Get Your Los Padres Forest Update

Romero Trail Thomas Fire Damage, Before & After, Compliments of Multi-Use Trails Coalition

Hello Friends,

We were fortunate last week to have an early season storm roll across the Los Padres bringing with it precipitation ranging from around a tenth of an inch in the inland areas to over an inch along the coastal mountains.  That’s a great start for the season and if nothing else should bring some green color to some of our hills soon.  Depending on what happens from here on out we could enjoy a nice long green season, which we haven’t had very much of over the past decade.  Fingers crossed for a nice series of slow and steady storms ahead…….

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Poplar Trail, in Need of a Shave,  photo Aaron Songer, October 2018
BLUFF – POPLAR WORKING VACATION
The LPFA will be hosting our next Working Vacation starting next week from October 19-28.  We’ll be base-camping at the Bluff Administrative Cabin and working down the Poplar Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness along the upper Indian Creek drainage.  Due to fire related road closures and poor access, the Poplar Trail has become extremely overgrow in recent years with some people calling it the “worst trail in the Santa Barbara Backcountry”.  Our focus over the Working Vacation will be to clear downed trees, remove choked brush and attempt to push the “worst trail” moniker to someplace else.  If you have some free time between the 19th and 28th and are interested in volunteering on the trail we’d love to have your help.  We are asking that people volunteer for at least 4 days.  This is a car-camping style project since we have the luxory of driving the 90-min dirt road in to Bluff Camp.  If you don’t have a dirt road worthy vehicle, don’t worry, we should have plenty of space in other trucks for you to carpool along.  As usual, all food, tools and PPE will be provided for the volunteers.  For more information or to sign up please email project leader Mike Smith at TrailSmith@LPForest.org.  Hope to see you out there…..
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Morning Moment of Truth, How Hot is it Gonna be? photo AQuinn
FOREST 411
• The LPFA will be putting on our 4th Annual Used Gear Sale on Sunday November 4 at Tucker’s Grove in Goleta.  As usual, we’ll have literally hundreds of gently used camping gear supplies, tents and other odds and ends highlighted by dozens of Gossamer Gear backpacks.  If you have any used camping gear you’d like to donate, we’d be happy to take it off your hands in exchange for a donation receipt and a high five.  Proceeds from the sale go to the LPFA Trail Care program.  For more information or to donate your camping gear email: INFO@LPForest.org.

• General hunting season ended a few weeks ago for most of the Los Padres (A Zone South) but general deer season opens this weekend for Zone D13, which covers most of the Mt Pinos Ranger District and a large portion of the Ojai District.  Click here for a map of D13.  D13 opens October 13 and lasts through November 11.

• A coalition of local Southern Los Padres trail organizations, including the LPFA, have combined forces to raise needed funds to restore the trails impacted by the Thomas Fire.  You’ll be hearing A LOT more about the Thomas Fire Trail Fund in the coming weeks/months but we have released a PDF update on the Thomas Fire trail restoration efforts, check it out here.

• Two California Condors have been found dead in recent months as a result of gunshot wounds.  One condor was found near Porterville and the other in Kern County, just outside the Los Padres.  Currently there is a $15,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for these tragic deaths.

• The LPFA will once again be printing 2019 Los Padres calendars just in time for the holidays.  We’re looking for any great photos you might have of the Los Padres that we could include in the calendar.  Email us (INFO@LPForest.org) for more information.

• The Ogilvy Fire was declared 100% contained.  The fire chewed up 172 acres and burned from September 1-4 in the Mono drainage in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.

Sycamore Canyon Road, which is used to access Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, is closed to the public Monday – Friday lasting through November 30.  The road is currently being repaired after sustaining major damage in the 2016-2017 atmospheric river storms.

• Don’t forget to check HikeLosPadres.com before your next adventure into the Los Padres.  Great place to read about water and trail conditions.  And don’t forget to share your findings when you get back…..

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The Wander-Full Southern Views Across the Chumash

National Public Lands Day! NOT TOO LATE…..

Getting Pumped for National Public Lands Day!
NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY
TOMORROW – SATURDAY – SEPT 22
It’s not too late!  Last reminder!  2018 marks the 25th anniversary of National Public Lands Day! NPLD is a nation-wide day dedicated to bringing volunteers into public lands and helping restore, maintain, clean and/or improve those public lands. The LPFA has been hosting NPLD projects for the past 6 years and NPLD has been a great avenue for bringing together volunteers to help the Los Padres Forest and having a great time while doing it!  This year there are four Los Padres based NPLD events spread out between Santa Barbara and Mt Pinos:

WHEELER GORGE RESTORATION & CLEANUP
SEPTEMBER 22, OJAI

See attached PDF for more information.

SB THOMAS FIRE TRAIL RESTORATION
SEPTEMBER 22, SANTA BARBARA

See attached PDF for more information.

SEPTEMBER 22, SANTA BARBARA

MT PINOS RANGER DISTRICT CLEANUP
SEPTEMBER 29, FRAZIER PARK
Scheduled for September 29, call 661-245-3731 for more information.

