Condor, Sycamore and Baer……. OH MY!

BAER Trail Protection, San Ysidro Trail, photo Carr
Hello Friends – We hope you are doing well and finding some time to splash in the puddles!

If you’ve been anywhere near a fire over the past few years, you’ve probably heard the words “BEAR WORK” and might not know exactly what that means.  We get asked about it all the time and it’s BAER WORK (pronounced BEAR).  So what is BAER?  This is directly from the Los Padres NF website:

The US Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team’s purpose is to assess threats to life, property, and cultural and natural resources from fire-induced changes to the watershed that can cause erosion, sedimentation, flooding, and debris flows.
Basically what happens is that after any larger scale fire, the USFS dispatches a team of specialists to study and survey the future impacts that fire might play within the downstream communities and to the resources within the forest.  This team is called the BAER team (see acronym above) and they’re usually the first people on the ground as the flames die down.  The BAER team studies all the potential risks from the fire, generates reports outlining those risks, prescribes treatments designed to mitigate those potential risks and then performs those treatments within the forest.  BAER studies include archaeology, road engineering, trail protection, fisheries, soils, hydrology and more.  All the Thomas Fire reports are published on the FS website in case you are interested in the details.  So remember, the next time you hear a post-fire BAER reference, you can amaze your friends by telling them it has nothing to do with Smokey or Boo-Boo and then for bonus nerd points follow that up with a NIRA reference (National Industrial Recovery Act).
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It just feels like Burkittsville, along the Condor Trail
CONDOR TRAIL TALK
Is the Condor Trail on your bucket list?  Do you fear you’ll kick the bucket if you attempt the Condor Trail?  Do you enjoy exploring new places across the Los Padres?  If you answered YES to any of those questions then you have to come to the Condor Trail Talk on Friday March 23 at the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara.  The Trail Talk is being hosted by the Condor Trail Association, LPFA and REI and we’ll be welcoming 4 sets of hikers who either finished the CT in 2017 or came really really close.  Each set of hikers will share stories from their journey across the Los Padres and it should be really cool hearing how different each journey was based on time of year and what they encountered along the way.  The talk is free, doors open at 6:30pm, we’ll have a raffle, silent auction, maybe a game or two and some beverages to kick your weekend off in style.  Come one, come all – as long as space allows!  Hope to see you there……
Condor Trail 2017 Hikers
Friday March 23 – Doors Open 6:30pm
Balboa Building – 735 State Street – Santa Barbara
*parking can be tough, suggest Paseo Nuevo*
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Toejam Taking in the Lower Sisquoc, January 2018
LOWER SISQUOC WORKING VACATION
Sycamore Camp, April 14-22
We’re happy to announce our latest and greatest LPFA Working Vacation, this time along the Sisquoc Trail, based at Sycamore Camp in the spectacular San Rafael Wilderness.  The plan is to drive in to the Jackson Trailhead along the Sierra Madres on Saturday morning April 14.  From there we’ll backpack 4 miles down to Sycamore Camp, which will be our camp for the week.  We’ll be joined by the usual cast of mule packers and exquisite backcountry cooks that make camping life so enjoyable while on a Working Vacation.
Our mission for the week is to clear the trail from Sycamore Camp downstream to Big Bend Canyon. As mentioned, we’ll have mule support to bring in tasty food and cold sudsy beverages while Rich Scholl will once again be cooking up a storm, providing the best in wilderness camp cooking, including the now infamous “COFFEE’S READY, HUH!”.  No joke, some people come just to hear coffee’s ready, huh!  Or is it the Woot Woot that they come for?  Either way, all food is provided for volunteers and we promise you’ll never leave hungry.
While we’ll be at Sycamore for a whole week, there will be plenty of opportunities for shorter stays and we’ll make room for you if you can spend 3, 4, 5 or more days on the Working Vacation. Let us know what works for your schedule and we can most likely make it work for us.  You will have to backpack in 4 miles to the camp, including a hard steep hike back out at the end of the WV.  We usually work from 8am – 3pm but we’ll take however many hours you’re willing to give.  Most of the work will be using loppers to cut back the brush, the occasional sawing of a branch and clearing ravel from the trail corridor.
The Working Vacations are always a great time! It’s a terrific way to give back to the trails you love, explore some new parts of the forest, get into a backcountry groove and meet great friends along the way.
To sign up or to learn more please email: INFO@LPForest.org

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Doesn’t that look a whole lot more inviting!

