Los Padres Updates, News, Pine Mountain and Much More…..

Not just another LP Sunrise

The Los Padres Forest Association stands with the collective effort to change the inequalities that persist across our country and the world.  We believe racism has no place in nature, within the forest, on the trails or across society and we are in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  As as organization, the LPFA has committed to ensuring that we are inclusive and welcoming to diverse communities, while increasing our outreach specifically towards the Black community – LPFA Board

View west across Pine Mountain from high atop Reyes Peak

REYES PEAK FUEL REDUCTION PROPOSAL

The Forest Service recently shared a ‘Forest Health and Fuels Reduction’ proposal that would impact the western spine of Pine Mountain roughly between Hwy 33 and Reyes Peak within the Ventura Backcountry.  The proposal calls for forest thinning (selective clearing of chaparral and trees) along 755 acres of Pine Mountain following the general path of an existing fuel-break.  The intent of forest thinning is to reduce fuel loads in the hopes of minimizing the impacts of future fire events.  We could ramble on and regurgitate statistics about flame length, forest floor accumulation, sensitive species impacts and historic tree densities but we strongly encourage you to read the information for yourself, click here.  Somehow, miraculously, the crest of Pine Mtn has not burned within recorded fire history and opinions vary greatly as to how best to control or not to control wildfires in that portion of the forest.  We’ve had the opportunity to speak with the FS about this proposal and we’ve also heard from individuals and groups who adamantly oppose the idea of fuel reduction.  Some think the best way to prevent catastrophic wildfire damage is through defensible forest thinning and fuel breaks whereas others argue that the prevention efforts are more damaging to the forest and that in the case of a large fire those prevention features won’t work anyway.  We encourage everyone to study up, read the proposal, visit Pine Mountain, fly through on GoogleEarth, browse social media, ask questions, talk to everyone you can and try to attend any of the upcoming Forest Service public online meetings (there will be more). Remember, this is only a proposal and the Forest Service will be accepting public comments until June 30 so please take some time and share your opinions.

Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, partially reopened and 100% helping educate forest-users, photo J. Stichter

LP FOREST REOPENING UPDATE

The Los Padres Forest has been slowly but surely returning to “normal” and following the lead of both the State of California as well as each of the individual counties in their efforts to reopen.  Here’s the latest and greatest from across the forest:

CAMPING
As mentioned in the last email, most of the campgrounds across the forest have reopened with the remaining Forest Service managed campgrounds scheduled to reopen June 19, just in time for Padres Day Weekend (how appropriate).  We’ve been hearing that many of the campgrounds have been full so please check ahead of time with either Parks Management or the Forest Service to make sure there is availability.  The usual dispersed camping options remain available across the forest other than roadside camping along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.  If you’re not sure if camping is allowed or not, it’s always a good idea to check in with the FS ahead of time.  While the Ranger Stations remain closed to the public, FS staff are answering calls and assisting the public as usual.

HIKING, RIDING & BACKPACKING
The trails continue to be open for backpacking, riding and hiking other than the continued closure of the western portion of the Pine Ridge Trail (Big Sur, reopen Fall 2020?) and the recent closure of Santa Paula Canyon (Santa Paula, reopening July 31, 2020).  We’ve been getting a lot of recent trail/camp reports through HikeLosPadres.com and for the most part conditions remain very good for backcountry trail use. 

OHV & ROADS
Most of the gates, roads and OHV trails across the forest should be open and ready to roll.  The only closures we’re aware of are the continued closure of Dry Canyon and Dome Springs, the continued closure of the La Brea (more on that later) and the continued closure of East Pinery, Pino Alto, Cumbre and Figueroa Mountain Lookout Road.

It’s a good time to be in the forest.  Be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast and pay special attention for excessive heat and potential thunderstorms.  And of course, please post whatever you find on HikeLosPadres when you return…….

Choose your own adventure, Sespe style, photo Sonia C.

FOREST 411

• The LPFA is hiring for our Program Manager position.  You can read more here but we’re looking for a wonderful person to help manage a variety of our existing programs while also developing and driving new forest programs.  This is a very exciting opportunity for us and we can’t wait to hear from some of you soon.  Please email with questions, thanks!: INFO@LPForest.org

• The LPFA has been allowed to reopen the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center following Ventura County COVID procedures. We’ve been open the past couple Saturdays and have been trying to help the record number of people who have been visiting the Los Padres.  We are greeting all guests outside the Visitor Center, following isolation and face mask practices and attempting to get them answers without having them enter the building.  It’s been really fun helping the public and sharing information about which trails to explore and what camping options might be best in the Ventura Backcountry.  That being said, we could use volunteers to help at Wheeler Gorge.  If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions, please email us at: WheelerGorge@LPForest.org. Thanks……

• We’ve shared this a few times over the past 2-3 years but the bridge construction project along Sunset Valley Road appears to be happening soon.  We’ll share more when details are finalized but it looks like Sunset Valley Road will be closed to all vehicle access at Cachuma Saddle from roughly mid/late July through the end of October while the two bridges are constructed.  Both Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds will be closed and it is unsure if the public will be allowed to hike/ride down Sunset Valley Road in order to access the trails along the north side of Fig Mtn (we’ve been asking for public access).  Access to NIRA or any of the regular Manzana trailheads will likely be prohibited for everyone.  August – October is not the most popular time for Sunset Valley but the closure will certainly impact this years A-Zone hunting season.

