Los Padres Storm Damage, Target Shooting, Condor Talk

Quite a weekend for waterfall hunters, finding unknown targets around every corner, photo Humphrey

storm /stôrm/ – noun – a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow.

Hello Friends,

We certainly had a storm this past weekend, to say the least.  Most of the forest received somewhere in the 5-10″+ of rain between Friday and Tuesday with snow piling up at the higher elevations.  It was a bit of a crazy storm as well including reports of 80mph winds in some locations, a tornado warning in Santa Barbara County and even a kiosk in Big Sur being lifted away and blown across Hwy 1.  While we haven’t seen a whole lot of trail damage reports just yet, which we’re sure will come in soon, we have quite a few road closure updates to share as well as other storm related updates:

  • Maybe the most dramatic images of this past storm were taken by Cynthi Bacon who filmed a debris flow tearing out of the Whittier Fire burn area near Lake Cachuma.  This flow, along with others, blocked the culverts under Hwy 154 and have caused an indefinite closure of Hwy 154.
  • Montecito once again received a ton of rain within the Thomas Fire scar but thankfully it appears that all the prep-work on the creeks and basins paid off.  Here’s an amazing video taken by Tim Sulger showing some of the raging water that came through Montecito last Saturday.  While Hwy 101 was closed, it is back open again.
  • Highway 33 remains closed between Ojai and Lockwood Valley due to slides but is scheduled to reopen before the weekend.  There will be delays even after reopening due to single lane closures and repair crews.
  • Speaking of Hwy 33, there were some stranded backpackers along the Sespe Trail who needed rescuing over the weekend as well.  I would love to see some photos of what the Sespe looked like, must have been horrifying!
  • All gates are currently closed on the Ojai Ranger District.  Rose Valley and Middle Lion Camps are closed due to mud and damaged roads.
East Camino sinkhole, photo LPFA
  • A sinkhole developed along East Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara that wiped out half the road (see photo above).  The FS has closed East Camino Cielo east of Gibraltar Road including Divide Peak OHV.
  • Sage Hill and First Crossing remain closed along Paradise Road due to high water.
  • Highway 1 remains closed at Paul’s slide but should be reopening perhaps as early as today.  Remember that CalTrans continues to proactively close Hwy 1 ahead of each significant rain event.  Cone Peak Road is closed for the season and Palo Colorado remains closed due to 2017 storm damage.  Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd is open.

Maybe it would have been quicker to report everything that was open?!!?  There are more storms on tap for this weekend and most of next week as well.  If you are planning to head into the Los Padres, please use caution and be careful, especially in recent burn areas.

Expect to see similar signs, sans the Fire Restrictions, for at least the next year

FOREST 411

Remember, the LPFA will be welcoming the Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free to the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara TONIGHT 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.  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……

• The Forest Service announced earlier this week that there will be an extended ban on all target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest for the next year.  Target shooting will remain legal at the two designated target ranges within the Los Padres: Winchester and Rose Valley.  You can read the FS explanation here.

• Do you have any great photos of the Ojai Backcountry or Hwy 33 corridor through Ventura County?  The LPFA is once again organizing a series of interpretive events this coming summer to be held at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  Each year we print a brochure highlighting these events and our annual Open House and this year we are looking for a terrific cover photo for the brochure that captures the beauty and essence of the Ojai Backcountry.  If you have any photos to submit or questions, please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org  We’ll hook the winning photographer up with some great LP gear!

• The landowners along Prewitt Ridge in Monterey County have started a GoFundMe to assist with maintaining the road east of Nacimiento-Fergusson.  This road sees a lot of traffic, in particular campers, and gets thrashed by winter storms and improper use.  If you’d like to learn more or to help, check this link here.

Some more waterfall hunting photos from this past weekend, photos LPFA, AQuinn, HGuild

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