It’s Time to Reopen the Forest

The Hurricane Deck shed a few layers during the January storms. Remarkable seeing all the recent slides coming off the southern face.

Dear Los Padres National Forest,

It’s time to reopen the forest.

It was the right decision to close the Los Padres Forest on January 13 after the devastating rains earlier that week. There was so much damage across our region, so many closed roads and so many unknowns. Closing the forest at that time in order to focus on making sure people were okay was certainly a wise decision.

Since then, over the past 6 weeks, you have done a great job of clearing roads, repairing infrastructure and leading the forest-wide damage assessment effort. Many of your partners, including the LPFA, have participated in these assessments as well. The LPFA alone has now surveyed over 200 miles of trails across the southern four ranger districts and altogether with other partner groups and Forest Service staff we’ve probably collectively seen most of the forest by now. The damage across the forest is unprecedented and certainly daunting for those of us who work to keep the forest trails open and passable. We’ve documented and shared more photos of trail damaging slides and gullies than we’d ever want to see. There is certainly a lot of work ahead of us in order to bring the trails back to where they were before the storm damage. It’s going to take some time for sure.

The Forest Service has been busy clearing roads, photo Beeman

While the extent of the trail damage is significant, we have not seen the type of showstopper trail damage that would warrant the majority of the forest remaining closed. Most of the trail damage we’ve seen are obstacles that savvy forest-users can easily walk around or bypass. While that’s not ideal, we can’t wait for every trail issue to be repaired, that’s going to take years. We understand that there are going to be some roads and trails which will need to remain closed. Some of these select trail closures may last months and in some cases years. Speaking on behalf of the forest-users, we understand the damage and we’re okay with having some of the trails remain closed.

We also understand that we won’t have the same road and trailhead access this season as we’re used to having in the past. That’s okay, we just want to get back into the forest and go where we can. Please, it’s time to reopen the forest.

We realize there is a laundry list of things to do before a forest closure can be lifted. More signage is likely needed, information shared and of course continuous trail maintenance is always needed; more so now than ever. The trail groups across the forest have been working like crazy these past 6 weeks repairing as many of the bad sections of trail as we can. A lot of progress has been made and many of the most popular trails are currently in fine shape.

Let us know how we, your partners and forest-users, can help move this forward. There are thousands of volunteers across the forest who would love to help however we can in order to get portions of the forest reopened. We’re here to help, please let us know how and what might be needed?

It would be a shame to have another beautiful wintery-spring weekend come and go without people enjoying their Los Padres. It’s time to reopen the forest. Let us know how we can help make that happen.

Thank you for all your work – sincerely,

Your Forest Users

Two movies for the price of one…. a Gandalf at the infamous Cliffs of Insanity…. You Shall Not Pass! The Santa Cruz Trail needs to remain closed.
Oak Flat along the Sespe, how nice are those pools going to be? Most of the Sespe will remain hard to access due to the extended closure of Hwy 33.
The San Rafael Wilderness, prime Los Padres backpacking. The Forest Service has done a great job clearing the road to NIRA.
Where’s the trail? Some of the trails don’t exist anymore, keep your eyes peeled for recently placed cairns and flagging. Photo Beeman
Lots of road damage remains, making for long road hikes or rides just to get to the usual trailhead. That’s okay, right? Hi Mtn, photo Toejam
ll the usual forest-wide trail organizations are working hard to repair the gnarlier sections of trails. Helping to get the forest reopened.
Let’s do this! It’s time to reopen the forest. Photos LPFA & Montecito Trails Foundation.

A Quick Guide to Help Parents Combat Nature-Deficit Disorder

Photo by Laura Marks on Unsplash

While nature conservancy and various environmental organizations continue to take steps to curb nature-deficit disorder, parents often still feel at a loss in how to help their children connect. Not every child is born into a family that hikes or camps regularly, and then there’s the struggle with limiting screen time since most kids are loath to put away their devices.

To help kids connect with nature more, especially if you’re a family that isn’t particularly outdoorsy, it’s going to take some creative thinking and some exploration on everyone’s part. And it’s also going to require parents to let go a little. This means allowing your kids to climb a tree, go for a hike or find ways to help them connect with animal life. If you find the right activities, you can all get comfortable with nature and learn to enjoy the great outdoors.

The Los Padres Forest Association is dedicated to protecting the Los Padres Forest so that it stays safe and open for people to enjoy. Learn about our volunteering opportunities!

Children Need to Spend More Time Outdoors

Learn about the risks of too much time inside and why your kids should spend more time in nature.

Connecting Kids to Nature: We Need to Get Childhood Back Outside

Nature Deficit Disorder Has Real Consequences

Kids Need Adventure – Parents Need to Teach Them How

Backyard Fun

To start enjoying the benefits of nature, all you and your family need to do is open the door and step outside.

Parents — Stop Worrying and Let Your Children Climb Trees!

14 Easy Ways to Make Your Backyard More Fun

How to Identify Different Types of Trees

Birding 101: Get Started Birding With Kids

How to Safely Observe Wildlife from Your Home

Set Up an Adventure!

Time in the backyard is great, but you can really immerse yourself in nature with these ideas.

Volunteer with the Los Padres Forest Association!

Preparing for Your First Family Hike
A Beginner’s Guide to Family Camping
7 Rules for Teaching Kids to Fish the Right Way

This list is barely the tip of the iceberg on ways to help your family connect with nature. It might be a little uncomfortable at first, but don’t let a bad encounter or experience turn you off. Be open-minded and try everything. Before you know it, you’ll all be avid outdoor enthusiasts.

Article by Jenny Miller –