• Don’t forget, you can always support the LPFA by shopping at Amazon and donating a portion of each purchase to the LPFA through the AmazonSmile program.  Every little bit counts and we really appreciate the support.  Thank you!

• As California reopens, we are seeing small spikes in reported COVID cases.  Please remain diligent and continue with the now standard trail isolation practices

• Earlier this month the Forest Service shared their final Decision Notice for the La Brea Restoration project. While most of the decision was what we had expected, there were a few aspects of the final decision that were not included in any of the Alternatives that we’d been collectively working on over the past 5+ years.  We’ve got a few questions out to the FS about some of these changes as well as how these changes impact the Condor Trail and we’ll share the whole La Brea enchilada once those details are finalized.  Stay tuned…..

• There have been a lot of wildfires up and down the Central Coast over the past month, some are burning right now. Most of the fires have remained relatively small but please remember that the Los Padres is in fire restrictions and to stay alert and safe with your stoves or campfires where allowed.  Here is a link to get your California Campfire Permit and a list of where and what sort of fires you can have within the forest.

• We’ve been getting a lot of reports of poodle-dog bush explosions within the Thomas Fire scar of Ventura County. Watch out for those beautiful purple flowers!

• The LPFA is looking for a car or truck to help at one of our Visitor Centers.  If you’ve got a car/truck that you’d like to donate, let us know and we can certainly help with a tax write off – email INFO@LPForest.org. Thanks……

Summit of Mt Pinos 1927, LPNF archives

LPFA Hiring for Program Manager

LPFA – Program Manager

Job Description and Person Specification

About LPFA:

Founded in 1979, the LPFA is an official non-profit 501(c)(3) partner of the Los Padres National Forest.  Our mission is to care for the Los Padres Forest through education and boots on the ground restoration work.  Our forest-related activities include managing two visitor centers, assisting the Forest Service with ranger station retail sales, coordinating public educational events and trainings, trail maintenance and restoration, sharing of information with the public and anything else we can tackle in order to help the forest and help people enjoy the forest in a responsible manner.  The LPFA is operated and directed thanks to the help of our Board, Executive Director, Professional Trail Crew, staff and especially our magnificent supporters and volunteers.

Program Manager Position Overview:

The Los Padres Forest Association is seeking a full-time professional to manage, develop and grow our variety of forest-related programs.  These programs include:

  • Managing retail operations at five locations across the Los Padres Forest
  • Developing and scheduling forest-related educational events and programs
  • Managing the LPFA Membership program
  • Assisting with public outreach through social media
  • Working with the Executive Director, Board, staff and the Forest Service on a variety of forest-wide projects and programs
  • Providing general support for all LPFA programs and interests

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Great communication skills
  • Retail experience
  • Social media savvy
  • Basic web design knowledge
  • Reliable transportation
  • Multi-tasking and organization
  • Love of the Los Padres Forest preferred
  • Creativity and pizzazz

Work Locations:

This position will require periodic travel across the Los Padres National Forest but will be primarily working remotely.

Hours: 40 hours/week, work on weekends may be required.

Salary: Negotiable

Contact: Please email INFO@LPforest.org with questions or to apply for this position.

What’s up with the Los Padres…..

LP swimming hole season, the deeper the better, Spencer H. going deep to find this one

Hello Again,

Somewhat lost in the COVID shuffle was the amazing amount of late winter and early spring rain that the Los Padres received this year.  Remember all the snow we had early in the season around Thanksgiving and into early December?  Then no rain during what is historically our wettest months of January and February.  Seems like ancient history but remember our concern back then was the thought of a continued drought?  Then, magically, we were given a 2020 version of a “March Miracle” followed by a huge April of rain accompanied by even more snow.  As of now most of the forest has received around an average amount of rain for the season but what was really different this year is that unlike most years when snow is largely washed away by the next rainstorm, this year we didn’t have next rain storms and much of the early and late snowfall was allowed to melt gradually and percolate slowly into the ground.  So even while our rainfall was around average this year, the slow snow melt might equate to an even better summer season of flowing water.  We shall see…..

What better place to escape the COVID craziness than Lost Valley, photo Wheelwright

What’s up with the Los Padres….  The previous email focused mainly on what the LPFA has been doing during the COVID shutdown but now lets take a look at the latest and greatest changes across the Los Padres NF……..

MONTEREY RANGER DISTRICT CLOSED (mostly)
There have been a lot of FS announcements, closures and issued orders over the past months but the closure of the entire Monterey District was probably the most extreme.  This closure dates back to mid-April and pretty much closes all the trails, camps and forest roads across the Monterey District.  The few exceptions at the moment are Parks Management operated day-use areas along Highway 1 including Sand Dollar, Willow Creek, Mill Creek and Pfeiffer Beach (Arroyo Seco is set to reopen May 22).  This District closure order is set to expire June 1 and we’ll see what happens beyond that.  The Pine Ridge Trail will remain closed.

PARKS MANAGEMENT (PMC) DEVELOPED CAMPGROUNDS
Dating back to March, the Forest Service combated COVID by closing all Developed Recreation Sites across the forest (actually the Region).  The FS has been renewing the closure orders every two weeks or so and the latest order is set to expire June 1.  Starting June 1, the developed campgrounds across the forest that are managed by Parks Management will be reopening.  A list of those campgrounds can be found here.  We’re unsure exactly what COVID precautions PMC will be implementing as the campgrounds reopen but there will likely be some new changes in place.  Imagine that?

