Ventana Camp Trail and the Terrace Creek Trail.  There is no established timeframe as to when these camps/trails will reopen.  Patience is the word of the day and hopefully more information on a reopening date will surface in the coming weeks.
• You can view the closer order here and a map of the closure here.
• There are likely quite a few trails within the Soberanes Fire perimeter that have not been properly surveyed.  Be careful if you’re out there and please take photos of any trail slides or downed trees and share them with either the Forest Service, Ventana Wilderness Alliance or post on HikeLosPadres.com.  The more information that is shared, the sooner the trail issues can be resolved.  Thanks…..

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2018 LOS PADRES WALL CALENDAR
For the 3rd year in a row the LPFA will be putting together a Los Padres themed wall calendar!  They’ve been a huge hit and we’re excited to work again this year to collect and compile great photos from across the LP featuring vistas, favorite trails, waterfalls, wildlife, camps and more……  And we can use your help!

Once again, if you have a great LP photo you’d like to share that you think would make a good addition to the calendar, please send it our way and if we use it we’ll send you a free calendar.  All photos will only be used for the calendar and your name will be credited on the month that the photo is used.  We’ve done this the past two years and it’s been a lot of fun seeing the great photos submitted by you and incorporating them into the themed calendar.

Photos should be sent to INFO@LPForest.org and feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. 

You can also pre-order the calendar for $15.00 at the following link: http://lpforest.org/2018-los-padres-calendar/  We plan on having the calendar printed and shipped by mid-December, just in time to stuff the stocking of your favorite Los Padres adventurer!  Happy Holidays…….

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“Has anyone seen the bridge?” – Newly re-built Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge

2018 Los Padres Calendar

HAPPY HOLIDAYS 2018 – The LPFA is once again producing a Los Padres wall calendar featuring spectacular sights from around the Los Padres Forest.  We’ve got themes for each month ranging from the Ventana to Mt. Pinos and Sespe to the San Luis backcountry.  The calendar will feature waterfalls, mountain ranges, trail vistas, LP wildlife and much more…..

Each calendar (8.5″ x 13″) is printed on high quality stock with full color photos and special date information within the calendar dates.  It’s great as a gift for the LP lover in your life or for yourself to help inspire your next Los Padres adventure.

The Los Padres Calendar will be printed in early-December and shipped as soon as they are available.  Each calendar is $10.00 + tax, shipping is included.  Any proceeds will go to the LPFA Trail Care Program.  You can purchase the calendars one of three ways:

1) online at the PayPal link below

2) send a check to the address mentioned below

3) they will be available at Ranger Stations and Visitor Centers across the Los Padres.

Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays!




– Los Padres Forest Association – 

6750 Navigator Way #150 – Goleta, CA 93117

LP Trivia Night & Wilderness Bill Update

Shall We Play A Game? – Los Padres Trivia Night
LP TRIVIA NIGHT – DRAUGHTSMEN – 6PM

Hello Friends !

In case you haven’t heard, the LPFA is hosting a Trivia Night tomorrow 10/18 at Draughtsmen Aleworks microbrewery and taproom in Goleta – 6pm.  Draughtsmen chose the LPFA as the non-profit benefactor for the month of October offering a donation of $1 for each Karma Tap beer consumed over the course of the month.  As part of the month-long celebration, we decided to try a Los Padres themed Trivia Night that should be a lot of fun.  It’s going to be typical barroom style trivia format where teams of 2-6 players compete for prizes over four rounds of questions.  What’s a little different about our Trivia Night is that our questions will all be Los Padres related and we’ve lined up 4 Los Padres VIP’s to host each of the rounds.  Our VIP’s are SB mountain bike guru Chris Orr, backcountry packer extraordinaire Susie Thielmann, Los Padres historian and author Criag Carey, and Santa Barbara District Ranger Pancho Smith.  We’ve reviewed most of the questions and it’s going to be tons of fun.  There are some softball questions but also some a few that will challenge even the most seasoned Los Padres explorer.  Each of the VIP’s incorporated questions based on their background within the forest so there will be plenty of answer opportunities for all types of different forest users.  Bring your A game and come play with your team or come alone and join on with another team, it’s going to be great!  See you there……..

 

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Cairn For the Condor Trail, Get it?
CENTRAL COAST HERITAGE PROTECTION ACT
Earlier this week U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal and Senator Kamala Harris reintroduced the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which if passed would designate nearly 250,000 additional acres of wilderness in the Los Padres, create two new scenic areas, over 150 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers and designate the Condor Trail as a National Recreation Trail.  2017 marks the third attempt for this bill with previous introductions in 2014 and 2015.  Here is a link from KEYT showing the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act introduction on Monday at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens and the link above is the actual language of the bill.  It’s not exactly clear if this iteration of the bill will be more successful than the previous two, time will tell.  Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled for updates……..

