We’re in the middle of a larger Los Padres Forest email update but wanted to let you know that the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training that was scheduled for this weekend (January 25) has been rescheduled for Saturday March 14.
The VWR Training is an annual training that the LPFA and Forest Service host in order to train volunteers on best practices and needed Forest Service procedures in order to run volunteer trail projects within the Los Padres Forest. If you’ve not been before, it’s a great introduction to the behind-the-scenes steps needed for running trail projects and helping to keep our trails open and passable. We generally squeeze a lot of information, perhaps too much, into the VWR Training with an assortment of guest speakers who talk about subjects including First Aid, Trail Standards, What If Scenarios, Tool Maintenance, Packing Safety, Camp Cooking, FS Protocol and more…..
If you’re interested in attending or would like more information, please email INFO@LPForest.org and we’ll get you on the list. We’ll also be sharing additional information in the coming weeks as part of the regular email updates.
Now back to your regularly scheduled emails. Thanks and stay tuned for more Los Padres information coming soon…….
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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!
Hello Friends, I hope this email finds you doing well and perhaps with a little Los Padres mud on your boots. 2019 is coming to an end and it’s been a terrific year for the LPFA. Over the past year we contributed over 25,000 hours to supporting the Los Padres Forest. Included within that time was 83 forest volunteer projects, over 50 miles of trail restoration, maintenance on 5 historic LP buildings and 315 miles of trail surveys and forest patrols. Busy and fantastic! While 2019 was great, we’ve got even bigger and better plans for 2020 including more trail restoration, new trail construction, updates to HikeLosPadres.com, improvements at both Wheeler Gorge and Big Sur Station and of course a lot of fun volunteer opportunities up and down the Los Padres. We hope you can join us in 2020 and we want to say thank you for all the support you’ve provided towards the forest in 2019. We couldn’t do what we do without you and without your generous contributions towards the LPFA. As we look forward to 2020, all your donations and memberships are crucial for the growth and sustainability of our programs. If you enjoy these email updates or the work we’re doing, we’d love the support through a year-end donation. Thank you again and Happy Holidays!
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I’VE SEEN FIRE AND I’VE SEEN RAIN… and I’VE SEEN SNOW We’re pretty sure James Taylor wasn’t singing about the Los Padres but his lyrics just about described the crazy weather we had over Thanksgiving week 2019. It was summer when the week started. High temperature heat warnings across the Los Padres culminated in the 3,100 acre Cave Fire. Two days later it was winter with extremely low snow levels across the Los Padres including a blanket of snow covering the upper slopes of the still burning Cave Fire above Santa Barbara. Social media was inundated with incredible snow photos from Big Sur all the way down through Ventura. By the time the smoke had settled and the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers had been eaten, the forest had received anywhere between 3-18″ of precipitation which was sufficient enough to prompt the Forest Service on December 2 to lift all fire restrictions. So over the course of one week we went from fire restrictions and wildfire to rain and snow and no fire restrictions. Who would have guessed? With the change in fire restrictions we are allowed to have both stoves and campfires across the Los Padres. That being said, we’ve learned over the past few years that wildfires can still occur well into December so please remain diligent and careful with your stoves and campfires…..
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2020 LOS PADRES CALENDAR Hot off the presses, the 2020 version of the Los Padres wall calendar just arrived and they turned out fantastic! This is the 8th year the LPFA has produced Los Padres calendars and the consensus so far is that the 2020 calendar is the best to date. The photos were taken by regular forest-users like yourself and we then organized them into monthly themes ranging from waterfalls to snow-scapes and from wildlife to trail work. The calendars are full color, 8.5×11″ and include the anniversary dates of all the major LP wildfires and other important Los Padres dates. The calendars are available either at your local Ranger Station or through our website. Check em out and pick a few up for the Los Padres lover on your holiday list…….
For those of you in the Santa Barbara Frontcountry, the main lower Tunnel Trail trailhead is expected to be closed through the next week or so due to Southern California Edison road maintenance. There hasn’t been a lot of publicity with regards to this closure but trail-users are being turned around by SCE workers both coming from the trailhead as well as coming down from East Camino Cielo. There is potential for the SCE work to migrate towards Inspiration Point and Jesusita within the next week as well. Keep that in mind, watch social media for updates and have a plan B just in case you can’t do your regular hike in that part of the forest.
