Los Padres New Years Information, LPFA

A Big Sunset Across Little Pine, no Photoshop or filters needed….


Hello Friends ~ Happy Holidays!

You’re likely getting inundated with year-end emails so we’ll keep this short but we needed to share a couple Los Padres updates before the end of the year. Let’s do this…..

Highway 33: OPEN

CalTrans reopened Hwy 33 after it had been closed for the previous 11 months. While the highway is open, there are lane closures and some campgrounds and trails remain closed. For more info click here….

Fire Restrictions

The Forest Service lifted fire restrictions; campfires are now allowed in most parts of the forest with a valid California Campfire Permit. See details and more information here….



Ventura Backcountry Updates

  • Earlier this month the LPFA was able to successfully complete a 9-day Working Vacation along the Alder Creek Trail within the eastern Sespe Wilderness. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers and Trail Crew, we were able to maintain 5.5 miles of wilderness trail. 
  • Thank you everyone who contributed to our #GivingTuesday campaign to raise money in support of the Ventura Backcountry trails. We were able to exceed our goals and will be leading a volunteer trail project on the Sespe River Trail as soon as we get a clear weekend. Stay tuned….
  • Please join us on Saturday Jan 6 as we continue helping efforts to restore the Agua Blanca Trail within the Sespe Wilderness. Led by Alan Coles, volunteers will be meeting at Lake Piru and heading up the Agua Blanca clearing brush and downed trees. To sign up, click here
  • With the reopening of Highway 33, the LPFA was also able to reopen the beloved Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. If you haven’t visited Wheeler Gorge, stop by next time you are in the neighborhood. We’re open weekends and holidays; just 15 minutes up from downtown Ojai. See you there….

Last but certainly not least, we need to thank all the dedicated LPFA volunteers who spend their free time in support of the forest. This includes volunteers at the Visitor Centers, our Board of Directors and of course all of you who spend time with us on the trails and within the forest. We also want to give a huge shout-out to our hard-working professional Trail Crew who spend all year helping the trails. They’re out in the forest 10 hours a day through the summer heat, the winter freeze and everything in between. Also a big thanks to all the donors, partners and grantors who support our mission in all ways imaginable. We truly could not do what we love to do without all of you!

Thank you everyone for a great 2023 with an even better 2024 on tap….

2023 Los Padres Forest Association Accomplishments


  • 9,944 volunteer hours 
  • 140 forest projects & hitches 
  • 577 individual volunteers 
  • 243 days spent on the trails 
  • 843 Trail Crew person days on the trails
  • 22,724 hours contributed to the forest 
  • 85 miles of trail maintained 
  • 495 miles of trail patrolled 
  • 731 miles of forest roads patrolled 
  • 1 one hundred and forty year old roof replaced

Thanks again everyone! Now go find some time to enjoy the forest, get a backpack in, go ride your favorite trail or take your family for a drive to a trailhead you’ve never visited. Safe travels and see you next year….


Los Padres: We Have Fire Restrictions!

   LOS PADRES FIRE RESTRICTIONS   

Hello Los Padres Friends,

Effective today (August 1, 2023) the Los Padres National Forest is going into what might be considered Stage 1 fire restrictions. Please read the Forest Order but here’s a basic rundown of what is included:

Thanks to our wet winter, fire restrictions dropped a little later this year than what we’ve seen the past couple of years. For comparison, Fire Restrictions were announced on June 1 the past two years and we think you might have to go all the way back to 2011 to see Fire Restrictions announced any later than August 1. For those of us who continue to visit the backcountry despite the summer heat, rest assured, basic REI style cooking stoves are still allowed. This is great news for those needing their morning coffee fix.

Contrary to what some believe, campfires are not needed for evening enjoyment while camping. Here are a few links to different sites that contain ideas, games and suggestions for how to camp without fire. And last but not least, lets do our collective best to not screw up and cause additional levels of fire restrictions. Follow the rules, be fire smart in and out of the Designated Campfire Use Sites and be a good steward of the forest. We got this!