FOREST SERVICE CAMPGROUNDS
While PMC manages most of the developed campgrounds across the forest, there are some that remain under the management of the Los Padres NF.  These campgrounds have also been closed and are set to reopen June 19.  A list of these campgrounds can be found here, CLICK.

DAY-USE AREAS
In conjunction with the reopening of the campgrounds, many of the day-use areas across the forest are also reopening.  We don’t have exact dates as to when each of the day-use areas will be reopening but most should be open in the coming week or so.  First Crossing off of Paradise was opened this past weekend and along with it access to a number of day-use areas along the Lower Santa Ynez Recreation area.  If you have your heart set on a particular day-use area we strongly suggest contacting the FS, PMC or you can even try emailing us beforehand to see if its open.

FIRE RESTRICTIONS
We’ve covered most of the campgrounds and DUA’s, but there’s more.  On May 12 the LP instituted fire restrictions which now prohibit campfires outside of Designated Campfire Use Sites.  A list of Designated Campfire Use Sites can be found here, CLICK.  Note that all backcountry campfires are now prohibited. The tricky part right now is that most of the Designated Campfire Use Sites remain closed as part of the larger scale COVID closure (see above).  A bit confusing to say the least but it should start to make more sense once the PMC campgrounds reopen June 1, which are most of the Campfire Use Sites.  We’ve heard a lot of grumblings about why we’re going into fire restrictions so early this year with so much water and greenery remaining across the forest.  While this hasn’t been officially stated, some of the decision has to be COVID related and taking extra precautions in order to avoid bringing fire crews together at a time like this.  Makes sense.  Also, with so many people using the forest, many of whom must be inexperienced, it’s probably a good thing to have stricter fire restrictions this year.  Stoves are still allowed in the backcountry and remember to take the 3 mins ahead of time and get a California Fire Permit.  Camping without campfires is fine, give it a try.

SEASONAL GATE CLOSURES
Last one…  Most of the Los Padres seasonal gates usually open May 1 after the snow has melted and FS personnel have had time to survey and repair storm damaged roads.  Believe it or not, this year is a bit different and most of the gates did not open on May 1.  Late last week the FS issued an update on the seasonal gates stating that most of the regular gates and OHV/moto trails will remain closed until May 22.  You can see a map of the closed trails here, CLICK.  That being said, across the forest we’ve seen some gates open that were supposed to be closed and others closed that should be open.  We suggest that if you’re headed out to a trailhead and are not sure if the gate will be open, please reach out to the forest ahead of time.

That should cover most of the current forest orders, established reopening dates and general forest this/that.  There’s a lot to digest right now and we’re certain more unexpected change is yet to come.  Best thing you can do right now is stay safe, enjoy the forest, avoid crowds and remain patient.  Let us know if we can help with any of your forest adventure planning………

One last epic oasis swimming hole picture to cool you down, photo Caliguire

What’s up with the LPFA…..

Change? New normal? Life will never be the same? There’s even a new section of trail bypassing the Mono Jungle? It’s not all bad.

Hello Friends,

First off, we hope you and your loved ones remain safe and continue doing your best to follow COVID procedures. It’s been a while since we’ve sent out a LPFA update and there’s so much information to share that we’ll be sending out two emails this week. The first email will cover What’s up with the LPFA and the second email will focus on What’s up with the Los Padres. Hopefully you’ll find both emails informative, insightful and a bunch of other positive adjectives too. Let’s get to it……

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New trail sign at the junction of Santa Cruz Trail and 19 Oaks,
the old one burned in the 2016 Rey Fire, photo Mike Smith

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE COVID TUNNEL

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end” – Robin Sharma

This is not a good time to suffer from metathesiophobia, fear of change. It’s hard to think back two months to when the coronavirus really started changing our lives and then consider all the changes that have occurred during that time. No more shaking hands. No more school. No more toilet paper. No more seeing friends or family. No more traffic (so they say). Shopping nightmares. Home Depot is the scariest place on Earth. Some people wearing masks. Everyone wearing masks. You stop paying attention for an hour, a day, a weekend and the whole world has changed, again. The amount of change has been crazy and our life in and around the Los Padres has been no different. Think back to March and consider all the change the forest has seen. COVID! Work stops. Gyms close. People have time. Outdoor recreation is deemed essential, yippee! People flock to the trails in record numbers. Insanely busy trailheads. Lots of parking tickets. Lots of trash. Most people behave, some don’t. Change needed. Trails close. Forests close. People go to other forests. New rules, change, rules, change, change, change….. As the Sharma quote above states, it’s been hard and it’s been messy. So what about the gorgeous? The gorgeous is there too, it’s the people on the trail and in the forest who usually don’t have time. The gorgeous are the Instagram posts of first time snake sightings and the simple happiness of being outside. The gorgeous is the family planning their first overnight backpacking trip and the gorgeous will hopefully be a new generational appreciation for nature and trails that wouldn’t have existed without the hard COVID change. It’s true that the forest has taken a messy beating in spots with all the people excitedly hiking to see waterfalls and tromping to find swimming holes. The messy has been a black eye on the forest for sure but black eyes heal. We need to believe that as time goes by and the daily reality of hard and messy COVID-19 fades, the gorgeous new societal appreciation of nature will remain. Lets hope, because we certainly need change like that.

