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. 

Thankful for the Los Padres Sneaker Snow Storm

Remnants of the sneaky November 2020 snow storm, Pine Mtn, Ventura Backcountry, Tuesday November 10

Hello Friends,

Welcome to fall in the Los Padres.  We’ve been seeing peak fall colors this past week across most of the LP with sycamores, alders, maples and cottonwoods all dazzling in their fall bests.  Fall has been especially dramatic this year thanks to the sneaky snow storm that came in a couple weeks back.  If you remember that first storm, it was predicted to be light and cold with very little precipitation.  The storm came and went but instead of light and cold we surprisingly found most of the high country covered in a solid blanket of 6 inches of snow.  A sneaker storm for sure and it was very nice getting out over the past week and seeing the mountains drinking up some much needed moisture.  Hopefully a good sign of things to come…..

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Maybe I’ll just hold it after all, Santa Barbara Backcountry, Sunday November 8, photo Bates

LPFA TRAIL UPDATES

The LPFA has been busy with our fall – winter program of trail work and we’re hoping the recent shift in COVID tiers doesn’t slow us down too much.  The LPFA Trail Crew is currently helping the Forest Service with some BAER work in the Dolan Fire but we’ve spent much of the past months working some of the trails in and around the SLO Backcountry.  We cleared the lower portion of the Lopez Canyon Trail, brushed the worst section of American Canyon and cleared trees along the Castle Crags Trail in the Machesna.  Lots of work left to do in SLO and we’re hoping to get back out there soon.  Our main focus this fall and early winter will be in the deeper parts of the SB Backcountry working primarily on the Santa Cruz and Mission Pine Trails while also strategically hitting Poplar, Alamar, Madulce and the upper Sisquoc.   We’ll share more details and potential volunteer opportunities but we should be out there as much as we can until the rains come and shutdown access. 

We had a great volunteer projectlast week and cleared about 0.4 miles of some of the nastiest wilderness chaparral you can imagine along the Mission Pine Trail, it was great to get out there!  In addition, we’ll be continuing work on the Mono Jungle Reroute of the Cold Spring Trail and should also get started on restoring the North Franklin Trail out behind Carpinteria.  As the weather changes we’ll plan to move closer to paved roads and should spend some time working the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail, North Fork Matilija, Sulphur Spring Trail, Blue Canyon, lower Santa Cruz while also organizing triage projects where needed to help clear storm caused trees and slides.  We certainly have a lot of trail work scheduled and our collective fingers are crossed that it all goes as planned.  Thanks everyone for the support and as always, if you come across any bad sections of trail, downed trees or slides, take pictures and post to HikeLosPadresand email the Forest Service or your favorite trail group – things change so quickly across the trails and any information you can share is always appreciated!  See you on the trails….

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The aforementioned nastiest wilderness chaparral you can imagine, Mission Pine before and after photos by KVarga

FOREST 411

• Despite the recent rains, the forest remains in fire restrictions which prohibit campfires across the forest and camp stoves are only allowed in designated campfire use sites.  These restrictions generally stay in place until the forest has collectively received a few inches of rain.  The Forest Service is monitoring and checking moisture levels weekly and we’ll be sure to share when any changes occur in the fire restrictions.

• We are officially within the Seasonal Gate Closure season where some of our favorite trailheads and campgrounds become harder to get to as the FS swings the gates for the winter.  As of right now the only closed seasonal gates outside of the MRD that we’ve heard of are Dough Flat outside of Fillmore, Cherry Creek in the upper Sespe and the Upper Santa Ynez gate at Romero (which has now been closed for 3+ years).  Everything else should be open at least until the next big storms.  If you find any locked gates, please let us know so we can pass along the news.  It’s also very wise this time of year to check with the FS ahead of time to see if the gates are closed.  Nothing worse that trying to get to Santa Barbara Canyon (or wherever you want to go) and finding the gates closed 4 miles before the trailhead.

• The Monterey Ranger District remains in a hard closure due to the Dolan Fire, which is currently 98% contained and is holding at 124,924 scorched acres.  The cause of the fire was verified earlier this month as arson related to an illegal marijuana grow.  There is no set date as to when the MRD will reopen but as we’ve seen in years past, it might be a while due to very valid post-fire safety concerns.  Stay tuned….

• In case you missed last months LPFA Seven Minute Story Night, never fear, it’s on YouTube, check it out…  Oh yeah, and if you’d like to sign up to present in the future, we’ll likely be hosting another one in January.  Let us know….

• Four condors were released earlier this week into the wilds outside San Simeon.  Another great step for our beloved California condor!

• The Los Padres National Forest is hiring!  They are looking for a Forestry Technician in Santa Barbara and a wilderness/stock program manager in the Monterey RD, check it out and good luck!

