Los Padres Reopening & LPFA Job Openings

When the sun rises next, it will be over a freshly reopened Los Padres Forest

FOREST REOPENS

Effective tonight (9/22, 11:59pm) the fire related Emergency Closure Order will expire and the Los Padres NF will reopen. 

GREAT NEWS! We’re sure many of us will be sprinting out as soon as possible to visit our favorite trails, forest roads or camps. While the closure lifts at midnight, please understand that the Forest Service staff will be working hard tomorrow to reopen the gates and pull the closure signs. If you’re headed to a trail or road that is locked, you may want to give the FS a couple of hours to gets things reopened, just to be safe. We’d expect that the main gates will be opened early tomorrow and some of the further out ones might take a few hours to get reopened.

Understand too that the forest is reopening but some of the existing closures will remain in place. This includes:

— • — • — • —

STOVES ALLOWED

In addition to the forest reopening, the Forest Service is also revising the existing forest-wide fire restriction order. Under the new fire restriction order, campfires remain banned across the forest but the use of cooking stoves with shut-off valves is now permitted everywhere across the forest as long as you have a valid California Campfire Permit.

This is great news for us backcountry wanderers, as it once again means we can have hot coffee and warm meals as we head into the freezing months of fall and early winter. This revised order is effective September 23 and lasts through December 31. Remember that you need a California Campfire Permit, it only takes a few mins online and PLEASE CREATE AND CLEAR A SAFE DEFENSIBLE SPACE anytime you are using a stove. Let’s not mess this up…

— • — • — • —

The LPFA is looking to immediately fill two positions listed below, click for more details. If you’re interested in learning more, have any questions or want to throw your name into the hardhat, we’d love to hear from you…INFO@LPForest.org

— • — • — • —

UPCOMING EVENTS

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest single day of volunteerism on public lands. The forest closure hasn’t helped but there are a series of NPLD events scheduled on the Los Padres this year. We’ve called out a few below along with some other upcoming trail projects. Hope to see you out there once again enjoying and supporting our great Los Padres Forest.
Aug 14 – Sep 26: A-zone General Hunting Season

National Public Lands Day
September 25-26: Upper Santa Ynez Trail Work, LPFA
September 25: Tumamait Trail Tree Bucking, MPRD – email INFO@LPFOREST.ORG to sign up
September 25: Romero Canyon Trail Work, Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation
September 25: Santa Paula Canyon Cleanup, RPL & LPFW

October 22-24: Big Pine Mountain Trail Project, LPFA

November 6: LPFA Used Gear Sale
November 13: LPFA Member Party!!!

December: Santa Cruz Trail Project, Details TBD, LPFA

December: Hurricane Deck Trail Project, Details TBD, LPFA
December: Red Reef Trail Project, Details TBD, LPFA

— • — • — • —

Dust off your (gently) Used Gear! 

The LPFA will once again be hosting our annual members Used Gear Sale on Saturday November 6! For those of you who know, you know. For those who have not been, we’ll have an incredible assortment of used camping gear available highlighted by tons of packs and tents from Gossamer Gear

We’re also looking for used gear donations so if you have any gear (tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, mattresses, cook gear, etc…) collecting dust in the garage or closet, we’ll gladly take it off your hands and try to get it to folks who can breathe new life back into it. All proceeds go towards the LPFA Trail Care Program. Email us at INFO@LPForest.org if you’d like to donate anything or help out with the event. Hope to see you there, if not before!

Our Summer Membership Drive is almost over – join today! 

Members who join by September 25th will be invited to our Member Party in November and automatically entered to win great prizes at our raffle, from Los Padres experiences to outdoor gear, giftcards, merch, and more! 

Join or Renew your LPFA Membership to help us continue to care for the Los Padres National Forest. 

Los Padres Closure Extended

Hello Friends,

In case you hadn’t heard, the Los Padres Forest has extended its fire-related closure through 11:59pm on September 22. While most of the forests across California have reopened, the LP is one of five forests which will remain closed. For more information please visit the Los Padres NF website or check out the LPFA social media feeds.

We are certainly feeling very disconnected from the forest at the moment and I’m sure we’re all missing our favorite Los Padres vistas, trails, secret spots and recreational opportunities. Let’s collectively hope that the blanket closures work and we’re back enjoying the Los Padres by this time next week. Until then, do your part, rest up and be ready to get back out there in a few days. Thanks everyone…

— • — • — • —

Our last NPLD event was September 2019 on Lion Canyon outside of Ojai, different world two years later…

UPCOMING EVENTS

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest single day of volunteerism on public lands. The forest closure hasn’t helped but there are a series of NPLD events scheduled on the Los Padres this year. We’ve called out a few below along with some other upcoming trail projects. Hope to see you out there once again enjoying and supporting our great Los Padres Forest.

Aug 14 – Sep 26: A-zone General Hunting Season

National Public Lands Day
September 25-26: Upper Santa Ynez Trail Work, LPFA
September 25: Tumamait Trail Tree Bucking, MPRD – email info@lpforest.org
September 25: Romero Canyon Trail Work, Santa Barbara
September 25: Santa Paula Canyon Cleanup, RPL & LPFW

October 22-24: Big Pine Mountain Trail Project, LPFA

November 6: LPFA Used Gear Sale
November 13: LPFA Member Party!!!