As a result of this past weeks snow storms, most of the seasonal gates across the Los Padres have been swung shut for the season. The most heavily impacted part of the forest for seasonal gate closures is the Mt Pinos Ranger District but there are closures within all the other ranger districts as well. If you’re heading out into the forest you might want to check the current gate status here, call the appropriate Ranger Station or you can email us and we’ll do our best to get you the answers you need: INFO@LPForest.org The seasonal gates usually reopen May 1.
We all like stories that end well, right? Here’s a story, compliments of Jack Elliott that came out a few weeks ago about a baby mountain lion who got stuck and was eventually saved from an old abandoned pit toilet. We’re hoping to work with the Forest Service to fix this issue so no future animals suffer a similar fate. Good work Jack!
Highway 1 between Ragged Point and Big Sur remains in a preemptive storm closure cycle. What this means is that ahead of and during storms CalTrans will be closing Hwy 1 so that no one is on the road in case of a mudslide or debris flow. If you’re heading that way and a storm is in the forecast, check with CalTrans ahead of time.
Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary to the LPFA! Not sure if you knew it or not but we celebrated our 40th anniversary earlier this year! Yes indeed, we started back in 1979 as the Los Padres Interpretive Association. Hip hip hooray and a high-five, hug and handshake to everyone who has helped guide and steer the LPFA (or LPIA) over the past 40 years!
On November 20 the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act and have sent it to the House for consideration. This is certainly a positive step towards the approval of this bill. If approved, the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act would designate close to 250,000 acres of land to wilderness protection along with creating two scenic areas and additional Wild and Scenic River protection. The bill would also create a national designation for the Condor Trail. No time-frame has been shared on next steps bu stay tuned…..
The LPFA will once again be hosting our annual Volunteer Training on January 25 at the VWR Headquarters off Paradise Road. We’ll share more information in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if interested, there are a series of upcoming volunteer trainings for both First Aid as well as Chainsaw Certification:
LPFA will be scheduling a First Aid Training in the Santa Barbara area either December 29, January 4 or January 5.
UTMC will be hosting two First Aid Classes at Wheeler Gorge outside of Ojai on January 26 and February 9.
SLOPOST is hosting a chainsaw certification class January 11-12 at Lopez Lake in SLO County.
If you are interested in any of these classes you can reach out to the host groups or email INFO@LPForest.org and we can put you in contact with the appropriate person.
In case you’re looking for even more ways to help the LPFA, we have an Amazon Smile account where Amazon donates a % of all Amazon orders from anyone who chooses to support the Los Padres Forest Association. If you are an Amazon shopper and you’d like to support the LPFA, check out Smile.Amazon.com and navigate to support the LPFA. THANK YOU, happy shopping and of course you can get us a 40th birthday present! We wear XXXXXXXXL, 1.75 million acres……..
Lastly, we’re really excited about an upcoming trail project we’re hosting on the Sespe River Trail over MLK weekend January 18-20. We’re partnering with REI, the Los Padres Forest and Sespe Wilderness Outfitters to maintain as much of the trail as we can around Oak Flat Camp and then do some much needed cleanup at Willett Camp within the Sespe Wilderness. You can read more at this Facebook link or in the Upcoming Events section below but we wanted to give it an extra push as well! This should be a great trail project…..
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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!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS 2020 – The LPFA is once again producing a Los Padres wall calendar featuring all of the seasons of the Los Padres Forest. Waterfalls! Wildlife! Woods! We have some awesome new shots this year. Thank you to everyone who contributed!
Calendars are (fullsize 17″ x 11″) printed on high quality stock with full color photos and special date information. It’s great as a gift for the LP lover in your life or for yourself to help inspire your next Los Padres adventure.
Each calendar is $15.00 + tax, shipping is included. Any proceeds will go to the LPFA Trail Care Program. You can purchase the calendars here:
The big forest news this past week was the Forest Service announcing that the Los Padres is going into Extreme Fire Danger restrictions until at least December 31, 2019. We’ve all seen the recent devastating wildfires across California. The raised restrictions are intended to help prevent similar wildfires here in the Los Padres. Under Extreme Fire Danger restrictions:
No smoking outside of a Designated Campfire Use Site or inside an enclosed vehicle or building.
