There’s Snow Better Time in the Los Padres

Is there anything better than an icy cold Topatopa after a long day on the trail?  
Red Reef Trail, Sespe Wilderness – Jan 23, 2021

Hello Friends,

For those of us who resorted to rain dance rituals in order to break our mid-January drought, remember what you did, cause it worked and in some cases might have worked too well! This latest atmospheric river event certainly delivered and as seems to be the case around here, the hardest rain was unfortunately attracted once again to the recently burned areas. The 2020 Dolan Fire area within southern Monterey County took the brunt of the storm with two-day rain totals above 15″ in many places. The resulting damage was extensive, causing Governor Newsome to declare a State of Emergency for both San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties. As we know all too well, recently burned areas and excessive rain don’t mix too well and there were a series of debris flows spewing out of the Dolan Fire. The most notable was at Rat Creek where Hwy 1 was completely washed away. No timetable has been established as to when Hwy 1 through Big Sur will reopen and it is currently closed between Post Mile 34 and Willow Creek.

The rest of the Los Padres received a good dousing over the past week as well with rain totals primarily between 2-6″ with some areas seeing upwards of 12″. We did see some parts of the forest receive monster downpours of close to 0.75″ of rain over a 15-min time period. Snow levels were consistently in the 4,500 – 5,000′ range and we’ve seen some spectacular photos of Los Padres winter wonderland from this past weekend. Most of the larger creeks and rivers around the forest are now flowing but many of the smaller creeks have not quite been activated just yet. While this past storm was a good one, we certainly could use more rain. That being said, please adjust your dance routines to focus on lots of snow and light consistent rain, we don’t need anymore debris flows or declared emergencies……

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Santa Barbara snowshoeing, and, best of all, it comes with ocean views.   photo Dancebymoon

FOREST OPENINGS & CLOSINGS

While it might be prime Los Padres season, there are still some closures and restrictions to be aware of and some changes too:

  • The Los Padres fire restrictions which have been in place since May 2020 were lifted on February 1. This means that campfires are once again allowed in all open and legal areas of the forest. You will need a California Campfire Permit so please take a few mins to get your permit and take a refresher on how to be fire safe.  
  • The COVID related regional campground closure order also expired on January 29. This means that all the accessible campgrounds are once again open. That being said, some of the previously closed campgrounds remain closed due to storm related road closures and we’re also hearing that Parks Management is a little behind on restaffing after the 6+ week closure. We suggest that you contact Parks Management or the Forest Service if you are looking to camp over the coming weeks just to make sure ahead of time that your favorite campgrounds are open.
  • The Dolan Fire closure area within the Monterey Ranger District was revised on January 22 and now includes mainly the burn area perimeter. See link here for more information including closure maps and language. Remember that the Pine Ridge Trail remains closed through the winter and please take into account that many of the roads into the MRD remain closed due to fire and storm damage.
  • Along those lines, all of the seasonal road closure gates should be closed after last weeks storms, this includes Mt Pinos Snow Play. If you are heading out to your favorite trailhead, be sure to call the local ranger district and confirm where the gates might be closed. We’re happy to try to help as well if you’d like to email us. Nothing worse than unexpectedly finding out that your 7 mile backpack trip is now 11 miles due to a road closure.

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Don’t worry, this photo was taken at the 2016 VWR Training.  Check our YouTube Video in honor of January 30 Kiss Your Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Day!