FOREST 411
– There has been a bit of controversy surrounding post-fire reseeding and if it’s beneficial or not, in particular with the recent Thomas Fire.  We reached out to the FS as well as the California Chaparral Institute to learn about what their recommendations are.  Attached you’ll find some notes and letters with opinions.  Enjoy……

– Tragically, on February 15 there was an accidental self-inflicted gunshot caused death at the Glass Factory target shooting area along East Camino Cielo.  Due to the investigation of the shooting, the Glass Factory will remain closed until March 27.

– Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast remains closed just north of Salmon Guard Station at Mud Creek.  There have been a few additional slides that have caused delays and/or closures due to the recent storms but all of those have been cleared.  If Hwy 1 is on your radar, be sure to check CalTrans or BigSurKate ahead of time.

– Even with the recent “March Marvel” (we can’t call it a miracle just yet), we remain well below the average rainfall totals across the forest for the season.  We’re still fighting to overcome a February that had single digit percentages of average rainfall across most of the Los Padres.  Figueroa Mountain received only 2% of their average rain in February, Three Peaks in the Silver Peak region only 7%.  By comparison, Fig Mtn is 174% of normal for March so far and Three Peaks is a whopping 757% of normal!  March is off to a good start and fortunately the storms have been light and steady within the fire areas.  Lets pray for more of the same……

– In case you hadn’t heard, the Whittier Fire closure has been lifted and West Camino Cielo is once again open, barring temporary rain closures.  Please tread lightly.  While West Camino is open, the Tequepis Trail remains inaccessible due to the closure of Circle V Ranch.

– Speaking of the Whittier Fire, the cause of the fire was released last month, read here for more information.

– The Thomas Fire closure remains in effect with all of the burned areas (the black) still closed to public access.  This includes access east of Gibraltar Road along East Camino Cielo and all the trailheads accessed via Rose Valley (yes, even Piedra Blanca Trailhead).  There has been no timetable set as to when the Thomas closure will be lifted.

– There’s been some good news coming from the Thomas Fire specifically related to fire impacted animals surviving the fire.  Here’s one about the use of fish skin bandages to help repair burns and the release of two of those bears and a mountain lion cub.  And this article talking about condor #871’s first flight across the Sespe.

– Thanks to the fantastic work of CalTrans, Highway 33 has remained open through all the past series of storms.  Those guys are amazing!  Thanks CalTrans!  That being said, if you plan on driving Hwy 33, please be aware that it could close at any moment and especially around rain events.

– The Los Padres Forest is requesting comments to reissue power-line permits through the forest.  For more information start here.

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Smokin Hot, Cold Spring Sunset

State of the Winter, So Far…..

Matilija Canyon Changed Forever, Again – Nov 2017 & Jan 2018

Hello Friends,

This winter has not exactly gone as planned, has it?  We were in uncharted waters heading into the rainy season with the largest fire in California history still burning across the southern Los Padres and the already scorched mountains laying helplessly baron, devoid of any vegetation.  Our mountains are no strangers to fire but they’ve usually grown a protective five o’clock shadow of at least a few months of post-fire regrowth before the rains kick in.  We did not have that luxury with the Thomas Fire.  We were all hoping for extended light rain which might fend off the drought while at the same time not causing too much soil erosion.  That certainly has not been the case.  Rainfall totals are way down for the year, with most of the forest receiving well under 40% of average rainfall totals to date.  And all the rain that we have had essentially came in that one horrible storm on January 8.  So much for light rain over an extended period of time, we ended up with hard rain all at once; which, as you know, resulted in the tragic Montecito debris flows.  As of today, there is no rain in the extended forecast and we’re looking at what might be nearly a whole month in the heart of winter without any rain.  It’s really hard to know what to root for from here on out.  It might be best to get through the winter with as little rain as possible and sink back into what will be the 7-year drought.  Or perhaps we hope for rain and pray that we don’t get a repeat Montecito debris-flow.  Then again perhaps we stick to the gameplan and continue to root for light rain spanning the end of winter and into spring.  Who knows.  We’ve already seen so much destruction below the forest and so much change within it.  No matter what outcome we get please be careful.  The forest remains closed within the Thomas and Whittier Fire perimeters and should remain that way for quite some time.  For those looking to take advantage of the good weather, there are plenty of great trails to explore outside the burn perimeters.  It might require a slightly longer drive but there is water in most of the creeks, areas that have not burned and new trails to explore.
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United States Hero & Los Padres’ Own, David Dahlberg
FOREST 411
• In case you missed it, David Dahlberg was recognized earlier this week as part of President Trump’s State of the Union Address.  Dahlberg is a Los Padres Fire Prevention Technician and heroically saved the lives of over 60 people stranded at Circle V Ranch near the onset of this summers Whittier Fire.  While the Los Padres has been making national news of late, it was special to see David get a well deserved round of applause.  David, next rounds on me…..