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Storm caused rock-slides covering trails have not changed, #BeforeandAfterLP Aliso Trail

WHAT’S UP WITH THE LPFA…..

We miss you volunteers. We miss the volunteer trail projects. We miss the Working Vacations. We miss “COFFEE’S READY, HUHGJH”. We miss meeting new friends and catching up with old friends. We miss Otis, Susie, Kathleen and Richard packing in the food and supplies. We miss Mike Smith and the crosscut saws. Far and away the worst part of this COVID __ has been missing the Working Vacations and missing our volunteers. Since March we’ve had to postpone close to a dozen trail projects from SLO down through Fillmore and while we don’t have any firm reschedule dates, we are still hoping to do a 10-day Working Vacation on the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail based at Beartrap Camp at some point this summer. There will certainly be plenty of water this year, we have Rich the master chef lined up and as long as it’s not TOO hot and the Forest Service gives us approval, we’d love to spend a week working from Beartrap up to Haddock. Stay tuned and hopefully you can join us – imagine that, right?

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While our larger volunteer projects have all been postponed, we’ve been able to schedule smaller “household” types of volunteer projects focused on cleanups, sign installations and even repairing Forest Service gates. Speaking of signs, if you’d like to help, we are raising money to build and install new signs along the Matilijs Falls Trail outside of Ojai and would love your support. We’ve also been helping the Forest by installing over 25 Poo-Poo Project vent screens designed to protect raptors, owls and other birds from flying into vault toilets across the Los Padres.

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Fortunately we’ve been able to continue using the LPFA Trail Crew for trail restoration projects throughout parts of the forest. A tree or a rock-slide comes down across the trail and we’re able to work with the Forest Service and some of our partner organizations to help keep the trails open. We’ve also been able to work on a few select larger projects including the Mono Jungle Reroute, Buckhorn Trail, a bunch of work with Montecito Trails Foundation, a really cool Thomas Fire Trail Fund partnership on the Murietta Trail and our continued work with Santa Barbara County Trails Council.

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Another huge downside of the coronavirus has been the closure of the two Visitor Centers across the Los Padres at Big Sur Station and Wheeler Gorge. While both sites remain closed, we are working with the Forest Service on plans to reopen each center and hope to have them open and once again providing information for the public sooner rather than later. Stay tuned…..

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And lastly we’ve been busy trying to help the public enjoy the forest in a responsible way. You wouldn’t believe the number of emails we get daily asking about trail recommendations. We spend a lot of time helping direct backpackers, hikers and trail-users towards less visited trails or FS admin roads, it’s actually a really fun part of the day. We’ve also seen record number of visitors on HikeLosPadres.com and have been working on some updates within the site with plans for larger updates hopefully coming soon as well.

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As you can see, we’re staying busy and trying our best to help out however we can. You’re always welcome to donate to the LPFA as well if you have the means and appreciate what we do. Thanks for all your support and we can’t wait to see you on a volunteer project hopefully soon……

Expect the What’s up with the Los Padres email soon….. THANKS!

The magic of the Los Padres is never more real than during those encounters with the locals, photo Silas

Los Padres Closures & COVID Trail Etiquette

Ice Cold Figueroa Mountain, photo Jarrett Smith

Hello Friends,

We hope you and your family are safe and doing your part as we deal with coronavirus. A lot has changed since the last LPFA email. California has issued a ‘stay at home’ order and we’ve followed suit by postponing all of our March and early April volunteer projects. We’ll see what happens beyond that and we’ll keep everyone posted as all things continue to change (by the hour).

The government is promoting outdoor recreation as being an essential activity and people are responding by getting out and enjoying their local parks, beaches and trails. While it’s great that people are out enjoying nature, there have been some instances of trail-overcrowding and in some places the overcrowding has led to additional trail closures. PLEASE DON’T LET THAT HAPPEN HERE. We’ve included some safety tips and guidelines below to follow as you head out to enjoy the great outdoors:

  • Do not use the trails if you have any COVID-19 symptoms or if you are feeling sick.
  • Maintain a 6-foot distance from other people along the trail. If you see trail-users heading your way, find an area where you can safely walk off the trail and let them pass. It doesn’t hurt to smile and say hello either.
  • Try to time your trail visit away from the typically busy times of the day.
  • Keep in mind that many public restrooms are closed, more on that below, so take care of business before heading out. You should also avoid touching any public drinking fountains, benches, etc… and take the necessary precautions both before and after in the case that you have to use public facilities.
  • Keep your dogs on leash, away from other trail-users or leave at home.
  • Stay in small family groups or alone while on the trail. If the trailhead is packed or parking is hard to find, go somewhere else or come back later. Our collective mission right now is to isolate not congregate.
  • If the trail is busy, then use this as an opportunity to discover lesser known trails. This is the main reason why some trails and forests are being closed. HikeLosPadres.com might be able to help you find a new less crowded trail to explore.

