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. 

Pine Mountain Trail Work & Los Padres Updates Galore

Finally, there’s the confounded trail! Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail, Before & After, July 2020

Hello Friends,

Amidst all the recent cancellations and tribulations, we wanted to share a story of success and accomplishment.  Did you know that there are only two designated National Recreation Trails (NRT) within the Los Padres National Forest?  NRT’s date back to the 1968 National Trails System Act and are designated to “recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance”.  One of our Los Padres NRT’s is the 18-mile Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail (aka Piedra Blanca Trail) (aka GMPB) which crosses Ventura County’s Pine Mountain within the Sespe Wilderness between Reyes Creek Trailhead and Piedra Blanca Trailhead.  The GMPB is indisputably one of the gems of the Los Padres National Forest.  It’s got everything: high elevation pine forests, swimming holes, a rich history, a variety of camping options, incense cedar lined creeks, massive views, Piedra Blanca (nuff said) and even a pub at the Camp Sheideck finish line.  The GMPB is certainly special and while it sees a good amount of use by LP standards, it unfortunately suffers the same fate as most our trails with overgrown chaparral and downed trees frequently blocking the way.

The Los Padres is no stranger to overgrown trails but a few sections of the GMPB might hold the title as being the most overgrown popular trail in the forest.  This was particularly true of the 3-mile section of the GMPB between Beartrap Camp and Haddock Saddle.  This portion of the trail follows Beartrap Creek and is very susceptible to fast growing riparian bushes and plants such as willows blocking each creek crossing and the dreaded California rose.  In addition, this portion of the GMPB is just far enough from the trailhead (about 5 miles) to make it not practical for volunteer day trips.  While most of the trail between Reyes Creek and Beartrap have been worked by MPRD volunteers, there hasn’t been much trail restoration efforts above Beartrap Camp.  Time for that to change…..

Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail, showing where we worked and where we hope to work.

In 2019 the LPFA received a trail grant from REI to help restore some of the damaged trails across the Sespe Wilderness.  We started by leading a winter project down the Sespe Trail from Piedra Blanca to Willett and followed that up with a late winter project working the northern portion of the Red Reef Trail.  We had hoped to complete the grant by hosting a 10-day volunteer Working Vacation on the GMPB but unfortunately this thing called COVID got in the way and we had to cancel.  While we couldn’t coordinate a large volunteer project, we were able to use the final portion of the REI grant in combination with some generous contributions from folks like you and hired the LPFA Trail Crew to work the GMPB.  Thanks to you and REI, the LPFA Trail Crew spent a week earlier this month on the GMPB and were able to brush the hardest and nastiest section of the GMPB and completely opened up a mile of the trail above Beartrap Camp.  Yippee! The trail looks great and but unfortunately it dead ends with more brush ahead.

While our grant funds have run out, we are hoping some of you may wish to contribute to our Sespe Trail fund so that we can put the trail crew back out for another week on the GMPB.  We are optimistic that with one more week of work we can complete the Beartrap Creek section of the trail and have the trail smooth and clear of brush between Beartrap Camp and Haddock Saddle.  If you love this trail, want to hike/backpack/ride/run across Pine Mountain or want to support our trail efforts, please click the link below and help us help the forest.  We are hoping to raise $5,000 to restore the GMPB up through Beartrap Creek and could use your help!  Thank you all for your support and we hope to see you on the GMPB sometime soon…..

LPFA SESPE TRAIL CAMPAIGN

Smoother Sailing GMPB Style

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Western Hurricane Deck Trail, probably a little hot at the moment, but we’ll be helping restore this trail come fall…..photo Ryan Anderson, HLP

FOREST 411

• The biggest news across the forest continues to be the proposed Forest Health Project on Pine Mountain.  The FS has extended the public comment period until August 14 and will be hosting a 90-minute virtual public meeting to discuss the proposal on Monday July 20 at 12:30pm.  We’re hoping the public meeting will be recorded and shared through YouTube or something similar, hint hint…..

• Sadly, the Los Padres made many headlines this week with the tragic drowning of Glee star Naya Rivera who was boating at Lake Piru.  Awful story…..

• The Thomas Fire Trail Fund (TF2), which consists of a partnership between the LPFA, SB Trails Council, Sage, The CREW and REI, have continued our work efforts to restore trails damaged by the Thomas Fire.  Collectively we’ve now repaired the Murietta Trail outside of Ojai and it’s in great shape and ready to hike, backpack, ride or run.  Go check it out!

• Speaking of Murietta, we were shocked last weekend when on our way to a Murietta Trail volunteer project we noticed that Matilija Reservoir was empty!  According to the Ventura River blog, the reservoir was drained over July 4 weekend in “response to safety concerns as well as liability resulting from recreational use of the dam site”.  We all knew the reservoir was silted in but it’s quite shocking how much silt is really behind that dam.  It’s a lot!  The Matilija Dam tory is certainly not over, stay tuned….