Fire Restrictions were lifted on January 19 permitting campfires and target shooting.  See attached PDF for more information.  Please PLEASE, be careful with your fires and pick up your brass if target shooting.

Highway 33 remains closed between Ojai and Lockwood Valley Road.  It is possible the road will reopen on February 7 but you’ll want to confirm with CalTrans before attempting to drive through.

• The Thomas Fire was officially called 100% contained on January 12 at an astounding 281,893 acres.

Highway 1 along the Southern Big Sur Coast remains closed at Mud Creek due to the epic landslide from last spring.  It remains on schedule to reopen his summer.

• The FS will be implementing annual prescribed burns across the forest as conditions allow.

• As if TOTALITY wasn’t enough, yesterday we had the pleasure of witnessing the SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON LUNAR ECPLISE, try saying that fast 10 times in a row.  It was spectacular.  In case you missed it, we will have another blue moon in March, just can’t promise the SUPER or LUNAR ECLIPSE parts.

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The SUPER BLUE BLOOD MOON LUNAR ECLIPSE, from Aliso Canyon, photo Orr
UPCOMING EVENTS

This time of year is supposed to be too rainy for any trail projects…..  Not this year and as you’ll see below, there are a lot of upcoming volunteer projects and events across the Los Padres that are taking advantage of the unseasonable weather.  We wanted to give you a heads up about one project in particular that popped up late this week:
ROSE VALLEY CLEANUP
Saturday February 3
8:30am at the Ojai Ranger Station
The LPFA is partnering with the Forest Service to arrange a special cleanup around Rose Valley.  Rose Valley burned in the Thomas Fire, revealing decades old trash that was buried in the brush.  We’ll be caravaning up to Rose Valley from Ojai to help cleanup the trash.  Hwy 33 remains closed to the public so it’s important to arrive on time in order to be part of the caravan through the barricades.  Once at Rose Valley, we’ll be spreading out, exploring the area and picking up any trash we see along the way.  Should be a special opportunity to see the burned area up close and help the forest in the process.  For questions you can email INFO@LPForest.org, check the link above and we hope to see you on Saturday at 8:30am sharp.
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Troop 111 from Ventura recently replaced the San Rafael Wilderness sign on the Judell Trail.  GREAT WORK!

newly restored trail sign along Davy Brown Trail.
The sign restoration was part of an Eagle Scout project compliments of Orcutt Scout Troop 91.

Lets Talk Condor Trail & Winter Storm Warning

The Thomas Fire Didn’t Burn Everything, It Just Feels Like It Did
CONDOR TRAIL TALK
Wednesday January 10 – 6pm – Balboa Building – 735 State St – Santa Barbara
The LPFA and Condor Trail Association are partnering this Wednesday (Jan 10) to host a special Trail Talk focused on the Class of 2016-17 Condor Trail hikers.  We’re really fortunate to have 4 groups of hikers at the event this Wednesday to share stories and photos from their individual exploits along the Condor Trail.  While each of them hiked the same miles, their journeys along those miles are very very different.  It doesn’t matter if you’re dreaming of one day doing the CT or happy just weekend warrior’ing around the Los Padres; you’ll enjoy hearing the fun and sometimes sketchy adventures of these brave CT hikers.  421 miles across the Los Padres – that’s a long way!  Come on out to the Balboa Building at 6pm on Wednesday to hear their tales from the Condor Trail.

In addition we’ll dedicate some time to discuss the Thomas Fire and what the fire means to the Los Padres Forest.  We’ll also have a raffle, some frothy beverages to enjoy compliments of Hollister Brewing Company and enough time to catch up with old fiends and hopefully meet some new ones too.  We hope to see you there.