December: Santa Cruz Trail Project, Details TBD, LPFA

December: Hurricane Deck Trail Project, Details TBD, LPFA
December: Red Reef Trail Project, Details TBD, LPFA

Dust off your (gently) Used Gear! 

The LPFA will once again be hosting our annual members Used Gear Sale on Saturday November 6! For those of you who know, you know. For those who have not been, we’ll have an incredible assortment of used camping gear available highlighted by tons of packs and tents from Gossamer Gear. We’re also looking for used gear donations so if you have any gear (tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, mattresses, cook gear, etc…) collecting dust in the garage or closet, we’ll gladly take it off your hands and try to get it to folks who can breathe new life back into it. All proceeds go towards the LPFA Trail Care Program. Email us at INFO@LPForest.org if you’d like to donate anything or help out with the event. Hope to see you there, if not before!

Our Summer Membership Drive is almost over – join today! 

Members who join by September 25th will be invited to our Member Party in November and automatically entered to win great prizes at our raffle, from Los Padres experiences to outdoor gear, giftcards, merch, and more! 

Join or Renew your LPFA Membership to help us continue to care for the Los Padres National Forest. 

Temporary Forest Closure

Sunset Valley has company

LOS PADRES NF: CLOSED

Due to extreme fire conditions and thinned fire resources, the Los Padres Forest (yes, all of it) will be closed effective tonight August 31 at 11:59pm. There are currently over 20 wildfires burning across California and not nearly enough fire resources to handle any additional fires. As a result, the Forest Service has decided to close all National Forests across California with a scheduled reopening date of 11:59pm on September 17. The news first broke last night and we’ve seen a mixed reaction across social media and the internet. We’d all like the fire agencies to have plenty of resources to go around, plenty of time to safely manage any fires, and the certainty that all forest-users would safely and responsibly enjoy their time in the forests. Unfortunately, that’s not the case right now and the closure order should help reduce potential new ignitions. No one is happy about this closure and we realize the inconvenience this causes, especially for A-Zone hunters, but everyone please do your part and stay off the forest. The closure will hopefully be lifted on the night of the 17th and hopefully by then this large scale closure will have worked. Until then let’s all hope for the best…be safe and stay cool! 

Click here for the full closure order

While the forest closure may keep you physically out of the Los Padres, you can virtually visit it with us, as we welcome Brian Sarvis to the LPFA Zoom stage to discuss the Condor Trail. Brian is a multiple time Condor Trail through-hiker and has just authored a new Condor Trail guide book, that is not a typo – exciting news! Click here to see the recording of the event.

FOREST 411

  • The Forest Service announced earlier this month that the cause of the Willow Fire, which burned 2,877 acres earlier this summer in the Ventana Wilderness, could not be determined.
  • Speaking of the Condor Trail, most of the condor news of late has been bad thanks to an uptick in lead poisoning and of course some wildfire caused deaths. But there has been some good news as well coming from across the western states with two wild condors recently spotted in southern Utah and a 29 year old Haku sighting in Tehachapi. Keep those positive condor vibes going!
  • Wishing a fond farewell to Silas who has been on our Trail Crew for the past couple seasons. During his time with the LPFA Silas worked to maintain and restor over 50 different trails while spending nearly a years worth of days in the forest. Good on ya Silas, hope to see you around…
  • Quick reminder that Sunset Valley Road as well as NIRA and Davy Brown Campgrounds will remain closed through March 2022. We’ll be sure to provide updates throughout the winter if and when the reopening schedule changes.
  • Located along the northern edge of the southern Los Padres, Cuyama is a key gateway for much of the Ventura and Santa Barbara backcountry. Here’s a great article discussing the history of Cuyama and some of our favorite cowboys who call the Sierra Madre home.
  • OR-93 Update: Last week, CDFW received trail camera video from May 15, 2021 showing a collared gray wolf in southwest Kern County. Though CDFW cannot confirm this at this time, it is possible the wolf could be OR-93 because of video evidence of the collar and the last known whereabouts of OR-93 (San Luis Obispo County on April 5, 2021). Even though the video evidence is more than three months old, CDFW will immediately investigate the area for additional information in hopes of finding wolf DNA for analysis. CDFW will also conduct flyovers to attempt to connect to the collar through radio telemetry. We are thrilled about the possible reappearance of OR-93 and can’t wait for more updates! 
  •  It’s that time of the year again…collecting photography submissions for the 2022 LPFA Calendar! Send us your best photos of the Los Padres (does not have to be from this year) and if your photo is selected, you’ll receive a free copy of the calendar! These make great holiday gifts as well as reminders to get out and enjoy the forest. Email INFO@LPForest.org with your photography submission. Deadline for submitting is October 31st. 

Dust off your (gently) Used Gear! 

The LPFA will once again be hosting our annual members Used Gear Sale on Saturday November 6!For those of you who know, you know. For those who have not been, we’ll have an incredible assortment of used camping gear available highlighted by tons of packs and tents from Gossamer Gear

We’re also looking for used gear donations so if you have any gear (tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, mattresses, cook gear, etc…) collecting dust in the garage or closet, we’ll gladly take it off your hands and try to get it to folks who can breathe new life back into it. All proceeds go towards the LPFA Trail Care Program. Email us at INFO@LPForest.org if you’d like to donate anything or help out with the event. Hope to see you there, if not before!