FOREST 411

  • The last weekend of January has long been reserved for the annual Los Padres Volunteer Wilderness Ranger (VWR) Training. This year would have been the 24th annual VWR Training. Unfortunately we aren’t able to host the training this year due to COVID but we’re certainly missing the 80+ volunteers who regularly attend these trainings. We’re looking forward to seeing all the great volunteers later this year on trail projects (as COVID restrictions hopefully ease) and we’ll throw an even bigger celebration (we mean training) next year for the 25th annual VWR Training. Can’t wait….
  • The Los Padres NF extended the forest-wide target shooting ban through June 30, 2021. No target shooting outside of Winchester and Ojai Valley Gun Clubs. For more information, click here…..
  • The Neverland Ranch sold recently for a reported $22 million. Neverland is located near Figueroa Mountain on the edge of the Los Padres.  
  • Back by popular demand, the LPFA will be hosting another virtual SEVEN MINUTE STORYTELLING event on February 11 at 7pm. Click this link or email if you’d like to sign up to present or attend and click this link to see our first virtual storytelling event from October. These events are a lot of fun and we have a great list of presenters from around the forest! Should be great and hope to see you there…..
  • Our buddies from the Ventana Wilderness Alliance are in the process of looking for a new Executive Director. Click the link for more details and tell ’em the LPFA sent ya…..
  • Our buddies from the Channel Islands Restoration are looking for some good volunteers to help with some of their upcoming Santa Ynez River volunteer trips. Check em out here
  • Our buddy Chuck Graham, who frequently writes about adventures across the Los Padres, recently released a photo book featuring the sights and splendor of the Carrizo Plain. It’s called Carrizo Plain “Where the Mountains Meet the Grasslands”, you can check it out here and congrats Chuck, so cool!
  • In late 2020, officials with the CDFW cleared out over 3,000 lbs of trash from an illegal marijuana grow site in the Los Padres above Ragged Point. We hate seeing grow sites, it’s no fun and so destructive to the environment. If you come across a grow site in your explorations, get out of there as quickly as you can and please report it to the Forest Service.
  • For us condor lovers, there’s a couple interesting articles you might want to check out. The first is about wind farms applying for take permits for incidentally killing condors and the second is an article about increasing wildfire impacts on the condors
  • We’re working on our winter-spring trail work schedule and have a lot of catching up to do after much of our 2020 program of work was COVID derailed. Trails we’ll be focusing on include: Hurricane Deck, Santa Cruz, Red Reef, Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca, Blue Canyon, Red Reef, American Canyon, Madulce, Sisquoc, Mission Pine, Lion Canyon, Matilija and likely more…  The LPFA Trail Crew will be focusing on the eastern Hurricane Deck Trail for the next few weeks with the hope of punching through to connect with Lost Valley. Exciting for sure!
  • Last but not least, when you get out into the forest over the coming weeks please be sure to let us or the Forest Service know if you come across any downed trees or slides blocking the trails or roads.  We’ll collectively do our best to get them cleared as soon as we can.  Be safe out there…..

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Thanks to the generous #GivingTuesday support, we started working the Santa Cruz Trail down from Alexander Saddle.  It’s going to be a slow push but we’re going….  One step and swing of the tool at a time.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Obviously COVID can and will adjust some of our upcoming volunteer opportunities but we wanted to share what we have scheduled and hope for the best. We’ll be providing signup links and updates when we get green-lighted for the projects. In the meantime, if you’d like to sign up for any specific projects, please email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org and we’ll get you on the list.

February 11: Seven Minute Storytelling Virtual Talk, LPFA 7pm
February 19-22: Red Reef Trail / Sespe Trail Project, LPFA
February 27: Agua Blanca Trail Project, TBD
February 27-28: Blue Canyon Trail Project, LPFA

March 6: Red Reef / Sisar 1st Saturday Trail Project, LPFA
March 6-7: American Canyon Trail Project, LPFA & SLOPOST
March 13: Agua Blanca Trail Project, TBD
March 13-14: Blue Canyon Trail Project
March 19-21: Upper Sisquoc Project, LPFA

April 3-11: Indian Creek Working Vacation, LPFA
April 10: Ojai 1st Saturday, TBD
April 23-25: Madulce Trail Project, LPFA

May 1-9: Red Reef / Lady Bug Working Vacation, LPFA
May 15: Ojai 1st Saturday, TBD
May 15-23: Santa Cruz Trail Working Vacation, LPFA
May 28 – June 6: Pine Mtn Haddock Working Vacation, LPFA

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.