Or you can visit the NPLD website and search for another volunteer project near you, there are no shortages of projects around the country!  Go find yours and VOLUNTEER:
https://www.neefusa.org/event-locator

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LOS PADRES FOR $500 ALEX
For those of you in the Greater Goleta area, don’t forget to come out to Draughtsmen Aleworks Tuesday night September 25 for a special outdoors themed trivia night hosted by LPFA and DA.  It’s being MC’d by Trivia Whizz William and should be a lot of fun.  Hope to see you there and remember to order Mas Machos!


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DON’T FORGET, BLUFF CABIN WORKING VACATION OCTOBER 19-28
LOTS OF OPTIONS FOR DRIVE IN AND DRIVE OUT TIMES
INDIAN CREEK, TRAIL WORK, LOTS OF FRIENDS, AWESOME!
EMAIL: INFO@LPFOREST.ORG TO SIGN UP!

Oh So Nice, Oso Nice

Cheers to Oaks! Cheers to Trails!

The Iconic Los Padres Oak Tree
Hello Friends,

I was fortunate to spend a few weeks outside the Los Padres this summer traveling with my family.  We visited the heart of the Rockies in Colorado, explored the multi-colored canyons of Utah and backpacked the granite peaks of the Sierras.  It was great!  Hopefully many of you had similar experiences this summer.  Like all vacations, it had to come to an end and we were excited returning home on our final leg back from Colorado.  It’s always nice coming home to familiar mountains, familiar roads, a familiar bed and cursing slow California drivers who don’t move out of the fast lane?!!  But what I wasn’t expecting was how happy I’d be seeing the California oak trees.  They were different than anything we’d seen over the previous weeks, they were beautiful, they were familiar and they were home.  Oaks are everywhere across the Los Padres and I think many of us take them for granted – I’m guilty.  I sometimes wonder what outsiders think of when they think of the Los Padres?  Is it the iconic condor, our numerous hot springs or just that break in traffic between LA and the Bay?  I’d never thought of it before but perhaps it’s our familiar oak trees that best represent the Los Padres?  What do you think?

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It’s Five O’clock Somewhere – Draughtsmen Aleworks
LPFA KARMA TAP
Ready for some great news?  The LPFA has been selected as the Karma Tap at Draughtsmen Aleworks for the month of September!  Woot woot….  Draughtsmen chooses a different non-profit each month for their Karma Tap and $1 from each beer sold from the Karma Tap goes towards that non-profit.  Very cool.  The beer on tap this month is a super tasty Mexican amber lager called Mas Macho, you’ll love it, perfect for late summer!  Draughtsmen Aleworks is just a short jump off Hwy 101 in Goleta.  Be sure to come in for a Mas Macho if you live nearby or make a stop if you’re driving through (designated driver of course).  We’ve also got two events scheduled at Draughtsmen in September:

  • September 6 – 6:00pm: Karma Tap Party

    • Nothing formal, nothing organized, just come out to enjoy a Mas Macho, bring some friends, meet some friends and lets talk trails.  We’ll be upstairs.
  • September 25: LPFA Trivia Night
    • Second annual Trivia Night.  This one will be a little different than last time, more details to come….

We hope you can find some time to visit Draughtsmen Aleworks and cheers a Mas Macho over the coming weeks.  See you there……..

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Before & After, #BeforeandAfterLP – LPFA Trail Crew
THOMAS FIRE TRAIL UPDATE
One of the questions we hear most is what is the status of the trails within the Thomas Fire?  While we don’t have the space here to write about every trail impacted by Thomas, there has been some great progress made and much more on tap for the coming months:

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY: Spearheaded by Montecito Trails Foundation, the LPFA Trail Crew along with SBMTV, SBCTC and the Multi-Use Trails Coalition have been working on some of the trails above Montecito including Romero, McMenemy, Girard, Cold Spring and Buena Vista.  Most of the Thomas Fire trail work in Santa Barbara is being focused on the lower portions of the mountain mainly below the Edison Roads.  People are using and enjoying most of the trails but there is still substantial damage to upper Franklin and San Ysidro trails.  Lower Cold Spring and West Fork Cold Spring remain closed.

VENTURA COUNTY: Most of the work accomplished along the Ojai trails have been thanks to a dedicated semi-volunteer crew headed up by Mike Gourley.  Pratt and Gridley Trails have been cleared and Howard Creek is on deck.  LPFA has led a few projects in the Matilija drainage but lots more work is needed across the Ventura portion of the Thomas Fire.  Good news is that the LPFA received grant funding from REI to repair Thomas Fire impacted trails in Ventura County and that work should be starting in about a month once the temperatures cool down.  We’ll share more details as work begins.

We hope that answers some of your questions.  The trails are slowly being repaired and most of them are being hiked daily.  That being said, be safe and if you reach a point where you are uncomfortable either due to exposure, a slide across the trail or anything else – STOP and go back.  The mountains aren’t done shifting after the fire and many burned dead trees are still falling.  Be safe and if you’re interested in any volunteer opportunities please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org

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The Friendly Conifer Confines, Campo Alto

FOREST 411

• This Saturday September 8 we welcome Chumash Elder Julie Tumamait to Wheeler Gorge to share her stories.  The talk starts at 11am at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center up Hwy 33.  This is a great talk for both kids and adults.  Hope you can make it…..

• The BLM is seeking public input on the environmental impacts related to fracking across potentially 400,000 acres of BLM land and 1.2 million acres of Federal land including portions of Kern, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.  There is no shortage of information related to this topic across the internet.  A Google search should get you whatever you need.  Public comment is due September 7.  Make your voice be heard…….