• The Forest Service is also looking for volunteers who might be interested in helping treat and eliminate non-native noxious weeds within the Santa Barbara front and backcountry areas.  You’d be working with the FS biologist.  If this sounds fun or for more information email us at Volunteer@LPForest.org.

• Thanks to everyone who submitted photos for the 2021 Los Padres Calendar.  We are just about done with the layout and the calendars should be ready in plenty of time for the holidays.  To learn more or purchase your very own 2021 Los Padres Calendar, CLICK HERE…..

• Some slight changes in the West Cuesta closure order: the Forest Service revised the closure so that bicycles and hikers are once again permitted along West Cuesta.  The closure remains in place for vehicles and dispersed camping.

• If you Amazon, remember that you can always use Amazon Smile and choose the LPFA as your charity of choice so that you not only shop but also help the forest, all in just a few clicks.  Check it out – thanks

• And last but certainly not least, our latest volunteer spotlight features the great Bardley Smith.  You know the saying about a tree falling in the woods, right?  Well, it should be changed to if a tree falls across the trail in the Ojai Ranger District…. yes, Bardley will most likely cut it out.  Thanks for all you do Bardley!

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The ever-elusive Los Padres maple, looking good enough to almost not notice the Hurricane Deck.

7 Minute Stories, Kendra and Much Much More Los Padres Goodness…

Machesna Mountain Wilderness, so nice to see an area that has not recently burned….. knock knock.

Hello Friends,

On Thursday, LPFA hosted Seven Minute Storytelling! This was our first virtual Zoom event and based on how all things COVID are trending at the moment, it’ll probably not be our last – it was really fun! We wrangled 6 different presenters from across the Los Padres who each gave seven minute presentations about their favorite LP trails, exploits and adventures from around the forest.  Topics included exploring the Ventura Backcountry, Santa Barbara thru-backpacking, off-trail Santa Ynez Mountains, Condor Trail, SLO Backcountry and more…

Click out the presentations on our youtube channel!

Thank you to all our excellent presenters and audience members for a great evening of learning and sharing! Let us know what you thought of this event: info@lpforest.org

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Kendra Moss – our new Program Manager

WELCOME KENDRA!
We have some more great news to share from the LPFA front.  Earlier this summer we had the pleasure of welcoming Kendra Moss to the LPFA team as our new Program Manager.  Kendra has a background in retail, education, and social media management, but most of all she’s a well organized, good person with a passion for helping the forest.  For those of you who haven’t interacted with Kendra yet, she’s terrific and we’re very lucky to have her helping our efforts across the Los Padres.  Three cheers to Kendra and welcome aboard!  

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One of three new wilderness signs the LPFA recently installed in the SLO Backcountry.  
Shout out to SLOPOST and the Forest Service for the support!

FOREST 411

 Faster than a speeding car along Hwy 33.  More powerful than 50 graffiti’ers in Santa Paula Canyon.  Able to destroy person-made creek dams in a single swoop.  Look!  Down in that creek!  It’s a salmon.  It’s a newt.  No, it’s Ellie Mora!  Our latest Volunteer of the Month is one of our favorites, Ellie Mora!  HOORAY!  Ellie has become a true Los Padres superhero, tirelessly championing the efforts to cleanup Santa Paula Canyon and leading her army of fellow volunteers anywhere and everywhere across Ventura County chasing the dastardly hoards of graffiti’ers and trash throwers who dare to damage our public lands.  Ellie is also helping the LPFA with our monthly Ojai First Saturday trail projects and somehow still finds time to be a tremendous role model for her young son.  Like we said, a superhero!  Thank you Ellie for all you do and we think you’re just scratching the surface!  Cheers…..

• Looks like another busy year of illegal marijuana eradication efforts across the forest.  Ventura County has already reported seizing nearly 75,000 plants with 11 suspects being arrested.  Be careful everyone and here are some tips for staying safe should you come across a grow site…..

• Thanks to everyone who submitted pictures or the 2021 Los Padres calendar.  We’re currently going through the hundreds of photo submissions and finalizing the layout for the calendar.  We’re planning on having the calendar to the printer soon in hopes of having the final calendars ready to go by December 1.  To learn more or to order your 2021 LP calendar, click the link here.

• Wherever you find yourself, please be sure to VOTE!  And then treat yourself to a hike or rideafterwards……

• Reminder that the Los Padres remains in fire restrictions that prohibit campfires across the forest and camp stoves are only allowed within Designated Campfire Use sites, meaning no stoves of any kind in the backcountry.  The Forest Service is reviewing these restrictions weekly and we’ll provide updates as they become available.