Big Sur Visitor Use Workshops

The Forest Service, along with various Big Sur stakeholders and agencies, will be hosting a series of three workshops in August designed to discuss, educate and ultimately solve many of the visitor use (overuse) issues impacting coastal Big Sur. You can read more about the workshops here on the FS website and of course Big Sur Kate covers these meetings marvelously on her blog as well. Remember, if you’re not part of the solution then you’re certainly not going to be a part of the solution. Or something like that. Make your voice be heard.


MANZANA TRAIL WORK CONTINUES

Thanks to the combined effort of LPFA volunteers, the LPNF and the LPFA Trail Crew, we’ve been able to restore much of the storm damaged Manzana Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness. The Trail Crew has been braving the heat and spending “cooler” weeks continuing our work along the Manzana. The Trail Crew is out there again this week focusing on brushing and clearing slides up near Manzana Narrows and hopefully onward towards Happy Hunting Ground and White Ledge. It sure is nice having good water this late into the season! Our ultimate goal this year is to restore the Manzana so that it is once again stock-passable from NIRA out to South Fork. If all goes according to plan, we’ll be hosting a large-scale Working Vacation at South Fork either this fall or spring. More on that in the coming months. In the meantime, if you’d like to help support these efforts, please consider making a donation For the Trails. Thanks everyone for your support….


     Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities     

Los Padres Forest Association
PO Box 1282  | Goleta, California 93116 | info@lpforest.org

Happy Los Padres Days!

Little Pine Winter Majesty, December 12, 2022

Hello Friends,

Happy Holidays and what a nice start to the winter season! We’ve now had multiple storms roll through the Los Padres with rain totals across the forest over 150% of normal to date. The creeks have recharged, the hills are green and most of the higher mountains are white; all good stuff for this time of year. While we’re certainly off to a good start, let’s not forget that at this point last year we were also well above average, that was until the rain decided to shutdown for January and February. Let’s hope for more extended light rain over the coming weeks and beyond.

As a result of the recent rains and greening, the Forest Service has terminated the fire restriction order which means that campfires are once again allowed across the Los Padres. This is probably very welcome news for many of us backcountry wanderers! Be sure to renew your California Campfire Permit (click here, just takes a few mins) and please remain diligent and smart with your fire activity. Happy Day!


Another Legendary Los Padres Sunset Enjoyed by Two Legendary Los Padres Sawyers

FOREST 411

• Recreation Fees Increased – The LPNF announced earlier this week that fees at select sites will be increased across the Los Padres. This mainly affects campground fees and Pfieffer Beach day use. Click here to learn more.

• Trout Creek Update – Over the past 5 years the Wilderness Land Trust has purchased multiple private properties along Trout Creek (SLO Co.) and just completed the final transfer of land to the LPNF. This is a huge win in preserving forest access along Hi Mtn Road and into the Garcia Wilderness. Trout Creek is also a segment of the Condor Trail. Cheers and a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone involved in this effort!

• E-Bike Crew Poachers Busted – Seven people were busted this past month for poaching with illegal hunting tags. In addition to illegal tags, the group, known as the E-Bike Crew, had also been reportedly hunting within the Sespe Condor Sanctuary. That’s a no-no. Lots of information online, click here, here or here.

• Courts Approve Tecuya Fuelbreak – It was also announced earlier this week that the LPNF won a court appeal to begin work on the Tecuya Ridge Shaded Fuelbreak project within the Mt Pinos Ranger District. Click here and here for more information.

• Los Padres Calendars – Looking for any last minute stock stuffers or gifts for the Los Padres lover on your list…. we got ya covered! The LPFA has once again produced a full-color Los Padres wall calendar. They are beautiful and available online or at REI Santa Barbara. Get em while you can!


Volunteer Opportunities

• JAN 21: Mountain Lion Tracking – Exciting news! The LPFA will be helping to install a series of game cameras across the Santa Barbara Backcountry which will be used to track mountain lion activity. We are looking for volunteers to help with this effort. Should be fun! Sign Up Here!

• DEC 30: Santa Cruz Trail – Join the LPFA on Friday December 30 to help maintain the beloved Santa Cruz Trail! Details on the link below but we’ll likely be focusing our efforts on the section of trail around 19 Oaks. TBD based on weather. What better way to wrap up 2022! Sign Up Here!