Any questions or inquiries, please email: INFO@LPForest.org


The Class of 2016-2017 CT Hikers
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Matilija Trout, Facing Some Rough Days Ahead, photo Humphrey
THOMAS FIRE UPDATE
Speaking of the Thomas Fire, the predicted containment date of January 7 has come and gone with the fire holding at 92% containment and having burned 281,893 acres.  The containment % should see an increase over the next few days as most of the Los Padres braces itself for the first large storm of the season.  The storm is currently hitting the Northern Los Padres and has dumped close to two inches already along the Big Sur Coast.  The majority of the storm will hit this evening into tomorrow morning with forecasts predicting 2-6 inches of rain in select locations with downpours potentially at the rate of one inch per hour.  Due to the potential for flash flooding within the fire areas and subsequent debris flows downstream from the fire areas, mandatory evacuations have been issued for most communities under the burn scars covering over 60 miles east to west from Santa Paula Canyon to Refugio including the Thomas, Sherpa and Whittier burn areas.  It’s crazy that less than a month ago the Thomas Fire was threatening to burn houses and now those same houses are threatened from flash flooding.  Good luck to everyone and your homes, be safe……

The closure order for portions of the Los Padres remains intact, closing all forest entry into areas that burned during the Thomas Fire.  There has been a lot of confusion and frustration regarding the closure, including the temporary closing of some of the trails outside the burn area.  Suppression repair is wrapping up and BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) teams remain on the ground working to protect resources in advance of winter storms.  It’ll be a while before the Thomas closure is lifted, please remain patient and obey the closures.

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Thomas’ Final Gasp?  Lion Canyon, January 2
FOREST 411
• Nearly 6 months after starting on July 8, 2017, the Whittier Fire was officially declared “out” on January 1, 2018.  While flames and smoke stopped months ago, there were a few hot spots that remained in portions of the canyons that were too steep and access too difficult to fully extinguish.  An IR flight team flew the Whittier Fire en route to the Thomas Fire and no heat was sensed from within Whittier.

• Sadly, a 40lb bear was euthanized earlier this week along the Sisar Trail.  The bear was burned during the Thomas Fire and was unable to recover.

• Much of the access to the Los Padres is in jeopardy at the moment due to the oncoming storm.  Slides are expected along forest access roads from Hwy 1 in Big Sur (Soberanes Fire) to 154 in Santa Barbara (Whittier Fire) and down through Hwy 192, 150 and 33 (Thomas Fire).  If you have plans to travel through the forest over the coming week, be sure to check access before you head out.  The CalTrans website is a great resource.

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Great work by VWA volunteer sawyers along the Spruce Creek Trail in the Silver Peak Wilderness, photo Cypher

LP Trivia Night & Wilderness Bill Update

Shall We Play A Game? – Los Padres Trivia Night
LP TRIVIA NIGHT – DRAUGHTSMEN – 6PM

Hello Friends !

In case you haven’t heard, the LPFA is hosting a Trivia Night tomorrow 10/18 at Draughtsmen Aleworks microbrewery and taproom in Goleta – 6pm.  Draughtsmen chose the LPFA as the non-profit benefactor for the month of October offering a donation of $1 for each Karma Tap beer consumed over the course of the month.  As part of the month-long celebration, we decided to try a Los Padres themed Trivia Night that should be a lot of fun.  It’s going to be typical barroom style trivia format where teams of 2-6 players compete for prizes over four rounds of questions.  What’s a little different about our Trivia Night is that our questions will all be Los Padres related and we’ve lined up 4 Los Padres VIP’s to host each of the rounds.  Our VIP’s are SB mountain bike guru Chris Orr, backcountry packer extraordinaire Susie Thielmann, Los Padres historian and author Criag Carey, and Santa Barbara District Ranger Pancho Smith.  We’ve reviewed most of the questions and it’s going to be tons of fun.  There are some softball questions but also some a few that will challenge even the most seasoned Los Padres explorer.  Each of the VIP’s incorporated questions based on their background within the forest so there will be plenty of answer opportunities for all types of different forest users.  Bring your A game and come play with your team or come alone and join on with another team, it’s going to be great!  See you there……..