• The Dolan Fire has had a few recent flare ups from within its perimeter but is holding at 124,924 acres and is currently 98% contained.  BAER efforts are underway to help protect the trails, roads and resources from upcoming rain damage.  The Monterey Ranger District remains closed due to the Dolan Fire although some of the dayuse areas along Hwy 1 have reopened.

• Speaking of Dolan, there is a scheduled release of 7 California condors along the central coast in order to help re-population efforts after the fire related condor deaths earlier this summer.

• If you’re a Santa Barbara Frontcountry trail user, you’ll like to see a recent short film that Montecito Trails Foundation produced called For the Love of the Trails.  Lots of great scenery and even a few cameos.  Check it out…

Can you tell the difference between the poison oak and skunkbrush?



Los Padres Reopens


Good news, most of the Los Padres reopened on Friday, more details below

Hello Friends,

As of Friday morning, the Los Padres Forest has finally reopened!  Woot woot…..!!!  It’s been a challenging month and a day since the first closure was announced and we’ve certainly heard quite a few complaints about not being able to enjoy the mountains and trails.  While the closure wasn’t fun, it did appear to work.  We collectively did our part, obeyed the closure, no new fires and now we’re mostly back.  Thanks everyone…..

That being said, there are some additional fire restrictions, extended regional closures and more information you need to know before packing up and heading for your favorite trailhead.  Here goes:

I. MORE FIRE RESTRICTIONS:
While the Los Padres has reopened…. there are additional fire restrictions in place.  Effective this morning, there are no campfires allowed anywhere in the Los Padres and cooking stoves are allowed only in designated campfire use sites.  Please read the Regional Order here.  This means no stoves in the backcountry (cold food & coffee only) and again no campfires anywhere in the LP.  Moving forward, the fire restrictions will be reviewed each week but it’s likely, especially with more hot weather on the horizon, that these fire restrictions will remain in place until we receive enough rain.  Remember, last year the Cave Fire started in November and the Thomas Fire famously started in December.  Stay tuned and we’ll share updates when available…..

II. PATIENCE PLEASE:
While the Los Padres has reopened…. that doesn’t mean all gates and campgrounds will immediately be open as well.  Both Forest Service and Parks Management staff are in the process of opening gates, dayuse areas and campgrounds along with changing out signs but it’s unlikely that everything will be completed this weekend.  If you are heading to the forest this weekend please be prepared for the possibility that your favorite road or camp may still be closed.  Patience might be needed and we’d expect that everything should be opened by sometime early next week.

III. DOLAN FIRE REMAINS ACTIVE:
While the Los Padres has reopened…. the area around the Dolan Fire remains closed.  The Dolan Fire is currently 98% contained but the area is likely to remain closed for some time.  The Dolan Closure includes most of the Monterey Ranger District including the Silver Peak Wilderness and all forest areas south of the Pine Ridge Trail.  Check out the closure map here.

IV. WEST CUESTA CLOSED:
While the Los Padres has reopened…. West Cuesta Road above San Luis Obispo remains closed due to resource damage.  The West Cuesta Closure went into effect in early September just before the larger fire closures and is expected to last until December 6.

V. TUNNEL TRAIL SANTA BARBARA CLOSED:
While the Los Padres has reopened…. the Tunnel Trailhead above Santa Barbara remains closed due to SCE road maintenance.  The closure is expected to last until October 30 and includes closing the main Tunnel Trailhead and all mid-slope Edison roads between Rattlesnake Canyon and Seven Falls.  There should be signs posted at all the major trailheads leading to and from Tunnel.

We realize some of these additional closures may not be too popular and we hate to put a damper on the excitement of the reopening but sharing information is part of the job.  We’re happy to be back and respectful at the same time….  Thanks…..

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After years of bearing the brunt of the overgrown Sulphur Spring Trail, this friendly fellow came by to lend the LPFA Trail Crew a helping hand, or rather paw….
“Does this take 40:1 or 50:1?”  –  photo JMorris

FOREST 411
• We want to send a HUGE thank you to our buddy Kevin Cody who has once again setup a birthday fundraiser for the LPFA.  We’re so thankful to not only have Kevin looking after the forest and trails (he literally runs the trails with a Silky Saw) but also thankful that he values our contributions and is willing to help keep us chugging along.  Very cool, thanks Kevin!  And if anyone else would like to contribute on behalf of Kevin, check it out…..

• The opening of the forest also coincides with opening weekend of general deer hunting season in Zone D-13.  D13 lasts through November 8 and includes most of the Ojai and Mt Pinos Ranger Districts.  Check out the map here.  If you’re venturing into that neck of the woods you should expect to see quite a few hunters dispersed camping along the roads and pullouts.  Remember that most hunting occurs around sunrise and sunset and it’s always nice to chat with folks at the trailheads and share information.  Be safe everyone and remember no campfires.

