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!

Los Padres is Large

Santa Barbara Canyon Washout, photo Humphrey

SBCynWashout
Hello Everyone,
The photo above was taken last week along Santa Barbara Canyon in the Mt. Pinos Ranger District.  This was the area hit hardest by the micro-burst tropical storm from three weeks ago.  Just up-canyon from here received over an inch of rain in less than an hour.  This resulted in a flash flood that wiped out the road.  Sort of ironic that too much water is causing problems for the Los Padres this summer.
CONDOR  TRAIL  HIKER  UPDATE
BrittanyCT
Left, Brittany May 13 at the iconic Piru Condor Tree
Right, Brittany June 19 wearing a few pounds of dirt at Bottcher’s Gap
The idea of the Condor Trail started just about 20 years ago with the dream of creating a hiking route that connected trails from Lake Piru to NIRA through Ventura and SB Countues.  Since then the dream has grown and the Condor Trail now spans over 410 trail miles covering the entire length of the Los Padres from Lake Piru (southern Ojai Ranger District) up to Bottchers Gap (northern Monterey Ranger District).  While hikers have done large chunks of the Condor Trail (CT) over the years, no one had ever hiked the entire thing, until now.  Brittany Nielson became the first finisher of the Condor Trail earlier this month when she completed the hike from Lake Piru to Bottcher’s Gap.  She solo-hiked the trail and finished in 37 days.  It was interesting talking with her before and after her hike.  I think she gained an appreciation for the Los Padres and a respect for how challenging our forest can get.  She tackled long sections with no trail, heavy bushwhacking in deep canyons, temps ranging from freezing to triple figures, 15mile stretches with no water and day after day without seeing a single person (less than 20 people along the entire trail).  But, she also hiked under old growth redwoods, covered elevations from over 7,000ft to sea level, saw incredible wildlife, ocean views, deep pools and got to experience the solitude the LP is famous for.  She basically took a crash course in Los Padres Backcountry, learning things in a month that many of us took years and years to learn.  Speaking on behalf of everyone involved in supporting her journey, we’re all so proud of Brittany for her resiliency, tough skin, happy go-lucky attitude and ability to fight through the hard times.  This is quite an accomplishment and one that will no doubt put her somewhere in the LP hall of fame.  What’s next for the Condor Trail and/or Brittany?  She would like to return next season and do the hike again.  Perhaps when she does there will be some other thru-hikers following in her footprints along the Condor Trail as well.
DAVY BROWN TRAIL PROJECT
DB_Trailworkers
Happy Trail Workers
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  The Sierra Club offers a variety of service outings that are organized through their national charter.  These service outings take their volunteers across the country doing volunteer work with various agencies and organizations.  When the Sierra Club was told that their service outing to pull non-native plants at El Capitan State Beach was going to be cancelled due to the Gaviota oil spill, they quickly changed their plans and instead spent a day doing volunteer trail work in the Los Padres.  The LPFA got an email saying there were 13 volunteers needing a trail to work, and we knew right where to put them.  Last week we led the 13 volunteers up the Davy Brown Trail in the Santa Lucia Ranger District.  While the temps were hot, we were able to work about 2miles of trail.  It was great seeing people from outside Central California spending their free time helping our forest.  They were impressed with the Los Padres and we’ve already started a dialog where we’re hoping to lead future projects with the Sierra Club service outings throughout the Los Padres.  Lemons into lemonade for sure.