That being said, current conditions across the Los Padres are
prime for hiking, exploring, riding, backpacking and/or
wandering. While the idea of camping without a fire or
backpacking without a stove might sound unpleasant, give it a
shot and you might end up liking the weight savings, extra
sleep or simplicity that “cold camping” provides. There’s an
old saying that challenges are opportunities for improvement
or when life gives you lemons make lemonade. With that in
mind, here are a few tips you can try in order to turn your
fire’less camping into a safe, fun and memorable camping
Much much more information online as well, have at it….
The weather has been great, there’s still good water in the usual good water places and remember that HikeLosPadres.com has lots of current camp and trail condition reports to help with your trip planning. Regardless of fire or stove, we hope you find some time over the coming weeks to visit your favorite trail, check out that hidden canyon you’ve always wanted explore or grab a friend and seek out those fall Los Padres colors.
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2020 LOS PADRES CALENDAR
The LPFA will once again publish a wall calendar for 2020 featuring the vistas, mountains, waterfalls and plants/animals we love from across the Los Padres. This will be our 8th year organizing LP calendars and we are looking for photos from you to include within the calendar. The calendars should print in early December and be ready in time for the holidays. If we use one of your photos, we’ll of course credit you within the calendar and also send you a calendar to hang up in your kitchen, gear nook or office. The calendars will be available online as well as at your local LP Ranger Station or Visitor Center.
If you have a photo you’d like to submit, please email INFO@LPForest.org or you can check the link below for more information. Thanks in advance and looking forward to hearing from some of you soon…..
• Over the past month sections of the following Los Padres trails have been maintained by the Forest Service or your friendly neighborhood trail group: Madulce Peak Trail, Big Pine Spring Camp Trail, Deal Connector, Rancho Nuevo Trail, Matilija Falls Trail, Pine Ridge Trail, Arroyo Burro Trail, Santa Cruz Trail, Gridley Trail, Camuesa Connector Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Hot Springs Trail, Romero Trail, San Ysidro Trail, Baron Trail, Fishbowls Trail, Jesusita Trail, Tunnel Trail, Cedar Creek Trail, Grapevine Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Big Cone Spruce Trail and Matilija Trail.
• As we approach the rainy season expect to see some of the gates across the Los Padres swing shut due to the seasonal gate closure regulations. We’ve not heard of any closures as of yet but all the Ojai area gates will close by December 15 and the other gates should shut as storms begin approach. If you’re heading out to a trailhead and you’re unsure if the gate might be open or closed, we strongly suggest contacting the local Ranger District before you head out. We’ll keep you posted as gates start to shut.
• For those of you who hike the far Southern Los Padres or plan on doing the Condor Trail, we’ve heard a rumor that the Pothole and Agua Blanca Trailhead will be moving before the end of the year from the Lake Piru Campground to right next to the start of the Pothole Trail. This will mean that the public will be able to drive all the way to the start of the Pothole Trail rather than having to walk miles along the paved Piru Lake Road. The plan to move the trailhead has been in the works for a few years now but it’s looking like it might actually happen by late 2019. We’ll keep everyone posted on this as well. This will be terrific……
• CalTrans announced that they will continue the preemptive closure of Hwy 1 during large storm events for the 2019-2020 winter season. The closures will be south of Big Sur, keep this in mind if you have plans to visit the area over the winter months.
• Speaking of Big Sur, the Ventana Wilderness Alliance has been working hard to reopen the Los Padres portion of the famed Pine Ridge Trail. They have trail crews scheduled to work the trail for much of the fall and again starting back up next spring. Three cheers – hip hip hooray for VWA! In the meantime we want to remind everyone that the Pine Ridge Trail remains closed to the public due to dangerous trail conditions. If all goes according to plan, the PRT should reopen sometime in the next year or two. We’ll keep you posted…..
• And speaking of awesome people doing awesome things for our trails, the 5th Annual Turkey Trot fundraiser for the Franklin Trail successfully launched earlier this month. The Franklin Turkey Trot is an excellent example of trail lovers finding creative ways to support the trails they love most. Very cool……
• For years and years people have been enjoying the famed mountain biking trails along West Cuesta Ridge in San Luis Obispo. While the trails were in good shape and frequently used, they were never officially part of the Forest Service inventory of System Trails and as such were technically illegal trails. Thanks to the local SLO trail community and the Forest Service working together, the NEPA process has begun to adopt and legalize many of these West Cuesta trails. The Forest Service is accepting comments regarding the West Cuesta Trails through November 24. Click here for more details. This is a terrific example of the FS and the trail community working together towards a mutually beneficial goal. Cheers again!