• More good news, HikeLosPadres mastermind John Ziegler took advantage of the closure to clean and enhance the HLP website.  It was a race between getting the site back up and having the forest reopen and thankfully John won the race.  HikeLosPadres.com is back up and running!  Thanks John and look forward to seeing more new updates and reports from everyone soon…. 

• The LPFA will be hosting a virtual Zoom Seven Minute Storytelling night on October 29.  We’re looking for talented storytellers to share 7 minutes of slides documenting their adventures, exploits, history, studies or insights covering any Los Padres topics.  The presentation format should be really fun with each presenter having 21 slides and 20 seconds per slide.  It works out to be 7 mins per presenter and it’s a great way to cover a lot of material in a quick and entertaining structure.  If you’d be interested in presenting, please email us at INFO@LPForest.org and you can learn more about or sign up for the event here.

• We’ve had a few people ask about the Annual LPFA Used Camping Gear Sale that we’ve hosted over the past 4-5 years.  We’ve continued to receive fantastic donations from the public as well as Gossamer Gear but based on the current COVID regulations we’re going to postpone the sale for the fall and hope to reschedule in the spring.  Please stay tuned.  In the meantime, if you have any experienced camping gear you’d like to donate, let us know and we’d be happy to help find it a new home in the spring: INFO@LPForest.org

• The days are getting shorter and mornings cooler – meaning it’s time for the 2021 Los Padres Calendar!  Once again, if you have any great Los Padres photos from the past year you’d like to contribute, we’d love to include your photos in the calendar.  If any of your photos are selected we’ll send you a calendar and credit you as well.  This will be our 6th, 7th or 8th year of calendars and they’re always fun.  Thanks in advance…..

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The 2020 Los Padres Calendar, just about in the rear-view, thankfully, right?

Los Padres Fire Restrictions & Lots of Good News

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that ____ mountain.” – Jack Kerouac
Black Canyon of the Los Padres, November 2019, photo M. Wallace

Hello Friends,

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:

  1. Wood and charcoal fires are prohibited in all areas of the Los Padres Forest.
  2. Camping stoves are allowed only within Designated Campfire Use Sites and with a California Campfire Permit.
  3. No camp stoves are permitted outside of the Designated Campfire Use Sites, meaning no camp stoves in the backcountry.
  4. 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 experience:

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…..

https://lpforest.org/2020-los-padres-calendar/

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Grapevine Sunrise & Moonset, LPFA Working Vacation, October 2019

FOREST 411

• 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……

More Condor Trail, it was announced earlier this week that 800 acres of the Trout Creek properties above Arroyo Grande were transferred from the Wilderness Land Trust to the Los Padres Forest.  The Trout Creek properties were purchased by the Wilderness Land Trust earlier this year from private sellers and as a result are now protected for public enjoyment.  The Condor Trail passes through Trout Creek.

• Speaking of condors, the population of California condors has now surpassed 100 across the central California region.

• 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.

Dave Weaver Award Winners (L to R): Mickey McTigue, Jasonn Beckstrand, Otis Calef, Mike Smith. Missing from the photo are Rik Christensen and Bob Burtness
Photo Dan Najera

• 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).

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The Infamous Devil’s Slide, Upper Sisquoc Trail
Recently restored by the LPFA Trail Crew and LPFA Volunteers as part of a NFWF Trail Grant, photo J. Morris

2020 Los Padres Calendar

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…..

PHOTOS NEEDED

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…..

Get Your Los Padres Forest Update

Romero Trail Thomas Fire Damage, Before & After, Compliments of Multi-Use Trails Coalition

Hello Friends,

We were fortunate last week to have an early season storm roll across the Los Padres bringing with it precipitation ranging from around a tenth of an inch in the inland areas to over an inch along the coastal mountains.  That’s a great start for the season and if nothing else should bring some green color to some of our hills soon.  Depending on what happens from here on out we could enjoy a nice long green season, which we haven’t had very much of over the past decade.  Fingers crossed for a nice series of slow and steady storms ahead…….

