Condor Trail Talk: CANCELLED

Cold Spring Trailhead, Montecito, January 9.  
Where’s the trail?  For that matter where’s the road?  Like a giant spoon was drug down the canyon.
Photo
Ray Ford

CONDOR TRAIL TALK: POSTPONED

Due to yesterdays tragic debris flows that ravaged the Thomas Fire and communities downstream, we’re postponing the Condor Trail Talk tonight and will reschedule for early February.  Words can’t describe the devastation that was witnessed yesterday, mainly throughout the Montecito community.  As I’m sure you all know, access along Hwy 101 is closed from Ventura to Santa Barbara and most of the side streets remain closed due to piles of debris, downed trees and everything else stacked up along the creek banks and roadways.  Much of the community remains isolated and it seems likely even more devastation and loss will be uncovered as crews work to regain access.  While most of the news understandably has been focused on Montecito, there has to be similar mudslides and flows in other communities as well.  From what we’ve heard, Ojai seems to have fared okay but Hwy 33 is closed due to road damage above Wheeler Gorge (see photo below).  We’ll certainly hear more in the coming days and lets hope for better news than we received from Montecito.  It’s even scarier that this storm won’t be our last and most likely won’t be the largest either.  Round 1 is in the books, Mother Nature 1, People 0.

The promising news is that warm drying weather is in the forecast for the next week or more.  Access in and around the Los Padres will remain limited with closures occurring yesterday on just about all the Highways used to access the LP from Hwy 1 in Big Sur to Hwy 166, 150, 33 and of course 101.  Be safe everyone and we hope to see you at the Condor Trail Talk in February.

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Highway 33 Undercut, photo CalTrans

Lets Talk Condor Trail & Winter Storm Warning

The Thomas Fire Didn’t Burn Everything, It Just Feels Like It Did
CONDOR TRAIL TALK
Wednesday January 10 – 6pm – Balboa Building – 735 State St – Santa Barbara
The LPFA and Condor Trail Association are partnering this Wednesday (Jan 10) to host a special Trail Talk focused on the Class of 2016-17 Condor Trail hikers.  We’re really fortunate to have 4 groups of hikers at the event this Wednesday to share stories and photos from their individual exploits along the Condor Trail.  While each of them hiked the same miles, their journeys along those miles are very very different.  It doesn’t matter if you’re dreaming of one day doing the CT or happy just weekend warrior’ing around the Los Padres; you’ll enjoy hearing the fun and sometimes sketchy adventures of these brave CT hikers.  421 miles across the Los Padres – that’s a long way!  Come on out to the Balboa Building at 6pm on Wednesday to hear their tales from the Condor Trail.

In addition we’ll dedicate some time to discuss the Thomas Fire and what the fire means to the Los Padres Forest.  We’ll also have a raffle, some frothy beverages to enjoy compliments of Hollister Brewing Company and enough time to catch up with old fiends and hopefully meet some new ones too.  We hope to see you there.

Any questions or inquiries, please email: INFO@LPForest.org


The Class of 2016-2017 CT Hikers
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Matilija Trout, Facing Some Rough Days Ahead, photo Humphrey
THOMAS FIRE UPDATE
Speaking of the Thomas Fire, the predicted containment date of January 7 has come and gone with the fire holding at 92% containment and having burned 281,893 acres.  The containment % should see an increase over the next few days as most of the Los Padres braces itself for the first large storm of the season.  The storm is currently hitting the Northern Los Padres and has dumped close to two inches already along the Big Sur Coast.  The majority of the storm will hit this evening into tomorrow morning with forecasts predicting 2-6 inches of rain in select locations with downpours potentially at the rate of one inch per hour.  Due to the potential for flash flooding within the fire areas and subsequent debris flows downstream from the fire areas, mandatory evacuations have been issued for most communities under the burn scars covering over 60 miles east to west from Santa Paula Canyon to Refugio including the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier burn areas.  It’s crazy that less than a month ago the Thomas Fire was threatening to burn houses and now those same houses are threatened from flash flooding.  Good luck to everyone and your homes, be safe……

The closure order for portions of the Los Padres remains intact, closing all forest entry into areas that burned during the Thomas Fire.  There has been a lot of confusion and frustration regarding the closure, including the temporary closing of some of the trails outside the burn area.  Suppression repair is wrapping up and BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) teams remain on the ground working to protect resources in advance of winter storms.  It’ll be a while before the Thomas closure is lifted, please remain patient and obey the closures.

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Thomas’ Final Gasp?  Lion Canyon, January 2
FOREST 411
• Nearly 6 months after starting on July 8, 2017, the Whittier Fire was officially declared “out” on January 1, 2018.  While flames and smoke stopped months ago, there were a few hot spots that remained in portions of the canyons that were too steep and access too difficult to fully extinguish.  An IR flight team flew the Whittier Fire en route to the Thomas Fire and no heat was sensed from within Whittier.

• Sadly, a 40lb bear was euthanized earlier this week along the Sisar Trail.  The bear was burned during the Thomas Fire and was unable to recover.

• Much of the access to the Los Padres is in jeopardy at the moment due to the oncoming storm.  Slides are expected along forest access roads from Hwy 1 in Big Sur (Soberanes Fire) to 154 in Santa Barbara (Whittier Fire) and down through Hwy 192, 150 and 33 (Thomas Fire).  If you have plans to travel through the forest over the coming week, be sure to check access before you head out.  The CalTrans website is a great resource.

