Condor Talk and Los Padres Winter Storm Update

The Santa Barbara Backcountry

Hello Friends,

It’s been a nice winter so far here in the Los Padres, hasn’t it?  The storms last week were solid, covering the Los Padres in mostly good rain and lots of snow at the higher elevations.  The snow pack around Mt Pinos hasn’t been this good in quite a few years.  In fact, it’s been so good that there have been multiple snow evacuations including a couple and their dogs who were stuck along Alamo Mtn for two weeks due to snow.  In the lower elevations there has been rain caused road closures and trail damage but thankfully nothing as tragic as what we endured last year.  Hwy 1 along the Big Sur Coast has been closed and reopened multiple times and we just heard that Hwy 33 outside of Ojai will be reopened Sunday January 27, although it might not look as clean as usual and expect up to 5min delays here and there due to lane closures.  In total we’ve received about 50% of our average rainfall for the season and most locations are trending at 100-120% of average rainfall to date. We’re looking good for rain but more is certainly needed.  That all being said, the forest is alive and thriving.  Water is flowing in just about every creek, the grass is about as green as it gets and the trails are drying off nicely and mostly ready for you to enjoy.  If you’ve not found your way into the Los Padres of late, be sure to do so soon and please check back in with us afterwards to share a photo or two and update with what you found.  Have fun…..

Soaring Wild & Free, photo Friends of the California Condor


We’re really excited to announce that the LPFA will be welcoming the excellent speakers from Friends of California Condors Wild and Free to the Santa Barbara area to discuss the latest in the world of the condor including updates from around the Los Padres and in particular the condor efforts in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  The talk will be Wednesday February 6 at the Balboa Building on State Street, Santa Barbara.  Doors open at 6:30pm for a Happy Half Hour courtesy of Topa Topa Brewing Company and the event starts at 7pm.  $10 at the door, no charge for current LPFA members.  See attached flier or Facebook for more details and we hope to see you there. 
Any questions:

Speaking of LPFA events, moving forward we’ll be sharing all the LPFA volunteer projects and events through our Facebook page. Over the past few years we’ve tried posting events on Meetup, Facebook, other social media sites, Evite, and word of mouth, but after trial-and-error we’ve decided to focus the announcements through Facebook.  Check it out!  And for those of you who choose not to have Facebook, you can still check the site without having a Facebook account.

Devil’s Canyon Downed Tree, It Can’t be Cleared if it’s not Reported, photo Blakley


• Thanks in part to the recent storms mentioned above, we’re getting a lot of trail reports featuring downed trees or fresh slides covering the trail.  Receiving these trail reports is crucial in order to get the trails repaired.  If you come across any significant trail obstacles, damage, downed trees, slides, illegal activity or anything else worth reporting, please share with the Forest Service, your local trail group, or send to us and we’ll forward it along.  THANK YOU for your help!
*Note that GPS coordinates, pictures and an object (person, dog, hiking pole, water bottle) in the picture so we can get a sense of scale always help!

• As of today the Government Shutdown is ending, at least for the next three weeks.  You can read elsewhere for specifics and commentary but we believe the furloughed LP FS staff will be back at their desks by Monday morning.  We’ve certainly missed our friends at the FS and look forward to wishing them Happy New Year and hearing more about gate closures, road conditions and other upcoming projects.  We’ll be sure to update you when more information becomes available.

West Fork Cold Spring Trail in the Santa Barbara Frontcountry is currently closed due to a storm related slide. Work is being planned to repair the section of damaged trail and we’ll keep you posted with updates when available.

• Santa Barbara based Hap Freund and Melinda Burns recently released a short documentary about the debris flows that impaled Montecito on January 9, 2018.  It’s available on Vimeo here.

• Speaking of, the LA Times released a very comprehensive article on Los Padres fire history and restoration efforts related to the recent abundance of large-scale fires.  It’s a great read featuring a few locals you might know.  Check it out here.

• Again, somewhat related, a report was issued in December analyzing the spending and fire fighting tactics involved with the 2016 Soberanes Fire in the Northern Los Padres.  Soberanes was, and still is, the most expensive wildfire to fight in US history.  The article is here and worth being aware of if you’re interested in wildfires.

• Two more condors were released in December in the hills above San Simeon.  It’s great to see how successful the condor recovery program continues to be. Again, shameless plug, come on out February 6 to learn more about the California Condors.

• The Franklin Trail above Carpinteria remains closed at the 3rd mile marker along Phase II due to road construction.

• The Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club will once again be offering their Wilderness Basics Course (WBC) this spring designed to teach hiking and backpacking skills.

• Earlier this month over 225 acres of land along Interstate 5 near Castaic was donated in order to protect wildlife passage between the Angeles and Los Padres Forests.  Check it out here.

• The Los Padres Volunteer Wilderness Ranger (VWR) Training has been postponed due to the Government Shutdown.  The training was initially scheduled for Saturday January 26.  We’ll be sure to share when a makeup date is announced.

Leave it to the Beaver, Back and Doing Well along the Sisquoc River, photo Paul Cronshaw