Fires, Hunting Season, Volunteer Opportunities, 411

 Whittier’s Final Gasp

It’s been a fiery few weeks around the Los Padres.  It seems like wildfires are popping up just about every day but thanks to the excellent fire crews most of them haven’t developed into much.  That being said, we’ve had quite a few significant fires that have grown large enough to garner incident names and/or attention:

  • We had Hudson, in the eastern Cuyama, that didn’t get onto the Los Padres but burned just over 1,000 acres.
  • There were a series of seven fires in Santa Paula Canyon that burned 35 acres and has caused the closure of the popular Santa Paula Canyon Trail.
  • The biggest has been the Alamo Fire, which burned over 28,000 acres.  It also didn’t get onto LP soil but came really really close and caused multiple forest access closures.
  • And of course the Whittier Fire, which has burned over 18,000 acres, mostly within the Los Padres and remains 87% contained.  Tragically, 16 residences were destroyed at the hands of Whittier and a Forest Closure remains enforced across the Western Santa Ynez Mountains.

In response to the increase in fire activity, the Los Padres National Forest went into Level III Fire Restrictions effective July 17.  You can read all about it here.  The largest change in this order is the banning of target shooting across the Los Padres.

Summer is a tough time in the Los Padres.  Temperatures are really high across most of the forest and water is becoming scarce.  If you’ve got the itch to get into the forest please be careful and plan on doing most of your moving either early or late……..

A-ZONE SOUTH: August 12
Now, that being said, early August is also one of the busiest times in the Los Padres as A-Zone South deer (rifle) season kicks off.  This years general season goes from August 12 – September 24.  You can see on the map that A-Zone South includes just about all of the Los Padres.  If you are a hunter, have at it, be safe and responsible.  If you are not a hunter, you may want to pick your forest endeavors carefully, especially on weekends.  Be prepared to see more activity than usual along forest roads and at campgrounds and leave your antler hat at home.  If you have any questions, please contact your local Ranger District.
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Four Fingers View, Channel Islands, Madulce Trail


In case you need a Los Padres Fix for your NDD or more likely your TWDD (Trail Work Deficit Disorder), the LPFA will be squeezing in a trail project August 4-6 along the Madulce Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Led by Mike Smith, we’ll be working the top mile of the trail from the Buckhorn Road out to the junction with the Madulce Peak Lookout Trail.  Most of the focus will be fixing tread and broken cribwalls on the north slope of the ridge, which in conjunction with the 5,500ft elevation should mean cooler temperatures.  We’ll be driving in from Santa Barbara Canyon and base-camping at nearby Alamar Camp.  If you’ve never been to Alamar or this part of the forest, it is spectacular and a real treat to be able to drive in 2 hours what normally takes 2 days to backpack.  As usual all food and tools will be provided for the volunteers.  If you have any questions or would like to sign-up, please let us know:

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Colorful History, Mono Debris Dam


• Got plans this weekend?  If not, throw the kids in the family roadster and head out tomorrow to Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center to see the Humane Society of Ventura County give a presentation at 11am.  The coolest thing about the Humane Society is that you never quite know what animals they’ll show up with.  They might have a blind corn snake?  They might come with dogs performing tricks?  Maybe a goat?  You never know….  But one thing for sure is that your kids will love it and spend the entire drive home begging you to adopt a cat or a mouse or an iguana.  No thanks needed.  See you tomorrow!

• Were you around 25 years ago?  Does June 19, 1992 mean anything?  It should, that was the day the Los Padres Condor and River Protection Act was signed adding more than 400,000 acres of wilderness and 80 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers to the Los Padres National Forest.  This included the creation of the Silver Peak, Sespe, Matilija, Garcia and Chumash Wildernesses as well as additional land added to both the San Rafael and Ventana Wildernesses.  That was quite a day, cheers to June 19!