• DEC 21: Hwy 33 Cleanup – Please join the LPFA as we continue our monthly Highway 33 Adopt-A-Highway events based at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. While you’re there, come check out Marcos the Mountain Lion, photo featured above. Sign Up Here!

• FEB 4: VWR Training – The LPFA will once again be leading a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training event on Saturday February 4 off Paradise Road. Skills and procedures will be shared so that you can hopefully lead volunteer projects across the forest. Sign Up Here!

So nice seeing water flowing and falling again…. Hope you find some too.

LOS PADRES FIRE RESTRICTIONS &NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

Missing this Mission Pine View – LPFA volunteers spent the long holiday weekend working the Mission Pine Trail – It’s now 100% passable and in good shape from McKinley to Mission Pine Basin and beyond…..

Hello Friends – we hope this email finds you tired from a long Memorial Day weekend on the trails……The big news across the Los Padres Forest this week is the introduction of our first seasonal fire restrictions. BE SURE TO READ THE ORDER for specifics but basically all campfires are now banned within the LP outside of Designated Campfire Use Sites. This level of restrictions should have the greatest impact on backcountry visitors who will now have to plan on cooking with stoves and having some extra time to enjoy the stars. While we should be pretty used to camping without a fire by now and the evenings aren’t too cold anymore, here are a few links to sift through in case you are looking for suggestions or alternatives to the traditional campfire. We’d love to see any photos you might have of ways you enjoy camping without campfires. You can email us or tag us on any of the usual social media channels. Be safe everyone….

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

The LPFA will be participating once again as part of National Trails Day by hosting two trail volunteer projects and one forest support weekend here in the Los Padres, please email us for more information: VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org

SUNSET VALLEY TRAIL, FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN: JUNE 4 – 8:30am
The Sunset Valley Trail is a somewhat forgotten and certainly overgrown trail along the northern slope of Figueroa Mountain that follows Sunset Valley Road starting at Fish Creek Saddle and connecting again with the road either at the Munch Canyon TH or further down at Davy Brown Campground. We’ll be out this Saturday working on restoring the Sunset Valley Trail. Once Sunset Valley Trail is reopened, it will be a terrific connector trail for folks hiking White Rock and Munch and it will also open up a super fun trail for beginner mountain bikers where you can ride up the road or single track and gradually descend through the oaks along Sunset Valley – thumbs up! Looking forward to seeing this trail restored and revitalized – come out and help!

POTRERO JOHN TRAIL, PINE MOUNTAIN: JUNE 7 – 8am
We’re extending National Trails Day into National Trails Days and will be hosting a trail volunteer project on Tuesday June 7 along the Potrero John Trail in the Sespe Wilderness. We’ve worked on this trail quite a bit over the years but just received a report of brushy conditions, a few downed trees and the need for some TLC along the trail. Game on! Potrero John can be a very friendly short backpacking trip up to the camp or make for a fun day-hike up into the wilderness to explore the canyon’s attractions. If you haven’t been, it’s worth a spot on your todo list and what better way to explore Potrero John than volunteering with us as part of NTDays.

UPPER SANTA YNEZ AREA: June 11-12
While not exactly part of National Trails Day, we’ll be hosting a weekend forest support volunteer project next weekend June 11-12 out in the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation area working between Mono and Pendola. We’ll be meeting at Romero Saddle on June 11 at 8am and then driving out to Middle Santa Ynez Campground. From there we’ll meet with FS staff and spend the weekend helping clear campgrounds, maintain facilities, install signs and work on the Cold Spring Trail. As always, for more information or to sign up, please email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org

It’s not all trail work, LPFA volunteers cleaning graffiti at Lizards Mouth, May 2022

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. 

