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…..
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…..
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• 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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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