First Crossing is closed due to high water but likely won’t open due to coronavirus

FOREST CLOSURES

In response to coronavirus as well as the California Stay at Home order, the Los Padres Forest has issued a few forest-wide closures:

Again, this information is changing by the hour and we’ll keep everyone updated as soon as we hear anything different. In the meantime, if you have plans to head into the backcountry portions of the forest, we suggest contacting the nearby ranger district and seeking answers directly from the source. These are strange times for sure and we are extremely fortunate to have an incredible forest to enjoy. Be safe, take extra precautions and stay tuned-in as things are changing faster than ever……


Franklin Trail Majesty, photo Noe

FOREST 411

• The Tunnel Trail trailhead above Santa Barbara is currently closed as Southern California Edison conducts repair work to the access road between the trailhead and the Mission Creek bridge. The work is supposed to conclude March 27th but we’ve also heard rumors that there have been some delays. We’ll keep you posted or check social media for more updates……

• The Los Padres Forest has postponed any prescribed burns due to potential smoke impacts to the public.


Nature’s classroom…..

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!

March 2020: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training (POSTPONED)
March 20-22: American Canyon Trail Project, LPFA & SLOPOST (POSTPONED)
March 27: Dutra Flat Project, Toejam Trail Alliance

April TBD: Little Falls & Trout Creek Trail Sign Project, LPFA
April 3-9: Beartrap GMPB Sespe Working Vacation, LPFA (POSTPONED)
April 5: Ojai 1st Saturday (Sunday) Murietta Trail
April 11: Hwy 33 Adopt-A-Highway & Wheeler Cleanup
April 15: Pretty Strong Film, Topa Topa SB
April 16: Aliso Trail Collective, LPFA (POSTPONED)
April 16: Cachuma Lake Wildflowers, SB Library
April 18: Wheeler Gorge Open House
April 18-19: Davy Brown Earthday Trail Project, LPFA
April 25: State Trails Day SB, Jesusita/Tunnel Trails
April 29: LPFA Trivia at Night Lizard Brewing, SB

May 2-10: Big Cone Spruce Manzana Narrows Working Vacation, LPFA
May 2: Pine Ridge Trail Brushing, VWA
May 16: Pine Ridge Trail Brushing, VWA
May 21: Gaspar de Portola’s Route, SB Library
May 23-31: Indian Creek Working Vacation, Dick Smith, LPFA

June 6: National Trails Day, Location TBD

2020 Los Padres Calendar

HAPPY HOLIDAYS – Ready or not, it’s the holidays time of year again. That of course means parties and presents but it also means that 2020 is right around the corner…. In order to help decorate your office, kitchen or gear nook, the LPFA will once again be producing a Los Padres wall calendar for the upcoming year. 2020 will be our 5th year producing a Los Padres Calendar and our 8th year of calendars if you go back a few additional years to when we had waterfall only calendars. Anyway, the 2020 version will continue featuring photos of some of the spectacular animals, vistas, plants, sunsets, snow covered mountains, trail pics, waterfalls, ripping rivers, canyons, ocean views, rolling potreros and all the other stuff we love from across the Los Padres Forest. The calendars will be 17×11″, printed on high quality stock and available at Ranger Stations across the Los Padres. We are hoping they will be ready by the first week of December…..

PHOTOS NEEDED

We are looking for photo submissions in case you have a great photo or two of the Los Padres, preferably from the past 12 months. If we use your photo in the calendar we’ll of course credit you and also send you a calendar to grace your office and amaze your friends – “wait, that’s the Los Padres?” Be ready for that astonished response.

If you’d like to send in a photo or if you have any questions please email us at INFO@LPForest.org.

Thanks everyone and we hope to see some of your incredible Los Padres photos soon…..

RIP Madulce and D13 Kick Off

Madulce Cabin, circa 1983, photo Eldon Walker

Hello Friends,

20 years ago today (Oct 11, 1999) the Madulce Cabin was tragically burned to the ground as a result of either an accidental burning or arson (click here for more of the history).  The historic Madulce Cabin site is located in the heart of the Santa Barbara Backcountry, within the Dick Smith Wilderness and has a rich history dating back long before the Los Padres was known as the Los Padres. Before going up in flames, the much beloved Madulce Cabin was open to the public for shelter during bad weather or to briefly relive times long gone when forest rangers lived in cabins, stations and lookout towers across the Los Padres. It’s hard to imagine how different the forest must have been back then. Phone lines stretching across the mountains, connecting stations with fire lookouts and horse mounted rangers regularly patrolling the backcountry. Allow yourself to dream of how immaculate the trails must have been back then? Insert dream……. Times have changed, for better or worse, and the idea of phones across the mountains might not sound so good these days but back then it must have been a sight to behold. The Madulce Cabin site remains on the National Register of Historic Places but without the cabin it’s hard to recreate the feeling of what this site must have felt like during its heyday. There was some talk a few years back of trying to rebuild the Madulce Cabin. Local backcountry historians drafted a blueprint of the cabin and had secured private funding to rebuild an exact replica of the Madulce Cabin. Yet the story goes that due to modern Wilderness regulations the Forest Service was not able to permit the rebuilding of the Madulce Cabin. Pros and cons…..

In recent years, Madulce has been the location of quite a few LPFA trail projects and Working Vacations and remains a fantastic place to visit for backpackers or horse/mule packers. The area was mostly burned in the 2007 Zaca Fire but a few mature cedars and pines are still standing next to the cabin site. The horse corral remains along with some other remnants of the cabin era. Times change and perhaps one day a replica of the cabin can be rebuilt at Madulce to once again aid backcountry travelers. Maybe people will again seek refuge from snow storms inside the cabin and wait out the weather next to the wood burning stove. Then again, maybe not. Either way, today we look back at 20 years ago when the Madulce Cabin burned to the ground and along with it a treasured part of Los Padres history.  Lets hope that even without the cabin the memory and history will live on at least another 20 years too…..

