Los Padres Hunting Season & ERP

Hello Friends, 

Lots going on across the Los Padres at the moment! We’ll cover much of that down below in Forest 411 but first lets talk about deer hunting season. The busiest and geographically largest deer season in the Los Padres is A-Zone South which opens this weekend Saturday August 13 and lasts through September 25. A-Zone covers most of the Los Padres basically from the Sespe up through Big Sur and while A-Zone has been open for archery over the past month or so, it’s this weekend that it opens for general rifle season. If you’ve not been out for opening A-Zone weekend, it’s certainly the busiest weekend of the year here in the Los Padres and you should expect to see hunters camping at most of the trailheads, turnouts and campgrounds that provide access into the forest. If you have plans to hike, backpack, ride or visit the forest this weekend, be aware that it might be very busy within A-Zone and if you’re not a hunter then you might want to rethink your plans and head elsewhere. If you are heading into A-Zone, be sure to wear brighter colors than you might normally wear and be courteous of the other forest-users. If you’re starting up a trail and come across some hunters, it’s always a good idea to ask where they are going and let them know where you are going so as to prevent any surprises further up the trail. Most of the hunters are very knowledgeable about the Los Padres and have been enjoying the forest for generations. Expect a busy weekend throughout A-Zone, be respectful, remember the current fire restrictions and of course everyone be safe out there.

Ecological Restoration Project (ERP)

The big news across the Los Padres has been the introduction of a proposed forest-wide fuels management project called the Ecological Restoration Project or ERP. At the moment ERP is within the scoping phase of the proposal and the Forest Service is currently inviting and encouraging the public to comment and share thoughts on the project. Information about ERP is available at the project page here as well as more information hereherehere and here. There is a lot of information flying around about ERP and we strongly encourage you to watch the FS webinar from earlier this week and attend an upcoming webinar that ForestWatch is leading. There are a couple takeaways you should keep in mind as you educate yourself on this project: 

  • There are two main sides to the fuels management debate (manage vs leave alone) and both sides believe they are doing what is best to protect the long-term health of the forest. 
  • The proposed ERP treatment acreage is staggeringly large but understand that the FS is looking to approve potential future treatment within that acreage. There are no plans to immediately treat that entire area, it would take decades to complete. The FS is essentially requesting the right to treat those areas as they see fit and when needed. 

Please do your research, educate yourself, talk it up, ask questions and be sure to share your opinion with the Forest Service.

The LPFA Ojai Chapter Adopt-A-Highway Volunteers unfortunately hit the jackpot during our July cleanup of Highway 33.

FOREST 411

• The LPFA Trail Crew and Trail Volunteers just wrapped up an incredible July where we maintained over 6 miles of Los Padres trails despite the oppressive heat. This was thanks in large part to grants we received from the National Forest Foundation, NFWF and donations from folks like you. We’re not sure we can replicate that success in August but we’re going to try. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED! 

• Late last month the Santa Barbara Ranger District issued an order to close the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation Area to all motorized vehicles. While the area has been closed to vehicles since 2016, this is the first formal closure the FS has issued. In addition to closing the area to vehicles, the closure also includes closing both Mono and Rock (Lower Caliente) Campgrounds due to nearby hazard trees and structures. The FS is hoping to reopen the area in FY 2023. Stay tuned….. 

• In response to repeated illegal camping along Highway 1 through Big Sur, Monterey County passed a new ordinance which has increased fines for illegal camping to $1,000. This ordinance is effective along Highway 1 between the Carmel River and the SLO County Line. 

• In case you’ve missed any of the recent LPFA talks or online programs, they are all posted and available to watch on our YouTube Channel. Check em out and don’t forget The Evil Root Ball Empire while you’re there….. 

• Earlier this summer the Forest Service received the go-ahead from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to begin fuels management efforts on two Mt Pinos RD forest health projects. No time table has been set for when the actual work will begin. 

