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.
• And still speaking of fire potential, the National Science Foundation recently funded an extensive study of the Santa Barbara wind event known as sundowners. Sundowners combined with wildfire is a nasty mix. It will be interesting to follow this study over the coming years.
• 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
• BLACK BEAR EATING CONDOR!??! That was the headline last week when a Ventana Wildlife Society camera captured a video of a black bear in Big Sur feeding on a calf carcass that was set aside for condors to eat. It was big news since the Big Sur area doesn’t have much of a bear population but the headline claiming that a black bear was eating a condor certainly grabbed a lot of attention.
• 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