Summertime, and the Los Padres is Scorchin’

Some of the sweet fruit from the June 2021 Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Working Vacation

Hello Friends & Fellow Forest Users,

We hope you are enjoying your summer and still mixing in some Los Padres time, despite the heat and waning water. As we all know, summers are tough around here but there are still great pools, camps and shaded trails this time of year for those who know where to go and plan appropriately. This is probably the quietest time of year in the Los Padres but don’t let the calm fool you, there’s been plenty of news around the forest of late. Let’s get to it…

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FIRE RESTRICTIONS & UPDATES

The biggest news has been the new fire restriction order, which was announced July 15. The new restrictions prohibit campfires anywhere across the forest and camp stoves are allowed only within Designated Campfire Use Sites. The fire restriction order is effective through December 31, 2021and again: 

– NO CAMPFIRES ANYWHERE
– STOVES ONLY IN DESIGNATED CAMPFIRE USE SITES

Click the links above for more details. We realize that fire restrictions, which essentially ban hot coffee in the backcountry, are usually met with disapproval but please understand that there are over 170 drought-aided fires burning at the moment across the Western United States and most of the forests across the west are in similar fire restrictions as well. We’re all in this together and let’s hope for more rain in the coming years and certainly a slow remainder of the 2021 wildfire season. BE SAFE, everyone.  Speaking of fires, the Willow Fire in the Northern Los Padres is now 100% contained after burning nearly 3,000 acres within the Ventana Wilderness. While the fire has come and gone, please check the most recent Willow Fire closure order to see what is closed and what remains open. If you know that part of the forest and enjoy reading about local fire history, you need to check out a book called Fire Monkswhich chronicles how the Tassajara Monks fought back the 2008 Basin Complex Fire. It’s a great read and while the book is terrific and the Willow Fire made a similar run this summer, we’re very fortunate and thankful that there won’t be a Fire Monks Willow Fire sequel.

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FREE HERBAL MEDICINE WEBINAR

TUESDAY, JULY 27th
6PM PST

Join Emily Sanders, local clinical herbalist and founder of the Artemisia Academy of Herbal Arts & Healing, for a FREE webinar on the magic and medicine of the Artemisias. These local plant species, Sage brush, Wormwood, and Mugwort, have been used for thousands of years for both their medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Learn how you can make your own medicine! Click HERE to Register!

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Sunset Valley Road will be closed through March 2022

SUNSET VALLEY – NIRA CLOSURE

The Forest Service has been working with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and other partner groups to schedule the construction of two bridges which would replace the existing ‘Arizona crossings’ along Sunset Valley Road. When completed, the bridges will help assist aquatic organism passage within the Santa Maria, Sisquoc, Manzana and Fir Canyon drainages. Sunset Valley Road is located in Santa Barbara County behind Figueroa Mountain and is most commonly used to access NIRA and the Manzana Trailheads. This bridge project has been in the works since at least 2017, with construction being delayed a few times due to COVID, etc…

That being said, the FS announced late last week that bridge construction will begin this coming week with an expected closure of Sunset Valley Road as well as the Catway OHV (aka Old Catway) through the end of March 2022.

While the FS is working to finalize the closure order, we’ve been asked to share that the public will not be permitted along Sunset Valley Road between July 26, 2021 – March 30, 2022. This is a full closure, meaning no access along Sunset Valley Road or the Old Catway to Davy Brown Campground, NIRA Campground and both of the Manzana Trailheads. Hikers and bikes are also expected to not be permitted along the road during the closure. Again, closure details are being finalized and we’ll share final details as soon as they are available.

While the bridges will definitely help with creating safer fish passage, this 8 month closure is going to impact a lot of backpackers, hikers, equestrians and hunters who rely on NIRA and the Manzana for their backcountry access. We’ve already shared a list of concerns and suggestions with the FS and we’ll be sure to share the final closure details when available. In the meantime, if you have any plans to visit the Manzana or lower Sisquoc, you should start looking at other entry points and/or trail options. HikeLosPadres.com is a great resource for planning trips into the LP, check it out or feel free to email us with any Los Padres-related questions.