• Did you hear the one about the four motorcycle riders who got lost and used InReach to have SAR deliver them food, water and maps? At the time they were illegally motoring in the San Rafael Wilderness and across the Sisquoc Wild & Scenic River? If only there was a way to track down their contact information…… 

• The Angeles NF is currently requesting comments to the River Values Assessment for the Piru Creek Wild & Scenic River. Piru Creek is located on the border of the Angeles and Los Padres. Be sure to check out the assessment and use your voice to comment

• For those of you in Ventura County or in case you’re looking for a way to avoid A-Zone, the Ventura Monthly shared an article about the Thomas Fire recovery and some summertime trails in the area worth exploring. Have at it…. 

• Last but certainly not least, the NY Times published a great article about ancient trees in the Los Padres and the study of historic droughts as they relate to tree rings. Not only is the content within this article super interesting, but the layout and artwork is fantastic. A+
AMAZING – Doesn’t quite look the same does it? photo LPNF Archives

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!  

Aug 13: SW Herpetologist Presentation, Wheeler Gorge VC, 10am
Aug 13 – Sep 25: A-Zone South General Hunting Season
Aug 17: Highway 33 Adopt-A-Highway, LPFA
Aug 18: Staying Safe on Trails w/ SBSAR, SB Library Talk
Aug 20: Saving the Condors Presentation, Wheeler Gorge VC, 10am
Aug 30: LPFA Trail Work Tuesday, TBD
Sep 2-5: Pine Ridge Trail Work, VWA
Sep 2-4: Big Sur Trail, VWA
Sep 13: LPFA Trail Work Tuesday, TBD
Sep 15: Tales of SB Backcountry w/ JWapotich, SB Library Talk
Sep 24: National Public Lands Day TBD, LPFA
Sep 30: Carrizo Trail Work, VWA
Oct 22: LPFA Party, Paradise Road
Oct 29: LPFA Used Camping Gear Sale
Oct 13-16: De Angulo Trail Work, VWA
November 2022: LPFA Working Vacation TBD, LPFA
Feb 4 2023: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training

Los Padres Fire Restrictions, Closures, Hunting Season and Openings

Above Ojai, Pratt Trail showing off some new post-Thomas Fire summer regrowth, photo LPFA
Hello Friends,

It’s been a busy few weeks here in the Los Padres featuring additional fire restrictions and the onset of A-Zone South general deer hunting season.  We’ve also had a lot of questions of late about what is and what is not open across the Los Padres.  Lots going up and down the Los Padres, especially for the dog days of summer, lets get to it!

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The Dry and Extra Crispy Little Pine Mountain
ADDITIONAL FIRE RESTRICTIONS

The Forest Service announced on August 9th some additional fire restrictions.  You can read the fine-print at the link here but basically:

  • No campfires allowed across the forest.  PERIOD.
  • No target shooting allowed outside of Winchester and Ojai Valley (Rose Valley) Gun Clubs.
  • No camp stoves outside of designated Campfire Use Sites.
    • Yes, that means no hot coffee or stove cooking for backcountry travelers!

Obviously 2018 has already been a horrendous wildfire year with more than 15 large fires currently burning across California.  So far (knock, knock) the LP has avoided any large fires this season and lets hope it stays that way.  Be safe everyone!

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Big Pine Mountain, sadly the pines have been slow to recover after the 2007 Zaca Fire, photo Taryn AshlockA-ZONE SOUTH HUNTING SEASON

A-Zone South general hunting season started August 11 and lasts through September 23.  While there are many hunts across the Los Padres, the A-Zone South general season is by far the busiest.  A-Zone South covers almost all of the Los Padres from Monterey down through SLO, SB and a large portion of Ventura County.  You can see the map showing the coverage area here.  Each year we hear concerns from non-hunters who are caught off guard coming across groups of hunters.  Be aware that hunters will be out and about this time of year and if that’s not your cup of tea you might want to head elsewhere in the Los Padres.  Pine Mountain above Ojai and the Mt Pinos area are both outside of A-Zone South and should be nicer this time of year due to their higher elevations.  Once again, be safe everyone…..

