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

FIRST SATURDAY OJAI: Pratt Trail, May 6

Join us Saturday May 6 as we continue the long-standing First Saturday tradition of maintaining the local trails around Ojai……….

Trail: Upper Pratt Trail

Leader: Jasonn Beckstrand

Dates: May 6, 2017

Description: Meet at the Ojai Ranger Station (1190 East Ojai Ave Ojai, CA 93023) before 8:30am for sign ups, safety talk and to carpool to trailhead.  Group will return to Ojai by 4pm.  Project will focus on brushing and removing any down branches/trees.

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 Jasonn know so he can gather up enough vehicles.

Please RSVP with Jasonn via email.

http://www.hikelospadres.com/pratt-trail.html

Map by Tom Harrison

 

THE SUPER LOS PADRES

Aaron, before and after, sizing up a complex oak on Cold Spring Trail
TRAIL REPORTING

Hi Everyone – we hope you’re having a great Good Friday and an even better Good Friday evening,

We’ve got a lot to share today – this is probably the most jam-packed email we’ve ever sent.  So, slip into something more comfortable, pour yourself an ice-cold lemonade and enjoy the read.
If you read nothing else, please check out the massive list of upcoming events and trail projects at the bottom – thanks!

There is no shortage of activities and events going on right now in and around the Los Padres.  We’re right in the middle of what is typically the busiest time of year for the Los Padres.  The flowers are doing their thing (more on that below), the water is plentiful and the trailheads are crammed with hikers, riders and backpackers enjoying the forest.  While the trail-users are busy enjoying the trails, the trail crews and trail volunteers are doing their best to fix any damage sustained from this winters storms.  At the bottom of this email (way down there) is a list of upcoming trail projects.  Giving back to the trails and volunteering time to cut brush from the trail or remove a rock slide can be so rewarding.  We encourage all of you to find a trail event this Spring that inspires you and sign up to volunteer for a day or a weekend or even a 10-day Working Vacation.  You’ll love it!  There are plenty of options out there for everyone, we hope you can find some time to make it happen…….

In the meantime, there is something all of us can do while we’re out on the trails that will directly benefit the trails: TRAIL REPORTS.  Trail crews can’t fix a trail if they don’t know that the trail needs fixing, right?  So while you’re out for a ride or hike and if come across a section of trail with a downed tree or a slide or is buried in brush; take a picture and share it with your local trail group, Forest Service staff or post it to HikeLosPadres.com and we’ll make sure it gets into the right hands.  When taking the picture, it helps to position a friend or a hiking pole or your dog or something in the photo to give the feature some perspective so that we can tell exactly how big that downed tree is.  If you can include GPS coordinates that helps a lot as well.  HikeLosPadres has an easy user-interface that allows you to post pictures and include information like GPS and size estimates along with the photo.  It works great to share as much information as you can so that the trail crews can get out there and do what they love to do fixing these trail problems and issues.  Thank you all for the help and we hope you’re finding plenty of time on the trails this Spring……

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A nice bouquet somewhere between Greenfield and the Pacific

WILDFLOWER SUPER BLOOM 2017

Look out at that hill, it’s a balloon, it’s a tie-dye, no it’s SUPER BLOOM!  You’ve probably seen the words ‘super bloom’ a lot over the past couple of weeks.  That’s the word being used to describe an exceptional eruption of wildflowers and after all our winter rains, California 2017 is certainly qualifying as a super bloom.  Social media is overflowing with pictures of pilgrimages to Death Valley, Joshua Tree and the Carrizo Plain.  In fact there are even pictures from outer space showing the 2017 super bloom.  While we can’t all be so lucky to join in these epic trips to the desert, never fear, chances are there are super blooms right outside your door.  Find some time in the next couple of weeks to revisit your favorite flower haunt or try to find a new one!  Helen Tarbet of the Santa Lucia Ranger District here in the Los Padres puts together a wildflower update for those people headed to Figueroa Mountain to see the wildflowers.  Her latest report from April 12 is attached with this email.  Check it out and remember to tread lightly so the next people can see the flowers just as you saw them.  Enjoy…….