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Maybe it should be called Green Canyon? June in Blue Canyon, photo JMorris

TRAIL WORK UPDATE

While many of us spend our summers vacationing in the Sierras or working on our beach tans, the LPFA volunteers and Trail Crew have remained busy working strategically on many of our favorite trails here in the LP. Here’s a quick rundown on what we’ve been doing trail-wise over the past few months:

  • GENE MARSHALL – PIEDRA BLANCA TRAIL: We wrapped up a busy spring and early summer of work on the GMPB with a fantastic 10-day Working Vacation and followed that up with a week of work by the LPFA Trail Crew. We’ve now collectively worked every inch of trail from Reyes Creek to Three Mile Camp and then from Piedra Blanca TH to Twin Forks. Great work by so many different people and groups, it sure does take a village!
  • BLUE CANYON TRAILS: Thanks to a generous SCE grant, the LPFA made a big push in 2021 to reopen the network of Blue Canyon Trails. We hosted volunteer days, volunteer weekends, worked with Laguna Blanca School for a week and wrapped it up with a couple weeks of work by the LPFA Trail Crew. We still have a little bit left to do but the trails from Forbush to P-Bar and out beyond Upper Blue Canyon haven’t looked this good in a long time…
  • COLD SPRING NORTH & MONO JUNGLE: We’ve also kept busy working the north Cold Spring Trail from Cold Spring Saddle down through Forbush and continuing through the new section of trail near the Mono Jungle. Work continues on the new section of trail and we were able to brush most of the trail from Forbush to the junction of the Gibraltar Trail. Work will continue out here through most of the summer and we’re hoping to schedule a few volunteer days out here as well.
  • MISSION PINE TRAIL: Thanks to support from the SB Trail Runners and the FS, we’ve been working hard to reopen an incredibly brushy section of the Mission Pine Trail out near West Big Pine. We hosted a couple of 4-day volunteer weekends and another week with the LPFA Trail Crew, and at the moment we have only 0.3 miles remaining to brush before punching through the worst of it. We’ll likely be back out there this summer should we get a cool-ish weekend to finish it up. Stay tuned…
  • LITTLE FALLS TRAIL: Thanks to some additional FS support we were able to put the LPFA Trail Crew on the Little Falls for a week of brushing and sign maintenance. Still lots of brushing needed in the upper parts of the canyon, but we were able to make a nice dent in the worst sections.
  • SANTA CRUZ TRAIL: Santa Cruz is a tough place to work in the summer, but we did spend a week in early June clearing brush and restoring tread out near Little Pine Spring. This will be a large focus of our fall/winter 2021 work as we continue working through the 40-Mile Wall and on down to Santa Cruz Station.
  • MATILIJA TRAIL: Thanks to some remaining Thomas Fire trail restoration funding, the LPFA Trail Crew has spent the past two weeks working the Matilija Trail outside of Ojai. We’ve been slowly chipping away at the Matilija Trail for the past three years, with the emphasis this summer being the section of trail between Middle Matilija and Upper Matilija. It’s slow going in this canyon, but thankfully there is good water along the way. More to come…

Our Summer Membership Drive is happening now! Join or Renew your LPFA Membership to help us continue to care for the Los Padres National Forest. 

Fire Restrictions, Trail work Updates & Volunteer Opportunities

Just Another Mission Pine Sunrise
Photo by Conor Watson

Hello Friends,

While the green of Spring certainly has felt short-lived this year, with 100% of the state of CA experiencing drought and 41 (out of 58) counties experiencing a drought emergency, we were glad to get out in the Los Padres to enjoy all the brief but beautiful spring moments we could. After our Santa Cruz Working Vacation at the beginning of May, we have stayed busy with work on the North Cold Spring trail, Mission Pine Trail, Blue Canyon Trail, Little Falls Trail and more work on the Santa Cruz Trail, and are headed out this next week to Beartrap camp to tackle sections of the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail for our next Working Vacation.

With the low rainfall the state has seen this year, we were not surprised when the Forest Service announced Fire Restrictions on backcountry campfires that went into effect earlier this week. No open fires, campfires or charcoal fires will be permitted outside of developed recreation sites or designated Campfire Use Sites, even with a valid California Campfire Permit. Lanterns and regular gas camping and backpacking stoves will be permitted, but only with a valid California Campfire Permit, which are available free-of-charge on the Forest website. We cannot stress enough the importance of adhering to these campfire restrictions, and in general the importance of fire safety during these dry, dry times. The state is gearing up for an intense fire season and while most of the Southern CA counties were not included in the emergency drought proclamation from the governor’s office, it is on all of us to make sure that the lands we cherish remain safe from human-caused fires. Please be safe, follow the rules and do your part to help protect your Los Padres National Forest. We all love a good campfire, but it’s definitely not worth the risk. Besides, camping without a fire can definitely be fun and a great way to connect to different aspects of nature at night. There are lots of great things that camping without fire can include, like more time for stargazing, playing cards or music, listening to the sounds of nature, and getting some extra sleep! Enjoy your time in the forest and let’s all stay safe! 

