Fire Openings Across the Los Padres


Hello Los Padres & Happy Holidays – It’s been a monumental day in the LP with quite a few shakeups that most of you will be happy to hear about.  Lets get to it!

Earlier today the Forest Service lifted the fire closures on the REY FIRE, SHERPA FIRE and PINE FIRE.  All regular recreational activities are now permitted within these fire perimeters.  This includes hiking, camping, riding and biking & OHV where applicable and legal.

In addition, the Forest Service reduced the closure of the Soberanes Fire and opened up most of the southern portion of the Monterey Ranger District.  The heart of the Soberanes burn area remains closed and will most likely stay closed through next spring.  For more information on all the fire openings and adjusted closures, check this link here and see the attached map showing the current Soberanes Fire closure.

Want more?  On November 29 the Forest Service downgraded the fire restrictions from Level IV to Level II.  Level II allows portable stoves across the forest, campfires at Designated Campfire Use Sites and target shooting at designated locations.  Check the links for more details.

The changing of these closures is somewhat unexpected but it is good news, at least for most of us.  Please remember that the hillsides and trails within the burn areas are still settling.  Be careful, tread lightly, avoid during rain, listen to your internal ‘common sense meter’ and have a backup plan in case the trail you’d like to explore is impassable.  Otherwise, have at it!

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The 2017 LPFA wall calendars are done, they’ve been sent to the printers and we should have them in-hand and ready to distribute by December 15!  Thank you to everyone who contributed photos for the calendar.  We had over 125 photos submitted by almost 30 different photographers.  It was hard work paring down the photos and selecting the final pictures that would appear in the calendar but we think the calendar turned out really nice.  We’ve got a good collection of photos from across the forest and covering themes from wildlife to wildfire, flowers to trailwork and sea level to almost 9,000ft.  If you like the Los Padres, we think you’ll love the calendar.  If you’d like to purchase a calendar, pre-sale is still available at the following link.  Thanks so much again to everyone who helped out and have a great 2017!
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Cottonwood Fallburst, photo Heidi Anderson

We spent some time this past week scheduling the 2017 LPFA volunteer trail projects.  2017 will hopefully be highlighted by a Working Vacation based at Manzana Schoolhouse in April and a second Working Vacation at Madulce in May – we’ll keep you updated.  In the meantime, our next backcountry trail project is December 16-18 working down the Judell Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.  We’ll be car-camping at the trailhead and working down from the top removing fallen trees and brush from the trail corridor.  We’re also working on some sort of holiday theme for the weekend, so you might want to get your ugly Xmas sweaters out of the closet and primed for action.  If you’re interested in helping that weekend, email us at or email project leader Mike Smith at

And lastly, if you enjoy these email updates and appreciate the information we provide, become a LPFA member and support the cause.  We’ll send you a sticker and perhaps a few other goodies but more than anything else your membership helps drive the ship and keep us doing what we do best – working the trails, educating the public and helping the forest along the way.  You can click here for the membership page and thank you for reading this far along – perhaps we should become members of you……

Fire Updates & Major SB County Closure

Big Pine View, Dick Smith Wilderness, photo Lee Neuenschwander

Hi Everyone,

We hope you’ve got a great Labor Weekend planned ahead of you.  A couple quick fire updates today and some other odds and ends, then off to your weekend….The Soberanes Fire continues to eat up acreage on her southern journey across the Ventana Wilderness.  Today marks the start of the 7th week Soberanes has been burning (not a typo).  The fire has now burned almost 95,000 acres and remains 60% contained.  There have been some evacuation orders as fire crews continue to fight on the south western front.  Fire personnel assigned to the fire has dropped to just over 1,000.  This is down from over 5,000 a few weeks back.  You can follow more on Twitter, Big Sur Kate or Inciweb.

Just south of Soberanes is the Chimney Fire, which is now 95% contained and has burned 46,344 acres.  Chimney never burned into the Los Padres but it came real close.  You might even say that it licked the Los Padres.  More information available on the Cal Fire website.

And further south, in the Santa Barbara Backcountry is the Rey Fire.  Rey is holding tight at 32,606 acres and is 96% contained.  More information on Rey including forest road closures can be found on Twitter, Inciweb or the Forest Service website.

