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

Get Your Los Padres Updates Here

“Early Spring at its Best”, photo THurt

Hello Friends,

Simply put, it’s about as good as it gets right now across the Los Padres.  The _______ is amazing this season! We’ve not seen _______ like this for years and the _______ Trail is spectacular right now, never been better.  And have you seen the _______ on _______ Peak?  Wow….  Stunning.

We’ll leave it at that…….  you should have no problem filling in the blanks.  That’s your homework, uh, we mean forestwork!  The rest of this email will focus on upcoming volunteer projects and some updates from across the Los Padres.  We do hope you’re finding time to enjoy the trails and forest responsibly, be sure to check HikeLosPadres for the most recent trail and camp information and if you have any questions or need information, please don’t hesitate to let us know.  We’ll try our best to get the answers you might need. Let’s get to it…..

REI Giving Back and Walking the Walk, photo LPFA

TRAIL HELP NEEDED

As usual, all the upcoming forest events and volunteer trail projects are listed at the bottom of this email but we wanted to call out a few in particular that we are looking forward to:

April 12-14: TINTA TRAIL
The Tinta Trail is a seldom used trail set just off the northeastern edge of the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Tinta, which is part of the Condor Trail, is designated as a motorcycle trail but is also a great option for mountain bikes as well as hikers. Tinta has become incredibly overgrown over the past few years to the point where it’s become really hard to ride.  Not for long….  We’ll be working/camping for 3 days on April 12-14 working on brushing the Tinta Trail from Upper Tinta Camp down beyond Brubaker Canyon.  Since this is non-wilderness we’ll have the benefit of using power tools and are hoping to get some local motorcyclists to help support the project by riding in tools, supplies and food for the volunteers.  It should be a different yet really fun project.  If you’d like to help out, please let us know: Volunteer@LPForest.org

April 26-28: THREE PEAKS TRAIL
Do you have a favorite trail that needs maintenance?  If so, this is a good model to follow.  Los Padres volunteer extraordinaire Steve Cypher had a similar feeling for the Dutra area of the Silver Peak Wilderness and decided to do something about it. Partnering with the FS, VWA and LPFA, Steve has now led multiple trail projects in and around Dutra Flats focused on clearing the trails.  This is the 3rd or 4th such project and together with volunteers Steve is successfully reopening this area.  Talk about awesome.  It would be great if others were able to follow in Steve’s footprints.  If you’re interested in learning more about adopting a trail or working Three Peaks, click this link and sign up to help April 26-28.

May & June: SISQUOC WORKING VACATIONS
If you don’t know about the famous LPFA Working Vacations, this might be the year for you to sign up and find out.  The LPFA will be hosting two Working Vacations this year focused on restoring the Sisquoc Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness.  The first is May 4-12 along the Upper Sisquoc and the second is June 1-9 on the Lower Sisquoc.  Both projects will be stock supported with all food provided for volunteers.  While we’ll be out there for 10 days in total, there are shorter stints available in case you can’t spend the whole time out there.  This is a great year for these projects as the Sisquoc should be flowing nicely well into the summer season.  Let us know if you have any questions and we’d love to see you out there with us later this spring.  Volunteer@LPForest.org

Cherry Garcia, Looking Beautiful in Green

FOREST 411

West Fork Cold Spring Trail above Montecito has reopened after being closed for a few months due to a landslide taking out a large portion of the trail.

– In nearby news, the debris-flow ring nets above Montecito have been approved and will be installed in the coming weeks.  There will be certain trail closures during the installation of the nets and we’ll do our best to share that with you through social media.

– And related to that, late last month the cause of the Thomas Fire was released as fire investigators determined that “power lines slapping together in high winds” was the cause of the Thomas Fire ignition.

– The LPNF is extending the comment deadline for those interested in weighing in on the proposed closure of Dry Canyon in the Mt Pinos Ranger District.  The closure is a result of a 2015 study which found munitions and explosives in Dry Canyon that date back to the 1940’s.

– There have been a few rescues across the Los Padres over the past month related to lost or injured trail users.  Be sure to share your trip itineraries with friends or family before you venture into the forest and use common sense while in the forest.  Be safe.

– The proposed wildlife corridor in Ventura County was approved last month which should help the safe passage of mammals between the Los Padres and adjacent wild areas.  On the heels of the wildlife corridor, a study was released late last month about the potential extinction of Southern California mountain lions.

– Congressman Salud Carbajal is poised to reintroduce the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act.

– The Monterey Ranger District continues to struggle with closures and lack of forest access.  The lack of access has been leading to overcrowding within the few locations that are open.  You can read more in a recent article from the Monterey County Weekly.

– The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center will once again be hosting weekly Saturday educational programs designed for nature lovers of all ages.  Wheeler will be kicking off the season with the Annual Wheeler Open House on Saturday April 27.  Come on out, we hope to see you on the 27th and throughout the summer.

 – Maybe you’ve heard, but the flowers aren’t bad right now either. Los Padres Forest’s own Helen Tarbet is once again providing regular flower updates for those brave enough to venture into the Figueroa Mtn area.  Her most recent excellent update is attached with this email.  Please tread lightly.

Charlie Robinson, in his Happy Place!

And last but certainly not least, we wanted to congratulate our good friend Charlie Robinson on his recent retirement from the Forest Service.  Charlie served as the Ojai District Recreation Officer for over 27 years and was with the Forest Service for 43 years.  We wish Charlie all the best as he skis into whiter pastures and thank him for all his help over the years.  27 years of institutional knowledge will be hard to lose. Fortunately, some of us have his cell number…..  You can run Charlie, but you can’t hide…..  ha  ha.  Thank you Charlie!

Pano Around the Mono Narrows, photo LPFA

UPCOMING EVENTS
A few upcoming dates, events, projects, presentations or things you might want to know.
If you have any forest-related events to add to this list, let us know and we’re more than happy to pass along!

April 6: 1st Saturday Deal Canyon Project, MPRD & LPFA
April 6: State Trails Day, SB Frontcountry
April 6-9: Judell Trail Car-Camping, LPFA
April 12-14: Tinta otorcycle Trail Project, LPFA
April 18: Helpful & Harmful Plants, Sue Reinhart, SB Library
April 20: Ojai Earth Day
April 20-21: Marble Peak Trail Project, VWA
April 22: Earth Day in Fillmore!
April 26-28: Three Peaks Trail, Silver Peak Wilderness
April 27: Wheeler Gorge Open House

May 4-5: Mocho Sawyer Project, VWA
May 4-12: Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
May 10-12: Terrace Creek Trail Project, VWA
May 11: Mt Pinos Ranger District Open House
May 17-19: Strawberry Camp Trail Project, VWA
May 24-27: Big Sur Trail Sawyer Project, VWA

June 1-9: Lower Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
June 8-10: Lost Valley Trail Project, Ventana, VWA
June 9: Cold Spring Trail, SBMTV
June 21-23: Big Sur Trail Sawyer Project, VWA

West Big Pine