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Doe a Deer D13, Summer 2019

D13 DEER SEASON

The general deer hunting season in Zone D13 starts this weekend October 12 and lasts through November 10. Within the Los Padres, D13 covers the Mt Pinos Ranger District east of Hwy 33 and the Ojai District north and east of Sespe Creek. Expect to see a lot more activity within D13 over the next month and in particular this long holiday weekend. If you aren’t planning on hunting, you may want to choose a different location for your LP adventures this weekend and over the coming few weeks.  Be safe, tread lightly, remember fire restrictions and good luck……

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National Public Lands Day Volunteers on Lion Canyon, photo Josephine Liu

FOREST 411

• While wildfire season is now a 12 month endeavor, we’ve got some “fire weather” headed our way over the coming days that include red flag warnings and potential preemptive power outages.  Be safe.

• There have been a few smaller wildfires within the Los Padres over the past month including the October 1 Ranch Fire (55 acres) near Pozo and the September 21 Lopez Fire (220 acres) outside of Arroyo Grande. The Lopez Fire was started by an improperly extinguished campfire.  Please, even if you are in a designated campfire use site, always remember to properly extinguish your campfire, it’s not worth doing it half ash. Like that?  It’s an original.  Royalties?

• Lastly, regarding wildfires, there were a couple articles recently written and a podcast related to the Los Padres and wildfires.  Check out History of Wildfires in Big Sur, an Outside Magazine Podcast about defending your home from wildfire and a LA Times piece discussing fuel breaks as related to the Thomas Fire. 

• Last month SLO based super meteorologist John Lindsey scientifically prophesied that “we could see lower than average amounts of rainfall in California this winter“.  And so the prediction game begins.  In the past we’ve heard weather predictions ranging from acorn droppings to ant activity but Mr. Lindsey is a living legend and a genius when it comes to weather.  We’ll see what happens…..  What do you predict?

• Over the past month sections of the following Los Padres trails have been maintained by your friendly neighborhood trail groups and the Forest Service: Lion Canyon Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Tunnel Trail, Jesusita Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail, Romero Trail, San Ysidro Trail, Franklin Trail, Pine Ridge Trail, Potrero John Trail, Reyes Peak Trail

• Big thanks to volunteers from Southern California Edison who showed up at toasty Dough Flat on a late July Saturday to help clean up the trailhead, paint the bathrooms, install signs and spend a little time clearing the trail up to the Condor Observation Point.  Thanks also to United Trail Maintainers of California for providing the trailhead sign and the Forest Service for the support!

What’s the opposite of a power outage? SCE volunteers bringing it!

Two more steel debris flow nets are being installed above Montecito on San Ysidro and Buena Vista creeks.  These two new nets will bring the total nets installed to sixNote that the information on the link is out of date.

• Here’s an feel-good story about some stranded hikers along the Arroyo Seco who were unable to reach the Police and cleverly used a message in bottle in order to get help.

• The Los Padres Forest and Ventana Wilderness Alliance will be moving forward with a trail reroute along the Pine Ridge Trail.  The PRT was damaged during the 2016 Soberanes Fire and subsequent 2017 storms to the extent that a reroute is needed near Barlow Camp.  No date has been set as to when the trail may reopen but hopefully sometime within the next year. Stay tuned…..

• Late last month the State Water Resources Control Board voted that more water needs to be released from Cachuma Lake in order to support the steelhead population.

• Super Volunteers, friends of the LPFA and Gossamer Gear ambassadors Rik and Paul were featured this past month in a Gossamer Gear profile series, click link above.  We know Rik and Paul really well, they are the main driving force behind so much good stuff across the forest including the LPFA Used Gear Sale, but it’s always cool seeing their influence extend beyond the Los Padres.  Great work guys!

• LPFA supporter and friend of the forest Kevin Cody has started a Facebook fundraiser on behalf of the LPFA.  We’ve known Kevin for many years and over that time he’s become somewhat famous for his dedication to keeping the forest litter free.  In particular he has a hatred of stray helium balloons.  It is not uncommon to be running or hiking with Kevin and then all of a sudden see him swimming through brush or scaling hillsides to retrieve that stray helium balloon that happened to plunge down in the Los Padres.  We’re willing to bet that no one has recovered more lost helium balloons than Kevin has.  Setting a great example Kevin and thanks for the additional support.  Happy Birthday!  If you’d like to support Kevin’s fundraiser, click here.

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Kevin Cody doing what he does, days deep in the Caliente Drainage

La Brea Decision, Volunteer Projects and is Fall Here?

