2021 Los Padres Forest Association Accomplishments & Forest Updates

Loving the rain & snow but couldn’t wait for the warm sun while taking this picture, photo LPFA

Hello Friends & Happy Holidays,

We love what we do. We absolutely love helping the Los Padres Forest. We love the work we do restoring trails. We love sharing helpful forest information in these newsletters, on social media, HikeLosPadres and at both Big Sur and Wheeler Gorge Visitor Centers. We love working in support of the Condor Trail. We love working with all of you on volunteer projects. We feel very lucky to share in the responsibility of caring for the mountains, creeks, critters and trails which make the Los Padres what it is today. It’s our turn collectively, all of us, to care for the LP and it means so much to have your support in that effort. December is when we receive the majority of our annual donations and we really really appreciate all the support so many of you offer – we couldn’t do what we love to do without your help. Your help goes far beyond donations as well. This past year the LPFA and our volunteers accounted for nearly 23,000 hours of forest support. That’s amazing, especially since we continue to struggle with COVID related restrictions. THANK YOU and we look forward to continuing our efforts to help the Los Padres in 2022 and beyond. Happy Holidays, stay safe and please find some forest time……

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TOP 10 ACCOMPLISHMENTS FROM 2021
In the spirit of the late night talk shows, we wanted to share our top accomplishments from 2021. In no particular order:

1.  Santa Cruz & Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail Work – Thanks to support from #GivingTuesday2020, we were able to restore over 5 miles of trail along the two National Recreation Trails within the Los Padres National Forest. This included two 10-day volunteer Working Vacations in spring 2021 and three weeks of hired trail crew work. Excellent stuff!

2. Graffiti Removal – Thanks in large part to a generous donation from Louis T, we seriously ramped up our graffiti removal game in 2021 and led close to a dozen graffiti removal projects across the forest. Unfortunately, much more is needed…..

3. Jesusita Fire Trail Work – We partnered with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) in spring 2021 and spent 6 weeks working with one of their crews to maintain many of the trails impacted by the Jesusita Fire including Rattlesnake, Tunnel and Jesusita.

4. Campground Renovations – The LPFA stayed busy this fall working with the Forest Service on some deferred maintenance at some of our favorite campgrounds including Figueroa, Hi Mountain, Happy Hollow and Middle & Lower Camuesa. Work included fixing campsites and installing fences, toilets, firerings and trash collection facilities.

5. North Cold Spring & Blue Canyon Trail Work – Thanks to grant support from the National Forest Foundation, SCE and NFWF, the LPFA was able to spend nearly two months this year working on the very overgrown north Cold Spring and Blue Canyon Trails within the Santa Ynez Mountains. We’re not done yet and have more scheduled in 2022 as well…..

6. Lights Stayed On – Despite another year of COVID craziness and fire related forest closures, we were able to keep Big Sur and Wheeler Gorge Visitor Centers staffed and open to help forest-users. We also kept our Trail Crew going most of the year as well. This might be our most important and impressive accomplishment.

7. Condor Trail – 2021 was a big year for the CT with Brian Sarvis releasing a first ever Condor Trail guide book and the LPFA was able to spend time working many sections of the CT including the upper Sisquoc, Santa Barbara Canyon, Madulce, Piedra Blanca, Hi Valley, Lopez Canyon, Big Falls, Trout Creek and Agua Blanca. Thanks to another successful #GivingTuesday2021, we’ve got much more CT work on the horizon as well…..

8. HLP Revamp –  John Ziegler launched HikeLosPadres over 5 years ago and since then it’s become a crucial resource for anyone venturing into the Los Padres backcountry. We started the process of revamping HLP in 2021 and have much MUCH more to do heading into 2022. This is so exciting and we can’t wait to continue working with JZ on some updates and new features within HLP. Cool stuff….

9. Working Together – 2021 was another great year working with our partners and friends across the Los Padres. They say it takes a village and they might have been wrong, it actually takes a city! Big thanks to all the volunteers, scouts, our friends at the Forest Service and all the organizations across the Los Padres for your continued work.

10. Setting the Table – While 2021 was fantastic, there’s better ahead! We’ve got lots of great work in store for 2022. That being said, we want to hear from you about what other help is needed across the Los Padres and what you all would like to see done. We’ve put together a quick and anonymous survey here, check it out, let us know and THANK YOU!

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Some of our awesome trail volunteers taking a well deserved and scenic lunch break along the upper Red Reef Trail, December 2021

FOREST 411

• The big news across the forest is of course the rain and snow we’ve been getting and are scheduled to get over the coming week. Right now rain totals across the forest are well over our average and things are looking good heading into 2022. Remember that the current fire restrictions don’t expire until 12/31/2021.