Little Sur Drainage, Monterey Ranger District

Our Summer Membership Drive has a few weeks left! Join or Renew your LPFA Membership to help us continue to care for the Los Padres National Forest. 

August Updates

The best oak frames can’t be bought at Aaron Brothers! Camuesa Peak, August 2021

Hello Friends, 

We hope you had a nice weekend and despite the heat and ever increasing lack of water, found some Los Padres exploration time. We always love seeing your photos of shaded trails, higher elevation peaks, and secret oases that many of you post on social media (remember to tag us!), email, or share on Hike Los Padres. Thank you as always and please keep sending them in, they are fantastic to see! As you know, there is rarely a dull moment here in the Los Padres and we’ve got some more news to share below including new closures, new characters, the onset of A-Zone hunting season and of course some upcoming events and projects that you no doubt can’t wait to hear about. Pins and needles for sure. Thanks everyone for following along and let’s get to it!

A-ZONE GENERAL HUNTING SEASON

We’re expecting another busy A-Zone deer season across most of the Los Padres. A-Zone starts Saturday August 14 and lasts through Sunday September 26. During A-Zone you can expect most of the forest roads and trailheads to be quite busy, especially on opening weekend. Hunters and forest recreationalists usually get along fine, but it is certainly busier than normal at many of the normally un-busy locations. Good luck and be safe! 

HOT OFF THE PRESS: 

The LPFA will once again be hosting our annual members Used Gear Sale on Saturday November 6! For those of you who know, you know. For those who have not been, we’ll have an incredible assortment of used camping gear available highlighted by tons of packs and tents from Gossamer Gear

We’re also looking for used gear donations so if you have any gear (tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, mattresses, cook gear, etc…) collecting dust in the garage or closet, we’ll gladly take it off your hands and try to get it to folks who can breathe new life back into it. All proceeds go towards the LPFA Trail Care Program. Email us at INFO@LPForest.org if you’d like to donate anything or help out with the event. Hope to see you there, if not before!

SUNSET VALLEY – NIRA CLOSURE

While this isn’t new news, we have heard complaints from quite a few people who didn’t realize the extent of the Sunset Valley Road Closure. Effective July 31, Sunset Valley Road and the Catway OHV (Old Catway) are closed due to bridge construction and repaving. The closure is expected to remain in effect until the end of March 2022 and includes both NIRA and Davy Brown Campgrounds. We realize this is going to impact a bunch of your recreational plans. For more information please click here.

— • — • — • —

FOREST 411

  • NEW CHIEF OF US FOREST SERVICE: Randy Moore, former head of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region in Vallejo, CA., was recently named chief of the U.S. Forest Service by President Biden. Moore, who will become the first African-American to lead Forest Service, will oversee twice as much land as all national parks. “Randy has been a conservation leader on the forefront of climate change, most notably leading the region’s response to the dramatic increase in catastrophic wildfires in California over the last decade,” said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service. Randy takes the reins as previous Chief Vicki Christiansen will retire from federal service in August after a 40 year career in forestry. We are excited to see what a Californian Forest Service leader will do for the Forest Service. Congratulations, Randy!
  • CURRENT DOLAN & WILLOW FIRE CLOSURES: The Forest Service has made a few revisions to the the fire closures within the Monterey Ranger District for the 2020 Dolan Fire and the 2021 Willow Fire. If you’re headed in that direction, be sure to familiarize yourself with what is and is not open. Thanks!
  • CONDOR NEWS: 2020 was a difficult year for many populations, including the endangered CA Condor. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported 42 condor deaths in 2020, including 34 in California. That’s nearly triple the dozen deaths recorded in the state a year earlier.” While lead poisoning was the number one cause of death for condors in CA, the Dolan Fire in Big Sur was a close second. You can support the care and protection of condors through the Ventana Wildlife Society and/or Friends of the California Condor.
  • ROSE VALLEY LAKES PROJECT: The Los Padres National Forest is proposing to restore Rose Valley Creek to its historical stream function, form, and habitat to benefit native aquatic species as well as provide streamside recreation. Check out the recording of the Public Workshop the Forest Service hosted on May 13th. 
  • TARGET SHOOTING BAN EXTENDED: The ongoing and increasing danger of wildfire prompted Los Padres National Forest officials to extend the recreational shooting ban on forest lands for six months, until Jan. 31, 2022. Recreational target shooting is prohibited in all areas of the National Forest except in the two shooting ranges under special use permit: Winchester Canyon Gun Club and Ojai Valley Gun Club; however, hunting with a valid State of California hunting license during open hunting season is exempt from this restriction.
Taped-off fire rings and BBQs along the Buckhorn road campsites
  • LPFA VOLUNTEERS PREP FOR HUNTING SEASON: With intense fire restrictions in place and A-Zone hunting season starting later this week, LPFA volunteers drove out along the Buckhorn Road to place flagging over the fire rings, post the current fire restrictions along all the camps and trailheads between Upper Oso and Alamar Saddle, and check the status of the locked gates. Meanwhile, another group of volunteers headed out to the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation Area to do fire clearance at the campgrounds and day-use areas and helped the FS remove an old, broken sign. Many thanks to our amazing volunteers! Want to get involved? Email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org
  • DISPERSED CAMPING ETIQUETTE: While one of the best thing about the Los Padres is the ability to find great dispersed camping, there definitely are some unspoken rules for how to make sure you are enjoying yourself while being respectful to others and nature. Check out the Dispersed Campers Guide to Etiquette before you head out on your next adventure. Getting out in the forest around the New Moon is a great time to practice your night photography skills
  • WHEELER GORGE VISITOR CENTER: We are open every weekend in summer, helping forest users by providing information and supplies. The Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail was also recently been worked by our LPFA volunteers and our photo contest to find a new cover for the brochure reprint resulted in some beautiful photography! Come on by! 
  • WELCOME FOREST SERVICE STAFF TO SBRD: The LPFA would like to extend a warm welcome to new District Ranger Daryl Hodges and Recreation Technician Alyssa Thornburg for the Santa Barbara Ranger District! We are so excited to have you on board, welcome to the SBRD!
  • SLO LAND PURCHASE & FOREST TRANSFER: The Wilderness Land Trust has just purchased 148 acres of private land to be transferred to the Los Padres National Forest near Hi Mountain and the Santa Lucia Wilderness. This purchase will provide an important wildlife connection between the existing Santa Lucia Wilderness and a proposed wilderness to the northeast, and is also a key link to the planned California Condor Trail, a 400-mile route connecting the southern and northern parts of the Los Padres National Forest.
  • CHERRY CREEK CLOSED: Due to the road being damaged and overgrown, the gate at Cherry Creek Road in the Ojai Ranger District will remain closed until it can be repaired. While you can’t drive on the road, it remains open for hikers and bicycles. Contact the FS with questions.
  • LA BREA CLOSURE RENEWED: The existing closure of the La Brea Fire Area has been renewed and extended. This includes the closure of the La Brea Road between Buckhorn and down to the bottom of Rattlesnake Canyon. We’ll share the official closure order next time or through social media.