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The soon-to-be new Pfeiffer Gulch Bridge, CalTrans

FOREST ACCESS UPDATE

While the flowers are certainly out this year, the Los Padres hasn’t completely reopened after the winter storms.  Most of the dirt roads across the Forest remain closed and behind locked gates.  Some of the roads (such as Sierra Madre) have reopened but most of them will stay closed for at least a few more weeks.  The traditional gate opening ceremony usually occurs on May 1 but this year that might not be the case as some of the roads did sustain quite a bit of damage and are not passable yet.  The Forest Service is working on it.  If you’re heading out to the forest, it’s a good idea to call your local Ranger Station to check if the roads are open.  More details below:

  • The Soberanes Fire Closure remains in effect up in the Big Sur and Ventana Wilderness portions of the Los Padres.  No date has been established for when the fire closure will be lifted.
  • The Big Sur Coast remains somewhat isolated as CalTrans works to reopen Hwy 1.  Google search if confused.
    • Nacimiento Ferguson Road has reopened creating a connection to the coast but Hwy 1 is closed in both directions from there.
    • The Pfeifer Gulch Bridge in Big Sur is being rebuilt with an end of September estimated date of completion.
  • In Santa Barbara, First Crossing and Romero Camuesa Rd at Divide Peak remain closed due to storm flooding and debris flows related to the Rey Fire.
  • Highway 33 will start to see traffic delays as CalTrans continues to work on stabilizing slopes damaged by the storms (see attached).

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The aforementioned Carrizo Super Bloom, photo Andy Quinn

FOREST 411

  • There is a lot of trail restoration activity going on at the moment in the San Rafael Wilderness.  The LPFA has been working on the Manzana Trail and is currently in the middle of a 10-day Working Vacation based at Happy Hunting Ground.  We’ll have additional crews based at Manzana Narrows starting next weekend through the middle of May.  In addition, the CREW is working on the Sisquoc Trail based out of South Fork working up towards Heath Camp.  These trails will be beautiful after all this work.  If you’re out there, be sure to thank the crews!
  • This is kind of cool, there was an officer in Solvang who got a video of a mountain lion chasing after a deer.
  • With all the recent fires and storms, there have become quite a few hazard trees hanging over campsites around the Los Padres.  Some of the trees have been documented, others have not.  It’s always a good idea to check the area for dead trees or leaners before setting up your camp and obviously camp elsewhere if there is a nearby hazard tree.  Take photos of any hazard trees and share with the Forest Service once you get home.
  • The Wheeler Gorge Open House will be Saturday April 22 from 10am – 2pm.  This years Open House will feature booths from local organizations, a Used Camping Gear Sale, BBQ and a visit from Smokey Bear.  If you have kids and like the forest, this is the place for you!  Come on out.  We’ve also released the summer program of talks at Wheeler.
  • The Big Sur International Marathon is April 30.  There is only one way in and out of Big Sur at the moment.  Unless you are running in the marathon, you might want to stay away from Big Sur that weekend.
  • Some personnel news in the Los Padres, more to come later, LP Supervisor Bob Baird has accepted a position as California Regional Fire Director for the USFS.  He will unfortunately be leaving the Los Padres next month.  While we say goodbye to Supervisor Baird, we also say hello to Ranger Brad Turberville who is taking on the Ranger duties at Mount Pinos Ranger District on a 120-day detail.  Welcome Ranger Turberville!
  • The Santa Barbara Trails Council is currently running a photo contest featuring the Gaviota Coast.  There are some really amazing photos being shared, including some from the Los Padres.  Proceeds from the contest will be used to complete the Baron Trail, which is a new trail being built along the Gaviota Coast.

Marching Towards April Working Vacations

Los Padres Greenery!

SAINT PATRICK’S DAY

Happy St. Patricks’s Day everyone!  While March 17 was originally set aside as a religious celebration of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland, the date has morphed a little over the years into a more general celebration of Ireland.  In addition to the religious aspects of St. Patrick’s day, other time honored traditions have developed including wearing green, pinching those who do not wear green, drinking Irish adult beverages, an overall celebration of Irish descent and a celebration of the color green. Good times for sure!  Feel free to celebrate or enjoy as your beliefs and preferences allow.

Here is the Los Padres, St. Patrick’s Day couldn’t come at a more appropriate time of year.  While most of the country is still thawing out from winter, we’re in the prime of spring with GREEN all around.  Take some time this weekend (after your St. Patty’s celebrations of course) and go find some green in the forest.  It’s not hard to do right now.  It should be a beautiful weekend and you never know, you might just find that leprechaun hiding his gold in that patch of miners lettuce…..