Not safe to come out just yet, A-Zone South ends September 22, photo Humphrey

Howdy Friends,

It may not feel like it, especially right now with our recent stack of hot days but there is a subtle change occurring in the forest right now indicating that FALL IS COMING.  The days are certainly shorter, the nights a little cooler and we’re even seeing some colors changing in select plants and locations.  It’s a little early still but even the first hint of Fall is an exciting time here in the Los Padres.  For many, Fall means the start of the Los Padres backcountry season.  Time to say goodbye to the Sierras and hello to planning your next LP adventure.  For the LPFA, Fall also means ramping up our volunteer trail maintenance projects.  As usual, we’ve got a full forest-wide list of upcoming trail projects listed at the bottom of this email highlighted by an October Working Vacation at Bluff Cabin maintaining the Grapevine Trail.  We’re also partnering with REI and the Thomas Fire Trail Fund to work the Lion Canyon Trail as part of National Public Lands Day.  We’ll be kicking off another season of Ojai First Saturday projects in October and for those of you who might be free sooner we’ll be doing trail work on the upper reaches of the Sisquoc Trail this coming weekend.  The end of 2019 will also see some trail projects in the SLO backcountry and we are laying the groundwork for another Working Vacation on the Piedra Blanca Trail in the Sespe.  Lots of great projects lined up across the Los Padres!  We’d love to have you come out this Fall and volunteer on any (or all) of the upcoming trail projects.  For more details check the list at the bottom or email us directly: Volunteer@LPForest.org

LA BREA RESTORATION PROJECT DECISION

The Maps will be Changing, La Brea Decision

Ten years ago the La Brea Fire burned almost 90,000 acres in and around the northwest portion of the San Rafael Wilderness.  We all know the equation: (fire scarred land) + (lots of rain) = BAD and the big winter storms of 2011 destroyed most of the La Brea Canyon Road, which was a popular dirt road used to connect Colson and Miranda Pine.  As a result of the fire and flood damage, the Forest Service closed La Brea Canyon to vehicle use while undertaking a lengthy process of analyzing and determining how to best manage the La Brea area for future use.  It became known as the La Brea Restoration Project.  Over the past few years the FS formulated a series of four different action alternatives for how they might manage the La Brea area.  These actions were repeatedly shared with the public through FS hosted open house meetings as well as multiple rounds of public comment. As expected, there were many different public opinions on how the FS should manage the future of La Brea and after taking all the different sides into consideration the FS indicated that they were going with proposed action alternative 1. Alternative 1 included converting the creek portions of La Brea Canyon Road to non-motorized trail, decommissioning 5 campgrounds, converting 1 campground, creating 2 new trailheads and converting Kerry Canyon Trail to non-motorized.  On August 16 the FS released their final decision on the La Brea Restoration Project.  It matched with what was listed above with one large change, the new decision is calling for the complete decommission of the Kerry Canyon Trail.  Among other things, the Kerry Canyon Trail is a key 8-mile section of the Condor Trail and if Kerry was to be decommissioned that would prevent any future trail maintenance along Kerry Canyon.  Please click the above links for more information.  There is one final 45-day objection period which started August 16. Details and instructions for the objections can be found here on page 10.

FOREST 411

Lions are the king of the jungle.  Are they also the king of the Forest?Rugged Lion Canyon, roaring before the September 28th National Public Lands Day project

Wildfire Updates: Quick update on the larger LP wildfires
MILL FIRE (Monterey): 100% contained, 310 acres and closures remain in effect. – SNAIL FIRE (Mt Pinos): 100% contained, 279 acres

• Speaking of Snail Canyon, the famous bar and grill near Reyes Creek Campground has once again changed management and is now called Camp Scheideck Lodge Bar & Grill.  They are now open for business!

• And speaking of potential wildfires, here’s a link to a story about a Big Sur man who is on a mission to stop illegal campfires along the Big Sur Coast.  It’s certainly a good mission, lets hope for the best.

• And still speaking of fire potential, the National Science Foundation recently funded an extensive study of the Santa Barbara wind event known as sundowners.  Sundowners combined with wildfire is a nasty mix.  It will be interesting to follow this study over the coming years.

• The LPFA will once again host a Used Camping Gear Sale on November 3 at Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta.  This is a great opportunity for our members to get super good discounted deals on gently used backpacks (Gossamer Gear is hooking us up again!), tents and other car-camping and backpacking supplies.  We are taking donations as well in case you have an old backpack, tent of camping accessory that hasn’t recently seen the light of day.  All proceeds go towards our Trail Care Fund and back into the trails you love!  For more information about the event or where to donate, email: INFO@LPForest.org

BLACK BEAR EATING CONDOR!??!  That was the headline last week when a Ventana Wildlife Society camera captured a video of a black bear in Big Sur feeding on a calf carcass that was set aside for condors to eat.  It was big news since the Big Sur area doesn’t have much of a bear population but the headline claiming that a black bear was eating a condor certainly grabbed a lot of attention.

• The Federal Government filed a lawsuit against Southern California Edison for allegedly allowing the Rey Fire to ignite in August 2016.  Read details here.

• According to Ventura County law enforcement officials, 2018 illegal backcountry pot grow operations were down over two-thirds in comparison to 2017.  This could be a result of marijuana legalization.

Electric Bikes (E-Bikes) have grown in popularity over the past decade.  The current Forest Service regulations on E-Bikes is that they can be ridden on 1) Roads Open to All Vehicles 2) Trails Open to All Vehicles 3) Trails Open to Vehicles 50″ of Less in Width and 4) Trails Open to Motorcycles Only.  So basically E-Bikes can be ridden on public OHV/Moto trails and public FS roads, places where other motorized vehicles can ride only.  There are rumblings that the FS stance on E-Bikes might be changing.  Last week, the Department of the Interior took a big step towards allowing pedal assist E-Bikes on traditional mountain bike trails within National Parks.  This is bound to be a hot topic over the coming years as the FS figures out how to squeeze E-Bikes into an existing user-group or decides to create a new user-group altogether.  Stay tuned…..