The Front Fire, which burned over 1,000 acres last month, was officially contained as of Wednesday August 29.  The area around Rockfront remains closed due to the fire.  Cause of the fire remains under investigation.

• The Santa Barbara Backcountry had a fire this past weekend called the Ogilvy Fire.  It burned approximately 175 acres along Mono Creek near Ogilvy Ranch.  It has not been fully contained but is not expected to grow.  Cause of the fire has not been shared.

La Brea Restoration Update

Mountain bikers enjoying the recently restored post-Thomas Fire Romero Fire Road.
The trail restoration was part of a joint project between LPFA, SBMTV, MTF, SBCTC and the Forest Service.
Photo Ray Ford
Hello Again Friends,

In case you didn’t see the Forest Service announcements on their proposed La Brea Restoration plans we’ve included some information about the plan below.  This appears to be the final opportunity for the public to comment on the La Brea Restoration so get your thoughts down on paper or screen and send them in before August 20.

Have a great weekend and we hope you find some time in the Los Padres while you’re at it.  If so, please share photos, we’d love to see how it’s looking and what fun you’re having……..

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Junction of La Brea Road (10W06) and La Brea Canyon Road (11N04), just across La Brea Creek from the newly proposed Rattlesnake Trailhead
LA BREA RESTORATION UPDATE
The 2009 La Brea Fire chewed up nearly 90,000 acres of northwestern Santa Barbara County within the Los Padres Forest.  Included within the fire scar were numerous trails, campgrounds and forest roads.  As we’re all too familiar with, there was some significant post-fire weather events (namely January 2010 and March 2011) that caused severe flooding and damage within and downstream of the La Brea Fire scar.  The biggest casualty of the fire and rain was La Brea Road and La Brea Canyon Road, which were popular high-clearance vehicle roads used to access the campgrounds and trailheads along La Brea Creek.  The La Brea Roads crisscrossed the creek many many times and the storm waters essentially wiped the roads off the map at each of these crossings and along many of the lower benches which the road followed.  In response to the damage, vehicle access to the La Brea area has been closed since the La Brea Fire (2009) while the Forest Service determines how best to proceed.

Since that time the Forest Service has been working to develop a restoration plan for the La Brea closure area.  They’ve organized field events to show the damage along La Brea and also reached out for public comment on how we believe the FS should manage this area.  The end result of this many year process is that the FS is recommending a proposed action for the La Brea Area which would essentially close the La Brea Road to motorized access while creating improved access to the area for non-motorized recreation.  Please read the fine-print here and below is a quick outline of the proposed actions (seeing attached map might help):

  • Reopen La Brea Canyon Road coming from Miranda Pine down as far as Wagon Flat Campground.  La Brea Canyon Road would then be closed to motorized travel at Wagon Flat both downstream along La Brea and also up towards Lazy Camp.  Wagon Flat Campground would get a makeover including six campsites, a new toilet and the establishment of a trailhead used to access Lazy and the lower La Brea area.
  • Kerry Canyon Motorcycle Trail would be converted to non-motorized.  The portion of road between Wagon Flat and Lazy would be converted to non-motorized single track and become part of the Kerry Canyon Trail.
  • Colson Canyon Road will be reopened down to the first crossing of La Brea Creek where a new trailhead will be established for accessing the lower portions of La Brea Creek.  La Brea Road will be closed to motorized travel from the new trailhead at the bottom of Rattlesnake Canyon both upstream towards Wagon Flat and downstream towards Barrel Spring Campground.
  • In addition there will be quite a few changes to some of the nearby campgrounds:
    • Colson Campground, Alejandro Camp, Kerry Camp, Bear Camp and Lazy Campground will be decommissioned with their camp amenities removed where possible.
    • Barrel Spring Campground would be reclassified as a primitive campsite since it would no longer be accessible by motorized travel.

We realize this is a lot to digest, especially if you are not familiar with the area or this proposal.  The Forest Service is accepting comments on this proposal through August 20.  You can comment here at this link.  Let your voice be heard!

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It’s another Los Padres sunset, Starin’ slowly ‘cross the sky, said goodbye
Sayin’ goodbye to August 15, photo Humphrey
FOREST 411
• We wanted to reach out and congratulate long-time Los Padres volunteer Steve Benoit on being recognized nationwide with the Enduring Service Volunteer of the Year award.  Steve does most of his volunteering with the Ventana Wilderness Alliance but his contributions and dedicatrion have certainly trickled down across the rest of the Los Padres as well.  Congrats Steve, we’re all proud of you!  Now you’ve just got to figure out a way to wear that award on a necklace or perhaps a full-size tattoo is in order…..

• Quick correction from the last email, the only trails which remain technically closed in the Santa Barbara Frontcountry are West Fork Cold Spring and Cold Spring (southern side above Montecito).  Thanks to Montecito Trails Foundation for the correction.

• Unfortunately the Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California has now surpassed the Thomas Fire as the largest wildfire in California history.  Here’s hoping that the Mendocino Complex Fire retains that title for a long long long time…..

• It seems to happen every year or two but an Oregon woman driving south along the Big Sur Coast swerved to avoid an animal and drove off the cliff and onto the beach some 200+ ft below.  She survived for a week before finally being discovered and rescued.  Amazing story for sure, check it out here.

