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?



Los Padres Reopens


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

Hello Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Los Padres Updates, News, Pine Mountain and Much More…..

Not just another LP Sunrise

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

View west across Pine Mountain from high atop Reyes Peak

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.

Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, partially reopened and 100% helping educate forest-users, photo J. Stichter

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:

CAMPING
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…….

Choose your own adventure, Sespe style, photo Sonia C.

FOREST 411

• 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……

Summit of Mt Pinos 1927, LPNF archives

What’s up with the Los Padres…..

LP swimming hole season, the deeper the better, Spencer H. going deep to find this one

Hello Again,

Somewhat lost in the COVID shuffle was the amazing amount of late winter and early spring rain that the Los Padres received this year.  Remember all the snow we had early in the season around Thanksgiving and into early December?  Then no rain during what is historically our wettest months of January and February.  Seems like ancient history but remember our concern back then was the thought of a continued drought?  Then, magically, we were given a 2020 version of a “March Miracle” followed by a huge April of rain accompanied by even more snow.  As of now most of the forest has received around an average amount of rain for the season but what was really different this year is that unlike most years when snow is largely washed away by the next rainstorm, this year we didn’t have next rain storms and much of the early and late snowfall was allowed to melt gradually and percolate slowly into the ground.  So even while our rainfall was around average this year, the slow snow melt might equate to an even better summer season of flowing water.  We shall see…..

What better place to escape the COVID craziness than Lost Valley, photo Wheelwright

What’s up with the Los Padres….  The previous email focused mainly on what the LPFA has been doing during the COVID shutdown but now lets take a look at the latest and greatest changes across the Los Padres NF……..

MONTEREY RANGER DISTRICT CLOSED (mostly)
There have been a lot of FS announcements, closures and issued orders over the past months but the closure of the entire Monterey District was probably the most extreme.  This closure dates back to mid-April and pretty much closes all the trails, camps and forest roads across the Monterey District.  The few exceptions at the moment are Parks Management operated day-use areas along Highway 1 including Sand Dollar, Willow Creek, Mill Creek and Pfeiffer Beach (Arroyo Seco is set to reopen May 22).  This District closure order is set to expire June 1 and we’ll see what happens beyond that.  The Pine Ridge Trail will remain closed.

PARKS MANAGEMENT (PMC) DEVELOPED CAMPGROUNDS
Dating back to March, the Forest Service combated COVID by closing all Developed Recreation Sites across the forest (actually the Region).  The FS has been renewing the closure orders every two weeks or so and the latest order is set to expire June 1.  Starting June 1, the developed campgrounds across the forest that are managed by Parks Management will be reopening.  A list of those campgrounds can be found here.  We’re unsure exactly what COVID precautions PMC will be implementing as the campgrounds reopen but there will likely be some new changes in place.  Imagine that?

FOREST SERVICE CAMPGROUNDS
While PMC manages most of the developed campgrounds across the forest, there are some that remain under the management of the Los Padres NF.  These campgrounds have also been closed and are set to reopen June 19.  A list of these campgrounds can be found here, CLICK.

DAY-USE AREAS
In conjunction with the reopening of the campgrounds, many of the day-use areas across the forest are also reopening.  We don’t have exact dates as to when each of the day-use areas will be reopening but most should be open in the coming week or so.  First Crossing off of Paradise was opened this past weekend and along with it access to a number of day-use areas along the Lower Santa Ynez Recreation area.  If you have your heart set on a particular day-use area we strongly suggest contacting the FS, PMC or you can even try emailing us beforehand to see if its open.

FIRE RESTRICTIONS
We’ve covered most of the campgrounds and DUA’s, but there’s more.  On May 12 the LP instituted fire restrictions which now prohibit campfires outside of Designated Campfire Use Sites.  A list of Designated Campfire Use Sites can be found here, CLICK.  Note that all backcountry campfires are now prohibited. The tricky part right now is that most of the Designated Campfire Use Sites remain closed as part of the larger scale COVID closure (see above).  A bit confusing to say the least but it should start to make more sense once the PMC campgrounds reopen June 1, which are most of the Campfire Use Sites.  We’ve heard a lot of grumblings about why we’re going into fire restrictions so early this year with so much water and greenery remaining across the forest.  While this hasn’t been officially stated, some of the decision has to be COVID related and taking extra precautions in order to avoid bringing fire crews together at a time like this.  Makes sense.  Also, with so many people using the forest, many of whom must be inexperienced, it’s probably a good thing to have stricter fire restrictions this year.  Stoves are still allowed in the backcountry and remember to take the 3 mins ahead of time and get a California Fire Permit.  Camping without campfires is fine, give it a try.

SEASONAL GATE CLOSURES
Last one…  Most of the Los Padres seasonal gates usually open May 1 after the snow has melted and FS personnel have had time to survey and repair storm damaged roads.  Believe it or not, this year is a bit different and most of the gates did not open on May 1.  Late last week the FS issued an update on the seasonal gates stating that most of the regular gates and OHV/moto trails will remain closed until May 22.  You can see a map of the closed trails here, CLICK.  That being said, across the forest we’ve seen some gates open that were supposed to be closed and others closed that should be open.  We suggest that if you’re headed out to a trailhead and are not sure if the gate will be open, please reach out to the forest ahead of time.

That should cover most of the current forest orders, established reopening dates and general forest this/that.  There’s a lot to digest right now and we’re certain more unexpected change is yet to come.  Best thing you can do right now is stay safe, enjoy the forest, avoid crowds and remain patient.  Let us know if we can help with any of your forest adventure planning………

One last epic oasis swimming hole picture to cool you down, photo Caliguire

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