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!

LOS PADRES Concessionaire Changes & More……

Chuchupate Camp, Showing Signs of Changechuchupatecamp
LOS PADRES CONCESSIONAIRE CHANGES

Big changes within the Los Padres are upon us, perhaps you’ve heard, if not, then brace yourself… For the past three decades the Los Padres National Forest has relied on as many as six different privately run concessionaires to help manage some of the campgrounds, day use areas and trailheads around the forest. You’ve seen these concessionaires at the campgrounds along Paradise Road, at Wheeler Gorge Campground, McGill, Bottcher’s Gap, Cerro Alto, Kirk Creek, etc, the list goes on and on. In an effort to consolidate these concessionaires, the Forest Service has selected Parks Management Company to become the sole concessionaire across the Los Padres. This went into effect November 1.

Yet, in addition to taking over the existing concessionaire operations and as part of their new agreement with the Los Padres, Parks Management will be adding quite a few new recreation sites to their list of concessionaire sites. This is where it gets a little painful, as some of the sites you’ve been using for free or as part of the Adventure Pass program are now going to be managed by Parks Management and will cost quite a bit more to use than in the past. Campgrounds like NIRA, Pine Mtn and Chuchupate, that used to accept a $5 Adventure Pass, are now going to charge $20/night. And certain trailheads like Upper Oso and NIRA, which also used to either require a $5 Adventure Pass or were free, are now going to cost $10/day to park. Ouch.

We’ve met with the FS and Parks Management multiple times expressing our concerns and hearing their sides of the concessionaire triangle. We all know how rundown some of the campgrounds are and we hear about how the Forest Service budget has been cut by 50% over the past decade. Like it or not, the FS doesn’t have the capacity to adequately manage all the recreation sites across the forest. As it was explained to us: with the current budget, it’s either accept a broader concessionaire program or run the risk of losing those recreation sites altogether. It’s a depressing situation and we’re not sure anyone knows a perfect solution.

While these price increases are going to be a tough blow for those of us who regularly use the forest, we’re already starting to see improvements at many of the campgrounds across the forest. These improvements include freshly painted bathrooms, new campfire rings, brush removal around campgrounds, new tables, etc…. For only being two weeks into their new agreement, it appears Park Management is headed in the right direction. Lets hope they keep it up.

One of the downsides of the new concessionaire plan is that it’s caused quite a bit of confusion trying to figure out which campsites require which permit. In order to help, we’ve created a GoogleDoc spreadsheet listing all the recreation sites mentioned in the concessionaire change documentation. We’ve listed all the sites, what the previous regulations were, previous costs and then what the current regulations/costs are:

Click here and you can sort through and check out the sites that most interest you.

As you will see, there is a lot of change. Most of it translates to more cost for the forest-user but hidden in the new program are some good changes as well. Some additional tidbits:

  • Parks Management will sell a $50 annual day use pass that is good across the forest.
  • The Adventure Pass remains in effect at select sites, see GoogleDoc.
  • Parks Management will provide 50% campground discounts with the America the Beautiful annual passes.
  • Many of the Parks Management campgrounds will be available for online reservation but they will keep some first-come-first-serve sites within the campgrounds as well.

As mentioned, this change went into effect November 1 and Parks Management expects it to take a few months in order to get all the iron rangers installed and signage changed across the forest. It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow, especially as we all learn what exactly this means and what the long-term ramifications are of this program. Lets hope that this is a positive in the long run.

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Autumn Super Moon, photo Humphreysupermoon

CURRENT CONDITIONS

It’s been a minute since we sent out a forest update.  Amazingly, quite a few of you missed the update and checked in asking if everyone was going okay.  The answer is YES, things are great, just a little too busy the past month to put one of these emails together.  Since it has been a while, we wanted to send out an update on the current conditions, closures and restrictions across the LP.

LEVEL IV FIRE RESTRICTIONS
The forest remains in Level IV fire restrictions, which means no campfires, no target shooting and no stoves outside of designated campfire use sites.  You can see the restriction order here.  While the forest has received some substantial rain this season, the fire restrictions are generally not lifted until the entire forest receives at least two inches of rain.  Last year the restrictions were not lifted until early January.  There are rumors that the restrictions may be downgraded to allow portable camp stoves in the backcountry, if anything changes we’ll let everyone know.

