Getting Your Year End Los Padres Fix

Hello Friends – Happy New Year!

We hope this email finds you either on your way to your favorite trailhead or packing up and leaving work for the last time this year.  Woot woot!  We wanted to send out a few quick notes before the start of the New Year holiday that might help with your Los Padres adventure planning.  Be safe and thanks again for all your support to the LPFA over the past year…….
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Early Contender for the 2020 LPFA Calendar, photo Nikolay Zapreyev
FIRE RESTRICTION CHANGES
On December 18 the fire restrictions across the Los Padres National Forest were downgraded from ‘extreme’ to ‘high’.  What this means for the regular forest-user is that:

  • Campfires are allowed within Designated Campfire Use Sites only
  • No backcountry campfires
  • Portable camping stoves can be used anywhere across the forest, including backcountry
  • No recreational target shooting

There is a chance that the restrictions will be further modified in January, we’ll be sure to keep you posted on any changes.  Oh, and don’t forget your California Campfire Permit, which is needed for having a campfire or using a portable stove, click here, it’s free and takes just a few minutes…….

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The new Matilija Falls Trail is taking shape and one of the LPFA’s big initiatives for 2019!
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or been too involved with the Holidays then you’ve no doubt heard about the latest Government Shutdown which started at 9pm on Friday December 21.  While you can educate yourself on the intricacies of the Shutdown and budget through mainstream media we’ve been getting a lot of questions about how the Shutdown is impacting the Los Padres Forest.  At the moment, other than a large percentage of FS staff not working, there hasn’t been a lot of changes across the Los Padres.  All regular campgrounds and Parks Management Campgrounds remain open and we don’t think there have been any additional gate closures or changes that would impact forest-users.  Now that being said, things could change starting January 2 when select FS employees return from holidays and we’ll be sure to share that with you if and when changes occur.  Until then, lets hope the budget issues are resolved and that access remains open across the Los Padres……
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The LPFA Trail Crew, changing the name “Lost Valley” to “Staying on Trail Valley” one bush and downed tree at a time.
Another LPFA focus for 2019 is continued trail work in the San Rafael Wilderness.  Photo Jason Morris

FOREST 411

  • Some really exciting news came out of Santa Barbara County earlier this month when the first California condor chick fledged in the SB backcountry in more than 35 years.  Awesome stuff!  You can read more about this monumental success here, here, here and here.
  • We’ve been hearing reports from across the Los Padres from Big Sur to Agua Blanca that ticks are out in full force this season.  Yikes!  There are quite a few tricks to avoid ticks but here are a few recommendations from the Forest Service you might want to follow.
  • Thanks in large part to the Montecito Trails Foundation, the Cold Spring and West Fork Cold Spring Trails have been reopened within the Thomas Fire scar above Montecito.  The lower Mountain Drive trailhead remains closed but you can enjoy the trail coming from either Hot Springs Canyon or the Gibraltar trailhead of West Fork Cold Spring.  Cold Spring was the final trail to remain closed as a result of the Thomas Fire.
  • The May 2019 Amgen Tour of California bike race was announced with two stages crossing through the Los Padres.  The exact stage routes have not been announced but it looks like stage 4 will be going through Big Sur along iconic Hwy 1 and stage 5 will be covering some of the Central/Southern Los Padres.  We’ll share more when available.  The Tour of California is always fun…….
  • The road construction along Hwy 33 just above Ojai near the quarry has been completed and the road delays have been removed.  Good news for sure……
  • Cherry Creek, Pine Mtn and Dough Flat roads have been closed in the Ojai Ranger District as part of the regular winter weather road closures.  They should reopen on May 1.
  • A young mountain lion was found in Santa Barbara before being relocated into the Los Padres Forest.
  • The Franklin Trail above Carpinteria is temporarily closed at mile marker 3 along Phase II due to Southern California Edison road construction.
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Devil’s Canyon, not nearly as nasty as its name indicates, thanks to SYWHG, LPFA and SBMTV volunteers, photo Jim Blakley

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.