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While not quite as impressive as the Black Gate of Mordor, it’ll feel just as imposing if you find it closed when you thought it was supposed to be open!YOU SHALL (NOT) PASS!

We get a ton of questions from forest-users asking about which gates are open? is that gate closed? is this trail open? can I go here,? etc….?  BTW, we love helping with these questions so please keep them coming!  While the Forest Service website does a great job of sharing this information, we thought it was probably time to share some of the answers we’ve been helping people with over the past months.  We’re focusing on either the recent changes or the major questions we frequently receive.  For more details please check the Los Padres website linked above or call your local Ranger District:

  • MONTEREY RANGER DISTRICT
    • HIGHWAY 1: After being closed since May 19, 2017, the GIANT slide at Mud Creek finally reopened on July 18.  Highway 1 through what is known as the Big Sur Coast is now open from Morro Bay to Monterey.  That being said, there are still some one lane delays and the occasional nighttime closure.  If you are planning a trip along this section of Hwy 1 be sure to check ahead of time to with CalTrans to make sure you can safely get through.
    • PALO COLORADO ROAD: Palo Colorado Road sustained major damage following the 2016 Soberanes Fire and 2017 winter season.  The road remains closed three miles above Hwy 1 but people can hike up the road to access Bottcher’s Gap and the Northern Terminus of the Condor Trail.  While the road is open to pedestrians, understand that there is no parking along the road so you’ll have to arrange for a drop-off if you plan on hiking up to Bottcher’s. Palo Colorado is scheduled to reopen by the end of October.
    • PINE RIDGE TRAIL & FRIENDS: The Pine Ridge, Terrace Creek and Ventana Camp Trails remain the largest and most substantial closure across the Los Padres as well as the # 1 question we get about closures.  Pine Ridge Trail remains closed from Highway 1 at Big Sur Station up-canyon to beyond Redwood Camp.  This includes Ventana Camp, Barlow, Terrace Creek, Sykes and Redwood.  The trail was damaged in both the Soberanes Fire as well as the 2017 storms.  There is no timetable as to when the trail or access to the camps will be reopened.
  • SANTA LUCIA RANGER DISTRICT
    • HI MOUNTAIN ROAD: Hi Mountain Road was reopened in late April after being closed for over a year due to lack of maintenance.
    • BATES CANYON: Closed above Bates Campground due to road issues and slides.
  • SANTA BARBARA RANGER DISTRICT
    • ROMERO CAMUESA ROAD: The Romero Camuesa Road remains closed to vehicle traffic beyond Romero Saddle along East Camino Cielo.
    • DIVIDE PEAK OHV: Divide Peak is open but riders will need to park at Romero Saddle.
    • FIRST CROSSING: Open.
    • BUCKHORN ROAD OHV: Closed at Upper Oso due to Rey Fire damage and adjustments to the Camuesa Road OHV.  More on that to come…..
    • SB FRONTCOUNTRY TRAILS: Most of the frontcountry trails have reopened but the lower sections of Cold Spring and Hot Springs remain closed as well as the entire West Fork Cold Spring Trail.  More on this to come soon as well……
  • OJAI RANGER DISTRICT
    • MIDDLE LION CAMPGROUND: Open, after being closed due to the Thomas Fire.
    • ROSE VALLEY CAMPGROUND: Open, same as above.
    • NORDHOFF RIDGE ROAD: Open, same as above.
    • ORTEGA TRAIL: Open, same as above.
    • CHERRY CREEK: Open, seasonal.
  • MT PINOS RANGER DISTRICT
    • RANCHO NUEVO / TINTA, MT PINOS RD: The road to Rancho Nuevo TH and lower Tinta TH was closed for an extended period of time due to gullies and washouts.  The road has been recently reopened to both trailheads.
    • WEST DRY CANYON ROAD, MT PINOS RD: Dry Canyon Road, which connects Santa Barbara Canyon to the upper Tinta TH and Cuyama Peak remains closed due to gullies sustained during the 2017 winter season.
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So much brown, dry photos; lets mix in some green and a July waterfall along the Sisquoc