• The Forest Service issued a forest order on October 22 to close Dry Canyon and Dome Springs Campground in the Mt. Pinos Ranger District due to potential live explosives and artillery. Read more here and closure map here.
• LPFA President Jasonn Beckstrand was recognized earlier this month as the 2019 winner of the coveted Dave Weaver Wilderness Award. The Dave Weaver Award is named in honor of the late Dave Weaver who helped start the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Program here in the Los Padres Forest. Dave was a huge advocate for volunteers working with the Forest Service to accomplish mutual goals. Dave’s spirit lives on in so much of what we do across the Los padres and his award is given annually as a lifetime achievement for outstanding Los Padres volunteers. Jasonn is the 6th award winner joining Rik Christensen (2014), Mickey McTigue (2015), Mike Smith (2016), Bob Burtness (2017) and Otis Calef (2018).
HAPPY HOLIDAYS – Ready or not, it’s the holidays time of year again. That of course means parties and presents but it also means that 2020 is right around the corner…. In order to help decorate your office, kitchen or gear nook, the LPFA will once again be producing a Los Padres wall calendar for the upcoming year. 2020 will be our 5th year producing a Los Padres Calendar and our 8th year of calendars if you go back a few additional years to when we had waterfall only calendars. Anyway, the 2020 version will continue featuring photos of some of the spectacular animals, vistas, plants, sunsets, snow covered mountains, trail pics, waterfalls, ripping rivers, canyons, ocean views, rolling potreros and all the other stuff we love from across the Los Padres Forest. The calendars will be 17×11″, printed on high quality stock and available at Ranger Stations across the Los Padres. We are hoping they will be ready by the first week of December…..
We are looking for photo submissions in case you have a great photo or two of the Los Padres, preferably from the past 12 months. If we use your photo in the calendar we’ll of course credit you and also send you a calendar to grace your office and amaze your friends – “wait, that’s the Los Padres?” Be ready for that astonished response.
If you’d like to send in a photo or if you have any questions please email us at INFO@LPForest.org.
Thanks everyone and we hope to see some of your incredible Los Padres photos soon…..
20 years ago today (Oct 11, 1999) the Madulce Cabin was tragically burned to the ground as a result of either an accidental burning or arson (click here for more of the history). The historic Madulce Cabin site is located in the heart of the Santa Barbara Backcountry, within the Dick Smith Wilderness and has a rich history dating back long before the Los Padres was known as the Los Padres. Before going up in flames, the much beloved Madulce Cabin was open to the public for shelter during bad weather or to briefly relive times long gone when forest rangers lived in cabins, stations and lookout towers across the Los Padres. It’s hard to imagine how different the forest must have been back then. Phone lines stretching across the mountains, connecting stations with fire lookouts and horse mounted rangers regularly patrolling the backcountry. Allow yourself to dream of how immaculate the trails must have been back then? Insert dream……. Times have changed, for better or worse, and the idea of phones across the mountains might not sound so good these days but back then it must have been a sight to behold. The Madulce Cabin site remains on the National Register of Historic Places but without the cabin it’s hard to recreate the feeling of what this site must have felt like during its heyday. There was some talk a few years back of trying to rebuild the Madulce Cabin. Local backcountry historians drafted a blueprint of the cabin and had secured private funding to rebuild an exact replica of the Madulce Cabin. Yet the story goes that due to modern Wilderness regulations the Forest Service was not able to permit the rebuilding of the Madulce Cabin. Pros and cons…..
In recent years, Madulce has been the location of quite a few LPFA trail projects and Working Vacations and remains a fantastic place to visit for backpackers or horse/mule packers. The area was mostly burned in the 2007 Zaca Fire but a few mature cedars and pines are still standing next to the cabin site. The horse corral remains along with some other remnants of the cabin era. Times change and perhaps one day a replica of the cabin can be rebuilt at Madulce to once again aid backcountry travelers. Maybe people will again seek refuge from snow storms inside the cabin and wait out the weather next to the wood burning stove. Then again, maybe not. Either way, today we look back at 20 years ago when the Madulce Cabin burned to the ground and along with it a treasured part of Los Padres history. Lets hope that even without the cabin the memory and history will live on at least another 20 years too…..