 

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Cairn For the Condor Trail, Get it?
CENTRAL COAST HERITAGE PROTECTION ACT
Earlier this week U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal and Senator Kamala Harris reintroduced the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which if passed would designate nearly 250,000 additional acres of wilderness in the Los Padres, create two new scenic areas, over 150 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers and designate the Condor Trail as a National Recreation Trail.  2017 marks the third attempt for this bill with previous introductions in 2014 and 2015.  Here is a link from KEYT showing the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act introduction on Monday at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens and the link above is the actual language of the bill.  It’s not exactly clear if this iteration of the bill will be more successful than the previous two, time will tell.  Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled for updates……..

 

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Manzana Trail Cribwall, Before and After, Spring 2017

FOREST 411

• The WHITTIER FIRE was officially declared fully contained on October 5.  Whittier started on July 8 and while the the acreage has not grown over the past couple months, a few pesky hot spots kept the fire from 100% containment.  While the fire is contained the closure order remains in effect within the fire perimeter along West Camino Cielo from Lizard’s Mouth to Refugio including the Tequepis Trail.

• Deer hunting general season started this week in Zone D13, which covers much of the Ventura backcountry mostly within the Mt. Pinos Ranger District.  Click here for a map of D13 and here for general information.  D13 started October 14 and ends November 12.

Los Padres is Totality Hot!

Brrrrr….. A Chilly Mission Pine Basin
– Hello Los Padres –
With the “excessive heat” we’re experiencing around the forest this week we thought it might be nice to share a picture and story of our Los Padres in the snow.  Maybe it will cool you down a little.  This photo was taken around dawn in early March at Mission Pine Basin (5,300′) in the San Rafael Wilderness.  I had backpacked in from Upper Oso, taking two days along the Santa Cruz Trail to get to MPB.  It rained on and off most of the second day and the final 2,000 foot climb up to Mission Pine was like taking a shower each time I rubbed against any of the 7,000,000 manzanita bushes along that 4mile climb.  I was drenched and cold when I saw the campfire at the Basin indicating that my buddy, ‘The Masticator’, had indeed upheld his end of the bargain and backpacked in from Cachuma Saddle.  He had slogged his bike up to McKinley Saddle the previous night and backpacked through mostly snow flurries to the Basin.  We were there to see it snow and knew a storm was forecast that evening.  We spent the night next to a raging fire as 8 inches of snow piled up beside our tents.  The next morning (shown above) was crisp as we explored the Basin, looking between the clouds at the blue Channel, snow curdling off the trees and….. lots of hot coffee.
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The LP Piru Neighborhood
FOREST 411
We’re hiring!  The LPFA is looking for a forest-loving go-getter to help manage our retail sales and grow the public outreach.  If interested, we’d love to hear from you.  More information at the link RIGHT HERE.

• So a bear walks into Reyes Creek Bar and says to Tony, “I’ll have a pint of beer and a……….. tri-tip sandwich”.  Tony responds, “Why the big pause?”   Wha wha wha…..  Okay, did you hear the one about the bear who stumbled out to Rincon Point on a summer Saturday afternoon…..?  Amazingly that isn’t a joke as a black bear did indeed find its way to the beach two weekends ago.  The photos are hard to believe but tragically the bear was euthanized after it was found to be unhealthy.

• Speaking of bears, this weekend at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is a presentation called the Amazing World of Bears by Kelley Swedlow.  It starts at 11am at the Visitor Center, which gives you enough time for a morning on the trailw beforehand or some extra time to sleep in.  It will be interesting to hear what Kelley thinks of the Rincon bear…..

• Do you Piru?  The water agency is charge of the Lake Piru Recreation Area is required to make changes to their recreation management plan for Piru.  They’ve hired an environmental consulting company to assist in the design of that recreation management plan and have released an online recreation survey designed to collect information from the public who use the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  This includes boaters, anglers, hikers, riders, hunters, Condor Trail backpackers, kayakers, campers, etc who use or pass through the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  If that’s you, please take the time and fill out this short online survey.  The surveys asks how often you use the Piru neighborhood, what you do there, what you like about it and what could be improved.  Certainly worth the time if you have an opinion, see link above.

• We’ve heard some questions about accessing the Whittier Fire burn area.  An update was released this week after an infra-red flight showed that some hot spots remain within the fire perimeter.  As a result the fire remains 87% contained and closed to public entry.  It might be a while before the area is reopened to the public.  Stay tuned….

• Last time we mentioned that Cherry Creek Road (6N01) was closed, it has since been opened.