SOBERANES FIRE CLOSURE
The Soberanes Fire burned over 130,000 acres across Monterey County from July 22 until October 22.  Soberanes ended costing more to fight than any fire in US history.  In response to the fire, the Forest Service closed the Monterey Ranger District on September 2 and that closure remains in effect.  While the Soberanes Fire is 100% contained, it continues to burn and smolder within the fire perimeter.  No news on when the closure will be modified but we expect the fire perimeter to remain closed at least until the end of next spring.  We’ll keep you posted……  In the meantime some of the campgrounds along the Big Sur Coast have reopened.  The Forest Campgrounds off Hwy 1 are open as well as Andrew Molera State Park.  If you’re planning a trip through Big Sur, be sure to check on campground availability before you hit the road.

SANTA LUCIA RANGER DISTRICT
Many of the roads and recreation sites around Figueroa Mountain remain closed due to hazard trees.  Fig was hit perhaps harder than anywhere else in the Los Padres by the drought and subsequent beetle infestation.  Take a look at Figuera Mountain next time you’re in the Santa Ynez Valley and you can clearly see the swath of brown dead trees.  The closure includes Catway Road, Figueroa Lookout, Pino Alto, Cumbre and East Pinery Road.  You can read more here.

SANTA BARBARA RANGER DISTRICT
The Rey Fire perimeter remains closed within the SBRD.  This includes all trails up the Buckhorn Rd above Upper Oso Campground as well as the burn areas accessed from the Indian-Mono Trailhead near Mono Campground.  While there might be some minor adjustments in the closure order, we do expect the Buckhorn Road and trails to remain closed to hikers, OHV and mountain bikers at least through the winter.  Stay tuned.

Also in the SBRD we have remaining closures as a result of the June Sherpa Fire.  The closure mostly affects West Camino Cielo.

OJAI & MT PINOS RANGER DISTRICTS
Recurring theme, the Pine Fire closure from earlier this summer remains in effect.  The closure specifically affects the Reyes Peak Trail and the Piedra Blanca Trail between Upper Reyes Creek and Pine Mtn Lodge.  The Forest Service has been busy installing warning signs where the trails enter the burn area.  While warning signs might indicate that people will soon be allowed into the burn area, no dates have been announced when the closure will be lifted.  Hang tight……

The Ojai Ranger District announced their seasonal road closure schedule.  This year the gates to Dough Flat (at Tar Creek), Reyes Peak (Pine Mtn), Cherry Creek and Nordhoff Ridge will close on December 16.  The Pines Campground above Ojai remains closed due to hazard trees.

Mt Pinos District is doing something a little different this year and will be locking gates along their seasonal roads based on rain events rather than specific dates.  The gates will close after the first large rain.  This is a great approach and I’m sure most of us reading this are happy to hear about the change in policy.  For more details or to check on gates, give MPRD a call at 661.245.0521.

Whew, that’s a lot of information.  Let us know if you have any questions or if we messed anything up.  Thanks everyone for the updates……

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McKinley Mtn View, October 2016 Mission Pine Working Vacationmckinleypano

UPCOMING EVENTS
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!

November 20: SBMTV San Ysidro Trail Work & Ride
November 27: LPFA Manzana Trail Tree Clearing

December 3-4: LPFA VWR Headquarters Cabin Cleanup
December 18-20: LPFA Judell Trail Maintenance Project, details upcoming

January 21-22: UTMC Crosscut Certification, Chuchupate Ranger Station

 

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

Rey Fire, Friday August 19 the Day it Got Away, photo Mike Kent
ReySunset
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
LeadPlaneDoug
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
MonoRey

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.