Los Padres Fire Restrictions, Closures, Hunting Season and Openings

Above Ojai, Pratt Trail showing off some new post-Thomas Fire summer regrowth, photo LPFA
Hello Friends,

It’s been a busy few weeks here in the Los Padres featuring additional fire restrictions and the onset of A-Zone South general deer hunting season.  We’ve also had a lot of questions of late about what is and what is not open across the Los Padres.  Lots going up and down the Los Padres, especially for the dog days of summer, lets get to it!

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The Dry and Extra Crispy Little Pine Mountain
ADDITIONAL FIRE RESTRICTIONS

The Forest Service announced on August 9th some additional fire restrictions.  You can read the fine-print at the link here but basically:

  • No campfires allowed across the forest.  PERIOD.
  • No target shooting allowed outside of Winchester and Ojai Valley (Rose Valley) Gun Clubs.
  • No camp stoves outside of designated Campfire Use Sites.
    • Yes, that means no hot coffee or stove cooking for backcountry travelers!

Obviously 2018 has already been a horrendous wildfire year with more than 15 large fires currently burning across California.  So far (knock, knock) the LP has avoided any large fires this season and lets hope it stays that way.  Be safe everyone!

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Big Pine Mountain, sadly the pines have been slow to recover after the 2007 Zaca Fire, photo Taryn AshlockA-ZONE SOUTH HUNTING SEASON

A-Zone South general hunting season started August 11 and lasts through September 23.  While there are many hunts across the Los Padres, the A-Zone South general season is by far the busiest.  A-Zone South covers almost all of the Los Padres from Monterey down through SLO, SB and a large portion of Ventura County.  You can see the map showing the coverage area here.  Each year we hear concerns from non-hunters who are caught off guard coming across groups of hunters.  Be aware that hunters will be out and about this time of year and if that’s not your cup of tea you might want to head elsewhere in the Los Padres.  Pine Mountain above Ojai and the Mt Pinos area are both outside of A-Zone South and should be nicer this time of year due to their higher elevations.  Once again, be safe everyone…..

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While not quite as impressive as the Black Gate of Mordor, it’ll feel just as imposing if you find it closed when you thought it was supposed to be open!YOU SHALL (NOT) PASS!

We get a ton of questions from forest-users asking about which gates are open? is that gate closed? is this trail open? can I go here,? etc….?  BTW, we love helping with these questions so please keep them coming!  While the Forest Service website does a great job of sharing this information, we thought it was probably time to share some of the answers we’ve been helping people with over the past months.  We’re focusing on either the recent changes or the major questions we frequently receive.  For more details please check the Los Padres website linked above or call your local Ranger District:

  • MONTEREY RANGER DISTRICT
    • HIGHWAY 1: After being closed since May 19, 2017, the GIANT slide at Mud Creek finally reopened on July 18.  Highway 1 through what is known as the Big Sur Coast is now open from Morro Bay to Monterey.  That being said, there are still some one lane delays and the occasional nighttime closure.  If you are planning a trip along this section of Hwy 1 be sure to check ahead of time to with CalTrans to make sure you can safely get through.
    • PALO COLORADO ROAD: Palo Colorado Road sustained major damage following the 2016 Soberanes Fire and 2017 winter season.  The road remains closed three miles above Hwy 1 but people can hike up the road to access Bottcher’s Gap and the Northern Terminus of the Condor Trail.  While the road is open to pedestrians, understand that there is no parking along the road so you’ll have to arrange for a drop-off if you plan on hiking up to Bottcher’s. Palo Colorado is scheduled to reopen by the end of October.
    • PINE RIDGE TRAIL & FRIENDS: The Pine Ridge, Terrace Creek and Ventana Camp Trails remain the largest and most substantial closure across the Los Padres as well as the # 1 question we get about closures.  Pine Ridge Trail remains closed from Highway 1 at Big Sur Station up-canyon to beyond Redwood Camp.  This includes Ventana Camp, Barlow, Terrace Creek, Sykes and Redwood.  The trail was damaged in both the Soberanes Fire as well as the 2017 storms.  There is no timetable as to when the trail or access to the camps will be reopened.
  • SANTA LUCIA RANGER DISTRICT
    • HI MOUNTAIN ROAD: Hi Mountain Road was reopened in late April after being closed for over a year due to lack of maintenance.
    • BATES CANYON: Closed above Bates Campground due to road issues and slides.
  • SANTA BARBARA RANGER DISTRICT
    • ROMERO CAMUESA ROAD: The Romero Camuesa Road remains closed to vehicle traffic beyond Romero Saddle along East Camino Cielo.
    • DIVIDE PEAK OHV: Divide Peak is open but riders will need to park at Romero Saddle.
    • FIRST CROSSING: Open.
    • BUCKHORN ROAD OHV: Closed at Upper Oso due to Rey Fire damage and adjustments to the Camuesa Road OHV.  More on that to come…..
    • SB FRONTCOUNTRY TRAILS: Most of the frontcountry trails have reopened but the lower sections of Cold Spring and Hot Springs remain closed as well as the entire West Fork Cold Spring Trail.  More on this to come soon as well……
  • OJAI RANGER DISTRICT
    • MIDDLE LION CAMPGROUND: Open, after being closed due to the Thomas Fire.
    • ROSE VALLEY CAMPGROUND: Open, same as above.
    • NORDHOFF RIDGE ROAD: Open, same as above.
    • ORTEGA TRAIL: Open, same as above.
    • CHERRY CREEK: Open, seasonal.
  • MT PINOS RANGER DISTRICT
    • RANCHO NUEVO / TINTA, MT PINOS RD: The road to Rancho Nuevo TH and lower Tinta TH was closed for an extended period of time due to gullies and washouts.  The road has been recently reopened to both trailheads.
    • WEST DRY CANYON ROAD, MT PINOS RD: Dry Canyon Road, which connects Santa Barbara Canyon to the upper Tinta TH and Cuyama Peak remains closed due to gullies sustained during the 2017 winter season.
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So much brown, dry photos; lets mix in some green and a July waterfall along the Sisquoc