SANTA CRUZ WORKING VACATION PT 2

Weather permitting, we’ll be headed back out to Santa Cruz Guard Station the week of June 12-20 to continue work on the Santa Cruz Trail. This time we’ll be based at Santa Cruz and working up towards Little Pine along the legendary “40 Mile Wall”. Most of the work will be cutting tread until it gets too warm and then retreating to spend the hotter hours relaxing under the oaks or in the nearby Santa Cruz Creek pools. The exact dates will be weather dependent and we’d love to have any of you help out and join the fun. If interested in either signing up or to get some more information, please email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org. We will be driving in to Santa Cruz Station – hope to see you out there!

Volunteers relaxing at the Santa Cruz Guard Station, May ’21. Photo by Marianne Henry

Forest 411 

  • Senator Alex Padilla introduced companion legislation to Representative Carbajal’s Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives in February. This bill will protect special places in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument for their ecological, cultural, and recreational values. Rep. Carbajal’s bill will also designate the Condor Trail as a National Scenic Trail. The senate version also prohibits future oil drilling in certain places, improves equitable access to the outdoors, and benefits local and statewide economies. Thank you Senator Padilla and Rep. Carbajal! 
      
  • Condor populations are healthily growing and expanding their range! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced a new initiative that calls for releasing four or six juvenile condors each year for 20 years throughout Redwood National Park, which is about an hour’s drive from the Oregon border. Partnering with the Yoruk tribe, conservationists hope to boost populations of these endangered birds, which suffered great losses during the Dolan fire. Good luck, condors! 
      
  • The Los Padres National Forest is proposing to restore Rose Valley Creek to its historical stream function, form, and habitat to benefit native aquatic species as well as provide streamside recreation. Check out the recording of the Public Workshop the Forest Service hosted on May 13th. 
      
  • Volunteers are returning again this year as citizen smoke watchers at the 92-year-old Chews Ridge lookout tower south of Carmel. This commanding vantage point has given spotters the ability to detect and quickly report new wildfire starts before they get large and destructive. If you’re interested in becoming a Chews Ridge volunteer, visit the Chews Ridge Fire Lookout FB page or email Scott at PalomarTowers@gmail.com for more information.
      
  • LPFA-Operated Visitor Centers are open and ready to help you navigate the Los Padres! With Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center serving the Southern Los Padres and Big Sur Station serving the North, our visitor centers are a great place to stop before you head into the forest. Come by to learn about the ecology of the area, pick up a map and supplies, or get your Los Padres-related questions answered by our friendly staff and volunteers. LPFA members receive a 15% discount on all purchases (exception for Adventures Passes) at Los Padres Ranger Stations and Visitor Centers. 
      
  • Graffiti removal efforts have been advanced by local Boy Scouts. Members of Troop 26 helped remove over 30 pieces of graffiti on Tunnel Trail in the SB Frontcountry. Great work, Scouts! We hate to see graffiti in the forest, so please let us know if you find any – email INFO@LPForest.org
Member of Troop 26 helping remove graffiti. Photo by Paul Weakliem

Volunteer Opportunities 

  • National Trail Day is coming up on June 5th! This is a great day to give back to and enjoy the many trails we love. Click here to find a volunteer event near you! 
      
  • SB County Parks & Recreation is hosting a National Trail Day event on June 12th at Tunnel & Jesusita Trails. Email Sbiddle@SantaBarbaraCA.gov to RSVP and get more information. 
      