• This week also marks the one-year anniversary of the Soberanes Fire, which burned from July 22, 2016 well into the winter months.  Soberanes consumed over 130,000 acres, destroyed dozens of homes and took the life of a dozer operator working on the fire.  Even a year later, we’re still reeling from Soberanes with road closures and forest closures continuing to impact life in and around Big Sur and the Ventana Wilderness.  More updates next time around….

• A press release was issued earlier this month about the continued closure of Hi Mountain Road in SLO County.  Hi Mtn Rd is an unpaved road that connects Arroyo Grande with Pozo going through both SLO County and Los Padres land.  It leads to a variety of recreational activities and campgrounds but remains closed as SLO and the LP work out an agreement on road maintenance.  The attached PDF tells the story better than we can.  Note that Hi Valley Road remains closed from the first gate down next to the creek coming up from Arroyo Grande out to Pozo.

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Taking it Easy, LPFA Flume Chute Aid Station, SBER 2017

Fires! Fires on the Mountains

 Alamo Fire, Engulfing Pismo, photo Toejam
Yes, it is that time of year again….  While we were hoping for an ‘off year’ from wildfires, especially after last year, the Los Padres is off and running again with what is looking like another busy fire season.  While there have been a few smaller fires here and there around the LP, the first two major fires erupted this past week in Santa Barbara County: Alamo & Whittier
Alamo & Whittier Fires 
First was the Alamo Fire, which started the afternoon of July 6 east of Santa Maria, near the border of SLO and SB Counties, close to Twitchell Reservoir.  The fire has burned nearly 30,000 acres and is currently 45% contained.  While Alamo has not yet entered the Los Padres, it is really close and has been knocking on the door the past few days just across Tepusquet Canyon.  Fire crews have made great progress on Alamo in recent days, lets hope for containment soon before the next heat wave hits this weekend.


  • Click here for the full list of closures.  Access to the Los Padres is closed along Hwy 166 between 101 and New Cuyama, including Tepusquet Canyon, Rock Front, Sierra Madres and Colson Canyon.
  • Twitter is always a great resource for following crowd-sourced information.
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Painting the Forest Red, SY Mtns Above Goleta
Then came the Whittier Fire, which started dramatically on Saturday July 8 just off Hwy 154 across from Lake Cachuma.  Fueled by 100˚ heat and afternoon winds, the Whittier Fire, named after nearby Whittier Camp, took off like a rocket burning south up the Santa Ynez Mountains through terrain that had not burned since the 1955 Refugio Fire (62 years).  It quickly consumed Rancho Alegre Outdoor School and temporarily trapped 80 students at Circle V Camp.  By that evening the flames had crossed West Camino Cielo and were headed down towards the ocean.  Evacuations were ordered for Paradise Road, West Camino, Kinevan and even western Goleta.  Fortunately, the weather changed starting Sunday bringing two days of tropical flow followed by a thicker marine layer and cooler temps.  The combination of the change in weather along with the great work from the fire crews has slowed the progress of the Whittier Fire.  Whittier has currently burned around 11,000 acres and is 25% contained.  It’s still very active both with smoke plumes as well as air attacks from the tankers that have been hammering it the past day or so.


  • Click here for the full list of closures.  Access to the Los Padres is closed along Hwy 154 between Cathedral Oaks and Hwy 246, including West Camino Cielo.
  • Tequepis Trail burned.
  • Twitter is always a great resource for following crowd-sourced information.
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Whittier Fire-Camp Morning Briefing, July 11

It’s devastating seeing the destruction these wildfires bring.  If you are reading this, chances are you’ve either been affected by a recent wildfire or know someone who has.  If you’re able, please reach out and find ways you can help as fire victims rebuild their lives.  And of course, huge praise needs to go to all the fire crews and fire support teams that work day and night fighting these fires.  Their efforts literally saved 80 children.  Not to mention all the other lives and property saved that we’ll never hear about because they stopped it before it happened.  They are absolutely amazing.