— • — • — • —
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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UPCOMING EVENTS
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

Wild.Fire.Restrictions

  FireRestrictions
LEVEL III FIRE RESTRICTIONS

Earlier this week the Los Padres National Forest went into Level III fire restrictions.  Level III restrictions are generally announced annually around this time of year.  By comparison, in 2015 the forest went into Level III restrictions on May 5 and it was May 19 in 2014.  What does Level III mean?  See the attached PDF for the official declaration but here’s the Cliff Notes details:

  • No backcountry campfires within the Los Padres Forest.
  • You can use camp stoves in the backcountry as long as you have a California Campfire Permit.
  • There are designated campfire use sites (see PDF).
  • No target shooting outside of designated special-use permit sites.
  • See PDF for more specifics……
SCHERPA FIRE
We have another wildfire in the Los Padres.  The Scherpa Fire started on Wednesday afternoon just west of Goleta along the Gaviota Coast.  The cause of the fire is under investigation but it is currently holding at 1,200 acres with little containment.  Scherpa has not been too active today but with sundowners in the forecast fire crews are working hard to box it in as best they can before the afternoon winds.  We’ve found that the best way to track fires is through Twitter.  Follow #ScherpaFire and you can get up to the minute updates from around the fire.  And just in, a second fire was just announced up near Knapps’s Castle, Santa Ynez Mtns.  Best of luck to all the fire crews and lets hope they can get it under control before the weekend hot-spell kicks in.


Chances are you’d rather be on this Big Sur trail than wherever you happen to be reading this!
If you’re somewhere better, let us know, we’d love to hear about it……
BigSurTrail
FOREST FOUR ONE ONE

Geology ROCKS!: Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center
Are you interested in geology?  Looking for something to do this Saturday?  We’ve got the answer, come to Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center outside of Ojai this Saturday at 1pm.  Learn about rocks, geology, great time for the kids, fun stuff!  For more information check the link below:
http://lpforest.org/wheeler-gorge-event-schedule/

Las Flores Ranch Work Days: June 25 & 26
Las Flores Ranch is hosting a weekend trail project on June 25-26.  Las Flores is a fantastic open space located outside of Santa Maria and is home to a bunch of multi-use trails.  For more information check the link below:
http://goo.gl/forms/xxeZOHhNUy

Lanny Kaufer Guided Hike: June 26, Pine Mountain
See attached for details.


San Emigdio Mesa, photo Morgan Jones
SanEmigdio

 

 

2016_June13_Level_III_Fire_Restrictions_Page_1 2016_June13_Level_III_Fire_Restrictions_Page_2

Fire Restrictions Lifted & Trail Project Schedule 2016

Lucky Pooch Recharging by the CampfireJackson

FIRE RESTRICTIONS LIFTED

Hi Everyone,

Happy New Year!  The big news across the forest this past week has been the change in Fire Restrictions.  Effective January 9, the fire restrictions dating back to May 5, 2015 have been lifted.  While this is exciting news for those of us who have spent freezing nights in the forest of late, please PLEASE remember to be safe with your campfires.  Only build campfires in cleared spaces, preferably in designated campground campfire-rings and most importantly be sure to completely put out your fires before you leave camp.  It may seem like a pain to spend those extra minutes soaking your fire but it’s so important – think about the alternative.  Take that extra time to run trips back and forth from the creek.  For those of you looking for an easier solution, REI sells a collapsible bucket made by Sea to Summit which carries 10 liters and can easily soak down a campfire with only a few trips to the creek.  Also be sure to get your California Campfire Permit.  Permits are available at any of the Ranger Stations or online at this link.  Just takes a few minutes and it is the law to have a permit.  Enjoy the warmth and be careful.  The change in fire restrictions also reopens shooting ranges across the forest.  Contact your local Ranger District for information on shooting ranges near you.





Happy Trail Workers Along Mono-Alamar Trail, photo Beeman
WorkersHappy VOLUNTEER TRAIL PROJECTS

The LPFA and friends have a bunch of volunteer trail projects scheduled over the coming months, a BUNCH!  We wanted to get the dates out to you now so that you can hopefully find a free weekend (or longer) to help the trails.  If you have any questions or want to sign up, please email INFO@LPForest.org:

February 7: Deal Trail, Dick Smith Wilderness

This is the 4th Annual Super Bowl Sunday trail project hosted in conjunction with UTMC along the deal Trail.  Meet at 8:30am and home in time for the second half of the game.  Lots of fun and you’ll feel great sitting on your couch that evening knowing you deserve it, Mark Subbotin is the project lead.