• LPFA is excited to announce that Sunday October 8 will be our 3rd Annual Used Camping Gear Sale at Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta.  We’ll once again be partnering with Gossamer Gear to provide some incredible deals on great backpacks and camping gear.  We hope you can make it and let us know if you have any camping gear to donate to the sale.  We’ll provide a tax donation receipt and the proceeds go right back to Trail Care.

• Sorry about the bad bear news but we’ve got some great wildlife news to share that might cheer you up.  For the first time since 1985 a wild-born pair of California condors have successfully nested and have a chick of their own.  You can read more about it here.  The nest is located in Southern Monterey County and is an important step showing just how incredible the condor re-population is progressing.  It’s probably not too far off that we’ll be seeing healthy condors on the beaches soon as well.

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Chumash cave 1677 eclipse & Madras, Oregon 2017 eclipse, photo AYoung

The eclipse was all the news this past week, you don’t need to hear about that, although some of you may still be stuck in traffic.  A little different twist on the eclipse was visiting a Chumash cave that very same day and seeing their rendition of a solar eclipse that occurred on November 24, 1677.  They didn’t have the benefit of months of advanced notice, nor did they have CNN covering the PATH OF TOTALITY.  It must have been something truly amazing back in 1677…….

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

Fires! Fires on the Mountains

 Alamo Fire, Engulfing Pismo, photo Toejam
WHITTIER & ALAMO FIRES
Yes, it is that time of year again….  While we were hoping for an ‘off year’ from wildfires, especially after last year, the Los Padres is off and running again with what is looking like another busy fire season.  While there have been a few smaller fires here and there around the LP, the first two major fires erupted this past week in Santa Barbara County: Alamo & Whittier
Alamo & Whittier Fires 
First was the Alamo Fire, which started the afternoon of July 6 east of Santa Maria, near the border of SLO and SB Counties, close to Twitchell Reservoir.  The fire has burned nearly 30,000 acres and is currently 45% contained.  While Alamo has not yet entered the Los Padres, it is really close and has been knocking on the door the past few days just across Tepusquet Canyon.  Fire crews have made great progress on Alamo in recent days, lets hope for containment soon before the next heat wave hits this weekend.

MORE INFORMATION:

  • Click here for the full list of closures.  Access to the Los Padres is closed along Hwy 166 between 101 and New Cuyama, including Tepusquet Canyon, Rock Front, Sierra Madres and Colson Canyon.
  • Twitter is always a great resource for following crowd-sourced information.
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Painting the Forest Red, SY Mtns Above Goleta
Then came the Whittier Fire, which started dramatically on Saturday July 8 just off Hwy 154 across from Lake Cachuma.  Fueled by 100˚ heat and afternoon winds, the Whittier Fire, named after nearby Whittier Camp, took off like a rocket burning south up the Santa Ynez Mountains through terrain that had not burned since the 1955 Refugio Fire (62 years).  It quickly consumed Rancho Alegre Outdoor School and temporarily trapped 80 students at Circle V Camp.  By that evening the flames had crossed West Camino Cielo and were headed down towards the ocean.  Evacuations were ordered for Paradise Road, West Camino, Kinevan and even western Goleta.  Fortunately, the weather changed starting Sunday bringing two days of tropical flow followed by a thicker marine layer and cooler temps.  The combination of the change in weather along with the great work from the fire crews has slowed the progress of the Whittier Fire.  Whittier has currently burned around 11,000 acres and is 25% contained.  It’s still very active both with smoke plumes as well as air attacks from the tankers that have been hammering it the past day or so.

MORE INFORMATION:

  • Click here for the full list of closures.  Access to the Los Padres is closed along Hwy 154 between Cathedral Oaks and Hwy 246, including West Camino Cielo.
  • Tequepis Trail burned.
  • Twitter is always a great resource for following crowd-sourced information.
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Whittier Fire-Camp Morning Briefing, July 11

It’s devastating seeing the destruction these wildfires bring.  If you are reading this, chances are you’ve either been affected by a recent wildfire or know someone who has.  If you’re able, please reach out and find ways you can help as fire victims rebuild their lives.  And of course, huge praise needs to go to all the fire crews and fire support teams that work day and night fighting these fires.  Their efforts literally saved 80 children.  Not to mention all the other lives and property saved that we’ll never hear about because they stopped it before it happened.  They are absolutely amazing.