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Upper Sisquoc Views from the Manzana Trail
APRIL WORKING VACATIONS

The LPFA has two Working Vacation trail projects scheduled in April along the Manzana Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.  The first WV will be from April 1-9 and will be based either at Manzana Camp (6 miles from NIRA) or Fish Camp (3 miles from NIRA).  The second WV will be from April 15-23 based at Happy Hunting Ground Camp (11 miles from NIRA).  While the trail projects last an entire week, you are welcome to come for as long or short as your schedule allows.  Both Working Vacation locations are upstream from the NIRA Trailhead and will take the better part of a day to travel to and from the base-camps.  We do ask that you commit to a day or two of trail work, which means you’ll need to set aside at least 3-4 days for the Working Vacations.  Better yet, come for the entire week, it’ll be beautiful out there!

For those of you who have been on LPFA Working Vacations, you know what to expect.  For those who have not, the Working Vacations are stock supported volunteer trail projects with designated cooks and all meals provided.  You can learn more here.  Basically, you show up and commit to volunteering on the trail and we’ll make sure you have tasty food to eat, hot coffee in the morning and cold drinks in the evening.  It’s great fun!  Mike Smith will be leading both of these Working Vacations and can answer any specific questions you might have or sign you up!  You can reach him at:  TrailSmith@LPForest.org

More than anything else, the Working Vacations are a fun way to get out in the backcountry, give back to the trails we love and hang out with like-minded fun people.  It’s great fun and very rewarding.  We hope to see you out there……

Rich Scholl, cooking up a storm, Madulce Working Vacation 2016

And ERFO Was Its Name-O!

Trail Erased, Central Hurricane Deck; photo Blakley
Hello Los Padres!

Spring in here and while the winter weather has pretty much come and gone, its left behind no shortage of damaged roads and trails across the LP.  While the Forest Service, trail-related organizations and individual volunteers are working as hard as we can to repair the destruction, we’re hearing more and more about larger scale show-stopper slides and washouts that are making travel along these forest roads and trails impossible.  Many of these show-stoppers are beyond the scope of what volunteers can do and the Forest Service is looking into the potential of getting some emergency funding for damaged roads/trails through a program called ERFO (Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads).  ERFO funds are very specific and can only be applied to severely damaged sections of maintenance level 3-5 public access roads or trails with engineered surfaces and/or trails listed on the National Trails System Act of 1968.  Also, the damage must have been caused by this winters storms.  We can’t count on ERFO to fix all the problems we’re finding across the forest but perhaps ERFO can solve a couple of the more major problems.  And that is where we come in…..

The Forest Service has asked for the public’s assistance in helping to survey and locate any sections of roads and/or trails that might qualify for ERFO funds.  Here’s what we can do:

  • If you are out exploring the forest and come across any large sections of severe damage (gully washer blowouts, large slides, complete sections of tread wiped out, etc….) take a picture of that damage and record the coordinates of where the damage is (GPS preferred).  It would also be helpful If you can take any kind of measurements as well.
  • The FS is looking for information on ALL FOREST ADMINISTERED ROADS as well as ALL FOREST SERVICE SYSTEM TRAILS.
  • In order to help, we created a GoogleDoc that lists the LP trails that are included in the National Trails System Act of 1968.  You can see that list here.  While other trails can also be included in ERFO, chances are that any funds will be applied to trails from this list.  You’ll notice that there are a good mix of wilderness trails, OHV trails and general forest trails.
  • After taking photos, measurements and coordinates of the damaged sections of trail, send that information to your local LP District trails person or send it to us and we’ll help push that information to the right person (INFO@LPForest.org).
  • After reviewing the details, the Forest Service will determine if that section of trail/road qualifies for ERFO submission and then hopefully submit a request for emergency ERFO funding.
  • Fast forward a few months and maybe some of these major show stoppers we’re seeing will be fixed!  That would be great and we can directly help in the process by surveying the hundreds and hundreds of miles of trails that might have been damaged this past winter.

Thanks in advance for any survey help you can provide!  Let us know if you have any questions and we’ll see if we can get you an answer or if not then point you towards someone who can.

Mark, Modelling the Latest in Showstopper Gully Washers on the Buckhorn Road (Santa Barbara Canyon)
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Tangerine, living reflection from a dream; photo Humphrey

LP STORMS 2017: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

That’s not the Mississippi!  Santa Ynez River at Sage Hill, February 17, photo Chris Orr
Good Morning Everyone and Happy Presidents Day!