Los Padres Forest Closure Extended Again

Hi Mountain casting a late August pyramid shadow across the smoky Garcia Wilderness. 
Maybe not as spectacular as some of its larger siblings but still pretty cool looking……

FOREST CLOSURE EXTENDED

Hello Friends – let’s cut to the chase but remember, don’t shoot the messenger…..

Earlier this week the Forest Service extended the closure of nine California Forests, including the Los Padres, through October 1.  Here’s a quote from the Regional Forester:

“Continued closures are based on extreme fire conditions, critical limitations of firefighting resources, and to provide for firefighter and public safety,” said Regional Forester Randy Moore. “We understand how important access to the National Forests is to our visitors.  Our aim is to prevent any new fires on the landscape.”

We’re now in week 3 of this large-scale fire closure and to our knowledge there have been no new fires within any of the closed forests (fact check please).  We know that these closures aren’t very much fun but they do appear to be working.  We do have some hotter weather headed our way next week that should peak on Wednesday and Thursday with inland temps reaching into the mid / high 90’s.  Fingers crossed that the long-term forecasts start to cool and that the forests can safely reopen towards the end of this week (knock knock).  If anyone knows how to perform a rain dance, now’s the time, please.  Wish we had better news and we’ll keep you all posted as events unfold and decisions are made……

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Big Sur Station, saying a big THANK YOU to all the Firefighters, Crews, Support & Families impacted across California

FOREST 411

• The Dolan Fire in the Monterey Ranger District has slowed down a lot over the past week and has been holding at just under 130,000 acres burned.  It is currently 46% contained with an expected full containment date of October 13.  While the forest remains closed around Dolan, for a few different reasons, Highway 1 did reopen earlier last week after being closed for about a month during the fire fight.  Lastly, some more tragic Dolan new; it was reported that nine California condors perished during the fire.  We all hate hearing that but thankfully nine more condors are expected to be released above San Simeon before the end of the year.

• In case you hadn’t heard from earlier this summer, the Esselen Tribe from Monterey County was able to purchase over 1,000 acres of land along the Little Sur River.  This is a special story some 250 years in the making.  Check out more details here.

• Thanks in large part to a grant from REI in addition to some extremely generous public donations, the LPFA Trail Crew was able to spend a week earlier this summer clearing a mile of the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail just above Beartrap Camp.  Once the forest closure is lifted we’d like to head back and complete the remainder of the trail up to the top of the switchbacks and down to Haddock Camp.  In case you’re interested in helping, we’re about $1,000 short of our fundraising goal that would send the crew back out for another week.  If you are interested in donating or to learn more, please click here.  THANK YOU!

• Of course none of us are in the forest right now but if you’ve spent any time exploring the LP you’ve no doubt come across the remnants of illegal marijuana grows.  October is generally harvest time for grow operations within the LP and it can be pretty scary if you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Here are some tips and clues about illegal forest grows and what you should do in case you come across a site.  The forest might be closed but they’re still out there.

• It seems that black bear sightings outside of the forest are becoming more and more common.  Last week there was a particularly photogenic bear seen outside of Solvang, another Solvang bear in April, another in LompocSimi Valley and yet another outside Carmel.  There was even a bear attack reported outside of Santa Paula.  We’ve heard a few theories as to why bears appear to be coming out of the hills more than ever.  Is it that phones (cameras) are everywhere these days and it’s much easier to share (social media) photos of bears who happen to wander into the streets?  Some say that the Los Padres has become the new home of humanized Sierra ‘problem bears’ who were sent packing after tasting one too many picnic baskets in Sequoia or Yosemite?  Others reasons might include drought, competition, easier food sources or that they were here before us anyway (or were they?) ?  It’s always exciting to see a bear in or around the Los Padres and if you’re a podcast person, Outside Podcast shared an entertaining episode earlier this year about “the wrong way to fight off a bear” – check it out.  And if you’re interested in some more information about black bears and what to do if you encounter a black bear, click this link.