Los Padres Fire Restrictions and Sisquoc Trail Work

Don’t listen to Home Depot, spending a hot summer afternoon on the Deck is anything but relaxing, photo L.Lagendyk
Hello Friends,
We hope you’re enjoying the summer, staying cool and still finding some time to enjoy the Los Padres.  Even with the high temps and disappearing water flow, the forest has plenty of hidden and not-so-hidden gems that can make you rethink your summer Los Padres hibernation plans.  Some people head to the heights and large shade producing trees of the Mt. Pinos Ranger District for their summertime LP fix.  Others might seek lower elevations along the coast, hoping for some cool morning fog.  And others still embrace the heat by soaking in any of the perennial flowing creeks, rivers, pools and waterfalls.  All are great options, just remember to be safe.  There has been a flurry of heat related rescues across the forest over the past month.  If you’re going to head into the forest and encounter the heat be sure to plan accordingly.  Tell someone where you are going, leave an itinerary at home and try to follow these 9 rules for hiking in hot weather.  Be safe, have fun and if you don’t mind sharing, we’d love to see some of your summertime photos from the across the Los Padres.
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The sun has set on backcountry campfires for the season, photo Humphrey
FIRE RESTRICTIONS
The big news across the Los Padres this past week is the change in fire restrictions.  Due in part to the recent rash of wildfires around the forest (Piru, Fillmore, Goleta, FHL, etc….), the Forest Service raised fire restrictions across the Los Padres banning campfires outside of designated Campfire Use Sites, prohibiting target shooting outside of designated target ranges and prohibiting smoking outside of an enclosed vehicle, building or at a designated Campfire User Site.  We’re no strangers to fire restrictions and should all be well aware of what can happen should a campfire get away (see Soberanes Fire).  Cooking stoves are still permitted in the backcountry with a California Campfire Permit and hunting is still permitted during the regulated seasons (A-Zone South General opens August 11).  If you have any questions please contact the Los Padres Forest Supervisors Office or your local District Office.  Be smart.

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Speaking of big shade producing trees and waterfalls, the Sisquoc Trail through the Bear Camps has plenty of both

SISQUOC TRAIL PROJECT
July 20-22
The LPFA and our fantastic volunteers have been busy working the Sisquoc Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.  We’ve cleared over 300 downed trees this year (2018) and at last count had less than 20 trees left!  For those of you who know the Sisquoc Trail, that’s pretty amazing to say there are only 20 downed trees along the 30+ miles of trail.  But we’re not happy and want to get them all…..  If you are interested, please join us the weekend of July 20-22 as we head to the Upper Sisquoc to clear the remaining 20 downed trees and continue work along the section of trail between Alamar Saddle and Lower Bear Camp.  We’ll be driving in from Upper Oso on Friday July 20 and basecamping at Bluff Cabin for the weekend.  We’ll drive up to Alamar on both Friday and Saturday to work the Sisquoc Trail.  This section of trail is over 5,000ft and mostly shaded with pines and cedars.  We’re hoping the shade and nearby waterfalls will help us push through the heat and complete the work.  If you are interested in signing up or hearing more details, please email INFO@LPForest.org.  We’re happy to have seasoned trail veterans as well as green trail rookies.  It should be a great project and a fantastic opportunity to give back to the trails you love and explore this remote section of the Los Padres.  We hope to hear from you soon……
— • — • — • —June 30 Montecito Trails Day, Over 100 Volunteers Helped Maintain 3 Miles of Thomas Fire Damaged Trails – Yee Haw!
FOREST 411

• The LPFA was featured last month in the Santa Barbara Independent Blue and Green issue highlighting one of our Working Vacations from April 2018.  Check it out…… and three cheers for all the great volunteers who make the Working Vacations so successful and fun!  Cheer……  Cheer……  Cheer……

• Reminder that HikeLosPadres.com continues to be a great resource for knowing current trail conditions and water conditions across the forest.  Be sure to check HLP before you head out and update it when you get back.  Sharing information helps everyone.  Thanks…..

• In case you missed it, the Thomas Fire was officially declared out last month after starting December 4, 2017.

• On a loftier note, the flock of condors in San Luis Obispo are doing great and beginning to expand their territory.