Sunset Valley Road Closure: Cachuma Saddle to NIRA 2021-2022

CLOSED: Sunset Valley Road from Cachuma Saddle to NIRA, both NIRA and Davy Brown Campgrounds and the Old Catway OHV road / trail will be closed from July 30, 2021 through March 30, 2022

The Forest Service has been working with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and other partner groups to schedule the construction of two bridges which would replace the existing ‘Arizona crossings’ along Sunset Valley Road. When completed, the bridges will help assist aquatic organism passage within the Santa Maria, Sisquoc, Manzana and Davy Brown drainages. Sunset Valley Road is located in Santa Barbara County behind Figueroa Mountain and is most commonly used to access NIRA and the Manzana Trailheads. This bridge project has been in the works since at least 2017, with construction being delayed a few times due to COVID, etc…

In order to construct the bridges, the Forest Service will need to close both Sunset Valley Road and the Catway OHV (Old Catway) to all traffic including vehicles, bikes and hikers and as a result of the closure, both Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds will be closed.

READ THE CLOSURE ORDER HERE

The Arizona crossings at Davy Brown (left) & Lower Manzana (right)

While the initial reaction after hearing about this closure has been overwhelmingly negative, the long-term effects from the closure will be very positive. Obviously the bridges will greatly benefit fish passage along the Davy Brown, in addition the bridges will improve year-round access to NIRA and as an added bonus the Forest Service will be repaving Sunset Valley Road during the construction as well. This repaving might be worth it all by itself as that road has won the distinguished honor as the “worst road in the Los Padres” over the past couple years due to car-eating potholes.

The infamous first crossing of the Manzana. Pack up, walk 100ft, take your boots off….

NIRA is closed? Now what…..???

NIRA and the Lower Manzana is the main gateway to the San Rafael Wilderness and by far the busiest backcountry trailhead in Santa Barbara County, if not the entire Los Padres National Forest. There is no doubt that this 8 month closure is going to impact a lot of backpackers, hikers, equestrians and hunters who rely on NIRA and the Manzana for their backcountry access as well as Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds for somewhat easy and remote car-camping.

Forest-users tend to have favorite trails and camps that they revisit frequently and while that is terrific, this might be a good excuse to find a new favorite spot or search out that peak, camp or trail you’ve always wanted to visit. There are certainly plenty of other backcountry trailheads, trails and campgrounds worth exploring. We’re very fortunate in the Los Padres to have miles and miles of backcountry trails for all fitness and experience levels and quite a few other remote campgrounds worthy of loading up the larger tents and coolers.

If you have any questions about what other spots to check out, WE’D BE HAPPY TO HELP: check out HikeLosPadres or email us at INFO@LPForest.org and we can suggest a variety of trails and camps based on the time of year, what you are hoping to find and of course any of the current forest restrictions or closures.

And for those willing to hike the extra mile and push through some extra brush, just think how uncrowded the Narrows and Horseshoe Bend will be this year……

Springtime at NIRA, it’ll be here before we know it…….