• Last month SLO based super meteorologist John Lindsey scientifically prophesied that “we could see lower than average amounts of rainfall in California this winter“. And so the prediction game begins. In the past we’ve heard weather predictions ranging from acorn droppings to ant activity but Mr. Lindsey is a living legend and a genius when it comes to weather. We’ll see what happens….. What do you predict?
• Over the past month sections of the following Los Padres trails have been maintained by your friendly neighborhood trail groups and the Forest Service: Lion Canyon Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Tunnel Trail, Jesusita Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail, Romero Trail, San Ysidro Trail, Franklin Trail, Pine Ridge Trail, Potrero John Trail, Reyes Peak Trail
• Big thanks to volunteers from Southern California Edison who showed up at toasty Dough Flat on a late July Saturday to help clean up the trailhead, paint the bathrooms, install signs and spend a little time clearing the trail up to the Condor Observation Point. Thanks also to United Trail Maintainers of California for providing the trailhead sign and the Forest Service for the support!
• Two more steel debris flow nets are being installed above Montecito on San Ysidro and Buena Vista creeks. These two new nets will bring the total nets installed to six. Note that the information on the link is out of date.
• Here’s an feel-good story about some stranded hikers along the Arroyo Seco who were unable to reach the Police and cleverly used a message in bottle in order to get help.
• Super Volunteers, friends of the LPFA and Gossamer Gear ambassadors Rik and Paul were featured this past month in a Gossamer Gear profile series, click link above. We know Rik and Paul really well, they are the main driving force behind so much good stuff across the forest including the LPFA Used Gear Sale, but it’s always cool seeing their influence extend beyond the Los Padres. Great work guys!
• LPFA supporter and friend of the forest Kevin Cody has started a Facebook fundraiser on behalf of the LPFA. We’ve known Kevin for many years and over that time he’s become somewhat famous for his dedication to keeping the forest litter free. In particular he has a hatred of stray helium balloons. It is not uncommon to be running or hiking with Kevin and then all of a sudden see him swimming through brush or scaling hillsides to retrieve that stray helium balloon that happened to plunge down in the Los Padres. We’re willing to bet that no one has recovered more lost helium balloons than Kevin has. Setting a great example Kevin and thanks for the additional support. Happy Birthday! If you’d like to support Kevin’s fundraiser, click here.
It may not feel like it, especially right now with our recent stack of hot days but there is a subtle change occurring in the forest right now indicating that FALL IS COMING. The days are certainly shorter, the nights a little cooler and we’re even seeing some colors changing in select plants and locations. It’s a little early still but even the first hint of Fall is an exciting time here in the Los Padres. For many, Fall means the start of the Los Padres backcountry season. Time to say goodbye to the Sierras and hello to planning your next LP adventure. For the LPFA, Fall also means ramping up our volunteer trail maintenance projects. As usual, we’ve got a full forest-wide list of upcoming trail projects listed at the bottom of this email highlighted by an October Working Vacation at Bluff Cabin maintaining the Grapevine Trail. We’re also partnering with REI and the Thomas Fire Trail Fund to work the Lion Canyon Trail as part of National Public Lands Day. We’ll be kicking off another season of Ojai First Saturday projects in October and for those of you who might be free sooner we’ll be doing trail work on the upper reaches of the Sisquoc Trail this coming weekend. The end of 2019 will also see some trail projects in the SLO backcountry and we are laying the groundwork for another Working Vacation on the Piedra Blanca Trail in the Sespe. Lots of great projects lined up across the Los Padres! We’d love to have you come out this Fall and volunteer on any (or all) of the upcoming trail projects. For more details check the list at the bottom or email us directly: Volunteer@LPForest.org
LA BREA RESTORATION PROJECT DECISION
Ten years ago the La Brea Fire burned almost 90,000 acres in and around the northwest portion of the San Rafael Wilderness. We all know the equation: (fire scarred land) + (lots of rain) = BAD and the big winter storms of 2011 destroyed most of the La Brea Canyon Road, which was a popular dirt road used to connect Colson and Miranda Pine. As a result of the fire and flood damage, the Forest Service closed La Brea Canyon to vehicle use while undertaking a lengthy process of analyzing and determining how to best manage the La Brea area for future use. It became known as the La Brea Restoration Project. Over the past few years the FS formulated a series of four different action alternatives for how they might manage the La Brea area. These actions were repeatedly shared with the public through FS hosted open house meetings as well as multiple rounds of public comment. As expected, there were many different public opinions on how the FS should manage the future of La Brea and after taking all the different sides into consideration the FS indicated that they were going with proposed action alternative 1. Alternative 1 included converting the creek portions of La Brea Canyon Road to non-motorized trail, decommissioning 5 campgrounds, converting 1 campground, creating 2 new trailheads and converting Kerry Canyon Trail to non-motorized. On August 16 the FS released their final decision on the La Brea Restoration Project. It matched with what was listed above with one large change, the new decision is calling for the complete decommission of the Kerry Canyon Trail. Among other things, the Kerry Canyon Trail is a key 8-mile section of the Condor Trail and if Kerry was to be decommissioned that would prevent any future trail maintenance along Kerry Canyon. Please click the above links for more information. There is one final 45-day objection period which started August 16. Details and instructions for the objections can be found here on page 10.