Late last week the Forest Service closed a large portion of the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  This was in response to the rapid spread of the Rey Fire, the threat of additional fire and a lack of available fire resources.  See the map below for details but basically all wilderness areas within Santa Barbara County are closed.  As is much of the neighboring backcountry forest land.  This will mostly affect A-Zone South hunters who are already being impacted by the closures up in Monterey County.  There is no word as to when the SB closures will be lifted but it’s probably a good idea to stick to the beaches this weekend, road trip to the Sierras or head to SLO or Ventura Backcountry if you really need your LP fix.

Yellow hashed areas are the closures

Fire, Fuego, Feuer, Feu, Fuoco: Update & Restrictions

Rey Fire, Friday August 19 the Day it Got Away, photo Mike Kent
Hello Everyone,

Obviously the conversation these past few days, weeks and now months has been centered around the fires raging across the Los Padres.  First we had Coleman, then Sherpa, Pine, Soberanes, Rey and even the Chimney Fire is now threatening LP lands.  And this list doesn’t include the hundreds of smaller fires that we never even hear about.  I was fortunate today to attend the Rey Fire morning briefing at fire camp.  I’d never really been in a fire camp before.  The amount of organization involved in fighting a large fire is simply incredible.  There were lines of fire engines waiting to fill up at water tenders, food stations prepared to feed thousands of meals each day, crews from all over the place, what seemed like miles of tents, countless trucks color coordinated into neat sections (FS green over there, Cal Fire red that way, etc…) and all the sanitation needs from trash to porta-potties to hand washing stations.  It was part music festival, part sporting event; without the festivity and with an air of stern professionalism.  A portable city that moves around the Western US as needed and where needed with the sole purpose of stopping fires.  This was clearly not their first rodeo.

Lead pilot Doug is the man!  photo Humphrey
It’s easy for those of us watching the fires from the sidelines to ‘Monday morning quarterback’ and complain about why they didn’t save our favorite campsite or how they couldn’t hold that ridge.  Trust me, I’m guilty.  But we have to remember that they are the professionals.  They are out there cutting lines in 100˚ heat.  They are flying through smoke a mere hundred feet above flames.  They are the ones balancing resources and making decisions where life is literally on the line.  A bad decision here or there could lead to injuries or potentially a city burned to the ground.  That’s heavy.  Trails can be reworked, plants (mostly) will grow back and we’ve seen animals will survive.  It sucks that we’re all dealing with fires but after today it was crystal clear that once you have a wildfire, you have to trust the process and believe in the fire crews.  This is not their first rodeo (this month).

Rey over Mono Jungle, photo Ray Ford

Leaving the fire camp this morning I wanted to cheer on the crews as they left to cut lines or coordinate air attacks.  I literally wanted to stand on the side of the road and cheer them on as if they were an NFL team running out of the tunnel and onto the field.  And I wanted to wave a flag that said “WHATEVER YOU DO, PLEASE SAVE ALAMAR TRAIL”.  Momentary kidding aside, thank you to everyone involved in the fire.  EVERYONE.  They say it takes a village, but in this case I can tell you it takes more than that.  It takes a city, and sometimes more than one.

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If you want to follow the progress of the Chimney, Soberanes or Rey Fire, the best place is on Twitter and search for that fire.  We’ve been updating information on the LPFA Facebook page and Twitter page or you can check Inciweb as well.  There is no shortage of information out there.

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Along these lines, the Los Padres Forest went into Level IV fire restrictions earlier today.  See attached PDF for more information.  Basically Level IV prohibits any campfires within the Los Padres Forest.  PERIOD.  The difference between this years restrictions and those of the past few years is that this year the use of portable stoves outside of the designated campfire use sites is also prohibited.  This means anyone venturing outside of the campfire use sites or into designated wilderness areas will be eating cold food and drinking cold drinks.  Again, see attached PDF for more details and please follow these restrictions.

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A few upcoming dates, events, projects, presentations or things you might want to know.
If you have any forest-related events to add to this list, let us know and we’re more than happy to pimp your event!

September 10: NPLD Jesusita Trail, Santa Barbara Frontcountry
September 11: Island View Trail Race, Franklin Trail, Carpinteria
September 14: LPFA Backpacking Fundamentals Class
September 20: LPFA Trail Talk Series, History of Los Padres Lookouts by Craig Carey
September 24: National Public Lands Day Trail Project, Lion Canyon Trail, Ojai

October 1: LPFA Used Gear Sale
October 16: D-13 Hunting Season Starts
October 22-30: LPFA Working Vacation, Poplar Trail (ON HOLD)
October 29: LPFA First Aid & CPR Training