• We want to extend a warm LPFA welcome to new Mt Pinos District Ranger Karina Gutierrez.  We’ve already worked with Karina on a few projects, including our GMPB trail work, and look forward to many years of continued collaboration.  Cheers Karina……

• On June 17 the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which if approved by Congress and signed by the President will fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide over a billion dollars annually to help restore national parks, conserve land and build playgrounds and parks. This is a historic moment in environmental conservation for the United States and the bill is expected to be approved and signed. To learn more please Google the Great American Outdoors Act.

• For those of you who enjoy Podcasts, the Los Padres appeared in a recent episode of the Dirtbag Diaries entitled Tales of Terror!  Listen if you dare……..

Santa Paula Canyon remains closed through the end of the month.  Since its closure in early May, there have been over a thousand hours dedicated to the removal of graffiti and trash as well as trail restoration along the Santa Paula Canyon Trail.  Lets hope the community recognizes all that effort and behaviors change.  THANK YOU to everyone who has helped with that effort and in particular super duper volunteer and part time LPFA’er Ellie Mora.

• The La Brea Closure order is expected to be extended another year until August 2021.  This is due in large part to the recent restoration decision and additional time needed for implementing the reopening of the area.  More to come on this as well….

• The recreational shooting ban across the Los Padres has been extended another six months until December 31, 2020.  For more information click here.

• Did you know there has been a fire burning under the Fillmore hills for the past decade?  Amazing, read this for more on the incredible thermal anomaly.

• Earlier this month a California condor was spotted in Sequoia National Park for the first time in nearly 50 years.  Isn’t it fantastic seeing and reading about the condors recovery?

• As mentioned in our last update, Sunset Valley Road is expected to be closed at Cachuma Saddle starting August 3 and lasting through the end of October.  During that time there will be two aquatic organism passage bridges built at the Davy Brown Creek crossings below Davy Brown Campground and just above the lower Manzana Trailhead.  There will be no access to NIRA during this time. We’ll be sure to provide more updates and details as they are available.

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Can’t have a July newsletter without a photo of an inviting pool to cool off in, photo David Whitehair

UPCOMING EVENTS

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

July: Adopt-A-Highway, Wheeler Gorge
July 24-26: Alamar Saddle Trail Project, LPFA

August 1: Ojai 1st Saturday, Wheeler Nature Trail, LPFA
Aug 8 – Sep 20: A-Zone South General Deer Season

So Many Trails, Lets Get To It!

TrailsBanner

Greetings Trail Users,

I hope you are having a great week and enjoying the interesting spring-like weather we’ve been experiencing.  Today’s message is a bit different than usual.  I’m not not providing updates or announcing projects but rather asking for your help.  The LPFA has a full slate of trail projects scheduled for the Spring and early Summer and WE NEED YOUR HELP!  We have trail projects in the works ranging from 10-day Working Vacations along the Santa Cruz Trail to 1-day projects down the Cold Spring Trail.  All these projects take time and money.  The LPFA works hard to organize, schedule and complete the work that keeps our trails open.  At the same time we love to provide our trail volunteers with the necessary great food, sharp tools and safety equipment that keep them coming back for more and heading home with smiles on their faces (albeit with sore backs).  I’m reaching out asking for your support as we get started on the busiest and most ambitious season of trail projects and Forest support in the history of the LPFA.  Become a LPFA member and donate to help our trail projects.  Listed at the bottom of this email is a quick list of projects we have in the works for the next few months.  I always say that every little bit of trail work helps, and similarly all the support we can get helps just as much.  Your help is greatly appreciated.

Click the image below and become a LPFA supporter.

Thanks and enjoy your weekend on the trail,

Bryan

LPFASupportForest


  • Hurricane Deck: Schoolhouse towards Potrero Canyon
  • Alamar Hill Trail: Indian Creek up to Loma Pelona
  • Santa Cruz Trail: Little Pine to Santa Cruz Station
  • Santa Cruz Trail: Kellogg Camp to Mission Pine Basin
  • Mission Pine Trail: McKinley Saddle to Mission Pine Basin
  • Cold Spring Trail: Mono to the Emerald Pools
  • Gene Marshall/Piedra Blanca: Reyes Trailhead to Haddock Camp
  • Ranger Peak Trail: Shooting Range towards Peak
  • Franklin Trail: Jameson Lake up towards East Camino Cielo
  • Blue Canyon Trail: Forbush to Escondido Trailhead
  • Upper Sisquoc: TBD (trail report coming soon)
  • Alamar Trail: Alamar Saddle towards Bill Faris
  • Madulce Trail: Buckhorn Rd down to Madulce Camp