• Quick reminder that Sunset Valley Road, NIRA and Davy Brown Campgrounds remain closed due to bridge construction. You can see a photo of some of the bridge construction below.

• With all the rain and storms comes inevitable downed trees, slides and other trail damage. If you come across any significant trail damage, please let us know, post to HLP, contact the Forest Service or reach out to your local trail organization. We collectively can’t repair the trails if we don’t know they’re damaged. People or objects used for scale within photos are always appreciated as well. THANKS!

• We had a successful #GivingTuesday2021 and as a result we will be scheduling a few weeks of work this season on the Alder Creek Trail within the Sespe Wilderness. GREAT NEWS and long overdue – thanks everyone for the support!

• Along with the cold and rain of course comes coffee and the need for good coffee. Outside Magazine recently wrote an article about the best methods of preparing coffee, check it out…..

• The Forest Service recently revised and extended the forest closure associated with the 16,790 acre Alisal Fire through April 30, 2022. Contact the FS for details or see link here. Note, this closure includes the Baron Ranch trails and Arroyo Quemado Trail.

• In case you missed it, our heroic and inspirational Los Padres gray wolf OR-93 was tragically killed in late November while trying to cross I-5 near the town of Lebec. OR-93 was big news and certainly the story of the year across the Los Padres. You can read more here and here.

• Highway 1 through southern Monterey County and northern SLO County continues to have proactive storm related closures. Basically CalTrans closes Hwy 1 during large storm events in order to protect people from potential slides. If you’re headed that way, be sure to check with CalTrans before you go…..

• Most of the seasonal gates across the Los Padres have now been closed due to all the recent rain and snow. We can’t list all the seasonal gates here but it’s never a bad idea to check with the Forest Service or email us ahead of time before venturing towards your trailhead of choice.

• A team from UCSB and the Forest Service recently completed a study of stream impacts and aquatic species repopulation related to wildfire. It’s a good article if interested, check it out here.

• The Forest Service will be hosting a Women in Wildfire Basic Training Camp this spring in the Santa Barbara area. Check this link for more information, this is a great program.

• In case you missed it earlier, we’re looking for feedback from you about what we can do and what help is needed across the Los Padres. If you’re reading this, you probably have an opinion, please share, we’d love to hear from you! It’s anonymous.

• Super volunteer Ellie Mora Jefferies was recognized by the Forest Service earlier this month for her tremendous contributions across the Los Padres. Ellie was awarded the Regional Foresters COVID-19 Pandemic Response Hero award in recognition for her efforts specifically restoring Santa Paula Canyon. Woot woot Ellie, so well deserved – congratulations.

• Lots going on and lots to share, hope we didn’t lose you. That being said, if you appreciate the work the LPFA does in sharing this information and our help across the forest, please consider donating to help us continue helping you and the forest. Click this link for more information, thank you!

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Where’s that confounded bridge? Fish passage bridge construction just before NIRA, see it?, photo LPNF

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!

January 2: Agua Blanca Trail Maintenance
January 6-10: Red Reef Trail – Sespe Creek, LPFA
January 14: Figueroa Mountain Trail Work, LPFA
January 15: LPFA Member/Volunteer PARTY!
January 18: Horn Canyon Trail Work, LPFA
January 20: Medicinal Herbs w/ Lanny Kaufer, SB Library
January 22: West Cuesta Trail Work, CCCMB

February 5: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training
February 17: LPFA Backcountry Update Presentation, SB Library

March – April: Fundamentals of Backpacking Course, LPFA
March 26 – April 3: Alder Creek Working Vacation – Sespe, LPFA
April 22 – May 2: Red Reef Working Vacation – Ladybug Camp, LPFA
May 14-23: Indian Creek Working Vacation – Meadow Camp, LPFA
November 5-13, 2022: South Fork Working Vacation – San Rafael Wilderness, LPFA

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LPFA News from Around the Los Padres

Squid Games on the Arroyo Quemado Trail 31W18 (aka Baron Ridge), post Alisal Fire

Hello Friends,

We’ve got lots of news from across the Los Padres down below but first off we wanted to share a couple incredible announcements that the trail users among us will certainly be excited to hear:

FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN TRAIL WORK
Thanks to a Public Trails Grant from the Santa Barbra Foundation and some generous donations from the Santa Ynez Valley Women’s Hiking Group, the LPFA will be restoring over a dozen miles of trail this season along the backside of Figueroa Mountain. This will include all the trails between White Rock and Willow Spring with most of the work focused on clearing brush and downed trees from the trail corridor. In order to help complete the trail work we’ll be scheduling regular Fig Mtn volunteer projects starting with our first one on Friday November 19. We’ll be sharing volunteer opportunities through the regular channels and would love to setup a corporate or special volunteer project should any of your companies or organizations be interested in helping with these trails – let us know. These trails are long overdue for a nice haircut and we can’t wait to get started. We hope you can join us in this ambitious effort…..