• The LPFA will be expanding our paid Trail Crew this summer and are looking for experienced Los Padres trail workers interested in working for the LPFA Trail Crew.  The work will be primarily in Ventura and SB Counties and will range from day projects to week-long overnight backcountry hitches.  If you are interested in throwing your name into the hat or hearing more details, please email INFO@LPForest.org

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The Los Padres is calling and I must go
, photo JO Chung

Thomas Fire Closure Update & NTD 2018

Naked Matilija Wilderness
THOMAS FIRE CLOSURE LIFTED
The Forest Service unexpectedly lifted their Thomas Fire closure last week.  This reopens all of the Los Padres portion of the Thomas Fire burn scar to most of its normal use.  While the majority of the public should be rejoicing at the chance to get back into the forest, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  Here are a few tweaks and warnings you should be aware of before relaunching into the forest:

  • While the Forest Service has reopened their previously closed land, both the City and County of Santa Barbara have decided to keep their portions of the burn area closed.  You can read more details on the Noozhawk article by Ray Ford.  The City and County of SB control much of the lower portions of the Santa Barbara Frontcountry, including the trailheads at Cold Spring, San Ysidro and Hot Springs Canyon.  This means that while the upper Frontcountry within the Los Padres is open, people cannot access the trails through the more popular lower trailheads.  This has created a bit of a conundrum as stakeholders and trail-users attempt to figure out the best ways to legally enjoy the trails.  We’ll keep you posted as news develops……..
  • The LPFA has been busy over the past days installing yellow warning signs at the trailheads around the Thomas burn area, see photo below.  Please do be careful if you are within the burn area.  There are many loose rocks and hazard trees that have not succumbed to gravity quite yet.  Pay special attention on switchback sections where people above might trigger a loose rock on trail users below.  Also, if you plan on camping in the burned area, be really careful of hazard trees and limbs that might fall.
  • Portions of the town of Montecito remain in a state of disrepair as they continue to deal with repercussions from the Thomas Fire and January 9 debris flows.  There is still a lot of heavy equipment moving rocks and pushing dirt, and some shocking house damage remains within the community.  Please be mindful and respectful.
  • The Romero Camuesa Road from Romero Saddle down towards Pendola remains closed to vehicles/motorcycles as does Divide Peak OHV.  Hikers and bicyclists are able to use these roads.  No timetable has been set as to when the road and OHV route might reopen but don’t count on it happening anytime soon.
  • Both Rose Valley Campground and Middle Lion Campground remain closed.  No news as to when they might reopen.
  • While the forest is open, most of the trails have received little or no trail work since the winter rains.  You should plan on the trails taking significantly longer to travel than normal and be careful attempting shuttle trips as there may be some impassable sections of trail that may cause changes in your plans.
  • There have been some reports from within the burn area of the dreaded fire-follower plant called the Poodle Dog Bush.  Our unfriend, the Poodle Dog, causes human reactions similar to poison oak.  It’s a very picturesque purple flower that can grow in large robust fields that look like something you should dance through rather than skirt around.  Google search it please…….

Other than that, the forest has been reopened from the lower Sespe out to Gibraltar Road and up to Hwy 33.  Enjoy, be safe and please let us know if you come across any downed trees or horrible sections of trail that need significant work.  We’re helping compile a list of trail issues and any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Please share your reports on www.HikeLosPadres.com.  THANKS and be safe!

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This was (is) Matilija Camp? NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

National Trails Day is this coming Saturday, June 2 and the Los Padres has four trail projects scheduled within our forest:

MATILIJA TRAIL, Ventura County
The LPFA is organizing a trail project into the Thomas Fire burn area and focusing on restoring the lower portion of the Matilija Trail from the trailhead up to Matilija Camp.  The trail is covered in downed trees (crosscut sawyers needed) and burnt brush that we’ll be clearing from the trail corridor and if time allows we might work to uncover Matilija Camp, which was buried in boulders.  We’ll be meeting Saturday at 8am at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center and working until 2pm.  REI will be joining us back at Wheeler Gorge with their famous “CHILL ZONE” and we’ll have a quick BBQ for the volunteers around 3pm.  It should be a special day and a lot of fun.  For more information check us out here or email INFO@LPForest.org

DAVY BROWN TRAIL, Santa Barbara County
The LPFA will also be hosting a trail project on June 2 along the Davy Brown Trail, off of Figueroa Mountain near Los Olivos.  We’ll be meeting at the upper Davy Brown Trailhead at 8am and from there working down Davy Brown and perhaps out the Willow Spur Trail.  Work will be mainly clearing downed trees and brush from along the trail.  Mike Smith is the project leader and we’ll work until the afternoon before returning to the trailhead.  Davy Brown is one of the more scenic trails in the area providing ocean views from the trailhead as well as views of Hurricane Deck.  It’s also home to a great variety of plants and flowers that make Figueroa Mountain so famous.  We hope to see you there.  Please RSVP if you can make it (INFO@LPForest.org) and click here for more details.

BOULDER CANYON TRAIL, Ventura County
Mark Subbotin will be leading a sawyer assault down the Boulder Canyon Trail along the northern slope of Pine Mountain.  There is an estimated 20+ trees down along the trail and we’re fairly certain they’ll get them all!  This is also part of the Condor Trail.  Details will be provided by Mark and the Mt Pinos Volunteers, you can reach Mark at: MSubbotin76@Gmail.com.