 

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Manzana Trail Cribwall, Before and After, Spring 2017

FOREST 411

• The WHITTIER FIRE was officially declared fully contained on October 5.  Whittier started on July 8 and while the the acreage has not grown over the past couple months, a few pesky hot spots kept the fire from 100% containment.  While the fire is contained the closure order remains in effect within the fire perimeter along West Camino Cielo from Lizard’s Mouth to Refugio including the Tequepis Trail.

• Deer hunting general season started this week in Zone D13, which covers much of the Ventura backcountry mostly within the Mt. Pinos Ranger District.  Click here for a map of D13 and here for general information.  D13 started October 14 and ends November 12.

Working Gear Big Beer Karma Sur Sale Vacation

Western Start (not end) of the Mission Pine Trail
Greetings Everyone – Hello,

It’s finally October!  The nights are getting cooler, the days shorter, fall is setting in, the creeks are flowing a bit better and it is officially time to ride/walk/run/skip/worm the trails!  The LPFA is setting up a busy fall schedule of trail maintenance projects, forest-related events, camp cleanups and trail surveys.  We’d love to have you come along as your schedule permits.  Excuse the shameless self promotion:

MISSION PINE SPRING W.V.

In addition to the regularly scheduled weekend/day trail projects, we try to lead three larger week-long volunteer projects each year that we call Working Vacations.  Generally we schedule one in the fall and then two each spring.  This year our fall project will be along the Mission Pine Trail based at beautiful Mission Pine Spring Camp (MPS).  The project kicks off on Friday 10/20 as the pack stock move in to help support the trail work.  The volunteer crews arrive Saturday 10/21 and we’ll be spending the next week at MPS working the trail out towards Mission Pine Basin and back up towards San Rafael Mtn.  Most of the work will be lopping back manzanita and ceonothus that has been encroaching on the trail but there will also be some crosscut saw work and tread restoration as well.  While the project lasts parts of 10 days (10/20 – 10/29), there are options for shorter hitches if your work/life schedule won’t allow a week in the woods.  We’re able to drive in 8 miles to McKinley Saddle and from there it’s a quick 4 miles to MPS Camp.  If you can break away for 3+ days to help the trails, we’ll do our best to get you rides in & out and feed you while you’re in camp.  Backcountry chef extraordinaire Rich Scholl has signed on to be the camp cook once again – YES!  If interested or to sign up please email us at: INFO@LPForest.org.
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Gear Gurus Rik & Paul, photo Sue Green

LPFA USED CAMPING GEAR SALE

Yeah – baby!  This Sunday 10/8 is the 3rd Annual Used Camping Gear Sale at Tucker’s Grove Site #2 in Goleta.  Our hero Rik, whose forest resume is too long to list here, is the master of ceremonies for the event and is also an Ambassador for Gossamer Gear.  Rik spends literally hundreds of hours each year compiling, cleaning and arranging gear for this sale.  It’s great that this sale helps the LPFA Trail Care program but more than anything else Rik does this to share his stoke of the trails with anyone interested in getting off the pavement.  It’s amazing how much great stuff is available.  We’ve got over 40 backpacks, a dozen tents, hiking poles, cook sets, stoves, clothes, camp gadgets and gizmos – we even have a tent space heater!  While most of our gear is lightweight or UL, we’ve got car-camping covered as well.  Come on out this Sunday and check it for yourself.  And in case you want to clean out your garage a little, there is still time to donate your used gear as well.  You can bring it to the sale on Sunday (arrive early please) or shoot us an email and we’ll arrange a pickup today or tomorrow (INFO@LPForest.org).  Thanks to EVERYONE who has already graciously donated their used gear – so cool!  We’ll see you Sunday and if you don’t know Rik, Paul, Valerie, John, Ron, Jasonn and all the other volunteers who will be helping, introduce yourself and say hello.  They can help with just about any questions you’ll have as well…..
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Beer, Karma & Trails – DRAUGHTSMEN ALEWORKS

LPFA KARMA BEER

Goleta based brewery Draughtsmen Aleworks has dedicated October to the LPFA and will be contributing $1 for each Karma Tap beer they sell from October 1 through Halloween.  BE SURE TO ORDER THE KARMA BEER!  We’ll be putting all the money raised towards the restoration of the Santa Cruz Trail, which was totaled in the 2016 Rey Fire.  Bring a friend, bring your office, bring an army and help us bring Santa Cruz back one beer at a time.