• Speaking of Snail Canyon, the famous bar and grill near Reyes Creek Campground has once again changed management and is now called Camp Scheideck Lodge Bar & Grill. They are now open for business!
• And speaking of potential wildfires, here’s a link to a story about a Big Sur man who is on a mission to stop illegal campfires along the Big Sur Coast. It’s certainly a good mission, lets hope for the best.
• The LPFA will once again host a Used Camping Gear Sale on November 3 at Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta. This is a great opportunity for our members to get super good discounted deals on gently used backpacks (Gossamer Gear is hooking us up again!), tents and other car-camping and backpacking supplies. We are taking donations as well in case you have an old backpack, tent of camping accessory that hasn’t recently seen the light of day. All proceeds go towards our Trail Care Fund and back into the trails you love! For more information about the event or where to donate, email: INFO@LPForest.org
• The Federal Government filed a lawsuit against Southern California Edison for allegedly allowing the Rey Fire to ignite in August 2016. Read details here.
• According to Ventura County law enforcement officials, 2018 illegal backcountry pot grow operations were down over two-thirds in comparison to 2017. This could be a result of marijuana legalization.
• Electric Bikes (E-Bikes) have grown in popularity over the past decade. The current Forest Service regulations on E-Bikes is that they can be ridden on 1) Roads Open to All Vehicles 2) Trails Open to All Vehicles 3) Trails Open to Vehicles 50″ of Less in Width and 4) Trails Open to Motorcycles Only. So basically E-Bikes can be ridden on public OHV/Moto trails and public FS roads, places where other motorized vehicles can ride only. There are rumblings that the FS stance on E-Bikes might be changing. Last week, the Department of the Interior took a big step towards allowing pedal assist E-Bikes on traditional mountain bike trails within National Parks. This is bound to be a hot topic over the coming years as the FS figures out how to squeeze E-Bikes into an existing user-group or decides to create a new user-group altogether. Stay tuned…..
• We’re in the dog days of summer heat but there were still a few LP trails worked on over the past month or so: Pine Ridge, Sisquoc, Romero, Jesusita, Terrace, Tunnel, Arroyo Burro, Cold Spring, Franklin, Deal, Buena Vista, Reyes Peak, Mission Pine
HELLO FRIENDS – Tomorrow (August 10) kicks off the most popular hunting season here in the Los Padres, the Zone A South General Deer Season. Zone A South encompasses most of the Los Padres from Monterey down through Ventura County except for Zone D13 which covers the Ventura/Kern Highcountry, click to see map here. There will be a lot of hunter activity across the forest over the coming A Zone weeks, especially during the early weekends of the Season. If you’re out and about you should expect to see hunters at most of the trailheads and along many of the access roads. If you have plans to visit the forest this weekend, be aware of the extra activity and depending on your interests and where you plan on going, you may want to adjust your plans or at the very least wear bright colored clothing. Good idea to leave the antler helmet at home this time around.
The Los Padres had two wildfire scares over the past couple weeks with the Mill Fire (310 acres) along the southern edge of the Ventana Wilderness and the Range Fire (100 acres) off of Happy Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley. Thankfully both fires didn’t blow up and are near 100% containment. The cause of the fires have not been shared. There is a current forest closure as a result of the Mill Fire that includes Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, Mill Creek Trail, Kirk Creek Trail, South Coast and Cone Peak Roads. Thanks to everyone involved in fighting the fires and lets hope for no more wildfire scares.
