The Los Padres is ALIVE!

The Los Padres is ALIVE right now!  photo Humphrey

Hello Friends,

I spent some time earlier today writing an entirely too long paragraph which I was hoping would open this LPFA Newsletter.  It went on and on about how “alive” the Los Padres is right now and how that’s both good and bad.  I got pretty deep, by my standards, looking at this years extreme seasonal plant growth, the impacts that growth is having on our trails and theories as to why we’re experiencing so much “life” this year compared to previous years.  I compared this years rainfall totals with earlier years (we had more rain in 2011 & 2017), rambled on about theories as to why there are tens of thousands of oak seedlings covering the lower Sisquoc this year and prophesied about why the bear have been so active.  After all that writing, all that research and all that theorizing…….  I changed my mind.  It’s the start of a beautiful weekend, let’s save the rambling for another time, a Tuesday or Wednesday perhaps.  For now, let’s focus on pretty forest pictures and getting out and enjoying your forest.  Go for a hike, go for a ride.  Explore, bushwhack, swim.  We can worry about overgrown trails another time, perhaps next Tuesday or Wednesday.

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It’s out there…… photo JLiu

FIRE RESTRICTIONS

Effective June 29, the Los Padres Forest raised fire restrictions for the season.  You can read all the details at the link below but essentially campfires are permitted only in Designated Campfire Use Sites, think official FS car-campgrounds.  Backcountry campfires are prohibited at the moment but camp stoves are still legal across the forest.  Again, more details at the link below, learn it:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/lpnf/home/?cid=stelprdb5401877

Be safe everyone……

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Summer Sespe Splendor, photo DHall

FOREST 411

• There have been quite a few trails maintained over the past month or so across the Los Padres by the FS and your local volunteer organizations.  Here’s a quick list, remember you can visit HikeLosPadres.com for more information about these wonderful trails: Aliso Canyon, Arroyo Burro (north), Baron, Cold Spring, Deal, Devils Canyon, Franklin, Manzana, Matilija Falls, McMenemy, Poplar, Rancho Nuevo, Raspberry Spring, Rattlesnake Canyon, Romero, San Ysidro, Santa Barbara Canyon, Sisquoc, Terrace Creek

• We’ve been hearing about a lot of poodle-dog bush sightings in the Ventura County portions of the Thomas Fire.  Poodle-dog is a fire-follower with beautiful head-high purple flowers this time of the year.  Don’t let the beauty fool you as the plant can cause very similar reactions to that of poison oak.  Learn what poodle-dog looks like and do your best to avoid it, but take lots of pictures because they sure are pretty, wouldn’t you say?

A field of poodle-dog on Howard Creek Trail, photo HLP

• The Buckhorn OHV Road off of Paradise Road reopened on July 4 after being closed for nearly three years following the August 2016 Rey Fire.  Ride safe everyone…..

• The Forest Service has been busy over the past month cleaning up some backcountry pot grow sites.  You can read more here and here.

• For those of us interested in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the FS is proposing some revisions to their current NEPA regulations.  There are pros and there are cons to potential revisions.  If you’d like to learn more or share your thoughts, click the link above.  We have until August 12 to provide comments.

• The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act made news this week as it was presented by Salud Carbajal at a congressional subcommittee hearing in Washington DC.  If approved, the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act will designate nearly 250,000 acres of land across the Los Padres and Carrizo Plain as wilderness, create two new Wild and Scenic Rivers and designate the Condor Trail as a National Scenic Trail.  You can watch the subcommittee hearing here.

Backflipping for summer deep in the LP Backcountry, photo BStevens

Campfires, Condors and More Rain on the Way

Is there a better place to watch the Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse, photo Sonia C, for the win!

Hello Friends – We hope this email finds you doing well!

The big news around the forest this week has been additional reductions to fire restrictions across the Los Padres.  Under the current reduced restrictions, campfires are now allowed in all areas of the Forest.  This is good news for those of us backcountry wanderers who have spent long freezing nights under the stars over the past few months.  That being said, you will need a California Campfire Permit, which takes just a few mins, click here.  You can read specifics of the current fire restrictions in the attached PDF.  Please note that target shooting remains prohibited in all areas of the Los Padres other than Winchester Gun Club and Rose Valley Gun Club.  That is a change from previous years.  Enjoy the warmth of your campfire and please remember to keep a safe campfire, clear a safe space around your campfire and always extinguish your fire before leaving camp.  February is a terrific time to explore your forest, go get it!

