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.
— • — • — • —
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.
— • — • — • —

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.

MISSION: Mission Pine

Mission Pine View, September 2016
missionpineoverview
MISSION PINE WORKING VACATION
October 21-30
    The LPFA will be hosting our next Working Vacation along the Mission Pine Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness from October 21-30.  We’ll be driving up from Cachuma Saddle to McKinley Saddle and backpacking 8 miles from there to our basecamp at Mission Pine Basin.  While the project will cover 10 days, we’ll have multiple entry-exit windows to choose from that will allow volunteers to participate for shorter periods of time.  The project will be supported with pack stock and all food will be provided.
The ‘WORK’ will consist of crosscutting any downed trees off the trail and clearing brush from the trails that radiate out from Mission Pine Basin.  These include the uppermost part of the Santa Cruz Trail and our primary objective of brushing the Mission Pine Trail east from the Basin towards West Big Pine.  There is plenty of work to be done.
The ‘VACATION’ portion of the trip will be spending time outdoors, with friends while enjoying this incredible slice of pine-studded Santa Barbara Backcountry awesomeness.  Mission Pine Basin is over 5,000 ft in elevation and has tremendous views of the Channel Islands to the South, Big Pine to the East and the Sisquoc Valley to the North.  It really is a great spot to hunker down and work the trails.
    We are looking for volunteers to help with the trail work as well as someone (or team of someone’s) to help with the cooking.  If you like backcountry cooking, I can assure you there will be plenty of hungry volunteers happy to have you there.
Space is limited, you must be able to backpack 8 miles, if you are interested in volunteering/cooking or would like to learn more, email us (INFO@LPForest.org) and hope to see you out there in late October.  More photos are on the LPFA Facebook page here.


Top of the Forest, photo Beemanpinosbeeman

SOBERANES UPDATE & MORE

• The Soberanes Fire continues to make history within the Monterey District of the Los Padres.  We’ll get into more details when it’s officially snuffed but for now it’s racking up some pretty horrifying statistics:

  • 132,069 acres, 94,875 of those are within the Los Padres Forest.  That’s the 16th largest wildfire in California history.
  • 92% containment with estimated 100% containment being October 15.
  • Today marks the start of the 11th week Soberanes has been burning.  71 days!
  • Soberanes is the most expensive fire to fight in history!  Well over $200,000,000 has been spent fighting the fire.  That does not include damages.
  • Good news is that both Church Ranch and the famous Jack English Cabin in Pine Valley survived!  Both were wrapped in fire-resistant foil and cleared before the fire came through.
  • Most evacuation orders have been lifted and life is starting to return to normal for some people affected by the fire.
  • That being said, life around Soberanes is certainly not back to normal for everyone.  The LP within Monterey County remains closed, this includes all campgrounds other than the few along Hwy 1.  All California State Park campgrounds remain closed as well.
  • We remain optimistic that portions of the forest will reopen once Soberanes reaches 100% containment and we’ll certainly keep you posted as things unfold.

RAIN?  Yes, rain.  This past week saw almost a half inch of rain fall in some parts of the Southern Los Padres, mostly in the Mt. Pinos and Ojai Ranger Districts.

• And don’t forget the LPFA Used Camping Gear Sale tomorrow, 10am at Tucker’s Grove in Goleta!  It’s not too late to donate as well.  Just bring your used camping gear to the sale at least 30mins before the sale starts.

That’s it for now folks…..  Coming soon we’ll share an update from National Public Lands Day on the Lion Canyon Trail, some exciting news about Matilija, the year in Wheeler Gorge, hunting season, upcoming campground changes and more…..  Hang in there and have a great weekend!

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.

— • — • — • —

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.

— • — • — • —
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

What Dog Days?: Madulce Trail Project, Soberanes and much much more…….

Madulce Peak & Trail
MadulceTrail
Hi Everyone – Happy Thursday,

Even though we’re in the dog days of summer, there is no shortage of activity across the Los Padres.  We’ve got a jam-packed email focusing on many of the events and incidents within the LP; lets get to it!  If there is anything missing or you’d like included in future emails, please let us know……..

MADULCE TRAIL PROJECT
The LPFA is leading a trail project along the Madulce Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness on the weekend of August 12-14.  We’ll be driving in to Alamar Saddle and setting up basecamp at Alamar Camp.  It will be a car-camping trip with a short drive up to the Madulce Trail to work both Friday afternoon and Saturday.  The work will be mainly logging and tread work along the top 2 miles of the Madulce Trail.  The work site is around 6,000ft, on the north side of Madulce Peak and mostly shaded by pine trees.  It should be a good location for working even in hotter temperatures.  Mike Smith is the project lead and we’re hoping for 15-20 volunteers.  Food and tools will be provided by the LPFA.  It’s going to be a great time and a nice opportunity to get into the backcountry to help any NDD issues you might be suffering from.  If you are interested in joining please email INFO@LPForest.org or check Facebook or Meetup for more details.  Hope to see you there………