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Poplar Trail, in Need of a Shave,  photo Aaron Songer, October 2018
BLUFF – POPLAR WORKING VACATION
The LPFA will be hosting our next Working Vacation starting next week from October 19-28.  We’ll be base-camping at the Bluff Administrative Cabin and working down the Poplar Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness along the upper Indian Creek drainage.  Due to fire related road closures and poor access, the Poplar Trail has become extremely overgrow in recent years with some people calling it the “worst trail in the Santa Barbara Backcountry”.  Our focus over the Working Vacation will be to clear downed trees, remove choked brush and attempt to push the “worst trail” moniker to someplace else.  If you have some free time between the 19th and 28th and are interested in volunteering on the trail we’d love to have your help.  We are asking that people volunteer for at least 4 days.  This is a car-camping style project since we have the luxory of driving the 90-min dirt road in to Bluff Camp.  If you don’t have a dirt road worthy vehicle, don’t worry, we should have plenty of space in other trucks for you to carpool along.  As usual, all food, tools and PPE will be provided for the volunteers.  For more information or to sign up please email project leader Mike Smith at TrailSmith@LPForest.org.  Hope to see you out there…..
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Morning Moment of Truth, How Hot is it Gonna be? photo AQuinn
FOREST 411
• The LPFA will be putting on our 4th Annual Used Gear Sale on Sunday November 4 at Tucker’s Grove in Goleta.  As usual, we’ll have literally hundreds of gently used camping gear supplies, tents and other odds and ends highlighted by dozens of Gossamer Gear backpacks.  If you have any used camping gear you’d like to donate, we’d be happy to take it off your hands in exchange for a donation receipt and a high five.  Proceeds from the sale go to the LPFA Trail Care program.  For more information or to donate your camping gear email: INFO@LPForest.org.

• General hunting season ended a few weeks ago for most of the Los Padres (A Zone South) but general deer season opens this weekend for Zone D13, which covers most of the Mt Pinos Ranger District and a large portion of the Ojai District.  Click here for a map of D13.  D13 opens October 13 and lasts through November 11.

• A coalition of local Southern Los Padres trail organizations, including the LPFA, have combined forces to raise needed funds to restore the trails impacted by the Thomas Fire.  You’ll be hearing A LOT more about the Thomas Fire Trail Fund in the coming weeks/months but we have released a PDF update on the Thomas Fire trail restoration efforts, check it out here.

• Two California Condors have been found dead in recent months as a result of gunshot wounds.  One condor was found near Porterville and the other in Kern County, just outside the Los Padres.  Currently there is a $15,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for these tragic deaths.

• The LPFA will once again be printing 2019 Los Padres calendars just in time for the holidays.  We’re looking for any great photos you might have of the Los Padres that we could include in the calendar.  Email us (INFO@LPForest.org) for more information.

• The Ogilvy Fire was declared 100% contained.  The fire chewed up 172 acres and burned from September 1-4 in the Mono drainage in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.

Sycamore Canyon Road, which is used to access Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, is closed to the public Monday – Friday lasting through November 30.  The road is currently being repaired after sustaining major damage in the 2016-2017 atmospheric river storms.

• Don’t forget to check HikeLosPadres.com before your next adventure into the Los Padres.  Great place to read about water and trail conditions.  And don’t forget to share your findings when you get back…..

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The Wander-Full Southern Views Across the Chumash

1st Thursday Holiday Party and Pritchett Success

The Ojai Pink Moment, Cara Blanca, photo Humphrey

Hello Friends,

We hope this email finds you doing well and hopefully a little sore after a great weekend on the trails!  The LPFA is a little sore as well after having over 70 volunteers on the trails this weekend doing trail maintenance and enjoying their time outside.  The one positive to not having much early season rain is that we’ve been able to host our regularly scheduled trail projects without being shutdown by rain.  That’s the good, the bad is that most of the Los Padres has received very very little rain so far.  It’s early but Santa Barbara County is only at 16% of normal rainfall for the season (Sep-Aug).  The lack of precipitation means that fuel moisture levels have remained low across the LP and as a result the Forest Service has not been able to change the fire restriction level.  Even with the cold/freezing nights we remain in Level III Fire Restrictions.  You can learn more about Level III here.  The fire restrictions were lifted by this time last year but it appears we’ll have to wait a few more weeks this time around.  We’ll keep you posted if anything changes, be patient and you might want to start dusting off the rain dance attire just in case……

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Susan Guy Giving New Light to Some of Our Favorite Los Padres Settings, Recognize Them?

SUSAN GUY 1st THURSDAY LPFA HOLIDAY OPENING
Local artist, LP explorer and Ojai Search and Rescue alum Susan Guy will be sharing her artwork at The Press Room in Santa Barbara on Thursday December 7 as part of the SB 1st Thursday art events. 1st Thursday has become a monthly tradition where galleries and art-related venues across SB feature visual and performing art within their regular social environment. They are a lot of fun. What’s even more fun about this event at The Press Room is that Susan will be donating a portion of all her art sales from the night to the LPFA Trail Care program – awesome, right? You’ll certainly notice a lot of local Los Padres vistas and landscapes in her paintings.  And, as if it couldn’t get any better, we’re going to try to turn the Press Room into a LPFA holiday party that night as well. So come on down Thursday around 7pm, have a drink, lets talk trails and favorite camp sites, mingle while admiring some amazing art, leave with some of that art, wear that holiday sweater or Los Padres themed attire and keep your eyes peeled for that mistletoe. It’s going to be a lot of fun, hope you can make it!
1st Thursday, Featuring Artist Susan Guy
The Press Room
15 East Ortega St.– Santa Barbara
Thursday December 7
7-10 pm
 