We are in the midst of what is clearly going to be remembered as an epic winter here in the Los Padres.  Last Friday, during the heart of the latest storm, some of us were watching the real-time flow rate in Sespe Creek.  The website lists the historic flood level crests along the Sespe and as the latest crest continued to climb, it started to creep up towards the all-time winters like 1978, 1969, 1983 and 2005.  Last Friday’s storm didn’t quite crack that list, at least along the Sespe, but we’re certainly headed towards 2017 being remembered in a similar fashion with those other most epic winters.  While we’ve all been praying for a season like this, it hasn’t been all rainbows and green grass for everyone around the forest.  The rains have certainly caused some challenges and will continue to do so.  Lets take a quick look at the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY:
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Matilija Overflowing
THE GOOD
Last February the LPFA hosted a volunteer trail maintenance project up Santa Barbara Canyon.  We camped on a bench overlooking the dry creek (note: this is not an insignificant small creek) and had to have mules haul in water for the 3-day project.  There was no water in February!  That is not a problem we’ll have to worry about this year.  The creeks are flowing, rivers are raging and best of all, the lakes and reservoirs are filling up.  Water levels within the reservoirs are climbing fast.  There were reports that Lake Cachuma climbed 25ft this past weekend.  That’s great news and we should have nice flowing water for months to come!
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Rain Soaked Trail Damage, see the People on the Trail?
THE BAD
We’re getting reports from across the forest about damaged trails, downed trees, rutting, boulders, holes, slides and even NO MORE TRAIL!  After 4-5 years of drought, many of the trees have been compromised and with the saturated soil and wind, they are toppling down.  Same goes with water related soil damage like slides and sink holes.  The Forest Service, as well as volunteer groups from across the Los Padres, are working as hard as they can to get the trails cleared and safe for travel again.  The best thing you can do if you come across a trail hazard or downed tree is document that trail hazard and share that information.  www.HikeLosPadres.com is a great resource for sharing trail conditions or email a trail report to your local trail organization or FS trails person.  Speaking for all the trail maintenance people, we can’t help the trails unless we know where the trail damage is.  It really helps to take photos of the damage and include as much information as you can about the location and size/extent of the damage.  The trail-users far outnumber the trail maintainers, sharing information is a key component to making the trails good again.
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Highway 1, South of Big Sur, photo Father Zack, from BigSurKate
THE UGLY
Do you see the “PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY” Los Padres Forest sign in the photo above?  It might need to be changed to say “YOU WON’T BE DRIVING FOR A WHILE”.  The roads in and around the Los Padres have clearly been the ugly casualty of the storms so far.  Most of the dirt roads around the LP have been closed for the winter (TBD the extent of the damage on those roads) but even the paved major access roads have been getting hammered:

  • Highway 33 out of Ojai has been closed on/off all winter and remains closed today due to slides.
  • Hwy 41 finally reopened after being closed for over a month due to a landslide.
  • I5 near Gorman sustained some major damage this past weekend.
  • And other temporary closures including Hwy 154, Lockwood Valley Rd, 101, etc……

But none of this compares to what has been happening along the Big Sur Coast.  It’s been a tough year to say the least.  First, the massive Soberanes Fire and now crazy amounts of rain followed by flooding and landslides.  Hwy 1 remains closed between Ragged Point (southern end) and Big Sur Station (northern end).  Slides, such as the one in the photo above, have been regular occurrences along Hwy 1.  It seems that as soon as one slide is cleared or mitigated, another slide occurs.  At one point there were reports of over 20 slides blocking Hwy 1.  In addition, the Forest Service has closed the Nacimento-Fergusson Rd west of Coast Ridge Rd due to road slippage.  And as if that was not enough, structural damage was discovered on the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge (just south of Big Sur Station) which has completely blocked access along Hwy 1 in Big Sur.  A slide has developed under the bridge that has caused the structure to move 7 inches within the past week.  Quite a mess!  We won’t try to predict a timeframe as to when Hwy 1 will reopen in Big Sur, but it’s looking likely it will be closed for quite a while.

Sorry for the UGLY news last.  I wish they had called that movie The Ugly, the Bad and the Good.  Oh well.  In time the Ugly will be repaired, the Bad will be maintained and we’ll be left with beautiful creeks flowing well into summer and more water than we’ve seen in quite some time.  That is Good.  Until then, please be careful and never underestimate water.

Santa Ynez Double Rainbow