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Great work by VWA volunteer sawyers along the Spruce Creek Trail in the Silver Peak Wilderness, photo Cypher

Happy Old Year & Thomas Fire Update

The slanted & photogenic Sulphur Spring Canyon en route to the Hurricane Deck
HAPPY OLD YEAR!
Attention is always focused on welcoming in the New Year (2018) but lets not forget the great achievements from the Old Year (2017).  While there were certainly struggles across the forest over the past year, the Los Padres Forest Association (LPFA) had a phenomenal year of accomplishments helping support your Los Padres Forest:
  •  With the help of the Forest Service and partner organizations we maintained over 75 miles of trail across the Los Padres in 2017!  This was accomplished through grant opportunities, private donations and lots of hard work by our phenomenal volunteers.
  • Speaking of volunteers, LPFA volunteers accounted for over 15,000 hours of volunteer time across the forest in 2017.  Amazing, right!  Big BIG round of applause for the volunteers who helped on the 80+ forest-related volunteer projects the LPFA supported in 2017.
  • The LPFA hosted 23 educational events at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center in 2017 reaching over 1,500 forest-users!  Big thanks to Gordie, Terry and the Wheeler Gorge Crew for another terrific year of work!
  • Perhaps the biggest challenge and best contribution we provided in 2017 was keeping Big Sur Station open even with all the road closures and Soberanes Fire related forest closures.  Tim Bills and crew kept Big Sur Station open for 360 days in 2017 helping over 50,000 visitors in the process!  Amazing work…..
  • And as always the LPFA continued assisting the Forest Service where possible and providing information for you, the forest-user, through our emails, social media and HikeLosPadres.com.

2017 was a busy one with much MUCH more on tap for 2018.  This next year we’ll be continuing our backcountry trail maintenance while at the same time putting a large emphasis of work into the trails damaged by the Thomas Fire (more on that soon).  We are also working with the Forest Service to build a reroute around the infamous Mono Jungle section of the Cold Spring Trail in Santa Barbara County.  We’re looking forward to more trailwork within the Santa Lucia Wilderness of San Luis Obispo County and working hard to continue growth at both Wheeler Gorge and Big Sur Station.

Much of this work is not possible without the help and support of our volunteers and supporters.  We’d love to have you join us on any of our regular volunteer projects and of course donations and LPFA memberships help tremendously.  If you’d like to donate or join the LPFA, check out the THANK YOU button link below:

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Thomas Fire Perimeter, 12-31-2017
THOMAS FIRE UPDATE

The Thomas Fire is currently 92% contained and has scorched 281,893 acres, making it the largest fire in California History!  Included in the Thomas Fire is over 180,000 acres of Los Padres Forest land that unofficially burned 24 campsites, 32 Forest Service system trails, over 125 miles of trail and 100 miles of FS recreational roads.  Yowzers!  With the fire fight downsizing we’ll begin working with the Forest Service and other partner organizations this week to discuss short-term and long-term plans to survey the trails and get them reopened as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately we’re no strangers to fire damaged trails and we’re expecting it to take quite a while before the trails are safe to travel.  There are islands within the perimeter that continue to burn and much of the trail damage is yet to come.  We might even think of this right now as being within the eye of the hurricane.  The initial storm of damage in the form of the fire has come through, we get a few weeks in the eye and then the second wave (and possibly more damaging) will come with the rains.  There is rain in the forecast later this week…..

That being said, yesterday the Forest Service reduced the extent of the closure to the footprint of the fire, see attached closure information.  There is still much suppression repair efforts and BAER activity within the forest.  Please obey closures and don’t drive around barricades.  Patience is not the ability to wait, but rather the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.  Things will reopen and we’ll do our best to keep you posted as best we can.

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Before and After along the Lost Valley Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness, if you’ve hiked this trail in the past year, you know this section.
FOREST 411
  • The Los Padres Forest welcomes Kevin Elliott as our new Forest Supervisor!  Kevin will join the Los Padres on January 22 after serving the past 6 years as Forest Supervisor on the Sequoia National Forest.  We’re looking forward to meeting Kevin and hoping to work closely with him over the coming years.  Welcome!
  • We’ve heard many concerns and questions about how the LP wildlife is holding up after the Thomas Fire.  While the full extent of the fire damage is yet to come, there have been a few articles surfacing related to specific instances of wildlife impacts.
  • Not Thomas related but a 250 pound wild boar was struck by a car on Hwy 126 in Ventura County last month.  Wild pigs are not common in that part of the forest.
  • You might notice a blank spot appearing soon above your desk or on the wall in your kitchen.  We still have a few more 2018 Los Padres calendars available in case you’d like to fill that empty space with some Los Padres love!
  • SBMTV just completed a two-week trail project opening up the popular Camuesa Connector Trail outside Santa Barbara.  Check that trail out!
  • The VWA continues to hammer out trail maintenance miles across the Silver Peak Wilderness.  This year their focus has been the Buckeye and Cruickshank Trails.  Good stuff.
  • Highway 33 is currently open across Ventura County.  Many of the popular trailheads remain closed due to the Thomas Fire including all of Matilija (100% burned), Rose Valley, Ortega and Piedra Blanca.

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