PLUS Draughtsmen is allowing us to host an event on Wednesday 10/18 at the brewery.  After bouncing ideas around about what sort of event we should host, we decided to throw a TRIVIA PARTY.  Put it on your calendar:

WEDNESDAY 10/18 – 6pm
Los Padres Themed Trivia Night at Draughtsmen Aleworks
We’ll be following the typical trivia night format used at breweries around the world but the questions will be Los Padres themed and each round of questions will be hosted by a different LP character.  We’ll share those names soon, but you’ll love it, something for everyone and again it all goes to help the Santa Cruz Trail.
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Pfeiffer Canyon (Gulch) Bridge w/ Mt. Manuel Trail, Mid-September, photo Kyle Evans

BIG SUR MOVIN & SHAKIN
Most of the Big Sur Coast and the northern Los Padres would just assume forget about 2016 and most of 2017.  Between the Soberanes Fire (July – Sept, 2016) and the 2016-17 torrential winter rains (causing slides and bridge failures) access to Big Sur and the forest has been disrupted (to put it nicely).  We can’t go into the full extent of the disruption here (see the coffee table book that I am sure someone is working on) but giant steps have been made to restore access.  Here’s a quick rundown and update……
PFEIFFER BRIDGE: After 8 months of being closed, Pfeiffer Bridge is scheduled to reopen a week from today on Friday October 13.  While CalTrans may want to wait a day due to superstition, their efforts to rebuild the bridge in a quick 8 months needs to be applauded.  Once opened this will restore access along Hwy 1 from Monterey down to the Mud Creek Slide, which is 10 miles north of Ragged Point.

• MUD CREEK SLIDE: Speaking of, the Mud Creek Slide remains closed between Salmon Creek Trailhead and the closure north of the slide.  CalTrans is estimating that the slide will be cleared and Hwy 1 reopened sometime in summer 2018.

• Coming from SLO, you can only get as far as Salmon Creek.  Once Pfeiffer Bridge is reopened you cannot connect Hwy 1 out to SLO.  The main exit along Hwy 1 will be along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road which connects Kirk Creek with Fort Hunter Liggett.  Nacimiento Rd is a windy 1.75 lane road that crosses over the Los Padres.  We expect the road will be quite busy between next week and when Mud Creek reopens.  In addition to the coffee table book, some entrepreneur might want to set up a lemonade stand.

PFEIFFER BEACH: So many Pfeiffers….  Did you know that the Los Padres Forest touches the sand at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur?  It’s been closed for most of the past year due to the bridge failure and winter storms but is scheduled to reopen shortly after the bridge is opened a week from today.

SOBERANES CLOSURE: The Soberanes Fire closure remains in effect but there are whispers that the closure will be reduced in the coming weeks.  We’ll see what that entails and share it with you as soon as it is released.

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Los Padres Harvest Full Moon

Los Padres Winds of Winter, NPLD & Trail Trainings

Winds of Winter Revealing Early Fall Colors, San Rafael Mountain

Hi Everyone,

This past week (Autumnal Equinox on 9/22) we officially said goodbye to summer and hello to fall!  People complain about the lack of seasons here in the Los Padres but chances are you’ve felt some chillier mornings this last week and have probably put on a jacket for the first time in a few months as well.  Fall is here and with it the start of our real trail season – hallelujah!  That being said, this past summer was a memorable one and left in a blaze of glory with some crazy September weather.  According to some sources “they” say this summer was the hottest recorded summer in California history.  We saw a late season extreme heat wave that included record temps across much of the forest.  But don’t complain too much about our heat as Death Valley suffered through a record 94 straight days of temperatures over 100˚, which ended earlier this month.  Speaking of this month, September brought lots of monsoonal rains and spectacular weather including thunderstorms, microbursts, flash floods and even our first freeze of the season.  Rain totals across the forest were generally in the 0.25″ – 0.5″ range but select areas received over an inch highlighted by the Sierra Madres which received 1.3″ at Bates Canyon.  There is already some greenery sprouting as a result of the rain which hopefully means a long green season to come.  Summer rarely leaves without a fight and temps are expected to be hot again this week but winter is coming……

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NPLD Across the Forest

NPLD VOLUNTEER CENTRAL

This coming Saturday September 30 is National Public Lands Day (NPLD).  NPLD is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort on public lands with events and volunteer opportunities setup across the country.  If you’re looking to participate in NPLD we’ve got you covered here in the Los Padres with three scheduled projects to choose from:

