Fires, Hunting Season, Volunteer Opportunities, 411

 Whittier’s Final Gasp

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


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:

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Colorful History, Mono Debris Dam


• 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

Sunny Days & Meteor Nights


Howdy Everyone,

SUN is the word of the week as some of us are bracing for what is looking like a hot weekend across the Los Padres.  By Saturday most of the LP should be seeing temps in the low to mid 90’s with some places creeping into triple digits.  Even coastal areas will be seeing hotter than usual temperatures.  While the nights have been feeling a tad bit ‘fallish’ over the past few days, most of the forest will see warm evenings to match the hot days.  This is the second weekend of A-Zone South hunting, if you are heading into the forest be sure to bring lots of water and drink it.  For those needing their NDD (Nature Deficit Disorder) fix, your best bet might be along the Big Sur coastal trails in Monterey County.  Be safe and be sure to share what you find on when you get back.

Not that hard to get away from lights in the Los Padres

Each August the night skies above the Los Padres come to life with the Perseid meteor shower.  While the meteor shower happens annually, this year is especially vivid due to the lack of a moon this week.  Below is a link which helps explain all the details, rules, this/that and the other…… BUT your best bet is to get outside, away from the lights, take some time, lay back and enjoy the show……

San Luis based VWR Bill Obermeyer, escorting Smokey during the Fiesta Parade
The Chorro Fire, which started August 2 along Hwy 33 above Ojai, is now 100% contained.  Great work to the fire crews and Forest Service for knocking it back as quickly as they did.  The fire burned 282 acres and the closure of trails within and around the fire area has been lifted as of today.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.  Remember that the Los Padres is in level III fire restrictions, more information here and here.

A small Cessna plane crashed in the Los Padres near Don Victor Valley on the night of August 6.  The plane had taken off from Lompoc and was headed to Carlsbad when the pilot called out reporting engine failure.  Sadly when the SAR crews arrived both the pilot and passenger were found dead.

More information to come but the LPFA will be hosting a trail project on the weekend of September 25-27 along the Alamar Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness.  The last report we had from the trail was from summer 2014 when Forest Service interns reported at least 300 downed trees within the first mile and a half of the trail.  YIKES!  The Alamar Trail was burned in the Zaca Fire and the thick forest of coulter pines were utterly destroyed.  While the burned skeletons stood for a few years after the fire, almost all of them have now fallen leaving the trail tread buried under hundreds and hundreds of fallen pines.  The great news is that a new thick blanket of sapling coulters are now clawing up to replace the old forest.  The babies are now in the 6-8ft range and extremely healthy.  Nature taketh and nature giveth back, or something like that.  Anyway, back to the trail work: almost all the work will be crosscut sawyer cutting out trees from the trail corridor.  If you are a sawyer or would like to learn more about the sweet science of sawyering, this is a great trip for you.  More information can be found here or email to sign up:

Hunting the Chorro Fire

Alamar Camp, Fresh after a LPFA Summer cleaning, photo Humphrey

Hi Everyone – hope you are staying cool and enjoying your summer,

We’ve had another busy week on the LP, to say the least.  Great work to the Forest Service and fire crews for knocking down the Chorro Fire, which started earlier this week near the junction of the Chorro Grande Trail and Hwy 33 above Ojai.  At the moment the Chorro Fire has burned 282 acres and is 90% contained.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.  As a result of the fire, the following roads/trails/camps are temporarily closed:  Pine Mountain Rd (Reyes Peak), Oak Camp, Chorro Grande Trail, Potrero John Camp and Trail, Boulder Creek Trail and the pine mountain portion of the Piedra Blanca Trail.  Please be sure to use extreme caution with your campfires, outdoor equipment or other potential fire related activities.  For more information on fire prevention and education, check the One Less Spark website below:

photo Humphrey


This weekend marks the start of deer hunting season in Zone A South.  You can see a map of Zone A here, but it basically covers all the Los Padres other than the section in Ventura and Kern Counties north of Sespe Creek and east of Hwy 33.  Zone A season is from August 8 (Saturday) through September 20.  For those heading into the forest this weekend, expect to see a lot more people than usual, especially at the popular deer hunting locations.  Depending on what activities you have planned, you may want to rethink your plans and be sure to wear bright colors.  Hunting occurs mainly in the hours around sunrise and sunset.  For those of you who will be hunting, be safe and good luck.  More information on hunting regulations and Zone A can be found here.



In case you weren’t aware, the LPFA has a small social media presence with both Facebook and Twitter accounts.  We try to post forest-related news, updates, articles and stories every day or two.  In fact trending right now is a topic involving the now infamous Lizard Man of Rancho Nuevo.  Check us out on Facebook if you haven’t already.


The Ojai Ranger District will have a booth at the Ventura County Fair.  The Fair starts today and lasts through August 16.  Rumor has it that the Ojai District has won awards in the past for their great booths and that this years booth will be the best ever.  If you’re in the neighborhood be sure to stop by and say hello.  More information here:

If you haven’t heard of Ray Strong, chances are you’ve seen his work many times.  Ray Strong was a Santa Barbara based painter who is famous for capturing the soul of the Los Padres within his paintings.  He’s probably most known for painting many of the exhibit backgrounds within the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum.  In honor of Ray Strong, this summer there are a number of exhibits featuring his incredible work.  For those interested in art with a Los Padres flavor, be sure to find your way to one of these showings.  You can learn more about the Ray Strong Project and see a list of exhibit dates here:

LPFA Transverse – A Zone Hunting 2014

                    Good Afternoon Los Padres,The main topic of today’s update is the start of the A Zone South hunting season, but before we get into that we have a special congratulations to share.  A few years ago, while on a trail project, I had the pleasure of meeting Matt and Sonia.  Matt and Sonia live in Ojai and over the past 5+ years have dedicated as much time to maintaining the trails of the Ojai and Mt Pinos Ranger Districts as anyone.  Matt is a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger / C certified sawyer and he literally jumps at just the mention of cutting out fallen trees.  It’s been said that Matt has the potential to cut out more trees in this forest than anyone ever.  He’s sort of a machine when it comes to the crosscut saw, those who have worked with him know what I mean.  What’s even better is that Sonia is along for almost all these trips as well.  They might be the coolest trail couple out there.  A great team, always safe, always fun and doing fantastic volunteer work for the forest.  Well, fortunately, they multiplied this past week and welcomed a healthy baby boy to the Los Padres.  While some of us were hoping they’d choose the name Sawyer, they picked the equally impressive name of Clayton.  Huge congratulations out to Matt and Sonia and we can’t wait to see Clayton out on the trail watching the saw sing.  Which we all know will happen very soon, if it hasn’t happened already.  Enjoy the time………

A   Z O N E    H U N T I N G

A Zone South hunting season starts August 9 and runs through September 21.  This is the start of the general season, archery was most of July and August.  Take a look at the links, attachments and maps below for more information.  A Zone South basically covers the entire Los Padres west of Hwy 33 and south of Rose Valley.  The first weekend of hunting season is usually the most chaotic and busy.  If you are heading to the forest this weekend, be prepared for busy campgrounds and potentially lots of people out and about.  You’ll want to wear bright colors if possible and leave the antlers at home.  Be respectful, safe and best of luck.