LPFA service day with Appfolio, great team building and an opportunity to give back to the trails! 
Let us know if your company is interested in a trail maintenance service day.

FOREST 411

Remember, the LPFA will be welcoming the Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free to the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara this coming Wednesday (February 6) to share with us the latest and greatest California Condor news. They’ll be talking about condors across the Los Padres with a special emphasis on the recent successes in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  You can learn more on our Facebook page or see the attached flier.  We’ll also be sharing an update on some exciting upcoming trail projects that you’ll certainly want to hear about.  It’ll be a fun night, hope to see you there……

• NEWS FLASH: We’re going to be getting some rain over the coming days.  Predictions across the Los Padres are showing 3-5″+ of rain between Friday and Tuesday with Saturday bringing the most precipitation.  Most volunteer projects around the forest have been cancelled due to the rain and if you have plans to travel around the forest, be prepared to encounter potential road closures.  Hwy 1 should be closed at Mud Creek in anticipation of the storms and we are expecting Hwy 33 to close over the weekend as well.  There are also evacuation warnings in areas downstream of the recent burn scars.  Be safe everyone……

• Earlier this week the Amgen Tour of California released their 2019 stage routes and two of the stages will pass through the Los Padres.  Stage 4, which is May 15, will pass along the Big Sur Coast from Laguna Seca to Morro Bay and Stage 5, May 16, goes from Pismo to Ventura over San Marcos Pass.  The Tour of California is exciting to watch both in person as well on the screen. 

• The LPFA is excited to announce that we’ll be once again hosting our 6th Annual Fundamentals of Backpacking course starting March 6.  The Backpacking Fundamentals is a 5-week course designed to teach backpacking tricks and techniques to everyone from a first timer to a seasoned thru-hiker.  We have a lot of fun with it and we always learn so much.  If you are interested, click this link or email INFO@LPForest.org for more information.

Is it possible Tequepis means “Super Green After Rain”?

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

We’ve Seen Fire and We’ve Seen Rain

Thomas Fire Engulfs Wheeler Gorge – Early December 2017 – photo USFS

Hello Friends – HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

This will surely be a week of reflection for most of us as we look back at the Thomas Fire, which started just about a year ago on December 4, 2017.   Not only was the Thomas Fire the largest wildfire in California’s history but the timing of the fire also led to the destructive and deadly Montecito debris flows just a few weeks later.  Having wildfire that late in the season validated the now common statement that “Wildfire Knows No Season”.  Unfortunately, we saw the same thing again this year with the Camp and Woolsey Fires starting late in the “wildfire season”.  So far I’m not a very big fan of the new normal.  There is a ton of commentary about why we’re dealing with such large fires, who is to blame and how moving forward we can protect ourselves and our forests against these ever-growing conflagrations.  I’m not going to pretend to know the answers.  I don’t know if anyone knows the answers.  It’s likely that the answers here in the Los Padres are different than the answers in the Cleveland or Santa Monica’s or the Sierra Nevada dead pine tree belt.  While we might not know the answers, Outside Magazine recently created a four-part podcast series covering wildfires that does a really good job of outlining some of the questions.  If you’re interested in the subject of wildfires, I think you’ll enjoy listening to the Outside podcast.  Wildfire is certainly a hot topic of late, not just here in the Western United States but across the world, even grabbing the attention of our President.  Lets hope that sometime in the future we’ll look back at this new normal era with solutions that can prevent all the damage and death we’ve had to endure of late.
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2019 LOS PADRES CALENDAR
Back by popular demand, the LPFA has once again released a Los Padres themed wall calendar.  We went back to the larger size for 2019 and have full color themed months featuring great photos and content from across the Los Padres.  This is the 6th year we’ve done a LP wall calendar and once again we had a lot of fun choosing photos and compiling them into the calendar.  The calendar costs $12.00 with any proceeds going to the LPFA Trail Fund.  Check it out and get one for your friends, co-workers, family, yourself or all the above!  You’ll love em.

AND BIG THANKS TO ALL OUR FRIENDS WHO CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS!  You’ll be seeing yours in the mail soon…… 


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Tent or No-Tent, the First Light Redondo Views are Amazing!