SALMON CREEK, SOUTH BIG SUR COAST
Join volunteers from Ventana Wilderness Alliance and the LPFA as we will be camping near Salmon Creek Trailhead and spending the weekend maintaining nearby trails and helping to educate trail-users on Leave No Trace and responsible forest use.  If you’d like to sign up please email us (INFO@LPForest.org) or check this link for more information.  RSVP is required as space is limited……

TUNNEL TRAIL, SANTA BARBARA FRONTCOUNTRY
A local who’s who of SB trail restoration workers are going to descend on Tunnel Trail this Saturday to do what they do best.  Tunnel Trail is in need of some love and when better to share that love than NPLD.  Project begins at the trailhead at 8am, lunch will be provided, more information here and attached PDF.

PRATT TRAIL, OJAI FRONTCOUNTRY
This NPLD project was scheduled a week later on October 7 in order to avoid conflicts.  We’ll be meeting at the Ojai Ranger District at 8:30am on 10/7 and then carpooling up to the top of the Pratt Trail.  From there we’ll be clearing brush and fixing trail, all with great views of the Ojai Valley and the eastern Santa Ynez Mtns.  Come join us!

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“Trail? I Don’t See No Stinkin Trail!” – Aliso Trail Hole

UPCOMING TRAIL TRAININGS

Most of us have probably volunteered at some point to help support the trails you love.  If you haven’t, you really should!  It’s great exercise, you feel good about yourself, spending time in nature, you feel good about yourself, meeting new friends, you feel good about yourself, always learning new things and you feel good about yourself.  And some of us have probably volunteered A LOT, thank you for your help!  For those of us looking to add skills to the trail work we love, there are two upcoming trail building trainings that you might want to look into:

OCTOBER 7-9: GRIPHOIST / RIGGING CLASS
Rigging is an advanced trail building technique designed to safely move large heavy objects into place while building or restoring trails.  Think of rigging like a zip-line for objects such as boulders, supplies or wood where those objects are moved into place along the trail using a tool called a griphoist.  I’m sure you’ve seen giant 400lb rock steps placed on trails, most likely those steps were built using a griphoist and rigging.  If you’re interested in learning more about the art of moving large objects, United Trail Maintainers of California (UTMC) has graciously scheduled a free 3-day training Oct 7-9 in Tehachapi.  The class will be taught by OBP Trailworks, for more information check this link or contact UTMC to sign up.  We’re expecting lots of beautiful step works and rockwalls across the LP in the coming years!

NOVEMBER 4-5: SUSTAINABLE TRAIL BUILDING WORKSHOP
What good is working a trail if it’s not sustainable?  Of course the brush always comes back and gravity takes down trees but if you’re interested in learning how to build and maintain a sustainable trail come on out to this 2-day training being offered by Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers (CCCMB) at Montaña de Oro State Park.  The class costs $100 and should be a great weekend of practical trail learning and instruction.  For more information check the link right here.

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The Itsy-Bitsy Spider Climbed Up the Dry Waterfall

There’s a lot of volunteer projects and events upcoming that we want to highlight including the Upper Ojai SAR fundraiser this weekend, the October Working Vacation at Mission Pine Spring, LPFA Karma Tap at Draughtsmen Aleworks where you can contribute to the LPFA literally by drinking beer – all OCTOBER LONG! and the Fig Mtn Gran Fondo.  So much going on, we’ll plan on sending another email soon…..  In the meantime here’s a quick teaser…..

Los Padres is Totality Hot!

Brrrrr….. A Chilly Mission Pine Basin
– Hello Los Padres –
With the “excessive heat” we’re experiencing around the forest this week we thought it might be nice to share a picture and story of our Los Padres in the snow.  Maybe it will cool you down a little.  This photo was taken around dawn in early March at Mission Pine Basin (5,300′) in the San Rafael Wilderness.  I had backpacked in from Upper Oso, taking two days along the Santa Cruz Trail to get to MPB.  It rained on and off most of the second day and the final 2,000 foot climb up to Mission Pine was like taking a shower each time I rubbed against any of the 7,000,000 manzanita bushes along that 4mile climb.  I was drenched and cold when I saw the campfire at the Basin indicating that my buddy, ‘The Masticator’, had indeed upheld his end of the bargain and backpacked in from Cachuma Saddle.  He had slogged his bike up to McKinley Saddle the previous night and backpacked through mostly snow flurries to the Basin.  We were there to see it snow and knew a storm was forecast that evening.  We spent the night next to a raging fire as 8 inches of snow piled up beside our tents.  The next morning (shown above) was crisp as we explored the Basin, looking between the clouds at the blue Channel, snow curdling off the trees and….. lots of hot coffee.
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The LP Piru Neighborhood
FOREST 411
We’re hiring!  The LPFA is looking for a forest-loving go-getter to help manage our retail sales and grow the public outreach.  If interested, we’d love to hear from you.  More information at the link RIGHT HERE.