• The Los Padres National Forest Supervisors Office (SO) has moved from Goleta to Solvang.  At the moment the offices remain closed due to COVID and we’ll share more information including address and hours once the SO reopens.

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Speaking of bears….
this mamma and her two cubs (see them?) were spotted earlier this year safely within the Los Padres,
taking the high road to avoid Spencer & Leslie – thanks for sharing!

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

Los Padres Fire Restrictions and Sisquoc Trail Work

Don’t listen to Home Depot, spending a hot summer afternoon on the Deck is anything but relaxing, photo L.Lagendyk
Hello Friends,
We hope you’re enjoying the summer, staying cool and still finding some time to enjoy the Los Padres.  Even with the high temps and disappearing water flow, the forest has plenty of hidden and not-so-hidden gems that can make you rethink your summer Los Padres hibernation plans.  Some people head to the heights and large shade producing trees of the Mt. Pinos Ranger District for their summertime LP fix.  Others might seek lower elevations along the coast, hoping for some cool morning fog.  And others still embrace the heat by soaking in any of the perennial flowing creeks, rivers, pools and waterfalls.  All are great options, just remember to be safe.  There has been a flurry of heat related rescues across the forest over the past month.  If you’re going to head into the forest and encounter the heat be sure to plan accordingly.  Tell someone where you are going, leave an itinerary at home and try to follow these 9 rules for hiking in hot weather.  Be safe, have fun and if you don’t mind sharing, we’d love to see some of your summertime photos from the across the Los Padres.
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The sun has set on backcountry campfires for the season, photo Humphrey
FIRE RESTRICTIONS
The big news across the Los Padres this past week is the change in fire restrictions.  Due in part to the recent rash of wildfires around the forest (Piru, Fillmore, Goleta, FHL, etc….), the Forest Service raised fire restrictions across the Los Padres banning campfires outside of designated Campfire Use Sites, prohibiting target shooting outside of designated target ranges and prohibiting smoking outside of an enclosed vehicle, building or at a designated Campfire User Site.  We’re no strangers to fire restrictions and should all be well aware of what can happen should a campfire get away (see Soberanes Fire).  Cooking stoves are still permitted in the backcountry with a California Campfire Permit and hunting is still permitted during the regulated seasons (A-Zone South General opens August 11).  If you have any questions please contact the Los Padres Forest Supervisors Office or your local District Office.  Be smart.

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Speaking of big shade producing trees and waterfalls, the Sisquoc Trail through the Bear Camps has plenty of both

SISQUOC TRAIL PROJECT
July 20-22
The LPFA and our fantastic volunteers have been busy working the Sisquoc Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.  We’ve cleared over 300 downed trees this year (2018) and at last count had less than 20 trees left!  For those of you who know the Sisquoc Trail, that’s pretty amazing to say there are only 20 downed trees along the 30+ miles of trail.  But we’re not happy and want to get them all…..  If you are interested, please join us the weekend of July 20-22 as we head to the Upper Sisquoc to clear the remaining 20 downed trees and continue work along the section of trail between Alamar Saddle and Lower Bear Camp.  We’ll be driving in from Upper Oso on Friday July 20 and basecamping at Bluff Cabin for the weekend.  We’ll drive up to Alamar on both Friday and Saturday to work the Sisquoc Trail.  This section of trail is over 5,000ft and mostly shaded with pines and cedars.  We’re hoping the shade and nearby waterfalls will help us push through the heat and complete the work.  If you are interested in signing up or hearing more details, please email INFO@LPForest.org.  We’re happy to have seasoned trail veterans as well as green trail rookies.  It should be a great project and a fantastic opportunity to give back to the trails you love and explore this remote section of the Los Padres.  We hope to hear from you soon……
— • — • — • —June 30 Montecito Trails Day, Over 100 Volunteers Helped Maintain 3 Miles of Thomas Fire Damaged Trails – Yee Haw!
FOREST 411

• The LPFA was featured last month in the Santa Barbara Independent Blue and Green issue highlighting one of our Working Vacations from April 2018.  Check it out…… and three cheers for all the great volunteers who make the Working Vacations so successful and fun!  Cheer……  Cheer……  Cheer……

• Reminder that HikeLosPadres.com continues to be a great resource for knowing current trail conditions and water conditions across the forest.  Be sure to check HLP before you head out and update it when you get back.  Sharing information helps everyone.  Thanks…..

• In case you missed it, the Thomas Fire was officially declared out last month after starting December 4, 2017.

• On a loftier note, the flock of condors in San Luis Obispo are doing great and beginning to expand their territory.

• The LPFA will be expanding our paid Trail Crew this summer and are looking for experienced Los Padres trail workers interested in working for the LPFA Trail Crew.  The work will be primarily in Ventura and SB Counties and will range from day projects to week-long overnight backcountry hitches.  If you are interested in throwing your name into the hat or hearing more details, please email INFO@LPForest.org

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The Los Padres is calling and I must go
, photo JO Chung

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!

Los Padres is Totality Hot!

Brrrrr….. A Chilly Mission Pine Basin
– Hello Los Padres –
With the “excessive heat” we’re experiencing around the forest this week we thought it might be nice to share a picture and story of our Los Padres in the snow.  Maybe it will cool you down a little.  This photo was taken around dawn in early March at Mission Pine Basin (5,300′) in the San Rafael Wilderness.  I had backpacked in from Upper Oso, taking two days along the Santa Cruz Trail to get to MPB.  It rained on and off most of the second day and the final 2,000 foot climb up to Mission Pine was like taking a shower each time I rubbed against any of the 7,000,000 manzanita bushes along that 4mile climb.  I was drenched and cold when I saw the campfire at the Basin indicating that my buddy, ‘The Masticator’, had indeed upheld his end of the bargain and backpacked in from Cachuma Saddle.  He had slogged his bike up to McKinley Saddle the previous night and backpacked through mostly snow flurries to the Basin.  We were there to see it snow and knew a storm was forecast that evening.  We spent the night next to a raging fire as 8 inches of snow piled up beside our tents.  The next morning (shown above) was crisp as we explored the Basin, looking between the clouds at the blue Channel, snow curdling off the trees and….. lots of hot coffee.
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The LP Piru Neighborhood
FOREST 411
We’re hiring!  The LPFA is looking for a forest-loving go-getter to help manage our retail sales and grow the public outreach.  If interested, we’d love to hear from you.  More information at the link RIGHT HERE.

• So a bear walks into Reyes Creek Bar and says to Tony, “I’ll have a pint of beer and a……….. tri-tip sandwich”.  Tony responds, “Why the big pause?”   Wha wha wha…..  Okay, did you hear the one about the bear who stumbled out to Rincon Point on a summer Saturday afternoon…..?  Amazingly that isn’t a joke as a black bear did indeed find its way to the beach two weekends ago.  The photos are hard to believe but tragically the bear was euthanized after it was found to be unhealthy.

• Speaking of bears, this weekend at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is a presentation called the Amazing World of Bears by Kelley Swedlow.  It starts at 11am at the Visitor Center, which gives you enough time for a morning on the trailw beforehand or some extra time to sleep in.  It will be interesting to hear what Kelley thinks of the Rincon bear…..

• Do you Piru?  The water agency is charge of the Lake Piru Recreation Area is required to make changes to their recreation management plan for Piru.  They’ve hired an environmental consulting company to assist in the design of that recreation management plan and have released an online recreation survey designed to collect information from the public who use the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  This includes boaters, anglers, hikers, riders, hunters, Condor Trail backpackers, kayakers, campers, etc who use or pass through the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  If that’s you, please take the time and fill out this short online survey.  The surveys asks how often you use the Piru neighborhood, what you do there, what you like about it and what could be improved.  Certainly worth the time if you have an opinion, see link above.

• We’ve heard some questions about accessing the Whittier Fire burn area.  An update was released this week after an infra-red flight showed that some hot spots remain within the fire perimeter.  As a result the fire remains 87% contained and closed to public entry.  It might be a while before the area is reopened to the public.  Stay tuned….

• Last time we mentioned that Cherry Creek Road (6N01) was closed, it has since been opened.

• LPFA is excited to announce that Sunday October 8 will be our 3rd Annual Used Camping Gear Sale at Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta.  We’ll once again be partnering with Gossamer Gear to provide some incredible deals on great backpacks and camping gear.  We hope you can make it and let us know if you have any camping gear to donate to the sale.  We’ll provide a tax donation receipt and the proceeds go right back to Trail Care.

• Sorry about the bad bear news but we’ve got some great wildlife news to share that might cheer you up.  For the first time since 1985 a wild-born pair of California condors have successfully nested and have a chick of their own.  You can read more about it here.  The nest is located in Southern Monterey County and is an important step showing just how incredible the condor re-population is progressing.  It’s probably not too far off that we’ll be seeing healthy condors on the beaches soon as well.

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Chumash cave 1677 eclipse & Madras, Oregon 2017 eclipse, photo AYoung

The eclipse was all the news this past week, you don’t need to hear about that, although some of you may still be stuck in traffic.  A little different twist on the eclipse was visiting a Chumash cave that very same day and seeing their rendition of a solar eclipse that occurred on November 24, 1677.  They didn’t have the benefit of months of advanced notice, nor did they have CNN covering the PATH OF TOTALITY.  It must have been something truly amazing back in 1677…….

Cuesta Fire Dodging Lead Bullets

Image, NASA
NasaImage

A series of fires were started last Sunday evening as a result of a northbound truck along Hwy 101 in SB and SLO Counties dragging a chain and the sparks from that chain igniting roadside vegetation.  The largest of these fires has become the Cuesta Fire and was started along the Cuesta Grade just outside of San Luis Obispo.  The fire started along the south slope of East Cuesta and has spread quickly from there.  As of now the fire has grown to 3,500 acres and is 20% contained.  Thanks to the diligence of the fire fighters and support crews, the fire heading towards containment and the evacuation order for Santa Margarita residents has been lifted.  Currently the fire is being pushed east into the Santa Lucia Wilderness.  Word on the street is that the fire will be fully contained by the middle of next week.  Good news is that the onshore marine layer appears strong over the coming days and below average temperatures are expected into early next week.  Many many thanks to everyone helping with the fire.  With all the fires raging across the West, resources are thin and the amount of work and planning that goes into fighting a fire is astounding.  For those of you in Twitter land, following fires through social media brings you the best and most up-to-date information possible.  You can follow the Cuesta Fire here.





 

Photo, Ventana Wildlife Society
CondorLead
GET THE LEAD OUT

As you might be aware, most of the Los Padres is currently in A-Zone South hunting season.  One of the hot local hunting topics over the past decade has been trying to ban lead bullets and instead use copper.  The use of lead bullets is directly related to condor mortality.  You can browse online for days and days about this topic but real quick:- Hunter shoots deer with lead bullet.
– Deer runs away before dying in bushes.
– Hunter is unable to find dead deer.
– Condors feed on dead deer.
– Condors ingest lead bullet fragments.
– Condors get lead poisoning.
– Condors get sick or die.

It is strongly encouraged for hunters within the Condor Range to switch to copper instead of lead.  For those who want to learn more or make the switch, Salinas based Ventana Wildlife Society has tons of information online and they even host a monthly free copper ammunition giveaway.  You enter your name into the drawing, fill out a few questions and each month they raffle out free copper ammunition.  It’s a great program, to say the least.  You can learn more on the Ventana Wildlife Society’s page here.

 




 

Finish Line, Santa Barbara 100 Endurance Run
RaceStartFinish
ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, GO!

Are you an athlete?  Runner?  Mountain Biker?  Just like to get out, exercise and participate?  Well, chances are you’ll be interested in one of these upcoming events:

SANTA BARBARA 100 MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDE: October 3, 2015
This 100 and 50 mile ride crosses the SB Backcountry utilizing a series of dirt roads and single tracks.  This will be the 2nd annual running of the event and it got rave reviews last year.  If you are a mountain biker, be sure to check this out.  More information:
http://www.santabarbaramtbclassic.com/?q=home

BIG SUR RIVER RUN: October 24, 2015
Now in its 35th year, the Big Sur River Run offers a 5k walk and 10k run through the redwoods at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.  Proceeds from the event support the Big Sur Health Center and the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade.
http://www.bigsurriverrun.org/

PATAGONIA SALMON RUN: November 8, 2015
This year marks the 22nd year of the Patagonia Salmon Run in Ventura.  The Salmon Run is a fun spirited 5k race that follows the banks of the Ventura River.  Don’t let the fun spirit foul ya, there are some fast runners in the field as well.
http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=15737

Hope to see you at one of the upcoming races…….



Say cheese!
An all-star crew of Los Padres VWR’s took a summertime field trip to work the
Manter Meadow and Woodpecker Trails in the Southern Sierras’ Domeland Wilderness.
SawyerSierras
CALENDAR

September 25-27: LPFA NPLD Alamar Trail Crosscut Sawyer Project
September 26-27: VWA Pico Blanco NPLD Trail Project
September 26: NPLD Frontcountry Santa Barbara, Location TBD
October 9-11: LPFA Madulce Trail Crosscut Sawyer Project

More details on each event in coming e-newsletters………

Be safe everyone and don’t forget to check us out on Facebook, where right now we’re discussion best ways to wash your down sleeping bag.  Amazing the things you can learn on the internet.

Thanks for the read……..

Rain Rain, COME BACK!

Cuyama River, Two Days After Flooding, Where’d It All Go?CuyamaRiver  

Hello Everyone!

We’ve had some weather.  Hurricane Delores did her thing and sent some rain and thunder storms our way last week.  It was about as exciting as summer weather gets along the California coastal ranges.

RainMap
The rain started Saturday with much of Southern California seeing an entire day of rain, very heavy in some places.  Sunday through Wednesday was the more typical thunder storms with morning sun being replaced by fluffy thunderclouds and rain by the afternoons.  As the map shows above, the rain hit hardest in the southern Los Padres but most of the forest did see some precipitation at some point over the week.  Matilija in Ventura County saw the most rain with nearly 4 inches (in July!).  Frazier Park recorded 3.5″ which resulted in flash floods and quite a few road closures.  At one point on Saturday, all roads between Mt. Pinos and Frazier Park were closed due to floods.  There were reports of people being stranded overnight due to the road closures.  Santa Barbara didn’t see as much rain but the Sierra Madre received over 2″ at both Bates and SB Potrero.  Interestingly, SLO County got more rain than SB with most places having over 1.5″ across the forest.  Monterey up into Big Sur didn’t get much rain but did see some incredible lightning and thunder displays.  We’ve had reports coming in showing new green grass sprouting across the forest and increased flow in the creeks.  If nothing else, this most recent rain might extend the campfire season.  We’ll say a fond farewell to Delores and see what comes next.

Still Spring on Mt. Pinos
ChulaVista
AROUND THE FOREST NEWS
Some stories and links you might find interesting from across the Forest:
LOST BIG SUR HIKER
Earlier this month a hiker went missing at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.  Sadly, after nearly a week, the search was suspended.  You can read more about it through a Google search or here.
CONDORS AND TAR CREEK
There was a recent article in the High Country News about the Tar Creek (Ventura County) closure and its influence on the condors in the area.  The article highlights some of the Forest Service efforts to control the situation at Tar Creek.  Certainly worth a read if interested.
CONDOR IN SANTA BARBARA
This story made it’s way through Social Media land but in case you missed it, a wild/free condor made a rare visit to Santa Barbara late last month.  Yankee Barbareno did a good job of documenting and sharing the information on his blog.  You can read it here.  Perhaps one day the condor will be feeding along the beaches again, that would be cool to see.