February 19-21: Location TBD
This is going to most likely be a 3-day car-camping project in the Santa Barbara Backcountry led by Curt Cragg.  We are finalizing the location based on weather and road access.  More to come soon……

March 4-6: Potrero Trail, San Rafael Wilderness
Led by Mike Smith, this will be a 3-day backpacking project based at Potrero Camp along Manzana Creek.  Work will be up the Potrero Trail towards Hurricane Deck.  The project will be stock supported so expect tasty meals.

March 18-20: Buckhorn Trail with SBMTV, Santa Barbara Backcountry
Led by Curt Cragg and cosponsored by LPFA and SBMTV, we’ll be working the legendary Buckhorn Trail down from the top towards the first creek crossing.  We’ll be camping at Happy Hollow Camp with opportunities for day volunteers as well.  Gonna be a fun one!

April 8-18: Madulce Working Vacation, Dick Smith Wilderness
This is the first of 3 LPFA Working Vacation scheduled for spring 2016.  We’ll be based at Madulce Camp and working the network of trails radiating from the old guard station.  Our main focus will be working the Madulce and Puerto Suelo Trails.  While we’ll be up there for 10 days, there will be opportunties for shorter stints.  Backpacking 7 miles to camp is required and there will be stock support.  April is a great time of year in this part of the forest.  Mike Smith will be the project lead.

April 29-May 1: Alamar Trail, Dick Smith Wilderness
This project will be based at Bluff Cabin and focused on completing the final mile of trail down Alamar Trail from Alamar Saddle.  Curt Cragg will be leading this project.  This was a project we started in September 2015 as part of National Public Lands Day.

May 5-8: Lost Valley Trail, San Rafael Wilderness
Mike Smith will be leading a gutsy (Mothers Day) extended weekend project along the Lost Valley Trail.  This will be a backpacking / stock-supported project based somewhere along the trail with the goal of working from the Manzana up to the Hurricane Deck.

May 20-30: Middle Sisquoc Working Vacation, San Rafael Wilderness
This is going to be a fun one as well.  We’ll be based at Sycamore Camp along the Sisquoc River and working the trail down-canyon to Abel Camp.  The Sisquoc should be epic this time of year with deep pools and green slopes.  Access will be along the Jackson Trail.  The project will be stock supported with shorter length stays possible as well.

June 3-5: National Trails Day, Location TBD
We’ll be partnering with REI to host a 3-day project in the Ventura or Santa Barbara Backcountry.  Location and specifics are in the works.  Stay tuned…….

June 11-19: Mission Pine Working Vacation, San Rafael Wilderness
There have been quite a few projects over the past few years attempting to reopen the Mission Pine Trail from McKinley Saddle to Big Pine.  Talk about epic trails, this Working Vacation will be focused on completing the work across Mission Pine and down the top mile of the Santa Cruz Trail.  There is lots of potential for this project as far as where it is based and all that.  In the works and we’ll share when we know more……..

Wheww, that is a lot, isn’t it?  We hope you can make it on at least one of these projects.  We’ll be covering many different types of trails at many fantastic locations.  There is really something for everyone on these projects.  If you haven’t been on any LPFA project, try to make it this spring, you’ll have a great time!





 

Snowy Hwy 33 Pine Mountain Winter Wonderland, photo Humphrey



 

Los Padres Fire Restrictions Announced

F I R E     R E S T R I C T I O N S
FireRestrictions

Hello Los Padres – hope you are well!

Last week the Forest Service announced that the LP is now in Level III fire restrictions.  You can read the official notice for specific details but it basically means that no campfires are allowed in the backcountry and target shooting across the Forest is also prohibited.  Cooking stoves are allowed and so are campfires within the designated car-camping campsites.  It’s somewhat ironic but it seems that each time the fire restrictions are changed there is either a hot spell when the restrictions are lifted or rain when the restrictions are enforced.  This time was no different when we saw a nice late spring storm drop 0.25-0.5″ across the Forest earlier this week.  Perhaps we need to toggle the fire restrictions on and off a bit in order to get ourselves out of the drought.  All joking aside, please adhere to the restrictions and avoid any activities that might lead to wildfires.  We’re in the fourth year of the drought and conditions across the Forest are incredibly dry.  There was a recent news report about all the drought related tree mortality that is occurring across the forest and how the dead trees are becoming a real fire concern, you can watch the video here.  Never a dull moment, is there?  Be careful and lets hope it stays as dull as possible.Some news, updates and reports……….