RED REEF TRAIL WORK
The Red Reef Trail is hands down one of the most spectacular trails in the Los Padres. Red Reef extends 13 miles from its Upper Ojai Valley southern trailhead over the Topatopas and into the rugged canyons of the Sespe Wilderness before terminating at the junction with the Sespe River Trail. Red Reef is a terrific trail and has a little bit of everything for just about every type of forest user. Unfortunately it’s also got quite a bit of trail damage resulting from both the Thomas Fire as well as deferred maintenance. The great news is that the Los Padres National Forest secured funding from the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) and the LPFA will be helping over the coming months to restore and maintain all 13 miles of the Red Reef Trail. We are stoked, to say the least. We’ll be starting work on the Red Reef this weekend while hosting an Ojai First Saturday Trail Project starting at 8am on November 13. We’ll also be hosting a 5-day project in January working from the Sespe up towards an area known as Horsethief. We’ll have quite a few other volunteer projects lined up over the coming months as well. This is so exciting and we sure look forward to many of you helping bring this gem of a trail back to life.

A Glorious Day on the Whiter than Normal Red Reef Trail, January 2021

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FOREST 411

• Even with the generous early season rains, we’ve been hearing a lot of reports of continued dry conditions from across the Los Padres. It seems that Mother Earth drank up most of the precipitation so far and that the creeks, streams and rivers haven’t been activated yet. Keep this in mind as you pull on your backpack and head out to the forest. Even with the rain, water might still be scarce in spots. As always, it’s never a bad idea to check HikeLosPadres before you venture out and be sure to share what you find after you get back. Safe travels…..

• Quick reminder that the Los Padres remains in fire restrictions and campfires are currently not allowed anywhere across the forest.

• There remains a closure order in place for the Alisal Fire, which burned 16,970 acres across the western Santa Ynez Mountains in October. The forest remains closed through November 19th from Winchester Gun Club out through Gaviota Peak, this includes the Tequepis Trail and the dirt portions of West Camino Cielo.

• In addition to the Alisal Fire, both the 2021 Willow Fire and 2020 Dolan Fire still have active forest closures. Click the links to the left for more information.

• Another quick reminder that Fremont, Paradise and Los Prietos Campgrounds remain closed along Paradise Road due to hazard tree removal.

• Remember too that Sunset Valley Road and paved access to both Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds remains closed through March 2022. Some good news, the LPFA Trail Crew has been working to clear the nearby Sulphur Spring Trail, which will help provide some better access this season for the Manzana and Sisquoc. We’re also encouraging the Forest Service to keep vehicle access to other trailheads open this season as many backpackers are being displaced due to the Manzana closure. More on that to come…

• Some condor news, three condors were released earlier this month into the wild in the mountains above San Simeon. We’ll be watching these three closely, especially #38!

• The Forest Service signed a Decision Memo on September 30 to move forward with the Reyes Peak Forest Health and Fuels Reduction proposal along Pine Mountain within the Ventura Backcountry. You can read more about the controversial proposal here.

Prime Fall Colors Across the Mono Jungle, photo DFeinberg

• In other Los Padres news, we want to wish a fond farewell to former Supervisor Kevin Elliott, who recently retired after 43 years with the Forest Service and the last 3 on the Los Padres. Taking over as interim Supervisor for at least the next four months will be Chris Stubbs. Chris has been the Deputy Supervisor for a few years now and has a great feel for the Los Padres Forest. Welcome aboard Chris, we look forward to working with you.

• We also want to officially welcome Daryl Hodges as the new Santa Barbara District Ranger.  

• Our friends at the Pack Stock Center of Excellence are seeking packing apprentices for the 2022 summer season. You can apply herehere and here. Good luck and make sure they continue visiting the Los Padres as well….

• Our great friends at the Los Padres NF are also looking to hire seasonal help at their Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and Frazier Park district offices – check it out here… The LPNF is also looking to hire for a permanent Admin Assistant for the Santa Barbara Ranger District, click here.

• Remember that we are still accepting calendar submission for the 2022 Los Padres Calendar. If you’ve got a great photo or 50 from the Los Padres, please send em our way and we’ll send you a calendar if we use your photo. INFO@LPForest.org – thanks in advance!