• There have been quite a few trails maintained over the past month or so across the Los Padres by the FS and your local volunteer organizations. Here’s a quick list, remember you can visit HikeLosPadres.com for more information about these wonderful trails: Cold Spring, Marble Peak, Franklin, Matilija Falls, Poplar, Reyes Peak, Rattlesnake Canyon, Romero, Baron, Sisquoc, Terrace Creek, Jesusita
• The LP also made the news this week thanks to a two-day search operation for a missing backpacker. The solo backpacker and his faithful dog were attempting the 50-mile Lower Sisquoc Loop in the San Rafael Wilderness when he came down with a sickness on day 1 of his 3 day trip. His family grew concerned when he didn’t make it home at the end of day 3 and contacted Santa Barbara Search and Rescue. The extensive search began at sunrise on day 4 and thankfully the backpacker turned up mid-morning on day 5. The backpacker was dehydrated but otherwise in good health. Thankfully the backpacker had left an itinerary with his family and had taken the time to enter his name into the various trail registers along the route. The combination of register entries and knowing his itinerary aided immensely in developing a search strategy for the lost backpack. Remember that. Alls well that ends well, great work by SAR and yes, the dog came back in one piece as well – probably had the time of his life!
• The trails above Montecito were hit extremely hard due to the Thomas Fire and subsequent January 2018 debris flows. Many groups and volunteers have assisted in the reconstruction of the trails but we wanted to mention one specific group effort working on the lower Cold Spring Trail, specifically building a wall that is now affectionately known as the Don Wall. The Cold Spring Trail was wiped clean after the debris flows and along with it the trailhead on the east side of Mountain Drive. This section of trail had turned into a lumpy cliff face with a 20ft drop into the creek below. It seemed impossible to repair but thanks to nearly two-months of hard work the trail has been fixed and is looking terrific! Many people assisted in this process including: Los Padres National Forest, City of Santa Barbara, SB County, Montecito Trails Foundation, Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers, Multi-Use Trails Coalition, Thomas Fire Trail Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, SLO County Trails, SB County Trails Council, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, the LPFA ans especially Donn & Don. It was really inspiring and fun working with so many people and completing our goal. Thanks everyone…….
• The gate at Cherry Creek Road along upper Highway 33 is now open. Cherry Creek provides access to the upper Matilija Trailhead as well as the upper Ortega Motorcycle Trail.
I spent some time earlier today writing an entirely too long paragraph which I was hoping would open this LPFA Newsletter. It went on and on about how “alive” the Los Padres is right now and how that’s both good and bad. I got pretty deep, by my standards, looking at this years extreme seasonal plant growth, the impacts that growth is having on our trails and theories as to why we’re experiencing so much “life” this year compared to previous years. I compared this years rainfall totals with earlier years (we had more rain in 2011 & 2017), rambled on about theories as to why there are tens of thousands of oak seedlings covering the lower Sisquoc this year and prophesied about why the bear have been so active. After all that writing, all that research and all that theorizing……. I changed my mind. It’s the start of a beautiful weekend, let’s save the rambling for another time, a Tuesday or Wednesday perhaps. For now, let’s focus on pretty forest pictures and getting out and enjoying your forest. Go for a hike, go for a ride. Explore, bushwhack, swim. We can worry about overgrown trails another time, perhaps next Tuesday or Wednesday.
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Effective June 29, the Los Padres Forest raised fire restrictions for the season. You can read all the details at the link below but essentially campfires are permitted only in Designated Campfire Use Sites, think official FS car-campgrounds. Backcountry campfires are prohibited at the moment but camp stoves are still legal across the forest. Again, more details at the link below, learn it:
• There have been quite a few trails maintained over the past month or so across the Los Padres by the FS and your local volunteer organizations. Here’s a quick list, remember you can visit HikeLosPadres.com for more information about these wonderful trails: Aliso Canyon, Arroyo Burro (north), Baron, Cold Spring, Deal, Devils Canyon, Franklin, Manzana, Matilija Falls, McMenemy, Poplar, Rancho Nuevo, Raspberry Spring, Rattlesnake Canyon, Romero, San Ysidro, Santa Barbara Canyon, Sisquoc, Terrace Creek
• We’ve been hearing about a lot of poodle-dog bush sightings in the Ventura County portions of the Thomas Fire. Poodle-dog is a fire-follower with beautiful head-high purple flowers this time of the year. Don’t let the beauty fool you as the plant can cause very similar reactions to that of poison oak. Learn what poodle-dog looks like and do your best to avoid it, but take lots of pictures because they sure are pretty, wouldn’t you say?