Summertime, and the Los Padres is Scorchin’

Some of the sweet fruit from the June 2021 Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Working Vacation

Hello Friends & Fellow Forest Users,

We hope you are enjoying your summer and still mixing in some Los Padres time, despite the heat and waning water. As we all know, summers are tough around here but there are still great pools, camps and shaded trails this time of year for those who know where to go and plan appropriately. This is probably the quietest time of year in the Los Padres but don’t let the calm fool you, there’s been plenty of news around the forest of late. Let’s get to it…

— • — • — • —

FIRE RESTRICTIONS & UPDATES

The biggest news has been the new fire restriction order, which was announced July 15. The new restrictions prohibit campfires anywhere across the forest and camp stoves are allowed only within Designated Campfire Use Sites. The fire restriction order is effective through December 31, 2021and again: 

– NO CAMPFIRES ANYWHERE
– STOVES ONLY IN DESIGNATED CAMPFIRE USE SITES

Click the links above for more details. We realize that fire restrictions, which essentially ban hot coffee in the backcountry, are usually met with disapproval but please understand that there are over 170 drought-aided fires burning at the moment across the Western United States and most of the forests across the west are in similar fire restrictions as well. We’re all in this together and let’s hope for more rain in the coming years and certainly a slow remainder of the 2021 wildfire season. BE SAFE, everyone.  Speaking of fires, the Willow Fire in the Northern Los Padres is now 100% contained after burning nearly 3,000 acres within the Ventana Wilderness. While the fire has come and gone, please check the most recent Willow Fire closure order to see what is closed and what remains open. If you know that part of the forest and enjoy reading about local fire history, you need to check out a book called Fire Monkswhich chronicles how the Tassajara Monks fought back the 2008 Basin Complex Fire. It’s a great read and while the book is terrific and the Willow Fire made a similar run this summer, we’re very fortunate and thankful that there won’t be a Fire Monks Willow Fire sequel.

— • — • — • —

FREE HERBAL MEDICINE WEBINAR

TUESDAY, JULY 27th
6PM PST

Join Emily Sanders, local clinical herbalist and founder of the Artemisia Academy of Herbal Arts & Healing, for a FREE webinar on the magic and medicine of the Artemisias. These local plant species, Sage brush, Wormwood, and Mugwort, have been used for thousands of years for both their medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Learn how you can make your own medicine! Click HERE to Register!

— • — • — • —

Sunset Valley Road will be closed through March 2022

SUNSET VALLEY – NIRA CLOSURE

The Forest Service has been working with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and other partner groups to schedule the construction of two bridges which would replace the existing ‘Arizona crossings’ along Sunset Valley Road. When completed, the bridges will help assist aquatic organism passage within the Santa Maria, Sisquoc, Manzana and Fir Canyon drainages. Sunset Valley Road is located in Santa Barbara County behind Figueroa Mountain and is most commonly used to access NIRA and the Manzana Trailheads. This bridge project has been in the works since at least 2017, with construction being delayed a few times due to COVID, etc…

That being said, the FS announced late last week that bridge construction will begin this coming week with an expected closure of Sunset Valley Road as well as the Catway OHV (aka Old Catway) through the end of March 2022.

While the FS is working to finalize the closure order, we’ve been asked to share that the public will not be permitted along Sunset Valley Road between July 26, 2021 – March 30, 2022. This is a full closure, meaning no access along Sunset Valley Road or the Old Catway to Davy Brown Campground, NIRA Campground and both of the Manzana Trailheads. Hikers and bikes are also expected to not be permitted along the road during the closure. Again, closure details are being finalized and we’ll share final details as soon as they are available.

While the bridges will definitely help with creating safer fish passage, this 8 month closure is going to impact a lot of backpackers, hikers, equestrians and hunters who rely on NIRA and the Manzana for their backcountry access. We’ve already shared a list of concerns and suggestions with the FS and we’ll be sure to share the final closure details when available. In the meantime, if you have any plans to visit the Manzana or lower Sisquoc, you should start looking at other entry points and/or trail options. HikeLosPadres.com is a great resource for planning trips into the LP, check it out or feel free to email us with any Los Padres-related questions.

— • — • — • —

Maybe it should be called Green Canyon? June in Blue Canyon, photo JMorris

TRAIL WORK UPDATE

While many of us spend our summers vacationing in the Sierras or working on our beach tans, the LPFA volunteers and Trail Crew have remained busy working strategically on many of our favorite trails here in the LP. Here’s a quick rundown on what we’ve been doing trail-wise over the past few months:

  • GENE MARSHALL – PIEDRA BLANCA TRAIL: We wrapped up a busy spring and early summer of work on the GMPB with a fantastic 10-day Working Vacation and followed that up with a week of work by the LPFA Trail Crew. We’ve now collectively worked every inch of trail from Reyes Creek to Three Mile Camp and then from Piedra Blanca TH to Twin Forks. Great work by so many different people and groups, it sure does take a village!
  • BLUE CANYON TRAILS: Thanks to a generous SCE grant, the LPFA made a big push in 2021 to reopen the network of Blue Canyon Trails. We hosted volunteer days, volunteer weekends, worked with Laguna Blanca School for a week and wrapped it up with a couple weeks of work by the LPFA Trail Crew. We still have a little bit left to do but the trails from Forbush to P-Bar and out beyond Upper Blue Canyon haven’t looked this good in a long time…
  • COLD SPRING NORTH & MONO JUNGLE: We’ve also kept busy working the north Cold Spring Trail from Cold Spring Saddle down through Forbush and continuing through the new section of trail near the Mono Jungle. Work continues on the new section of trail and we were able to brush most of the trail from Forbush to the junction of the Gibraltar Trail. Work will continue out here through most of the summer and we’re hoping to schedule a few volunteer days out here as well.
  • MISSION PINE TRAIL: Thanks to support from the SB Trail Runners and the FS, we’ve been working hard to reopen an incredibly brushy section of the Mission Pine Trail out near West Big Pine. We hosted a couple of 4-day volunteer weekends and another week with the LPFA Trail Crew, and at the moment we have only 0.3 miles remaining to brush before punching through the worst of it. We’ll likely be back out there this summer should we get a cool-ish weekend to finish it up. Stay tuned…
  • LITTLE FALLS TRAIL: Thanks to some additional FS support we were able to put the LPFA Trail Crew on the Little Falls for a week of brushing and sign maintenance. Still lots of brushing needed in the upper parts of the canyon, but we were able to make a nice dent in the worst sections.
  • SANTA CRUZ TRAIL: Santa Cruz is a tough place to work in the summer, but we did spend a week in early June clearing brush and restoring tread out near Little Pine Spring. This will be a large focus of our fall/winter 2021 work as we continue working through the 40-Mile Wall and on down to Santa Cruz Station.
  • MATILIJA TRAIL: Thanks to some remaining Thomas Fire trail restoration funding, the LPFA Trail Crew has spent the past two weeks working the Matilija Trail outside of Ojai. We’ve been slowly chipping away at the Matilija Trail for the past three years, with the emphasis this summer being the section of trail between Middle Matilija and Upper Matilija. It’s slow going in this canyon, but thankfully there is good water along the way. More to come…

Our Summer Membership Drive is happening now! Join or Renew your LPFA Membership to help us continue to care for the Los Padres National Forest. 

Trail work, Forest Updates & More!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, does that mean a before and after is worth two thousand words? Lion Canyon Trail, Ventura County, compliments of the LPFA Trail Crew and the LPNF

Hello Friends,

Since 2020 was pretty much a lost year for forest projects, we’ve been trying hard the past few months to catch up on some of the todo’s from last year while also moving forward with our 2021 program of work. We’ve been busy providing education opportunities and information for forest-users while also tackling graffiti removal, forest restoration projects and of course trying to keep the trails open and passable. A lot of our trail focus has been trying to clear downed trees that have fallen across the trails. The combination of missing a year of trail work (deferred maintenance), plus two seasons of heavy snowfall, plus drought and mix in a windier than normal spring and we ended up with what might be a record numbers of downed trees across the forest. We really appreciate all the trail-user reports of downed trees either via email or HikeLosPadres.com, please keep those coming. 

All that being said, it’s certainly a great time to be in the Los Padres…. The creeks are still flowing, the grass is mostly green, the flowers are as good as they’re going to get, the temps still cool’ish and the seasonal gates will be opening soon…. prime Los Padres time. We hope you’re all of good health and making time to explore some new LP trails or revisit your old favorites….. and of course, gearing up to help on some upcoming volunteer projects!

— • — • — • —

PINE MOUNTAIN WORKING VACATION

Speaking of volunteer projects…. as COVID continues to back down here locally (knock knock), we are once again allowed to host constricted volunteer projects. We’re currently wrapping up a Working Vacation on the Santa Cruz Trail and have another Working Vacation scheduled for late May / early June along the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail (GMPB) in the Sespe Wilderness. The Pine Mountain Working Vacation will be based at Haddock Camp along the headwaters of Piedra Blanca Creek and the work will be focused on clearing the trails pretty much from Reyes Peak down to Haddock and then both directions towards upper Beartrap Canyon and out to Pine Mountain Lodge. There should be a great variety of work ranging from crosscut to brushing and some fun tread sections mixed in as well. The Working Vacation will be stock (horse & mule) supported and we should be able to provide all the food for the week. We’ll be out there between May 28 and June 6 and would love to have any of you help out and join the fun. If interested in either signing up or to get some more information, please email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org. Hope to see you out there……

The new Pothole Trailhead and southern terminus of the Condor Trail, photo USFS

FOREST 411

Lots of news to cover from across the forest. Strongly suggest refilling your coffee and settling down…..

• May 1 is the preset date when the seasonal road closures reopen. This is a big day across the forest as people can once again drive into places like Grade Valley, Dough Flat, Pine Mountain and many others… We’ve talked to the FS and they are planning on opening the seasonal gates in time for this coming weekend. That being said, there are a lot of gates across the forest and we strongly recommend calling the FS to ensure your gate will be open before heading out this weekend. Enjoy…..

• Speaking of reopening, CalTrans did a great job and was able to reopen Hwy 1 at Rat Creek well ahead of their initial target date. As of now you can clearly drive Hwy 1 from SLO to Carmel and access most of the Monterey Ranger District.

• Speaking of reopening once again, after being closed since July 2016, the Pine Ridge Trail out of Big Sur Station reopened earlier this month. This is a huge accomplishment with the lions share of thanks going to the Ventana Wilderness Alliance. Enjoy responsibly, please…..

• While the PRT has reopened, the portion of the forest south of there remains closed due to the 2020 Dolan Fire. The closure is set to expire in late May and we’ll keep you posted if the FS decides to extend the closure.

• While most the gates will be swinging open, East Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara remains closed due to road repair. The closure is just east of Cold Spring Saddle and is expected to remain closed through the end of May. Contact the SB Ranger District with more questions…..