• Last but not least, we want to say thank and good luck to our beloved friend Kendra Moss. Kendra was the LPFA Program Manager for the past couple years and had an opportunity come up that was too good to pass up. We really miss Kendra and appreciate all that she did for the LPFA and all the help she provided for the Los Padres Forest. Exciting times ahead for Kendra and she did a great job setting the LPFA up for success as well. Cheers KM!

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Halloween in the Los Padres, Pinos dressing up like the Channel Islands, photo Toejam

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!

November 13: First Saturday Ojai – Red Reef Trail, LPFA
November 13-14: Little Pine Trailwork, LPFA
November 18: Beauty of Chumash Basketry, SB Library Talk
November 19: Figueroa Mountain Trail Work, LPFA
November 20-21: Lower Santa Ynez Sign Install, LPFA
November 23: Trailwork Tuesday – Buena Vista Trail, MTF & LPFA

December 5: Santa Margarita Lake, CCCMB
December 2-6: Tamarisk Removal – Sisquoc, CIR

January 6-10: Red Reef Trail – Sespe Creek, LPFA
January 15: LPFA Member/Volunteer PARTY!
January 22: West Cuesta Trail Work, CCCMB

February 5: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training

March – April: Fundamentals of Backpacking Course, LPFA
March 26 – April 3: Alder Creek Working Vacation – Sespe, LPFA
April 22 – May 2: Red Reef Working Vacation – Ladybug Camp, LPFA
May 14-23: Indian Creek Working Vacation – Meadow Camp, LPFA
November 5-13, 2022: South Fork Working Vacation – San Rafael Wilderness, LPFA

  

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It’s fall in the Los Padres….

Autumn is a second spring when (almost) every leaf is a flower – Camus

Hello Friends,

It is fall in the Los Padres, trail season is once again upon us and we hope you’ve been able to find some trail time! The Los Padres had a terrific early season first rain last week and ever since then we’ve been out and about restoring trails, fixing trail drains, clearing downed trees, repairing campgrounds and tackling all our other forest help initiatives. You probably know the saying “make hay while the sun shines”, for us it’s “make hay after the first rains and before the real rains start”; so we’ve been busy to say the least, more on that below….

There is a lot of news to share from across the Los Padres and we’ll send out another news related email in the next week but for now we wanted to highlight a few things we’ve been working on. Lets go!

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USED CAMPING GEAR SALE & MORE….

• For those of you looking to upgrade your camping gear for the year, we are once again (COVID be damned) hosting our annual members Used Gear Sale tomorrow Saturday November 6, 10am at Tuckers Grove Site #2. We’ll have a great collection of lightly used camping gear featuring Gossamer Gear packs & tents. We hope to see you there and let us know (INFO@LPForest.org) if you have any questions…..

• The LPFA will once again be printing a Los Padres themed calendar for 2022 and we are looking for photo submissions. If you’ve got a great Los Padres photo to share, preferably from 2021, please send our way (INFO@LPForest.org) and we’ll hook you up with a calendar if we use the photo in the calendar. The 2021 calendars turned out really nice and we’re hoping for an even better version for 2022. Thank you…..

• As previously mentioned, we’ve been busy! So busy in fact, that we’re unfortunately going to have to push back our Volunteer/Member party which was originally scheduled for November 13. We really appreciate all your continued support and donations. Of course parties are great, but we’ve got hay to make and we believe that you all would rather have us out helping the forest more than scheduling parties, right? With that said, we’ll choose a later date either in December or January after the hay has been made. Thanks and stay tuned….

• So what have we been doing….. Over the past couple months we’ve been able to do trail work on the following trails: Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca, Santa Cruz, Blue Canyon, Cold Spring, Matilija, Franklin, Sulphur Spring, Jesusita and others… We’ve also been working with the Forest Service to renovate some of their campgrounds including Figueroa, Hi Mouintain, La Panza and both the Camuesa Camps. We’re also assisting the Forest Service with a couple sign projects including installing user education signs along Camino Cielo and over 35 interpretive signs across the LP backcountry. We’re also in the beginning stages of some conservation projects where we’ll be building pipe fencing to help stop illegal OHV trespass. Since the forest reopened in late September we’ve literally been in the forest helping with boots on the ground all but 4 days, and it was raining two of those days. Busy to say the least but it’s so fun seeing the colors change from green to brown in the trees and brown to green on the ground.

We’ve also got a busy schedule of volunteer projects to share as well. More on that next week….. Enjoy the weekend, maybe we’ll see you at the Used Gear Sale and be sure to get some trail time.

Sespe Shadows – can you hear the wind?  – photo DHall

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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:

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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…

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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

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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

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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…

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.