The Los Padres Forest Association stands with the collective effort to change the inequalities that persist across our country and the world. We believe racism has no place in nature, within the forest, on the trails or across society and we are in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. As as organization, the LPFA has committed to ensuring that we are inclusive and welcoming to diverse communities, while increasing our outreach specifically towards the Black community – LPFA Board
REYES PEAK FUEL REDUCTION PROPOSAL
The Forest Service recently shared a ‘Forest Health and Fuels Reduction’ proposal that would impact the western spine of Pine Mountain roughly between Hwy 33 and Reyes Peak within the Ventura Backcountry. The proposal calls for forest thinning (selective clearing of chaparral and trees) along 755 acres of Pine Mountain following the general path of an existing fuel-break. The intent of forest thinning is to reduce fuel loads in the hopes of minimizing the impacts of future fire events. We could ramble on and regurgitate statistics about flame length, forest floor accumulation, sensitive species impacts and historic tree densities but we strongly encourage you to read the information for yourself, click here. Somehow, miraculously, the crest of Pine Mtn has not burned within recorded fire history and opinions vary greatly as to how best to control or not to control wildfires in that portion of the forest. We’ve had the opportunity to speak with the FS about this proposal and we’ve also heard from individuals and groups who adamantly oppose the idea of fuel reduction. Some think the best way to prevent catastrophic wildfire damage is through defensible forest thinning and fuel breaks whereas others argue that the prevention efforts are more damaging to the forest and that in the case of a large fire those prevention features won’t work anyway. We encourage everyone to study up, read the proposal, visit Pine Mountain, fly through on GoogleEarth, browse social media, ask questions, talk to everyone you can and try to attend any of the upcoming Forest Service public online meetings (there will be more). Remember, this is only a proposal and the Forest Service will be accepting public comments until June 30 so please take some time and share your opinions.
LP FOREST REOPENING UPDATE
The Los Padres Forest has been slowly but surely returning to “normal” and following the lead of both the State of California as well as each of the individual counties in their efforts to reopen. Here’s the latest and greatest from across the forest:
As mentioned in the last email, most of the campgrounds across the forest have reopened with the remaining Forest Service managed campgrounds scheduled to reopen June 19, just in time for Padres Day Weekend (how appropriate). We’ve been hearing that many of the campgrounds have been full so please check ahead of time with either Parks Management or the Forest Service to make sure there is availability. The usual dispersed camping options remain available across the forest other than roadside camping along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. If you’re not sure if camping is allowed or not, it’s always a good idea to check in with the FS ahead of time. While the Ranger Stations remain closed to the public, FS staff are answering calls and assisting the public as usual.
HIKING, RIDING & BACKPACKING
The trails continue to be open for backpacking, riding and hiking other than the continued closure of the western portion of the Pine Ridge Trail (Big Sur, reopen Fall 2020?) and the recent closure of Santa Paula Canyon (Santa Paula, reopening July 31, 2020). We’ve been getting a lot of recent trail/camp reports through HikeLosPadres.com and for the most part conditions remain very good for backcountry trail use.
OHV & ROADS
Most of the gates, roads and OHV trails across the forest should be open and ready to roll. The only closures we’re aware of are the continued closure of Dry Canyon and Dome Springs, the continued closure of the La Brea (more on that later) and the continued closure of East Pinery, Pino Alto, Cumbre and Figueroa Mountain Lookout Road.
It’s a good time to be in the forest. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast and pay special attention for excessive heat and potential thunderstorms. And of course, please post whatever you find on HikeLosPadres when you return…….
• The LPFA is hiring for our Program Manager position. You can read more here but we’re looking for a wonderful person to help manage a variety of our existing programs while also developing and driving new forest programs. This is a very exciting opportunity for us and we can’t wait to hear from some of you soon. Please email with questions, thanks!: INFO@LPForest.org
• The LPFA has been allowed to reopen the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center following Ventura County COVID procedures. We’ve been open the past couple Saturdays and have been trying to help the record number of people who have been visiting the Los Padres. We are greeting all guests outside the Visitor Center, following isolation and face mask practices and attempting to get them answers without having them enter the building. It’s been really fun helping the public and sharing information about which trails to explore and what camping options might be best in the Ventura Backcountry. That being said, we could use volunteers to help at Wheeler Gorge. If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions, please email us at: WheelerGorge@LPForest.org. Thanks……
• We’ve shared this a few times over the past 2-3 years but the bridge construction project along Sunset Valley Road appears to be happening soon. We’ll share more when details are finalized but it looks like Sunset Valley Road will be closed to all vehicle access at Cachuma Saddle from roughly mid/late July through the end of October while the two bridges are constructed. Both Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds will be closed and it is unsure if the public will be allowed to hike/ride down Sunset Valley Road in order to access the trails along the north side of Fig Mtn (we’ve been asking for public access). Access to NIRA or any of the regular Manzana trailheads will likely be prohibited for everyone. August – October is not the most popular time for Sunset Valley but the closure will certainly impact this years A-Zone hunting season.
• Don’t forget, you can always support the LPFA by shopping at Amazon and donating a portion of each purchase to the LPFA through the AmazonSmile program. Every little bit counts and we really appreciate the support. Thank you!
• As California reopens, we are seeing small spikes in reported COVID cases. Please remain diligent and continue with the now standard trail isolation practices.
• Earlier this month the Forest Service shared their final Decision Notice for the La Brea Restoration project. While most of the decision was what we had expected, there were a few aspects of the final decision that were not included in any of the Alternatives that we’d been collectively working on over the past 5+ years. We’ve got a few questions out to the FS about some of these changes as well as how these changes impact the Condor Trail and we’ll share the whole La Brea enchilada once those details are finalized. Stay tuned…..
• There have been a lot of wildfires up and down the Central Coast over the past month, some are burning right now. Most of the fires have remained relatively small but please remember that the Los Padres is in fire restrictions and to stay alert and safe with your stoves or campfires where allowed. Here is a link to get your California Campfire Permit and a list of where and what sort of fires you can have within the forest.
• We’ve been getting a lot of reports of poodle-dog bush explosions within the Thomas Fire scar of Ventura County. Watch out for those beautiful purple flowers!
• The LPFA is looking for a car or truck to help at one of our Visitor Centers. If you’ve got a car/truck that you’d like to donate, let us know and we can certainly help with a tax write off – email INFO@LPForest.org. Thanks……