Soberanes Fire – August 4, MappingSupport.com

Soberanes160804
SOBERANES FIRE
Quick update on Soberanes in the Monterey Ranger District.  The fire continues to grow and is primarily burning south into the Los Padres and Ventana Wilderness.  The fire has currently burned 51,000 acres and is 27% contained.  The FS just issued a new closure order, see attached PDF map for details.  The cause of the fire was revealed yesterday as being an illegal campfire in Garrapata State Park.  Twitter remains the best source for up-to-the-second information and Inciweb is the place for official information related to the fire.  There is some good news and bad news that also surfaced this week.  Good news is that there is a large-scale weather change in the forecast that will bring higher humidity and cooler temperatures to the area starting this weekend.  That will help.  The bad news is that fire personnel have been mentioning that Soberanes has the potential to burn over 170,000 acres before it’s all said and done.  The steep terrain and inaccessible country that we all love about the Ventana is making constructing fire lines virtually impossible.  Everything to the immediate south of the current fire perimeter is within wilderness, which means that very few man-made structures are at risk.  Mix in the cost and safety concerns associated with fighting fire in the difficult to access portions of the Ventana and it appears that the current strategy might be to construct fire lines around much of the Ventana and let the backcountry burn inside those fire lines.  This is the same approach that was used in the 2007 Zaca Fire.  If you look at the image above, red indicates the current fire perimeter and the blue lines are the projected fire lines.  We’ll keep you posted as the fire progresses and lets all be sure to thank the fire and support crews and wish them the best of luck as they continue to get the upper hand on Soberanes.

FOREST 411
Reyes Peak (aka Pine Mtn) Road has reopened in the Ventura Backcountry.  Along with the road reopening both Pine Mtn and Reyes Peak Campgrounds have also been reopened.  Note: Reyes Peak Trail towards Haddock remains closed as does the Piedra Blanca Trail between Upper Reyes and Pine Mtn Lodge.  These closures were a result of last months Pine Fire.

• The Los Padres National Forest is hiring within the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program.  Interested candidates can apply at www.USAJobs.gov starting 8/11 – 8/25.  Additional information available here.

SLO based VWR’s Bill and Sandy Obermeyer, Debbie and Ron York & Ashley and Joe Dillard
worked the access road for Rinconada Trailhead making it drivable for equestrian trailers once again.  A+!
RangerBill
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!


August 7: West Fork Cold Spring Trail Maintenance, SBMTV, Santa Barbara Frontcountry
August 11: Santa Ynez Valley Historic Museum, Chumash Trails
August 12-14: LPFA Madulce Trail Sawyer Project
August 13: A-Zone South Hunting Season Starts

September 8: Santa Ynez Valley Historic Museum, Walking El Camino Real
September 11: Island View Trail Race
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 13: Santa Ynez Valley Historic Museum, Rangers of the San Rafael Wilderness
October 16: D-13 Hunting Season Starts
October 22: LPFA Used Gear Sale
October 29: LPFA First Aid & CPR Training

SOBERANES

Good Afternoon Everyone,

Hope you are all doing well and that you and your loved ones are safe and sound.  We’ve had a busy few weeks across the Los Padres with two new devastating fires affecting the forest.  No sooner was the Pine Fire wrapped up in Ventura County, when two new fires broke out, both starting Friday July 22.  The Sand Fire, in Angeles National Forest, has burned just over 41,000 acres with 98% containment.  While Sand won’t burn into Los Padres soil, much of the far southern portion of the Los Padres has been affected by the smoke and ash from the fire.  Good luck to the fire crews and everyone involved with the Sand Fire.

— • — • —

The Soberanes Fire started the morning of July 22 just south of Carmel within Garrapata State Park near Soberanes Canyon.  Over the past 11 days the fire has spread quickly, burning over 40,000 acres with only 18% containment.  Soberanes has destroyed 57 homes, 11 outbuildings and continues to threaten over 2,000 additional structures.  The fire has burned south into the Los Padres and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon with estimates of full containment being August 31. 

The LP is currently closed north of Nacimiento-Ferguson Road and all state parks along Hwy 1 are closed between Point Lobos and Julia Pfeiffer Burns.


Soberanes Extent within the Los Padres, as of August 1
SoberanesPerimeter
There is no shortage of information throughout the World Wide Web documenting the devastation, current evacuation orders, maps, first hand accounts, photos, etc….  Below are a few links to keep an eye on:

Twitter: #SoberanesFire
Inciweb
Big Sur Kate blog
Mapping Support Interactive Map
Los Padres National Forest

Smoke from Soberanes has been seen as far away as Reno, San Francisco and San Luis Obispo.  There’s quite a few families displaced as a result of the fire and tragically one death caused by a dozer rolling.  If you are interested in helping donate to the families affected by the fire, here are some options:

How to help the fire victims
Donations via Big Sur Kate site
Go Fund Me in memory of dozer operator Robert Reagan

In addition, the Nature Store at Big Sur Station has been re-purposed as a donation and distribution center for Big Sur based people who have been affected by Soberanes.  For more information on how you can contribute please reach out to Tim Bills at BigSur@LPForest.org

In the meantime, the fight against the fire continues.  Fire lines are being built where they can but the steep terrain is making it tough to get the upper hand on Soberanes.  With wilderness to the south, it could be a while before Soberanes stops burning.  Thank you to everyone involved in the fire, please be safe…..