FOREST 411
• The Los Padres is in the midst of our first large winter storm of the 2018-2019 rain season.  Most of the forest is set to see anywhere between 1-5+ inches of rain depending on location.  The rain has fallen hard at times so expect to see some extended road closures and some slides and trees down across the trails.  There is more rain on tap for next week along with some colder temperatures.  If you’re heading into the forest be sure to check the weather in detail before you go and let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.  And if you come across any fresh downed trees or trail slides, take photos and post on HLP and we’ll make sure a nearby trail crew gets the call.  Have fun and be safe…..

• In advance of this most recent storm, the LPNF has begun closing some of their seasonal and wet weather gatesHikeLosPadres.com and the Los Padres NF website are good places to check road closures but we strongly suggest calling your local Ranger Station in advance to make sure of the gate status.  NOTE: The Ojai District plans on closing their seasonal gates on December 15, which includes Pine Mtn.  NOTE: Hwy 1 in southern Monterey County is closing as needed in advance of any larger storm.

• The Front Fire Closure has been lifted and Rockfront OHV is once again open to the public.  This includes the Gifford and Adobe Trails.  That being said, Rockfront was closed this week in advance of the storms but should be reopened once the roads have a few days to dry.  Be sure to check with SLRD if you plan on hitting up Rockfront.

• Reminder that even with this wet weather fire restrictions remain in effect across the Los Padres.  Hopefully the fuel moisture levels will improve so that the FS can safely adjust the fire restrictions.  Usually the restrictions are lifted after the forest has received 2″ of rain.

• Certainly a storm theme to this email….  A privately funded group called The Partnership for Resilient Communities is proposing to install 40+ steel nets across the canyons above Montecito designed to halt the flow of debris and rocks along the canyon.  Their current plan calls for the installation of 13 nets sometime in the coming months, two of which will block trail access.

• In the bummer category of news there have been a few break-ins at some of our trailheads over the past few months.  Total bummer.  We don’t want any successful break-ins as that usually fuels repeat criminal visits.  REI has done a good job of coming up with 10 Tips to Deter Trailhead Theft, read it here.

• There are two proposed Forest Thinning Projects in the Mt. Pinos District along Tecuya Ridge and Cuddy Valley.  Earlier this week the FS released their proposed action for Cuddy Valley, click the link for specifics.  You can learn more here, here and here.

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South Fork, Bring on the Rain!  photo Beeman

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

Fires, Hunting Season, Volunteer Opportunities, 411

 Whittier’s Final Gasp
FIRE FOREST & RESTRICTIONS

It’s been a fiery few weeks around the Los Padres.  It seems like wildfires are popping up just about every day but thanks to the excellent fire crews most of them haven’t developed into much.  That being said, we’ve had quite a few significant fires that have grown large enough to garner incident names and/or attention:

  • We had Hudson, in the eastern Cuyama, that didn’t get onto the Los Padres but burned just over 1,000 acres.
  • There were a series of seven fires in Santa Paula Canyon that burned 35 acres and has caused the closure of the popular Santa Paula Canyon Trail.
  • The biggest has been the Alamo Fire, which burned over 28,000 acres.  It also didn’t get onto LP soil but came really really close and caused multiple forest access closures.
  • And of course the Whittier Fire, which has burned over 18,000 acres, mostly within the Los Padres and remains 87% contained.  Tragically, 16 residences were destroyed at the hands of Whittier and a Forest Closure remains enforced across the Western Santa Ynez Mountains.

In response to the increase in fire activity, the Los Padres National Forest went into Level III Fire Restrictions effective July 17.  You can read all about it here.  The largest change in this order is the banning of target shooting across the Los Padres.

Summer is a tough time in the Los Padres.  Temperatures are really high across most of the forest and water is becoming scarce.  If you’ve got the itch to get into the forest please be careful and plan on doing most of your moving either early or late……..

A-ZONE SOUTH: August 12
Now, that being said, early August is also one of the busiest times in the Los Padres as A-Zone South deer (rifle) season kicks off.  This years general season goes from August 12 – September 24.  You can see on the map that A-Zone South includes just about all of the Los Padres.  If you are a hunter, have at it, be safe and responsible.  If you are not a hunter, you may want to pick your forest endeavors carefully, especially on weekends.  Be prepared to see more activity than usual along forest roads and at campgrounds and leave your antler hat at home.  If you have any questions, please contact your local Ranger District.
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Four Fingers View, Channel Islands, Madulce Trail

MADULCE TRAIL PROJECT: August 4-6

In case you need a Los Padres Fix for your NDD or more likely your TWDD (Trail Work Deficit Disorder), the LPFA will be squeezing in a trail project August 4-6 along the Madulce Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Led by Mike Smith, we’ll be working the top mile of the trail from the Buckhorn Road out to the junction with the Madulce Peak Lookout Trail.  Most of the focus will be fixing tread and broken cribwalls on the north slope of the ridge, which in conjunction with the 5,500ft elevation should mean cooler temperatures.  We’ll be driving in from Santa Barbara Canyon and base-camping at nearby Alamar Camp.  If you’ve never been to Alamar or this part of the forest, it is spectacular and a real treat to be able to drive in 2 hours what normally takes 2 days to backpack.  As usual all food and tools will be provided for the volunteers.  If you have any questions or would like to sign-up, please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org

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Colorful History, Mono Debris Dam

FOREST 411

• Got plans this weekend?  If not, throw the kids in the family roadster and head out tomorrow to Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center to see the Humane Society of Ventura County give a presentation at 11am.  The coolest thing about the Humane Society is that you never quite know what animals they’ll show up with.  They might have a blind corn snake?  They might come with dogs performing tricks?  Maybe a goat?  You never know….  But one thing for sure is that your kids will love it and spend the entire drive home begging you to adopt a cat or a mouse or an iguana.  No thanks needed.  See you tomorrow!

• Were you around 25 years ago?  Does June 19, 1992 mean anything?  It should, that was the day the Los Padres Condor and River Protection Act was signed adding more than 400,000 acres of wilderness and 80 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers to the Los Padres National Forest.  This included the creation of the Silver Peak, Sespe, Matilija, Garcia and Chumash Wildernesses as well as additional land added to both the San Rafael and Ventana Wildernesses.  That was quite a day, cheers to June 19!

• This week also marks the one-year anniversary of the Soberanes Fire, which burned from July 22, 2016 well into the winter months.  Soberanes consumed over 130,000 acres, destroyed dozens of homes and took the life of a dozer operator working on the fire.  Even a year later, we’re still reeling from Soberanes with road closures and forest closures continuing to impact life in and around Big Sur and the Ventana Wilderness.  More updates next time around….

• A press release was issued earlier this month about the continued closure of Hi Mountain Road in SLO County.  Hi Mtn Rd is an unpaved road that connects Arroyo Grande with Pozo going through both SLO County and Los Padres land.  It leads to a variety of recreational activities and campgrounds but remains closed as SLO and the LP work out an agreement on road maintenance.  The attached PDF tells the story better than we can.  Note that Hi Valley Road remains closed from the first gate down next to the creek coming up from Arroyo Grande out to Pozo.

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Taking it Easy, LPFA Flume Chute Aid Station, SBER 2017

LP FIRE RESTRICTIONS: LEVEL II

Hi Everyone,

In case you haven’t heard, the Los Padres went into Level II fire restrictions earlier this month.  Among other things, this means no campfires outside of designated Campfire Use Sites, see link below for list of those sites:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd546968.pdf

The full order is attached in this email or check the link here from the Forest Service site.  Fire season is here, please be careful!

Los Padres 2017 Storm Update

Raging Big Sur River at Pfeiffer Big Sur, photo California State Parks

Hello Everyone,

We’ve had quite a start to 2017 with lots of weather, snow and rain across the Los Padres.  Seems like the meteorologists got their years confused between last years El Niño (aka El Noshow) and what was predicted to be a warm, dry winter this year.  Whatever, we need it and we’ll take it!  As I am sure you all have been witnessing, these storms didn’t just bring weather but in some cases destruction along with the rain.  We’ve had flooding, landslides, snow closures, evacuations, wildfire area debris flows and even a tornado warning.  The Los Padres is well ahead of our annual average rainfall totals and as a result some of the reservoirs are starting to fill up, including Gibraltar Reservoir in Santa Barbara County, which overflowed last week for the first time in 6 years!  While that is great news, there is still more water needed before we can call off the drought.  For example, Twitchell Reservoir above Santa Maria is still only 7% filled even though that part of the Forest has received almost 20 inches of rain already this season.  It’s still early in the season and we have two full rainy months in front of us with another series of storms headed our way by the middle of next week.  It’s already been an exciting winter, who knows what else is in store.  Travel safe and be careful…….
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San Rafael Mountain Summit, January 20, photo Kevin Cody
WEATHER CLOSURES
As a result of the storms, most of the roads around the Los Padres remain closed.  These closures are fluid, so please be sure to check with the Forest Service or CalTrans before heading out on your next adventure:

  • Just about all non-paved Los Padres roads are closed.  There may be a few exceptions but again be sure to check ahead of time before assuming a road or gate will be open.
  • Hwy 1 along the Big Sur Coast has been closed for most of the past month and remains closed between Big Sur and Ragged Point due to landslides.
  • Hwy 33 in Ventura County was closed this past weekend due to landslides and snow but was just reopened.  There are snow chain warnings still in effect.
  • Hwy 41 between Morro Bay and Cerro Alto in SLO County is closed due to a landslide.
  • Paradise Rd in Santa Barbara is closed at First Crossing Day Use Area.  No time-frame has been set as to when First Crossing will reopen but it probably won’t be anytime soon.
  • Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur remains closed due to road undercutting.
  • Mt Pinos is closed this week due to icy conditions.
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 HARD HAT STICKERS

Perhaps you’ve seen this, especially if you follow college football…… Some college football teams give their players ‘helmet stickers’ as a way of recognizing either individual or team achievement. Each player has his personal football helmet and if their team wins or that player does something excellent in that game, the team rewards the player with a sticker that he then puts on his helmet. More stickers = more recognition. It’s a cool tradition and in some cases you can hardly see the helmet as it’s covered in stickers, indicating that player is a superstar.

We liked this concept and decided to try something similar with LPFA trail maintenance projects. All LPFA volunteers have to wear hard hats (helmets) during trail projects and many of our regular volunteers come with their personal hard hats. Starting this year we are going to give out helmet stickers to each volunteer after a successful trail project. Hopefully the volunteers will be proud to place those stickers on their personal hard hats and maybe if we’re lucky within a few years there will be a herd of decorated hard hats out there working the trails showing how spectacular all the volunteers are. We’ll see how it works. Look for them soon……  Hut, Hut, LOP!
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First Crossing, 6 Feet Under, photo Beeman
THIS & THAT

– On January 17 the Los Padres Forest lifted fire restrictions across the forest.

– The Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club is once again offering their Wilderness Basics Course designed to teach backpacking skills to hikers of all skill levels.  The classes are offered in Ventura County and start February 8.

– Remember that the Soberanes Fire Closure remains in effect within the Monterey Ranger District.

– We’re getting lots of reports of damaged trails across the Los Padres – thank you everyone!  Remember that HikeLosPadres.com is a great resource for sharing that information and getting those damaged sections of trail onto the inventory of trails to fix.  Check it out!

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Piedra Blanca & Montañas Blancas, Sespe, photo Humphrey

Rain Rain Stay Awhile – Lower Manzana Trail Project

Lower Manzana Sandwich, NIRA on Top and Potrero at Bottom

Hi Everyone – Hope you’re staying dry!

We’ve had some nice storms the past few days and a bunch more stacking up over the coming week thanks to the old Pineapple Express.  We’ve been hearing estimated rain totals as high as 18inches up in Big Sur and well over 4inches for most of the forest.  We’re certainly overdue for a larger scale rain event.  Based on all the rain in the forecast, it’s probably a good time to stay out of the forest and most of the seasonal gate closures will be closed this coming weekend.  But if you must get into the forest, if you get the LP itch (not poison oak), please be careful.  Hwy 1 south of Big Sur has been closed for the past day or two due to slides and there have been warnings issued for Hwy 33 as well.  Take it slow…..
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LOWER MANZANA TRAIL PROJECT
JANUARY 14-16

Long range forecasts are starting to show a break in the storms for the three-day Martin Luther King Day weekend, Jan 14-16.  If the weather cooperates, we’re planning a 3 day trail project that weekend based at NIRA Campground and working downstream along the Manzana Trail.  Our focus will be clearing the trail down to at least Coldwater Camp with most of the work being brushing and slough removal along the trail.  Mike Smith will be the project leader and we’re still sorting out logistics but the LPFA will be providing at least dinner and breakfast for volunteers.  We’re hoping people would like to participate all three days but if you can come for even one day that would be great!  For more information or to sign up, email Mike Smith at TrailSmith@LPForest.org.  Hope to see you there……..
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Sunset Wave, Before the Storm, Mission Pine Basin
TID BITS


Due to printing issues with the 2017 passes, 2016 ADVENTURE PASSES will remain valid through the end of February 2017.

• The Los Padres remains in Level II FIRE RESTRICTIONS, although that will probably be changing here really soon!