• Hopefully you’ve heard of OR-93 by now. If not, there may very well be a wolf cruising the Los Padres right now. We haven’t received an official update from Fish and Wildlife in a few weeks now but last we heard OR-93 was headed for the SLO backcountry. We’ll be watching for updates daily, stay tuned…..

• The LPFA Trail Crew has been busy working to keep trails open. Over the past month or two we’ve led trail restoration efforts on the following trails: Sellers Potrero, Hi Valley, Florence Hart, Trout Creek, American Canyon, Jesusita, Tunnel, Tunnel Connector, Rattlesnake Canyon, Madulce, Santa Barbara Canyon, Alamar, Sisquoc, Santa Cruz, Cold Spring, Blue Canyon, Blue Canyon Connector, Matilija, Mission Pine, Lion Canyon, Indian Creek, Hurricane Deck, Baron, Midland and Sulphur Spring. Big shout out to our supporters, friends and partners who have helped make all this possible: SLOPOSTMTFSB Trails CouncilAthletic Brewing CoREISCASCENFWFLPNFand of course many of you who have donated to the trail restoration fund – thank you all!

• In addition to trail work, we’ve also been busy hosting a series of virtual events ranging from Rattlesnake Myth-busting to Seven-Minute Storytelling to Lunchtime Trail Talk and iNaturalists Training with the SB Botanic Garden. In case you missed any of these, you can check them out on the LPFA YouTube Channel.

Upper PRT April Magic, photo Duane Dean

• Earlier this month the Los Padres NF announced plans for a Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project along Mount Pinos. You can read more about the project proposal here on the FS site and additional information here as well. Similar to other fuels reduction proposals, there are a lot of differing opinions on how to best protect these higher elevation conifer zones. If interested, please take the time to scour the internet, research, listen to the different voices and share your thoughts with the Forest Service before May 7.

• One of our favorite local authors Craig Carey, he of red beard fame, has released a second edition of his epic Hiking & Backpacking Santa Barbara and Ventura book. This is a huge accomplishment for Craig (congrats!) and a must have resource for any LP explorer. Check it out……

• Due to continued resource damage, the FS has permanently closed Colson Campground located just outside Santa Maria.

• As mentioned in a photo above, the new Pothole Trailhead outside of Lake Piru is now open and being used. This is the Southern Terminus of the Condor Trail and provides much easier access to the Agua Blanca and other nearby haunts.

• The Forest Service is in the process of looking at options to restore the Rose Valley Creek and Lakes located off Hwy 33 above Ojai. See the invitation below to an upcoming workshop where some of the different proposed options will be discussed. If interested, please attend and make your voice heard.

— • — • — • —

Recent LPFA restoration efforts along Hi Mountain Road, photo TrailSmith

There’s Snow Better Time in the Los Padres

Is there anything better than an icy cold Topatopa after a long day on the trail?  
Red Reef Trail, Sespe Wilderness – Jan 23, 2021

Hello Friends,

For those of us who resorted to rain dance rituals in order to break our mid-January drought, remember what you did, cause it worked and in some cases might have worked too well! This latest atmospheric river event certainly delivered and as seems to be the case around here, the hardest rain was unfortunately attracted once again to the recently burned areas. The 2020 Dolan Fire area within southern Monterey County took the brunt of the storm with two-day rain totals above 15″ in many places. The resulting damage was extensive, causing Governor Newsome to declare a State of Emergency for both San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties. As we know all too well, recently burned areas and excessive rain don’t mix too well and there were a series of debris flows spewing out of the Dolan Fire. The most notable was at Rat Creek where Hwy 1 was completely washed away. No timetable has been established as to when Hwy 1 through Big Sur will reopen and it is currently closed between Post Mile 34 and Willow Creek.

The rest of the Los Padres received a good dousing over the past week as well with rain totals primarily between 2-6″ with some areas seeing upwards of 12″. We did see some parts of the forest receive monster downpours of close to 0.75″ of rain over a 15-min time period. Snow levels were consistently in the 4,500 – 5,000′ range and we’ve seen some spectacular photos of Los Padres winter wonderland from this past weekend. Most of the larger creeks and rivers around the forest are now flowing but many of the smaller creeks have not quite been activated just yet. While this past storm was a good one, we certainly could use more rain. That being said, please adjust your dance routines to focus on lots of snow and light consistent rain, we don’t need anymore debris flows or declared emergencies……

— • — • — • —

Santa Barbara snowshoeing, and, best of all, it comes with ocean views.   photo Dancebymoon

FOREST OPENINGS & CLOSINGS

While it might be prime Los Padres season, there are still some closures and restrictions to be aware of and some changes too:

  • The Los Padres fire restrictions which have been in place since May 2020 were lifted on February 1. This means that campfires are once again allowed in all open and legal areas of the forest. You will need a California Campfire Permit so please take a few mins to get your permit and take a refresher on how to be fire safe.  
  • The COVID related regional campground closure order also expired on January 29. This means that all the accessible campgrounds are once again open. That being said, some of the previously closed campgrounds remain closed due to storm related road closures and we’re also hearing that Parks Management is a little behind on restaffing after the 6+ week closure. We suggest that you contact Parks Management or the Forest Service if you are looking to camp over the coming weeks just to make sure ahead of time that your favorite campgrounds are open.
  • The Dolan Fire closure area within the Monterey Ranger District was revised on January 22 and now includes mainly the burn area perimeter. See link here for more information including closure maps and language. Remember that the Pine Ridge Trail remains closed through the winter and please take into account that many of the roads into the MRD remain closed due to fire and storm damage.
  • Along those lines, all of the seasonal road closure gates should be closed after last weeks storms, this includes Mt Pinos Snow Play. If you are heading out to your favorite trailhead, be sure to call the local ranger district and confirm where the gates might be closed. We’re happy to try to help as well if you’d like to email us. Nothing worse than unexpectedly finding out that your 7 mile backpack trip is now 11 miles due to a road closure.