HORSEPASTURE TRAIL, Monterey County
The VWA is hosting a car-camping potential multi-day project along the Horsepasture Trail.  They’ll be working hard on Saturday and then playing equally hard on Sunday.  Sounds like a great project and a terrific way to get to know the area and the people who help keep the trails open.  RSVP required, please click here for more details.

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The Quick Gray Fox Jumps Over the Newly Restored Trail, photo Humphrey
FOREST 411

• As if this weekend wasn’t busy enough, the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is hosting a special talk on Saturday at 11am by local hiking author Dr. James Caballero entitled “Hiking Be Prepared”.  It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned hiking stud or a trail newbie, you’re assured to learn something new!  See you at Wheeler……. and stay for the REI BBQ!

GREAT NEWS!  The Ojai Ranger District released a scoping letter last week outlining an environmental proposal to approve all the ORD trails for Level 1-2 trail maintenance.  See attached letter to learn more and please respond if you’d like to see the Ojai trails improved.

• This weekend marked the launch of a temporary shuttle service that shuttles visitors from the Big Sur Station parking lot down to Pfeiffer Beach and back.  Beach access to Pfeiffer and overcrowding has been a serious problem over the past decade and the shuttle service is a pilot project to see if a shuttle can prevent traffic jams along Sycamore Canyon Road.  By most accounts the first weekend was a big success.  We’ll share more information on this in a future email.

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Pay Attention to the Thomas Fire Warning Signs, and Especially Pay Attention to the Signs of Thomas Fire Warnings, photo Gordon J.

Spring 2018 LPFA Update

Dust Still Settling on the Rock Slide vs Oak, Rancho Nuevo Canyon

Hello Friends – Happy Mother’s Day!  It’s been a while since we’ve sent out a LPFA Forest update and we figured what better day to send out a Los Padres update than Mother’s Day.  Lets get to it…….

We’ve all heard the saying about if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it…….right?  While we can’t exactly prove that one, we can tell you that if a tree is obliterated in the woods by a rock slide and someone is there to hear it…… it’s scary and loud as hell!  On a recent trail survey up Rancho Nuevo Canyon, one of our volunteers witnessed first hand a rock slide that literally destroyed and smashed a substantial oak tree into pieces.  The volunteer watched in astonishment from less than 50 yards away as the cliff face let loose down the canyon, taking out trees and covering the trail that he was seconds away from hiking.  After the dust had mostly settled, he quickly took a photo of the carnage (see above) and high-tailed it out of there.  It was a crystal clear cool spring morning, no wind, no earthquakes, this area hadn’t burned since the Zaca Fire and no recent rain.  Fortunately, there had been a few smaller rock falls just before the final large one that kept him from continuing down the trail and into the cross-hairs of the slide.  The main takeaway of the story is to always pay attention while in the forest.  It doesn’t need to be a stormy day for disaster to strike.  We might want to put the headphones away, listen to the forest sounds, stay alert and follow your gut.  While the slide was scary for sure, it must have been an incredible sight to see as well……  Has anyone else witnessed tree falls, rock slides or other random acts of nature in the Los Padres.  We’d love to hear about it…..

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While not part of the Tour of California, the Blue Canyon switchbacks are looking good enough to ride again!
Compliments of a February 2018 LPFA volunteer project.

2018 TOUR OF CALIFORNIA

Each May, cyclists from around the world descend on California to participate in the Amgen Tour of California bike race.  The Tour of California is a week long race that sends the cyclists 645 miles up and down California highlighting the spectacular sights and roads that make California such an attractive destination.  The routes and stages change from year to year and as luck would have it in 2018, two of the stages pass through the Los Padres National Forest:

STAGE 2, MAY 14: Ventura to Santa Barbara
This stage might as well be called the Tour de Thomas Fire.  It starts in Ventura, heads out through Oxnard and Camarillo before heading north up Hwy 150 through Santa Paula literally right past the point of origin of the Thomas Fire.  From there the race goes through Ojai, passes the Ojai Ranger District, along Hwy 150 to Carpinteria, across to Santa Barbara and then ascends freshly paved Gibraltar Road into the Los Padres and up to the finish at East Camino Cielo.  The riders will be seeing most of the burned areas during their 100 miles in the saddle.  Gibraltar Road is sure to be a wild scene for those who’d like to see the race in person, otherwise you can watch on NBCSN live from 1 – 4pm.

STAGE 3, MAY 15: King City to Laguna Seca
The following day the Tour heads to the northern Los Padres starting in King City near the Monterey Ranger District.  From King City the riders will circle around to Greenfield, head towards Arroyo Seco, veer onto Carmel Valley Road, passing briefly through the Los Padres on their way to Carmel Valley and finally north up to the finish at Laguna Seca Raceway.  In all the riders will cover 122 miles and you can catch the live TV coverage from 1:30 – 4pm on NBCSN.

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Imagine if there were no trail volunteers, I wonder if you can….
VOLUNTEER PROJECTS & NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

Sadly, we’re nearing the end of the regular season for Los Padres volunteer projects.  Soon the temperatures will get too hot, the water will fade away and many of us will head east to higher and greener summertime pastures.  BUT NOT YET!  We’ve got a bunch of upcoming trail projects across the LP through mid-June highlighted by National Trails Day on June 2nd weekend.  As usual, a full list of volunteer trail opportunities is outlined at the bottom of this email as well as some specific events with details posted here.  If trailwork is not your thing but you’re still looking for ways to volunteer, the LPFA is always looking for help with administrative tasks, website updates, helping organize events and/or providing information for public forest-users.  If you’ve got the time and interest, we’d love to hear from you.  Contact us at INFO@LPForest.org for more information.  THANKS……..