• The Forest Service has been busy over the past month cleaning up some backcountry pot grow sites. You can read more here and here.
• For those of us interested in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the FS is proposing some revisions to their current NEPA regulations. There are pros and there are cons to potential revisions. If you’d like to learn more or share your thoughts, click the link above. We have until August 12 to provide comments.
It sure seems like every time we’re ready to call an end to our 2018-19 rainy season, another storm or two pops up on the Doppler. It’s not often we get any significant rain in May. Yet this year, on top of all the rain we’ve already had, we made a serious run at the all-time record for rain in the month of May. Even this past week we had some odd early season thunderstorms which caused flash flood warnings across much of the Los Padres. As a whole, the LP is well over our seasonal average rainfall totals with most stations across the forest recording 115-140% of annual rainfall totals. It’s certainly been an exciting year for weather but we all know the heat will be coming soon so until then lets be sure to enjoy all the overcast, dreary, precipitation filled days we can.
Speaking of precipitation and rain delays, the Forest Service has done a good job over the past few weeks of getting most of the seasonal road closures open across the forest. Here’s the latest and greatest on gate closures and openings:
I know many of us have been waiting patiently (some impatiently) for the gates to swing open this year. Now is the time, most of the gates are open and the forest is yours to enjoy responsibly! Many flowers are still blooming, some of the protected hillsides remain green and water is still flowing across most of the drainages. Get out and enjoy your forest and if you come across anything interesting, dangerous, a trail impediment or have any questions please share on HikeLosPadres.com, email us (INFO@LPForest.org) or contact your local district ranger office. Have at it and as always be cautious and safe!
NATIONAL TRAILS DAY 2019
National Trails Day (NTD) is an annual day of trail celebration where thousands of hikers, bikers, riders and trail users across the country donate their time to help protect and maintain the trails they love. While NTD is technically the first Saturday of June, NTD hosted projects usually spill over a few weeks before or after the actual National Trails Day. This year is no different with a few NTD projects still scheduled on both June 8 and June 15, see list below. While it would be great for you to make it to a trail project this month, the essence of National Trails Day is much more than just a singular day each year. Dedicate every month, every week and every day you spend on the trail to the spirit of a NTD event. It can be as easy as picking up a few pieces of trash along the trail, helping clear a downed branch from the trail corridor or simply sharing what you found with your local trail organizations or agencies. And of course, you can always step up your game and try adopting your favorite trail as well. Every bit helps! Hope you can make it to an upcoming trail event near you:
– Speaking of the condor, our local 400+ mile Los Padres thru-hike, the Condor Trail has been seeing some activity this season. There are currently at least three people hiking the CT and another few who have already completed it this year. The CT made an appearance on a recent Backpacker Radio podcast and rumor has it that a guide book is in the works as well. Stay tuned, we’re certain to be hearing more about the Condor Trail in the years to come….
– And along those lines, Piper (Diane) from Santa Barbara successfully connected the Los Padres with the PCT backpacking from NIRA to Agua Dulce. This was Piper’s second time completing this epic hike. You can follow her journey through a series of YouTube videos she put together. Check it out…..
– From sediment capture to sediment flow, the San Clemente Dam was removed in 2015 along the Carmel River in large part to help restore local steelhead populations. Reports this spring are showing that steelhead numbers along the Carmel are way up from previous years. You can read about it here and here. This is potentially a good sign of things to come for other failing Los Padres area dams including the Los Padres Dam and the Matilija Dam.
– This is pretty cool, the Forest Fire Lookout Association in conjunction with the Los Padres National Forest will be training volunteers to spot smoke from the Chews Ridge Lookout tower (36.312201, -121.568204) in Monterey County. If interested, please see flier. This is a neat concept for a few different reasons. Can you think of any other lookout towers across the Los Padres that would be worthwhile to reactivate and setup similar volunteer programs? Lets do it!
– Do you shop at Amazon? If so, please shop through the AmazonSmile program and choose the LPFA as your charitable organization. Amazon will donate 0.5% of all eligible purchased back to the LPFA. It adds up quick and goes right back towards the forest and trails you love! You can start shopping right now by clicking this link or choosing the Los Padres Forest Association within the AmazonSmile program. Thanks in advance and happy shopping!