Fires Wrap Up & Condor Trail Talk

Condor Trail View, SLO Backcountry
BryanConant_SLO2SB_1600x400
TRAIL TALK: Condor Trail with Brittany Nielsen

Don’t forget that the 2nd LPFA Trail Talk event is this Thursday at 6:30 in Santa Barbara.  We’ll be welcoming CT Thru-hiker Brittany Nielsen to talk about her journey and time along the Condor Trail.  Space is limited so be sure to sign up ahead of time.  More information can be found here and you can get your tickets here.  We’ll have a raffle featuring items from Patagonia and REI and some other fun and surprises.  Hope to see you Thursday night!

Also, Brittany will be appearing on KCSB radio 91.9 today at 5:00pm.  Check it out on the air or streaming.

Pine Fire Drop, Ventura County Sisar Peak Camera PineFireSisar

FIRES ON THE MOUNTAIN

The skies are currently clear but it’s already been a busy 2016 fire season.  It seems that as soon as one fire is under control, another one is just getting started.  Lets hope that trend stops with the Pine Fire.  Currently all three major LP fires are over 90% contained with mostly mop-up duties remaining.  While some closure orders remain active, the FS has been reopening some previously closed portions of the forest.  See below for more information regarding each incident and remember that the Los Padres remains in Level III fire restrictions.

COLEMAN FIRE – Started June 4 – 2,520 acres – 96% contained – Monterey County
Inciweb Information
Map Image

SHERPA FIRE – Started June 15 – 7,474 acres – 100% contained – Santa Barbara County
Closure Order
Inciweb  Information
Map Image

PINE FIRE – Started June 30 – 2,304 acres – 93% contained – Ventura County
Closure Order (and attached)
Inciweb Information
• Map Image (see attached)
Article about mules supporting fire crews

See, there still is some water out there!  Big Sur Cascade
Remember to check HLP for more recent water information

BigSurCascade
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!


July 21: LPFA Trail Talk Series, Condor Trail
July 24: REI Trail Run Series, Elings Park

August 11: Santa Ynez Valley Historic Museum, Chumash Trails
August 11-13: LPFA Madulce Trail Sawyer Project
August 13: A-Zone South Hunting Season Starts

September 8: Santa Ynez Valley Historic Museum, Walking El Camino Real
September 11: Island View Trail Race
September 14: LPFA Backpacking Fundamentals Class
September 24: National Public Lands Day Trail Project, Lion Canyon Trail, Ojai

October 13: Santa Ynez Valley Historic Museum, Rangers of the San Rafael Wilderness
October 16: D-13 Hunting Season Starts
October 22: LPFA Used Gear Sale
October 29: LPFA First Aid & CPR Training

Condor Trail Talk Series & Pine Fire

CT_Banner

Hi Everyone,

We’ve got some exciting news to share about the LPFA Trail Talk series of events.  Brittany Nielsen will be coming up to Santa Barbara on July 21 to give a talk about her 2015 experience thru-hiking the 421 mile Condor Trail from Lake Piru (Ventura County) to Bottcher’s Gap (Monterey County).  This is our second Trail Talk Series event and will once again be held at the Santa Barbara Veterans Hall off Cabrillo Blvd right across from the beach.  The talk is free for LPFA members or $10 for guests and includes a complimentary social happy half-hour both before and after the talk.  We’ll top it off with a few additional speakers, some trivia games and a raffle.  You can learn more on www.LPForest.org, become a LPFA Member here or get your tickets directly at EventBrite.  If you have any questions about your LPFA membership, please contact INFO@LPForest.org.  Thanks everyone, Brittany has a great story to share and we hope you are interested in attending.  Looking forward to seeing you there……..
PINE FIRE, SESPE WILDERNESS
PineFireMap160630

Another wildfire started Thursday morning along Pine Mountain in the Ventura Backcountry.  The exact location of the fire is still being worked out but the map above is the best information we could find as of now.  The Pine Fire is along the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail (also part of the Condor Trail) in the vicinity of Haddock Camp and the upper reaches of Beartrap Canyon.  This is a very steep and rugged portion of the forest in the neighborhood of 6,000ft elevation.  The area features large rock outcrops with patches of chaparral around predominantly pine trees.  The Pine Fire is currently at 300 acres and is being hit hard with air tankers and fire crews.  The weather forecast for the weekend is promising as winds should be light and temperatures are going to be on the lower side.  There are road closures as a result of the fire and both Hwy 33 and Lockwood Valley Rd are scheduled to be closed to thru-traffic this weekend.  If you’d like to keep an eye on the fire, your best bet is to use Twitter and follow #PineFire or on Inciweb.  Both the Wolf Fire (2002) and Day Fire (2006) burned near here but we don’t know when the last time this area specifically burned.

Best of luck and thanks to everyone involved in fighting the Pine Fire!

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