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Don Jack along the Pritchett Trail, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

PRITCHETT TRAIL SUCCESS
Last episode of the LPFA Email Newsletter we talked a little about some of the great partnerships that have developed around the forest.  Along those lines we wanted to share a success story from the Pritchett Trail at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (SBBG).  Earlier this year the LPFA was approached by the Botanic Garden about some trail damage they were dealing with along some of their over 5 miles of trails, in particular the more remote Pritchett Trail.  The trail was sustaining some major erosion damage and had one section near the bottom that was losing its battle with gravity and needed some serious work.  The LPFA does a lot of work in the deeper parts of the backcountry where we really don’t get a chance to visit and see our work during the storms that cause all the damage.  The idea of working on a trail just outside town where we could come and watch the water control structures do their thing right in the middle of a storm was very appealing.  So we reached out to longtime LPFA volunteer and nearby resident Don Jack to see if he’d be interested in helping the Botanic Garden with some trail restoration.  He was all about it and got started immediately working with the SBBG staff on plans and designs to fix the trail.  Fast forward a few months and Don had completed building water control along the entire stretch of trail in addition to constructing a rather complicated retaining wall at the bottom of the trail.  We recently took a tour of the trail with Don and the work he’s done in partnership with the Botanic Garden is amazing!  It will be really valuable for Don to visit the trail throughout the winter months and see how the water structures hold up.  And then we really can’t wait for him to apply that knowledge to the Los Padres on the next Working Vacation as well…………
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2018 Los Padres Calendars are Ready

The 2018 LPFA Los Padres Calendars have been sent to the printers!  Thanks to everyone who submitted well over 200 photos for the calendar!  We had a tough choice paring that down to the best 50 photos but we got it done.  The calendars are currently at the printers and should be ready in the next week.  There is a limited quantity available so if you’d like one be sure to place your order ASAP.  Calendars are $10 each with any proceeds going to the LPFA Trail Care program.  For more information or to order, click the link here!

Thankful Los Padres Givings

Kids + Trail + Forest + Time to Explore = Next Generation of Los Padres Lovers

Hello Friends – Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Throughout the year we hear so much negative noise circulating around the forest.  The media regularly shares articles about what is not working in the Los Padres, the latest forest-related lawsuits, illegal pot grows, destructive wildfires, closures and photos of damaged forest land.  While it’s critically important to stay aware of all these ‘negatives’ and work to prevent unwanted change, it’s just as critically important to revisit why we love the Los Padres and what ‘positives’ are happening around the forest.  It can’t all be negative.  In fact, for every negative we hear, there are dozens of positives across the forest that are most likely not being heard.  It’s easy to leave negative feedback or write a bad review, lets flip that script and instead focus on some of the really cool, helpful and inspiring people, organizations and programs that are working to benefit the forest.  What better time of the year to focus on the positives than Thanksgiving and the Holidays, right?
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FRANKLIN TRAIL
A group of mainly Carpinteria based trail-lovers have been working the past decade to reopen, construct and restore the historic/new Franklin Trail in the hills above Carpinteria.  Unfortunately, here in the Los Padres we don’t hear the words ‘construct’, ‘new’ and ‘trail’ in the same sentence too often.  The idea of bringing the Franklin Trail back from the dead must have seemed farfetched but that didn’t stop the Carp trail community from making it happen.  They got organized, formed an organization called Friends of Franklin Trail, raised funds and worked with the Forest Service to get their dream off the ground.  The Santa Barbara County Trails Council with the guidance of Ray Ford took the lead on the trail design and with the help of countless volunteers and trail stewards they were successful in getting the Franklin Trail back on the map.  If you’ve not explored the Franklin Trail, put it on your list, do it this week if you can – it’s spectacular!  And even more spectacular is how the community of Carpinteria has embraced the trail.  Franklin has become a source of pride for Carpinteria and the local trail-users actively work to keep the trail maintained and improved.  A great example is the 3rd Annual Franklin Trail Turkey Trot where trail-users are sponsored and get donations for each time they use the trail in November which has raised thousands of dollars to continue work on their beloved Franklin Trail.  If you’re interested, the Turkey Trot Celebration is this Friday 12/1 at Island Brewing in Carpinteria.  This example of a community dreaming of more trails, organizing, working with the Forest Service, successfully reestablishing a trail and staying engaged to maintain that trail is an incredible accomplishment.  Big thanks to everyone involved and lets hope other communities can follow this Franklin Trail blueprint in order to build new trails in their neck of the forest as well.
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Recently Restored Tinta Trail