— • — • — • —

Don’t worry, this photo was taken at the 2016 VWR Training.  Check our YouTube Video in honor of January 30 Kiss Your Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Day!

FOREST 411

  • The last weekend of January has long been reserved for the annual Los Padres Volunteer Wilderness Ranger (VWR) Training. This year would have been the 24th annual VWR Training. Unfortunately we aren’t able to host the training this year due to COVID but we’re certainly missing the 80+ volunteers who regularly attend these trainings. We’re looking forward to seeing all the great volunteers later this year on trail projects (as COVID restrictions hopefully ease) and we’ll throw an even bigger celebration (we mean training) next year for the 25th annual VWR Training. Can’t wait….
  • The Los Padres NF extended the forest-wide target shooting ban through June 30, 2021. No target shooting outside of Winchester and Ojai Valley Gun Clubs. For more information, click here…..
  • The Neverland Ranch sold recently for a reported $22 million. Neverland is located near Figueroa Mountain on the edge of the Los Padres.  
  • Back by popular demand, the LPFA will be hosting another virtual SEVEN MINUTE STORYTELLING event on February 11 at 7pm. Click this link or email if you’d like to sign up to present or attend and click this link to see our first virtual storytelling event from October. These events are a lot of fun and we have a great list of presenters from around the forest! Should be great and hope to see you there…..
  • Our buddies from the Ventana Wilderness Alliance are in the process of looking for a new Executive Director. Click the link for more details and tell ’em the LPFA sent ya…..
  • Our buddies from the Channel Islands Restoration are looking for some good volunteers to help with some of their upcoming Santa Ynez River volunteer trips. Check em out here
  • Our buddy Chuck Graham, who frequently writes about adventures across the Los Padres, recently released a photo book featuring the sights and splendor of the Carrizo Plain. It’s called Carrizo Plain “Where the Mountains Meet the Grasslands”, you can check it out here and congrats Chuck, so cool!
  • In late 2020, officials with the CDFW cleared out over 3,000 lbs of trash from an illegal marijuana grow site in the Los Padres above Ragged Point. We hate seeing grow sites, it’s no fun and so destructive to the environment. If you come across a grow site in your explorations, get out of there as quickly as you can and please report it to the Forest Service.
  • For us condor lovers, there’s a couple interesting articles you might want to check out. The first is about wind farms applying for take permits for incidentally killing condors and the second is an article about increasing wildfire impacts on the condors
  • We’re working on our winter-spring trail work schedule and have a lot of catching up to do after much of our 2020 program of work was COVID derailed. Trails we’ll be focusing on include: Hurricane Deck, Santa Cruz, Red Reef, Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca, Blue Canyon, Red Reef, American Canyon, Madulce, Sisquoc, Mission Pine, Lion Canyon, Matilija and likely more…  The LPFA Trail Crew will be focusing on the eastern Hurricane Deck Trail for the next few weeks with the hope of punching through to connect with Lost Valley. Exciting for sure!
  • Last but not least, when you get out into the forest over the coming weeks please be sure to let us or the Forest Service know if you come across any downed trees or slides blocking the trails or roads.  We’ll collectively do our best to get them cleared as soon as we can.  Be safe out there…..

— • — • — • —

Thanks to the generous #GivingTuesday support, we started working the Santa Cruz Trail down from Alexander Saddle.  It’s going to be a slow push but we’re going….  One step and swing of the tool at a time.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Obviously COVID can and will adjust some of our upcoming volunteer opportunities but we wanted to share what we have scheduled and hope for the best. We’ll be providing signup links and updates when we get green-lighted for the projects. In the meantime, if you’d like to sign up for any specific projects, please email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org and we’ll get you on the list.

February 11: Seven Minute Storytelling Virtual Talk, LPFA 7pm
February 19-22: Red Reef Trail / Sespe Trail Project, LPFA
February 27: Agua Blanca Trail Project, TBD
February 27-28: Blue Canyon Trail Project, LPFA

March 6: Red Reef / Sisar 1st Saturday Trail Project, LPFA
March 6-7: American Canyon Trail Project, LPFA & SLOPOST
March 13: Agua Blanca Trail Project, TBD
March 13-14: Blue Canyon Trail Project
March 19-21: Upper Sisquoc Project, LPFA

April 3-11: Indian Creek Working Vacation, LPFA
April 10: Ojai 1st Saturday, TBD
April 23-25: Madulce Trail Project, LPFA

May 1-9: Red Reef / Lady Bug Working Vacation, LPFA
May 15: Ojai 1st Saturday, TBD
May 15-23: Santa Cruz Trail Working Vacation, LPFA
May 28 – June 6: Pine Mtn Haddock Working Vacation, LPFA

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 – StopNND.org