  • Volunteer Trailhead Ambassadors Needed for the popular Pine Ridge Trailhead in Big Sur! Trailhead Ambassadors will help visitors understand how they can enjoy the public lands of the Big Sur coast safely and responsibly. To learn more, please email toan@ventanawild.org
      
  • SBRD Biologist Valerie Hubbard is seeking volunteers for noxious weed removal. The initial work would include mapping high priority weeds on the East Camino Cielo and also manually treating spotted knapweed. Future work might be assisting with herbicide treatment of tamarisk in the Santa Ynez River, manual treatment of yellow star thistle on Zaca Ridge road, manual treatment of pampas grass on the Happy Canyon allotment, manual treatment of medusahead grass at Happy Hollow camp and mapping and manual treatment of yellow star thistle on the Buckhorn road. Email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org to get involved! 
      
  • Help collect seed to restore areas invaded by Spanish broom along East Camino Cielo in Santa Barbara! Saturday volunteer seed collection dates are: 5/22, 6/5, 6/19, 7/10, 7/24, and 8/7. There are sign-up 10 slots for each date, with a limited number of vehicles allowed to park along East Camino Cielo Road. We will announce additional dates for the fall. Please email Josie Lesage at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (jlesage@sbbg.org) to sign up.
The LPFA Trail Crew in Action

The work we do would not be possible without the support of our community! Please consider donating or becoming a member of the LPFA to help ensure that we can continue to care for the Los Padres National Forest. 

Hindsight is 2020

The sun sets early over the Mono Jungle this time of year but we’ve spent many long days of late working the new Cold Spring reroute trail.

Hello Friends,

As we near the end of 2020, the saying ‘Hindsight is 20/20’ has never been more applicable or felicitous. While 2020 will live in infamy for so many reasons (no LPFA Working Vacations – BOO), we sure hope it hasn’t been without at least a few silver linings.  Looking back, COVID hit and we saw record numbers of people visiting the forest. At the time, it was overwhelming and many of the trailheads, camps, creeks and canyons were inundated with people seeking time outside. While the infrastructure wasn’t ready for this onslaught, the silver lining was that people were getting out and enjoying the forest.  Of course, it would have been nice had many of these people known more about Leave No Trace, forest etiquette or been better at dispersing, but at the same time, let’s hope that these people, in particular the forest newbies, were able to establish an appreciation for the outdoors and that they continue to carry that appreciation with them into the future. We can teach the curious, but we can’t teach curiosity. Life will get back to the next newest normal and group activities will commence again, but we have to believe that the world is a better place with as many people appreciating nature as possible. Maybe, if we’re lucky, that will be a positive lasting legacy when looking back, hindsight on 2020.  

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Thanks to everyone who donated on #GivingTuesday to continue the LPFA trail work on both the Santa Cruz and Piedra Blanca NRT’s.  We got started earlier this month clearing brush and grooming tread on the Santa Cruz Trail (see photos below) but had to stop due to the latest Stay at Home Order. Can’t wait to get back out there, hopefully soon!

LOS PADRES UPDATE

California issued the latest regional COVID Stay at Home Order on December 6 and shortly thereafter the Forest Service released additional forest related regional closures and restrictions. While the forest remains open, all developed campgrounds across the Los Padres will be closed through January 6, 2021.  Here’s a list of the developed Los Padres campgrounds, in general they are the ones you might consider car-campgrounds. That being said, the trails, trailheads, picnic areas, day use areas, OHV routes and dispersed camping remain open for us to enjoy across most of the forest.

The Monterey Ranger District remains closed due to unsafe conditions as a result of the Dolan Fire. This closure is expected to last until the Dolan Fire is 100% contained which is dependent on getting more rain. This is a bit of a conundrum, as more rain should lead to the full containment of the Dolan Fire, but it’s that same rain that causes more unsafe conditions in and around recent burn scars. It’s likely that once the Dolan Fire reaches full containment, the Forest Service will keep the fire scar closed, but reopen other parts of the District. Time will tell and please remain patient. We need rain….

An additional closure was extended for the Pine Ridge Trail which is also within the Monterey Ranger District. This most recent closure lasts through May 21, 2021. A quick little backstory, the Pine Ridge Trail was severely damaged in the 2016 Soberanes Fire and subsequent 2017 storms.  The Ventana Wilderness Alliance has been working with the Forest Service to restore the trail but have had unforeseen 2020 COVID related and fire delays that have pushed the reopening back. From what we hear, the trail is looking great to a certain point but a few more weeks of work is needed. Hang in there…..