VOLUNTEER TRAIL WORK

Trails are the main artery used by people to access and enjoy the Los Padres Forest.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a birdwatcher, a mountain biker, a hunter or a backpacker; you’ll be using some of the over 1,200 miles of Los Padres trails to get where you want to be.  Unfortunately, Los Padres trails are some of the most difficult to maintain.  Chaparral grows so fast, needing to be worked every year or two.  Trees fall across the trails and fires can alter the trail landscape for the better part of a decade.  So how are the trails kept open?  The Forest Service oversees trail maintenance but most of the boots on the ground efforts come from the numerous Los Padres non-profit trail organizations and the the volunteers who work with these groups.  If you’ve not taken a day or a weekend to volunteer on a trail project, you have to find a way to make that happen.  You’d be surprised at how much fun a day of hard work along the trails can be.  It’s a chance to meet like-minded friends, get outside in the forest and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel on your way out is what keeps people coming back for more.  The LPFA alone accounted for over 12,000 volunteer hours this past year and there are many other great trail groups up and down the Los Padres who host regular trail projects as well.  Get involved if you can, volunteer, give back to the trails you use and love, you won’t be disappointed.  Check the calendar of projects below and sign up for a project near you.

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HPS Sierra Club Volunteers, photo Mark Allen – Patagonia Volunteers, photo Aanjelae Rhoads

VOLUNTEER GROUP WORK
Another great way to get out and volunteer in the Los Padres is by organizing your company, organization and/or friends to maintain or adopt a Los Padres trail.  There are fantastic examples of companies providing an option for their employees to spend a “service day” working on a trail.  Sort of like a Habitat For Humanity but instead of building homes they’re maintaining trails.  It’s a great way to get outside, often times your company will pay for your service day and trail work is a fantastic team-building exercise as well.  This format also works for groups or organizations who use the forest but aren’t trained in trail maintenance.  Student organizations from university’s and High Schools have also come together to help the forest.  A great example is the Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai which sends students out each year to help for a weekend around Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  The VWA has also had great success getting school groups involved with their programs.  There are great examples of groups and companies up and down the forest partnering with all the usual Los Padres volunteer organizations.  Get involved.  Sign up your company, your church group, your friends – you’ll have a great time and will be helping the forest with a smile on your face.  For more information check with your local Los Padres Ranger District of email INFO@LPForest.org.
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Just Another Cuyama Peak Sunrise

SCOUT PROJECTS
There have been some really great scout projects across the Los Padres over the past year or two.  While the forest has benefited from just about all levels of scouting, the most popular service project is an Eagle Project where the scout performs a larger scale project for the benefit of the community, or in this case the Los Padres Forest.  We’ve seen scouts restore and replace forest signs, rebuild and clean damaged forest structures, maintain campsites and create educational material designed to teach forest-users how to properly recreate in the forest.  The LPFA has had the pleasure of working with a few of these scouts and it’s so refreshing seeing a teenager take a concept, formulate an idea, develop a plan and then execute on that plan.  Scouting projects are a great way to get younger people involved with the forest while at the same time providing a tangible outcome that benefits the forest.  Very cool program!  If you know any scouts who might want to tackle a forest-related project, contact your local Ranger District or email INFO@LPForest.org for ideas and assistance.

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Three Concrete Crossings along Davy Brown & Munch Creeks

FOREST 411
• The Forest Service announced last week that longtime Los Padres employee Tony Martinez has been appointed the new Mt Pinos District Ranger.  Welcome and congratulations Ranger Martinez!  For more information click here.

• The Los Padres National Forest, in conjunction with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is working on a proposal to improve aquatic organism passage along Munch and Davy Brown Creeks by removing three concrete water crossings and replacing two of them with bridges.  If you’ve ever driven Sunset Valley Road to NIRA, the two main crossings are between Davy Brown Campground and the lower Manzana Trailhead.  See attached document for specifics.  The Forest Service will be hosting an open house to discuss this proposal on November 30, 4-6pm at the Santa Lucia District Office in Santa Maria.

• The LPFA 2018 Los Padres wall calendars are going to the printer later this week.  They cost only $15 but will provide you a years worth of priceless Los Padres vistas, scenery, wildlife and stoke!  Get em while you can, you can order them here.

Brookshire, La Panza and Miranda Pine Campgrounds are currently closed as older pit toilets are removed and replaced with new vault toilets.  See here for more information, they are expected to be closed for 3-4 more weeks.

Condors continue their remarkable recovery as four new juvenile condors will be released into the San Simeon flock by the end of the year.