W I L D E R N E S S   R A N G E R   T R A I N I N G
The annual Region 5 Wilderness Ranger Training is scheduled for June 1-5 at Trinity Lake (outside of Redding, CA).  The LP has sent an assortment of Volunteer Wilderness Rangers to these trainings over the past few years.  They are great opportunities to learn new skills and meet rangers across the state who are dealing with many of the same issues we deal with here.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact INFO@LPForest.org and we’ll point you in the right direction.  Hope some of you can make it.


Cooling Off, Buckhorn Trail, photo Humphrey
BuckhornCreek
U P C O M I N G     E V E N T S
There are quite a few upcoming projects and events you can volunteer for.  We’ve listed a few below and some more details on a couple of the larger ones.  If you have any events coming up that we can help publicize, please don’t hesitate to let us know, we’d be more than happy to share.  Hope to see you on the trail or even better at an event.The feature event this week is a LPFA project that Mike Smith (he of goat fame) will be hosting along the Buckhorn Trail from May 29-31.  On Friday May 29 we’ll be driving out to the Lower Indian Creek Trailhead and working the trail up to Lower Buckhorn Camp.  We’ll focus on Saturday working from Lower Buckhorn up the Buckhorn Trail.  Most of the work will be logging downed trees and brushing.  We’ll pack up on Sunday and head back to the trucks.  The LPFA will be providing most meals and Mike’s goats will be there to provide pack support along the route.  The Buckhorn is a beautiful canyon with a fantastic multi-use trail.  This is a great opportunity to explore the canyon, get some work done and have fun while doing it.  For more information or to sign-up, please contact Mike Smith at: michael.d.smith@ulalaunch.com

—————————————————————————————————
May 19-27: Santa Cruz Trail Project
May 29-31: Buckhorn Trail Project
June 2: Jim & Rob’s Ojai Fundraiser
June 3-11: Mono Alamar Trail Project
June 5-7: National Trails Day, Mono Campground Trail Weekend
June 6: Sespe National Trails Day Project
June 27: Big Sur Wilderness Celebration
June: Bear Sisquoc Crosscut
July 10-12: Santa Barbara 100 Endurance Run Support
July: Madulce Trail Crosscut
—————————————————————————————————

Fire Restrictions Lifted

   Snowy Thorn Point, December 2014, photo Dan
ThornPoint

Happy Holidays Los Padres!
We’ve had quite a few nice storms over the past few weeks.  Most of the Forest is well over the normal % of rain and the forecast remains strong for more rain in the coming weeks.  Fingers crossed, we need it.  We’ve been getting reports that many of the creeks have started flowing again.  We’re headed in the right direction.  Check out www.HikeLosPadres.com for more updates on trails, camps and water.

F I R E  R E S T R I C T I O N S

In response to the above normal amounts of water falling from the sky, the Forest Service and CAL FIRE announced earlier this week that fire restrictions across the forest have been lifted.  This is great news for most of us and means we can have campfires again.  Woohoo!!!  Bust out the s’mores!!  Please remember to be careful with your campfires.  Many of the fire rings have not been used in over a year, be sure to clear a safe space (5 feet) around the campfire and of course extinguish your fire before you leave camp.  Fire permits are required and can be picked up at any Ranger Station or online here.


First Crossing, Santa Ynez River
FirstCrossing
R O A D    C L O S U R E S

While green grass, flowing creeks and campfires are a nice side effect of the rain, unfortunately rain does cause some of the roads across the forest to close.  The Forest Service posts these closures on their website, check it out here.  Of note:- Divide Peak Gate remains closed but will reopen after a few days of sunshine.
– First Crossing is closed due to mud flow across the Santa Ynez River.  It should reopen in a few weeks.
– Santa Barbara Canyon is closed at Reyes Ranch and will remain closed until May 1.
– Reyes Peak Road is closed for the season.
– Cherry Creek is also closed for the season.We’ll keep you posted as gates open and close.  If you have any questions, feel free to email: info@LPForest.org


Pine Ridge Trail, photo Ventana Wilderness Alliance
PineRidgeTrail
P R O J E C T S    U P C O M I N G  
&   N E W S

PINE RIDGE TRAIL CLOSED
The Pine Ridge Trail in the Ventana Widlerness is currently closed due to this large washout.  Wowzers!  The slide is about 3miles up the trail from Big Sur Station. We’ll keep you posted on updates or check in with the VWA.

LOST VALLEY TRAIL: December 20
– LPFA volunteers will be out this weekend logging fallen trees from the Lost Valley Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.

– We’ll post updates on HikeLosPadres.com early next week.

 

VWR HEADQUARTERS CLEANUP: December 27
– We’re looking for volunteers to come out on December 27 and help clean up the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Headquarters off Paradise Road in Santa Barbara County.
– Most of the work will be raking up leaves, removing fallen tree limbs, clearing brush and trimming trees.
– We can use all the help we can get.  If you’re free all day or only have a few hours, we’ll take it.
– Contact Curt at Curt@LPForest.org for more information and to sign up!

COZY DELL: December 21
– Ranger Heidi with the Ojai Ranger District is hosting a project along the Cozy Dell Trail in Ojai.
– Most of the work will be filling in sink holes caused by the recent rains.
– For more information, contact Heidi:  handerson@fs.fed.us

FIRST AID CERTIFICATION: February 28
– We’ve put together a First Aid / CPR certification class for February 28.
– The class will be held in Ojai.
– If you need your certification renewed, this is a great opportunity.
– The cost will be around $40-$50.
– Let us know if interested:  bryan@LPForest.org

SUPERVISORS OFFICE FLOODED
– The Forest Supervisors Office in Goleta was flooded last week.
– It will be closed for the next month or two.
– Business will continue for the Forest with much of the staff being moved to different districts or working remotely.

FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN CONTROLLED BURNS
– There will be a series of controlled burns in and around Figueroa Mountain starting this month.
– The focus is to burn some of the ladder effect fuel buildup.

Happy Holidays and wishing each of you a stocking filled with hiking and riding gear……..

 

Los Padres Cloud Formations
OjaiClouds

LPFA Transverse – First Week of September

WestBigPine
WBP View, photo Masticator

Good Afternoon.  I thought we’d start right off with the eye candy.  Great shot taken a few weeks back looking west from the top of West Big Pine (WBP) in the San Rafael Wilderness.  You can barely see the tip of the Hurricane Deck if you know where to look.  There was water at Big Pine Camp but the best time to visit WBP is fall through early summer when the nights are cold and there is a chance of snow.  Lets get to it…….

F I R E   R E S T R I C T I O N S

As mentioned last week, the fire restriction order has been amended to allow persons with valid California Campfire Permits to use portable camping stoves in the forest.  The official orders are attached.  There are still no campfires allowed in the forest but you can bring a portable camping stove or lantern.  I do want to apologize for any mixed messages that might have been received with the order and subsequent amendment.  At the end of the day, this is a great gesture by the Forest Service in trusting that the forest users will be responsible with our camping stoves.  It’s dry out there, be careful everyone.  One last note, the State Parks along the Big Sur Coast are also not allowing campfires.  The nights are still warm, enjoy the stars………

W I L D E R N E S S   A N N I V E S A R Y

Earlier this week, September 3 to be exact, marked the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.  Congratulations to all of us.  Really, the whole world should celebrate this day.  There have been quite a few events planned In recognition of the Wilderness Act turning 50 and there will be a bunch more through the Fall and into 2015.  We’ll keep everyone posted as the events come up, which segues nicely into the SCAPE Wilderness art event on the weekend of September 19-20 – see attached.  Come on out and see some beautiful art pieces highlighting the Los Padres Forest Wilderness areas.  The Forest Service and LPFA will have booths setup at the Friday night event.  Hope to see you there……….

F I G U E R O A   S I G N S

Super volunteer Mike Smith, he of goat fame, continues to chip away at new signs along the Figueroa Mtn network of trails.  The signs are hand cut out of steel and designed to match the style of signs that have frequented these trails for the past 70 years.  Very cool!  There are 5 new signs installed to date.  If anyone would like to donate to the sign cause, please let us know: info@LPForest.org

FigSulphurSpringSign
R E F U G I O   F I R E ,   1 9 5 5

A friend of the LPFA forwarded us an interesting video showing the Refugio Fire of 1955.  It’s a classic old news-clip showing why fire prevention is necessary, what methods were used to fight the fire and how post-fire prevention was handled nearly 60 years ago.  If you are in Fire or like to see old video of the Santa Ynez Mountains, you’ll like this.  Some of you will even notice Los Prietos from back in its glory days:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0n-_lP9iGs&feature=player_embedded#

And of course, Ray Ford has a writeup of the Refugio Fire for those who want to dive a little deeper:
http://www.independent.com/news/2007/jun/28/refugio-fire-1955/

SCAPE_Poster

LPFA Transverse – End of August 2014

Hello Everyone, It’s been a busy week in the Los Padres. Tragically, the two week search for missing backpacker Arvin Nelson is wrapping up in the Ventana Wilderness. We’re overdue for some good news, lets hope it arrives soon….. http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/blogs/news_blog/officials-wrapping-up-the-search-for-missing-hiker-arvin-nelson/article_d974a4c6-2982-11e4-b790-001a4bcf6878.html

F I R E  R E S T R I C T I O N S

 NoFireIcon

The fire restrictions across the forest have been elevated to Level IV. See attached announcement from the Forest Service. Level IV essentially means no campfires anywhere in the forest and no open flames in the backcountry. So don’t bring a stove on your next backpacking trip. While it might suck to drink cold coffee, look at the bright side, you’ll save that additional weight by not having to carry a stove. Stoves are permitted at most designated car-camping and glamping sites across the forest (see link below for list of those sites). The fire restrictions should remain at Level IV until we get a few inches of rain, usually November or December. While it might seem unfathomable to backpack without a fire or heaven forbid s’mores, give it a shot. A dark night under the stars might be an eye opening experience. Please be extra careful. http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5429958.pdf     LittlePine

V O L U N T E E R   T I M E

ARE YOU READY! Hope so because there are quite a few volunteer opportunities lining up across the forest in September. WE WANT TO SEE YOU OUT THERE! September will be highlighted by National Public Lands Day on the 27th. Outlined below are a few of the projects and if I am missing any, please let me know and I’ll get them in the next email. LITTLE PINE TRAIL EVENT – September 20 The LPFA is helping to support a hiking event that the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is hosting on September 20 along the Santa Cruz Trail over Little Pine. We could use some volunteers to help along the hiking route or to be staged at the top of Little Pine or at Santa Cruz Station. We’ll provide truck access where available. This is a great cause for a great organization and a nice excuse to get into the mountains. If you are interested in helping lead a hike or support, let me know……… NPLD – FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN Santa Barbara County – September 27, 28 LPFA event to work the trails along Figueroa Mountain. Camping is available at Davy Brown. We’re going to have a great time. http://www.meetup.com/Santa-Barbara-Trail-Volunteers/events/203673382/ http://www.publiclandsday.org/npld-sites/los-padres-national-forest-figueroa-mountain-davy-brown NPLD – CAMP PICO BLANCO Ventana Wilderness – September 27,28 Ventana Wilderness Alliance project to work the Little Sur Trail. Camping is available. Awesomeness! http://www.publiclandsday.org/npld-sites/los-padres-national-forest-camp-pico-blancoventana-wilderness NPLD – CERRO ALTO CAMPGROUND San Luis Obispo County – September 27 Santa Lucia Ranger District is hosting a project September 27 at Cerro Alto Campground. Fun in the sun! http://www.publiclandsday.org/npld-sites/cerro-alto-campground-los-padres-national-forest NPLD – WHEELER GORGE Ventura County – September 28 The LPFA is hosting a project at Wheeler Gorge to work the nearby trails and maintain the Visitor Center. What could be better! http://www.publiclandsday.org/npld-sites/wheeler-gorge-visitor-center-los-padres-national-forest