And last but not least, the regional fire restrictions remain in place through December 31, 2020 for the Los Padres NF. Again, this means no campfires anywhere and the use of camp stoves only at developed campfire use sites, which are mostly closed due to the above mentioned COVID closures. We have come full circle….  While the northern Los Padres has seen some rain, there has been very little rain across most of the forest. Santa Barbara is currently at 2% of County-Wide Percent-of-Normal Rainfall, whereas historically we should have received around 30% of our rainfall totals by the end of December. That’s a lot of catching up to do – might need a January, February and March miracle this year. Anyway, the fire restrictions should remain in place until the forest receives a couple inches of rain and good news is that there is rain in the forecast….  Fingers crossed and remain safe everyone….

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Sneak peak at the 2021 Los Padres Calendar, get em while you can!

FOREST 411

• Thanks everyone who has ordered the 2021 Los Padres calendar.  The calendars are set to arrive very soon and we’ll have them shipped out or delivered hopefully in time for Christmas but certainly before the end of the year. We went with a local printer this year and they are looking great! If you’d like one, click here. Happy New Year!

• Quick volunteer update, all non-emergency or non-prioritized work across the Los Padres has been cancelled through January 6 as part of the regional COVID stay at home order. This includes our volunteer projects and Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. As a result, there’s not much scheduled right now as far as volunteer projects but we’re planning 2021 with the hopes of Working Vacations and regular volunteer trail projects. See below for more…..

• Seems like ancient history already but it was officially released that arson was the cause of the November 25, 2019 Cave Fire.

• Some of the seasonal gates have been closed across the forest while some gates that usually close in November remain open due to the lack of rain. At this point in time, we suggest that if you’re headed into the forest to a place where gate access might be a concern, be sure to contact the local Ranger District ahead of time to see if the gates are open or closed. We do know that Pine Mtn gate closed earlier this month and should remain closed until spring.

• Speaking of roads and gates, the Forest Service was able to repair the severely damaged and rutted section of road just before Thorn Meadow off Grade Valley Road.  Great to see that work accomplished!

• MONOLITH/ˈmänəˌliTH/ a large single upright block of stone, especially one shaped into or serving as a pillar or monument. If you missed the recent monolith craze, it’s worth a Google search and some time while drinking your morning coffee. Interestingly enough, the Los Padres made the news earlier this month when one of the monoliths made a cameo near the summit of Hi Mountain above Arroyo Grande. We found it very interesting that the aliens who planted the Hi Mtn monolith chose to plant it where they did. I guess aliens don’t have the needed FS keys to get to the actual summit either.

• For those of us procrastinators (it’s not a bad thing) who still have some last minute shopping to take care of, remember that you can always use Amazon Smile and choose the LPFA as your charity of choice.  Help the forest and shop at the same time, what could be better – maybe being done with shopping of course. Thanks for choosing to help the LPFA!

• Show of hands, who has sat in a rock art site and been baffled by trying to figure out what is being represented within those amazing lines, colors, curves and images? There might be an answer after a recent study found evidence of psychedelics at a nearby painting site.  It’s amazing how science continues to uncover information about the native people of these lands. Be sure to practice proper etiquette when visiting these sacred sites!

• Momentum continues to grow with the restoration of the Rose Valley Lakes and Sespe Creek Watershed. While still at the conceptual design phase, the idea is to remove fish passage barriers including the three man-made Rose Valley Lakes. For more information check the link here and we’ll keep you posted as more information is available.

“The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places” – Roald Dahl

UPCOMING EVENTS

While it’s impossible to predict  or schedule anything right now, we’re really hoping to put together some extended volunteer projects this season. Stay tuned, fingers crossed!

February 2021: Blue Canyon Volunteer Weekends, LPFA
March 2021: Sespe Volunteer Weekends, LPFA
April 2021: Santa Cruz Trail Working Vacation, LPFA
May 2021: Puerto Suelo Dick Smith Working Vacation, LPFA
May 2021: Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
June 2021: Haddock Camp Sespe Working Vacation (GMPB Trail), 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.

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?