• There was an interesting article posted in the SLO New Times earlier this month discussing recent wildlife population trends and how those trends relate to drought, agriculture and changes in hunting restrictions.  It’s a good read.

• Due to potential storm related closures, camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park will become first-come first-serve only starting December 1, 2017 and lasting through April 30, 2018.

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The Epic Thorn Point View, and getting there is more than half the fun!

Opening Soberanes – Get Your 2018 Calendar!

Mid-Fall Colors, Mono Jungle, November 2017
Hello Friends,

It is fall and the weather is changing.  These past few weeks we’ve seen our Los Padres autumn colors coming in, temps are cooling quickly and we’ve even had a few early season storms knock back the summer dust and in some places ash from the 2017 wildfire season.  While we haven’t seen a whole lot of rain up and down the forest, most of the Northern Los Padres has received over an inch of rain with select locations closing in on 2 inches.  Many of the creeks are starting to flow again as the riparian trees settle into their winter dormancy cycle and the trails are ripe for exploring.  Hope you get out there soon and be sure to check the latest conditions of your favorite trail or camp at HikeLosPadres and share your experiences after you get back.

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Highway 1 at Carmel River, Sign Slightly Modified

BIG SUR & MONTEREY OPENING UP
In case you’ve missed the last few episodes, there have been some recent developments in the never-ending epic saga: The Sometimes Island of Big Sur.  As you should know, access to Big Sur and the Monterey Backcountry has been severely limited over the past 17 months due to the 2016 Soberanes Fire followed by 2017 winter storm damage.  After many months of being isolated and/or closed, the area is slowly opening back up:


THE ROADS

• The first domino to fall was the October reopening of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, which amazingly reopened after only 7 months of being closed (BIG round of applause to all involved).  The reopening of the Pfeiffer Bridge once again allowed vehicles to travel between Big Sur and Monterey along Hwy 1.
• Unfortunately, Hwy 1 still doesn’t connect with San Luis Obispo due to the Mud Creek slide in Southern Monterey County.  Mud Creek remains closed between Gorda and the Salmon Creek Guard Station.  Crews continue to work on the slide but Hwy 1 at Mud Creek is expected to remain closed throughout the winter and most likely until summer 2018.
• Access to Bottcher’s Gap Campground and trailhead remains closed as work continues along Palo Colorado Road.
• All other normal public forest access roads should be open across the Monterey Ranger District.  This includes Nacimiento Fergusson, Tassajara, Sycamore Canyon and South Coast Ridge Road.  That being said, this time of year storm closures should be expected so be sure to contact the FS if you have any questions or need clarification.

Western Pine Ridge Trail Remains Closed

THE FOREST

• Effective November 9, the Soberanes Fire closure was adjusted re-opening most of the Monterey Ranger District and Ventana Wilderness areas.  This is good news!
• That being said, it’s not all rainbows and moonbeams just yet.  There was substantial fire damage along the very popular Pine Ridge Trail and as a result the Pine Ridge Trail between Big Sur Station and Redwood Camp remains closed indefinitely.  This includes Sykes, Barlow Flat, Terrace Creek, Ventana Camp, Redwood Camp, Ventana Camp Trail and the Terrace Creek Trail.  There is no established timeframe as to when these camps/trails will reopen.  Patience is the word of the day and hopefully more information on a reopening date will surface in the coming weeks.
• You can view the closer order here and a map of the closure here.
• There are likely quite a few trails within the Soberanes Fire perimeter that have not been properly surveyed.  Be careful if you’re out there and please take photos of any trail slides or downed trees and share them with either the Forest Service, Ventana Wilderness Alliance or post on HikeLosPadres.com.  The more information that is shared, the sooner the trail issues can be resolved.  Thanks…..

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2018 LOS PADRES WALL CALENDAR
For the 3rd year in a row the LPFA will be putting together a Los Padres themed wall calendar!  They’ve been a huge hit and we’re excited to work again this year to collect and compile great photos from across the LP featuring vistas, favorite trails, waterfalls, wildlife, camps and more……  And we can use your help!

Once again, if you have a great LP photo you’d like to share that you think would make a good addition to the calendar, please send it our way and if we use it we’ll send you a free calendar.  All photos will only be used for the calendar and your name will be credited on the month that the photo is used.  We’ve done this the past two years and it’s been a lot of fun seeing the great photos submitted by you and incorporating them into the themed calendar.

Photos should be sent to INFO@LPForest.org and feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. 

You can also pre-order the calendar for $15.00 at the following link: https://lpforest.org/2018-los-padres-calendar/  We plan on having the calendar printed and shipped by mid-December, just in time to stuff the stocking of your favorite Los Padres adventurer!  Happy Holidays…….

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“Has anyone seen the bridge?” – Newly re-built Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge