Finally, Los Padres Spring Season is HERE!

No more waiting, LP Season 2019 is on now!
No White Walkers here, just Blue Canyon, photo D Haan

Hello Friends,

We hope this email finds you with a little Los Padres dirt under your fingernails, perhaps a very small splotch of poison oak on the back of your leg, sore legs from hammering up that big trail climb last weekend and a huge smile thinking about what was and what is yet to come in your Los Padres explorations.  This is the prime time of the year for hiking, riding, camping and/or swimming.  There are lots of opportunities near and far to enjoy the Los Padres and to give back to the forest in the process.  You can explore local Meetup groups for close-by trail addicts looking for like-minded friends to share the trails with.  Study your LP maps or HikeLosPadres.com for new trails or camps to visit.  And for those who want to give back to the trails you love, join the LPFA on one of our upcoming volunteer projects.  Have at it, get-out get-out wherever you are and take advantage of the prime season here in the Los Padres.  Oh, and by the way, we’d love to see any photos you take while you’re out in the forest.  Just as you probably (hopefully) like to get these updates, we also love to see what you’re up to as well.  Living vicariously……

Nathan Wickstrum for the win! And he won the contest too.

WHEELER GORGE BROCHURE COVER CONTEST

A few months ago we ran a contest looking for great photos of the Hwy 33 / Ojai Backcountry region of the Los Padres Forest to be used on the cover of the 2019 Wheeler Gorge event brochure.  We received over 100 incredible photo entries from across the Ojai Ranger District featuring sunsets, flowers, snow capped mountains, waterfalls, majestic trees, vistas and people enjoying the forest.  It was a hard choice but we ended up choosing this fantastic layout of waterfalls taken by Nathan Wickstrum.  Thank you everyone who participated and Nathan, we’ll be in touch to discuss your prize!  Woot woot…..

The annual Wheeler Gorge Open House is this weekend!  Please come by for a visit with your family and friends, say hello and come back again throughout the summer for the weekly events and talks.  You can learn more here.

LPFA volunteers went Dothraki clearing brush on the Tinta Trail. 
Yes, that was and is the trail.  Up next is fixing the ruts and water damage……..

FOREST 411

– The LPFA will be co-hosting a Trivia Night TONIGHT with REI at Night Lizard Brewing in Santa Barbara.  If you enjoy the outdoors, find yourself at REI regularly, dig trivia nights or enjoy beer; we expect to see you tonight at 7pm.  Bring your A Game…….

– We’ve been busy restoring many of the trails you love and some that you might learn to love.  Over the past month we’ve led trail projects on the Aliso Trail, Santa Barbara Canyon Trail, Alamar Trail, Tinta Trail, Mono-Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Alamar Hill Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Judell Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Matilija Falls Trail, Gridley Trail, Manzana Trail, Lost Valley Trail, Hurricane Deck Trail and Big Cone Spruce Trail.  We’ve also partnered with Santa Barbara County Trails Council to help them on the Franklin Trail and Baron Trail, partnered with Montecito Trails Foundation to work on the Wiman Trail, Hot Springs Connector Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail and Old Pueblo Trail and partnered with SLOPOST to help on the Trout Creek Trail and Seller’s Potrero Trail.  Tis the season for trail work, it’s been a busy month!  Big thanks to all our partners, The Forest Service, our LPFA Trail Crew and especially all the volunteers who have poured their heart and souls into helping the trails we love!  THANK YOU……

– The Amgen Tour of California will be passing through the Los Padres in a few weeks.  Stage 4 starts at Laguna Seca on May 15 and follows Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast before ending 137 miles later at Morro Bay.  Should be spectacular!  The next day on May 16, stage 5 covers 136 miles from Pismo Beach to Ventura passing the Los Padres through Hwy 154 in Santa Barbara.

– The Los Padres National Forest is proposing to reroute the Pine Ridge Trail around a damaged section of trail near Barlow Flat Camp.  The Pine Ridge Trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the Los Padres and has been closed since July 2016 due to the Soberanes Fire and subsequent damage to the trail.  The FS is looking for comments on the proposed reroute.  Please check this link for more details and let your voice be heard.

– The Los Padres’ very own Helen Tarbet has released her latest Figueroa Mountain Wildflower update for April 18.  This is a fantastic resource for knowing where and what flowers are out and about.

– Many of the roads around the forest remain damaged and closed after this winters heavy rains, see photo below.  The FS is working to repair the roads and restore trailhead access. Many of the seasonal gate closures are expected to be reopened on May 1.  Please be patient with the FS but at the same time give them a call and let them know you want and need the roads reopened as soon as possible.

– Even with the above average rain season we’ve enjoyed, the Los Padres is preparing for another potentially big fire season ahead.  Due in part to the wet winter, the grasses around the Los Padres have grown quite high and much of that grass is starting to dry out.  We’ve already seen a few smaller grass fires around the Central Coast.  In anticipation of the upcoming fire season, Cal Fire has been adding staff and fire engines as well as awarding grants to areas such as Big Sur and the Santa Barbara Frontcountry to tackle local fire prevention projects.

– In response to a 2018 lawsuit, an agreement was reached last week between the Forest Service and ForestWatch to extend the temporary ban on un-managed target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest until January 2020.  This does not impact the regular legal hunting seasons and target shooting remains legal at both the Ojai Valley Gun Club in Rose Valley and Winchester Gun Club on West Camino Cielo.

– With the assistance of the VWA, Arroyo Seco Gorge has been selected as a Leave No Trace Hot Spot for 2019 and will be visited by LNT staff August 19-26.  As part of a LNT Hotspot program, LNT will send out a small team of LNT experts who will stay at Arroyo Seco for the week and conduct public outreach and lead community events designed to teach and preach more sustainable practices for the Arroyo Seco Gorge.  Good stuff!

– The Los Padres National Forest will be hosting a job fair on Saturday May 4 from 9am – 1pm at the San Marcos Fire Station.

– Lets get back to the trails, shall we?  While last month was certainly busy, we’ve got more trail restoration on tap for the coming month including work on the Tequepis Trail, Matilija Trail, Three Peaks Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Willow Spring Trail, Manzana Trail, Deal Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Grapevine Trail and Matilija Falls Trail.  Busy busy busy……  If you’d like to help with any of these trail projects, we’d love the support either through volunteer help or donations.  Email Volunteer@LPForest.org or make a donation to the LPFA Trail Care program today!

That’s the road, and a legit reason why Grade Valley remains closed, photo Upper Ojai SAR

Get Your Los Padres Updates Here

“Early Spring at its Best”, photo THurt

Hello Friends,

Simply put, it’s about as good as it gets right now across the Los Padres.  The _______ is amazing this season! We’ve not seen _______ like this for years and the _______ Trail is spectacular right now, never been better.  And have you seen the _______ on _______ Peak?  Wow….  Stunning.

We’ll leave it at that…….  you should have no problem filling in the blanks.  That’s your homework, uh, we mean forestwork!  The rest of this email will focus on upcoming volunteer projects and some updates from across the Los Padres.  We do hope you’re finding time to enjoy the trails and forest responsibly, be sure to check HikeLosPadres for the most recent trail and camp information and if you have any questions or need information, please don’t hesitate to let us know.  We’ll try our best to get the answers you might need. Let’s get to it…..

REI Giving Back and Walking the Walk, photo LPFA

TRAIL HELP NEEDED

As usual, all the upcoming forest events and volunteer trail projects are listed at the bottom of this email but we wanted to call out a few in particular that we are looking forward to:

April 12-14: TINTA TRAIL
The Tinta Trail is a seldom used trail set just off the northeastern edge of the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Tinta, which is part of the Condor Trail, is designated as a motorcycle trail but is also a great option for mountain bikes as well as hikers. Tinta has become incredibly overgrown over the past few years to the point where it’s become really hard to ride.  Not for long….  We’ll be working/camping for 3 days on April 12-14 working on brushing the Tinta Trail from Upper Tinta Camp down beyond Brubaker Canyon.  Since this is non-wilderness we’ll have the benefit of using power tools and are hoping to get some local motorcyclists to help support the project by riding in tools, supplies and food for the volunteers.  It should be a different yet really fun project.  If you’d like to help out, please let us know: Volunteer@LPForest.org

April 26-28: THREE PEAKS TRAIL
Do you have a favorite trail that needs maintenance?  If so, this is a good model to follow.  Los Padres volunteer extraordinaire Steve Cypher had a similar feeling for the Dutra area of the Silver Peak Wilderness and decided to do something about it. Partnering with the FS, VWA and LPFA, Steve has now led multiple trail projects in and around Dutra Flats focused on clearing the trails.  This is the 3rd or 4th such project and together with volunteers Steve is successfully reopening this area.  Talk about awesome.  It would be great if others were able to follow in Steve’s footprints.  If you’re interested in learning more about adopting a trail or working Three Peaks, click this link and sign up to help April 26-28.

May & June: SISQUOC WORKING VACATIONS
If you don’t know about the famous LPFA Working Vacations, this might be the year for you to sign up and find out.  The LPFA will be hosting two Working Vacations this year focused on restoring the Sisquoc Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness.  The first is May 4-12 along the Upper Sisquoc and the second is June 1-9 on the Lower Sisquoc.  Both projects will be stock supported with all food provided for volunteers.  While we’ll be out there for 10 days in total, there are shorter stints available in case you can’t spend the whole time out there.  This is a great year for these projects as the Sisquoc should be flowing nicely well into the summer season.  Let us know if you have any questions and we’d love to see you out there with us later this spring.  Volunteer@LPForest.org

Cherry Garcia, Looking Beautiful in Green

FOREST 411

West Fork Cold Spring Trail above Montecito has reopened after being closed for a few months due to a landslide taking out a large portion of the trail.

– In nearby news, the debris-flow ring nets above Montecito have been approved and will be installed in the coming weeks.  There will be certain trail closures during the installation of the nets and we’ll do our best to share that with you through social media.

– And related to that, late last month the cause of the Thomas Fire was released as fire investigators determined that “power lines slapping together in high winds” was the cause of the Thomas Fire ignition.

– The LPNF is extending the comment deadline for those interested in weighing in on the proposed closure of Dry Canyon in the Mt Pinos Ranger District.  The closure is a result of a 2015 study which found munitions and explosives in Dry Canyon that date back to the 1940’s.

– There have been a few rescues across the Los Padres over the past month related to lost or injured trail users.  Be sure to share your trip itineraries with friends or family before you venture into the forest and use common sense while in the forest.  Be safe.

– The proposed wildlife corridor in Ventura County was approved last month which should help the safe passage of mammals between the Los Padres and adjacent wild areas.  On the heels of the wildlife corridor, a study was released late last month about the potential extinction of Southern California mountain lions.

– Congressman Salud Carbajal is poised to reintroduce the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act.

– The Monterey Ranger District continues to struggle with closures and lack of forest access.  The lack of access has been leading to overcrowding within the few locations that are open.  You can read more in a recent article from the Monterey County Weekly.

– The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center will once again be hosting weekly Saturday educational programs designed for nature lovers of all ages.  Wheeler will be kicking off the season with the Annual Wheeler Open House on Saturday April 27.  Come on out, we hope to see you on the 27th and throughout the summer.

 – Maybe you’ve heard, but the flowers aren’t bad right now either. Los Padres Forest’s own Helen Tarbet is once again providing regular flower updates for those brave enough to venture into the Figueroa Mtn area.  Her most recent excellent update is attached with this email.  Please tread lightly.

Charlie Robinson, in his Happy Place!

And last but certainly not least, we wanted to congratulate our good friend Charlie Robinson on his recent retirement from the Forest Service.  Charlie served as the Ojai District Recreation Officer for over 27 years and was with the Forest Service for 43 years.  We wish Charlie all the best as he skis into whiter pastures and thank him for all his help over the years.  27 years of institutional knowledge will be hard to lose. Fortunately, some of us have his cell number…..  You can run Charlie, but you can’t hide…..  ha  ha.  Thank you Charlie!

Pano Around the Mono Narrows, photo LPFA

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 pass along!

April 6: 1st Saturday Deal Canyon Project, MPRD & LPFA
April 6: State Trails Day, SB Frontcountry
April 6-9: Judell Trail Car-Camping, LPFA
April 12-14: Tinta otorcycle Trail Project, LPFA
April 18: Helpful & Harmful Plants, Sue Reinhart, SB Library
April 20: Ojai Earth Day
April 20-21: Marble Peak Trail Project, VWA
April 22: Earth Day in Fillmore!
April 26-28: Three Peaks Trail, Silver Peak Wilderness
April 27: Wheeler Gorge Open House

May 4-5: Mocho Sawyer Project, VWA
May 4-12: Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
May 10-12: Terrace Creek Trail Project, VWA
May 11: Mt Pinos Ranger District Open House
May 17-19: Strawberry Camp Trail Project, VWA
May 24-27: Big Sur Trail Sawyer Project, VWA

June 1-9: Lower Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
June 8-10: Lost Valley Trail Project, Ventana, VWA
June 9: Cold Spring Trail, SBMTV
June 21-23: Big Sur Trail Sawyer Project, VWA

West Big Pine