• So a bear walks into Reyes Creek Bar and says to Tony, “I’ll have a pint of beer and a……….. tri-tip sandwich”.  Tony responds, “Why the big pause?”   Wha wha wha…..  Okay, did you hear the one about the bear who stumbled out to Rincon Point on a summer Saturday afternoon…..?  Amazingly that isn’t a joke as a black bear did indeed find its way to the beach two weekends ago.  The photos are hard to believe but tragically the bear was euthanized after it was found to be unhealthy.

• Speaking of bears, this weekend at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is a presentation called the Amazing World of Bears by Kelley Swedlow.  It starts at 11am at the Visitor Center, which gives you enough time for a morning on the trailw beforehand or some extra time to sleep in.  It will be interesting to hear what Kelley thinks of the Rincon bear…..

• Do you Piru?  The water agency is charge of the Lake Piru Recreation Area is required to make changes to their recreation management plan for Piru.  They’ve hired an environmental consulting company to assist in the design of that recreation management plan and have released an online recreation survey designed to collect information from the public who use the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  This includes boaters, anglers, hikers, riders, hunters, Condor Trail backpackers, kayakers, campers, etc who use or pass through the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  If that’s you, please take the time and fill out this short online survey.  The surveys asks how often you use the Piru neighborhood, what you do there, what you like about it and what could be improved.  Certainly worth the time if you have an opinion, see link above.

• We’ve heard some questions about accessing the Whittier Fire burn area.  An update was released this week after an infra-red flight showed that some hot spots remain within the fire perimeter.  As a result the fire remains 87% contained and closed to public entry.  It might be a while before the area is reopened to the public.  Stay tuned….

• Last time we mentioned that Cherry Creek Road (6N01) was closed, it has since been opened.

• LPFA is excited to announce that Sunday October 8 will be our 3rd Annual Used Camping Gear Sale at Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta.  We’ll once again be partnering with Gossamer Gear to provide some incredible deals on great backpacks and camping gear.  We hope you can make it and let us know if you have any camping gear to donate to the sale.  We’ll provide a tax donation receipt and the proceeds go right back to Trail Care.

• Sorry about the bad bear news but we’ve got some great wildlife news to share that might cheer you up.  For the first time since 1985 a wild-born pair of California condors have successfully nested and have a chick of their own.  You can read more about it here.  The nest is located in Southern Monterey County and is an important step showing just how incredible the condor re-population is progressing.  It’s probably not too far off that we’ll be seeing healthy condors on the beaches soon as well.

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Chumash cave 1677 eclipse & Madras, Oregon 2017 eclipse, photo AYoung

The eclipse was all the news this past week, you don’t need to hear about that, although some of you may still be stuck in traffic.  A little different twist on the eclipse was visiting a Chumash cave that very same day and seeing their rendition of a solar eclipse that occurred on November 24, 1677.  They didn’t have the benefit of months of advanced notice, nor did they have CNN covering the PATH OF TOTALITY.  It must have been something truly amazing back in 1677…….

FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN GRAN FONDO

“So what is a Gran Fondo?”  Good question…  Originating in 1970 in Italy, a gran fondo is a long-distance (at least 75 miles) road cycling event in which a large number of riders are racing the distance against the clock.  Think of it like a marathon for cyclists.  Cool, right?  Anyway, this year Carmichael Training Systems and Figueroa Mountain Brewing are partnering to present the inaugural Figueora Mountain Gran Fondo on November 11.  They’ve asked the LPFA to help support the race and we’ll be organizing an aid station at the very top of the race at Ranger Peak along Figueroa Mountain Road.  Should be great!

If you’re a cyclist interested in doing the ride, have at it, sign up.  If you’re not but would like to volunteer to help at the LPFA aid station, we’d love the support!  You can sign up by emailing INFO@LPForest.org.  All volunteers will get a free shirt and lunch/beer at the after party in Santa Ynez.  Come one, come all……

We’re still sorting out the details but imagine we’ll be meeting at Ranger Peak around 8am and heading off the mountain in time for lunch.

INFO@LPForest.org

Figueroa Mountain Gran Fondo