• We’re in the dog days of summer heat but there were still a few LP trails worked on over the past month or so: Pine Ridge, Sisquoc, Romero, Jesusita, Terrace, Tunnel, Arroyo Burro, Cold Spring, Franklin, Deal, Buena Vista, Reyes Peak, Mission Pine

Big thanks to Goleta based Scout Troop 26 and Logan Beckstrand who worked with the LPFA to complete his Eagle Project installing 21 interpretive markers and a trailhead sign for the Aliso Canyon Interpretive Trail.
The previous trail markers and signs were destroyed in the White (2013) and Rey (2016) Fires.  Go check it out!

Los Padres Hunting & Wildfire Season

We certainly won’t be winning any lumberjack world championship crosscut speed competitions, but we got it done!  Sisquoc Trail, August 2019

HELLO FRIENDS – Tomorrow (August 10) kicks off the most popular hunting season here in the Los Padres, the Zone A South General Deer Season.  Zone A South encompasses most of the Los Padres from Monterey down through Ventura County except for Zone D13 which covers the Ventura/Kern Highcountry, click to see map here.  There will be a lot of hunter activity across the forest over the coming A Zone weeks, especially during the early weekends of the Season.  If you’re out and about you should expect to see hunters at most of the trailheads and along many of the access roads.  If you have plans to visit the forest this weekend, be aware of the extra activity and depending on your interests and where you plan on going, you may want to adjust your plans or at the very least wear bright colored clothing.  Good idea to leave the antler helmet at home this time around.

Remember that we are in fire restrictions and campfires are only permitted in designated campfire use sites.  Be safe!

Wildfire Season is Here!  Mill Fire overview, photo Nic Elmquist

WILDFIRE UPDATE & CLOSURES

The Los Padres had two wildfire scares over the past couple weeks with the Mill Fire (310 acres) along the southern edge of the Ventana Wilderness and the Range Fire (100 acres) off of Happy Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Thankfully both fires didn’t blow up and are near 100% containment.  The cause of the fires have not been shared.  There is a current forest closure as a result of the Mill Fire that includes Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, Mill Creek Trail, Kirk Creek Trail, South Coast and Cone Peak Roads.  Thanks to everyone involved in fighting the fires and lets hope for no more wildfire scares.

Bow wow wow!  Poodle dog flooding Dry Lakes Ridge, photo Perry Van Houton

FOREST 411

• There have been quite a few trails maintained over the past month or so across the Los Padres by the FS and your local volunteer organizations.  Here’s a quick list, remember you can visit HikeLosPadres.com for more information about these wonderful trails: Cold Spring, Marble Peak, Franklin, Matilija Falls, Poplar, Reyes Peak, Rattlesnake Canyon, Romero, Baron, Sisquoc, Terrace Creek, Jesusita

• Earlier this week the Los Padres made the news as a result of a car chase that ended up, then down, along the Sierra Madre Road.  The footage of the LP portion of the chase was released a few days ago and is absolutely crazy.  Please don’t try this!

• The LP also made the news this week thanks to a two-day search operation for a missing backpacker.  The solo backpacker and his faithful dog were attempting the 50-mile Lower Sisquoc Loop in the San Rafael Wilderness when he came down with a sickness on day 1 of his 3 day trip.  His family grew concerned when he didn’t make it home at the end of day 3 and contacted Santa Barbara Search and Rescue.  The extensive search began at sunrise on day 4 and thankfully the backpacker turned up mid-morning on day 5.  The backpacker was dehydrated but otherwise in good health.  Thankfully the backpacker had left an itinerary with his family and had taken the time to enter his name into the various trail registers along the route.  The combination of register entries and knowing his itinerary aided immensely in developing a search strategy for the lost backpack.  Remember that.  Alls well that ends well, great work by SAR and yes, the dog came back in one piece as well – probably had the time of his life!

• The trails above Montecito were hit extremely hard due to the Thomas Fire and subsequent January 2018 debris flows.  Many groups and volunteers have assisted in the reconstruction of the trails but we wanted to mention one specific group effort working on the lower Cold Spring Trail, specifically building a wall that is now affectionately known as the Don Wall.  The Cold Spring Trail was wiped clean after the debris flows and along with it the trailhead on the east side of Mountain Drive.  This section of trail had turned into a lumpy cliff face with a 20ft drop into the creek below.  It seemed impossible to repair but thanks to nearly two-months of hard work the trail has been fixed and is looking terrific!  Many people assisted in this process including: Los Padres National Forest, City of Santa Barbara, SB County, Montecito Trails Foundation, Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers, Multi-Use Trails Coalition, Thomas Fire Trail Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, SLO County Trails, SB County Trails Council, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, the LPFA ans especially Donn & Don.  It was really inspiring and fun working with so many people and completing our goal.  Thanks everyone…….

• The gate at Cherry Creek Road along upper Highway 33 is now open.  Cherry Creek provides access to the upper Matilija Trailhead as well as the upper Ortega Motorcycle Trail.

• Get your party hats on…..  Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday is today.  Woot woot!  Wonder if he will have candles on his cake….???  Happy Birthday Smokey Bear.

• Highway 1 along northern SLO County will have overnight closures at Ragged Point for 4 weeks starting on 8/12.

The before and after Don Wall, Cold Spring Trailhead