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Hoppy Poppy and the Hurricane Deck….  We might be on to something here……
FOREST 411

 • Helen Tarbet of the Santa Lucia Ranger District does a fantastic job each spring documenting the flower show along Figueroa Mountain.  While the flower season hasn’t been nearly as ‘all-time’ as last year, there’s been a fair amount of color if you know where to look.  Attached is Helen’s latest installment of the Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Update.  Check it out……

• Since it is Mother’s Day, we wanted to reach out to each and every mother out there and send our thanks and best wishes!  You are all the best…….

Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is back open and looking better than ever.  We used the downtime caused by the Thomas Fire to do some renovations at Wheeler Gorge and the work turned out fantastic!  Thanks to all the volunteers who helped in the renovation, in particular Gordie Hemphill, Kasey Moorse and Cindy and Terry Wright.  We’ll share more pictures of the Visitor Center soon, including an introduction to our newest family member: Freedom.  The next event at Wheeler is Saturday May 19 when we welcome Ranger Kris to talk about the World of Bats.  Hope you can fly on by……

• Tragically, a mountain lion was killed along Hwy 101 near San Luis late last month.

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The Doors are Once Again Open, Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center

Late Spring Volunteer Projects

Here Pollywog Pollywog, photo Humphrey

LATE SPRING 2018 TRAIL PROJECTS

Hi Everyone,

Here’s a list of some upcoming LPFA and non-LPFA trail projects and specific contacts in case you’d like to volunteer.  Hope to see you out there……..

May 16 – White Rock Trail Work: The LPFA continues work clearing brush along the Figueroa Mtn network of trails.  Up next is White Rock Trail.  Led by Bryan Conant, we’ll be focused on brushing a middle 1/2 mile section of the trail.  Please RSVP via email: INFO@LPForest.org

May 18-21 – Bluff Camp Sawyer Trip: Led by Mickey McTigue, we’ll be driving in to Bluff Cabin via the Buckhorn Rd and Upper Oso.  From Bluff we’ll be day-tripping up to both the Mission Pine and Sisquoc Trails (part of the Condor Trail) to cut out fallen trees across the trail.  Work will be primarily crosscut with some brushing intermixed.  This work is within Santa Barbara County within the San Rafael Wilderness.  For information or to sign up please contact Mickey at: mickey.joecache@gmail.com

May 19 – Santa Barbara Canyon Crosscut: Join Mark Subbotin as he leads a project to cut out two large oak trees along the Santa Barbara Canyon Trail (along the Condor Trail).  The first tree is 3.2 miles from the trailhead while the second is 4.1 miles.  To sign up please email Mark at: msubbotin76@gmail.com

May 20 – Tumamait Trail Crosscut: Mark will be at it again, this time working the Tumamait Trail high atop the Chumash Wilderness.  They’ll be cutting out three downed trees about 2.5 miles out from the trailhead.  Mark can be reached at: msubbotin76@gmail.com

May 26 – Sulphur Spring Sawyer Project: Bob Burtness has been caring for the Sulphur Spring Trail since the 1970’s.  It’s become impassable due to fallen downed trees.  Bob will be leading a project on May 26 to help cut out the downed trees along the trail.  The work will either be using chain saws or crosscut, depending on PAL fire levels.  Sulphur Spring Trail is located off of Figueroa Mtn Rd near the San Rafael Wilderness.  For more information please contact: INFO@LPForest.org

June 2 – Chorro Grande Trail: The LPFA will once again celebrate National Trails Day by hosting a much overdue trail projects.  This year we’ll be working the Chorro Grande Trail within the Ojai Ranger District.  Chorro Grande is a lovely trail nestled between Hwy 33 and Pine Mtn ranging in elevation from 4,000ft to over 6,000ft.  We’ll be primarily brushing the middle portion of the trail.  Jasonn Beckstrand will be leading the efforts.  For more information email: INFO@LPForest.org

June 2 – Boulder Canyon Trail: Mark Subbotin will be leading a chain saw or crosscut project down the Boulder Canyon Trail (Condor Trail) focused on clearing an estimated 20+ trees.  This will also be part of the National Trails Day celebration.  For more information or to sign up, please email Mark: msubbotin76@gmail.com

June 8-10 – Alamar Trail Sawyer & Tread: The LPFA will be hosting one last project this year focused on clearing the Alamar Trail (part of the Condor Trail) within the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Led by Bryan Conant, we’ll be driving to Alamar Saddle and working from the Saddle down 3 miles into the canyon.  The majority of the work will be crosscut with some brushing and tread work mixed in for good measure.  INFO@LPForest.org to sign up or learn more.

June 15-18 – Upper Sisquoc Trail Project: Mike Smith is leading another assault on the Upper Sisquoc.  The exact location of this project is TBD but it will be somewhere between Alamar Saddle and Heath Camp.  For more information or to sign up please email Mike at: TrailSmith@LPForest.org

Alamar Downed Tree, Snow No Longer Included