2021 Los Padres Forest Association Accomplishments & Forest Updates

Loving the rain & snow but couldn’t wait for the warm sun while taking this picture, photo LPFA

Hello Friends & Happy Holidays,

We love what we do. We absolutely love helping the Los Padres Forest. We love the work we do restoring trails. We love sharing helpful forest information in these newsletters, on social media, HikeLosPadres and at both Big Sur and Wheeler Gorge Visitor Centers. We love working in support of the Condor Trail. We love working with all of you on volunteer projects. We feel very lucky to share in the responsibility of caring for the mountains, creeks, critters and trails which make the Los Padres what it is today. It’s our turn collectively, all of us, to care for the LP and it means so much to have your support in that effort. December is when we receive the majority of our annual donations and we really really appreciate all the support so many of you offer – we couldn’t do what we love to do without your help. Your help goes far beyond donations as well. This past year the LPFA and our volunteers accounted for nearly 23,000 hours of forest support. That’s amazing, especially since we continue to struggle with COVID related restrictions. THANK YOU and we look forward to continuing our efforts to help the Los Padres in 2022 and beyond. Happy Holidays, stay safe and please find some forest time……

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TOP 10 ACCOMPLISHMENTS FROM 2021
In the spirit of the late night talk shows, we wanted to share our top accomplishments from 2021. In no particular order:

1.  Santa Cruz & Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail Work – Thanks to support from #GivingTuesday2020, we were able to restore over 5 miles of trail along the two National Recreation Trails within the Los Padres National Forest. This included two 10-day volunteer Working Vacations in spring 2021 and three weeks of hired trail crew work. Excellent stuff!

2. Graffiti Removal – Thanks in large part to a generous donation from Louis T, we seriously ramped up our graffiti removal game in 2021 and led close to a dozen graffiti removal projects across the forest. Unfortunately, much more is needed…..

3. Jesusita Fire Trail Work – We partnered with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) in spring 2021 and spent 6 weeks working with one of their crews to maintain many of the trails impacted by the Jesusita Fire including Rattlesnake, Tunnel and Jesusita.

4. Campground Renovations – The LPFA stayed busy this fall working with the Forest Service on some deferred maintenance at some of our favorite campgrounds including Figueroa, Hi Mountain, Happy Hollow and Middle & Lower Camuesa. Work included fixing campsites and installing fences, toilets, firerings and trash collection facilities.

5. North Cold Spring & Blue Canyon Trail Work – Thanks to grant support from the National Forest Foundation, SCE and NFWF, the LPFA was able to spend nearly two months this year working on the very overgrown north Cold Spring and Blue Canyon Trails within the Santa Ynez Mountains. We’re not done yet and have more scheduled in 2022 as well…..

6. Lights Stayed On – Despite another year of COVID craziness and fire related forest closures, we were able to keep Big Sur and Wheeler Gorge Visitor Centers staffed and open to help forest-users. We also kept our Trail Crew going most of the year as well. This might be our most important and impressive accomplishment.

7. Condor Trail – 2021 was a big year for the CT with Brian Sarvis releasing a first ever Condor Trail guide book and the LPFA was able to spend time working many sections of the CT including the upper Sisquoc, Santa Barbara Canyon, Madulce, Piedra Blanca, Hi Valley, Lopez Canyon, Big Falls, Trout Creek and Agua Blanca. Thanks to another successful #GivingTuesday2021, we’ve got much more CT work on the horizon as well…..

8. HLP Revamp –  John Ziegler launched HikeLosPadres over 5 years ago and since then it’s become a crucial resource for anyone venturing into the Los Padres backcountry. We started the process of revamping HLP in 2021 and have much MUCH more to do heading into 2022. This is so exciting and we can’t wait to continue working with JZ on some updates and new features within HLP. Cool stuff….

9. Working Together – 2021 was another great year working with our partners and friends across the Los Padres. They say it takes a village and they might have been wrong, it actually takes a city! Big thanks to all the volunteers, scouts, our friends at the Forest Service and all the organizations across the Los Padres for your continued work.

10. Setting the Table – While 2021 was fantastic, there’s better ahead! We’ve got lots of great work in store for 2022. That being said, we want to hear from you about what other help is needed across the Los Padres and what you all would like to see done. We’ve put together a quick and anonymous survey here, check it out, let us know and THANK YOU!

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Some of our awesome trail volunteers taking a well deserved and scenic lunch break along the upper Red Reef Trail, December 2021

FOREST 411

• The big news across the forest is of course the rain and snow we’ve been getting and are scheduled to get over the coming week. Right now rain totals across the forest are well over our average and things are looking good heading into 2022. Remember that the current fire restrictions don’t expire until 12/31/2021.

• Quick reminder that Sunset Valley Road, NIRA and Davy Brown Campgrounds remain closed due to bridge construction. You can see a photo of some of the bridge construction below.

• With all the rain and storms comes inevitable downed trees, slides and other trail damage. If you come across any significant trail damage, please let us know, post to HLP, contact the Forest Service or reach out to your local trail organization. We collectively can’t repair the trails if we don’t know they’re damaged. People or objects used for scale within photos are always appreciated as well. THANKS!

• We had a successful #GivingTuesday2021 and as a result we will be scheduling a few weeks of work this season on the Alder Creek Trail within the Sespe Wilderness. GREAT NEWS and long overdue – thanks everyone for the support!

• Along with the cold and rain of course comes coffee and the need for good coffee. Outside Magazine recently wrote an article about the best methods of preparing coffee, check it out…..

• The Forest Service recently revised and extended the forest closure associated with the 16,790 acre Alisal Fire through April 30, 2022. Contact the FS for details or see link here. Note, this closure includes the Baron Ranch trails and Arroyo Quemado Trail.

• In case you missed it, our heroic and inspirational Los Padres gray wolf OR-93 was tragically killed in late November while trying to cross I-5 near the town of Lebec. OR-93 was big news and certainly the story of the year across the Los Padres. You can read more here and here.

• Highway 1 through southern Monterey County and northern SLO County continues to have proactive storm related closures. Basically CalTrans closes Hwy 1 during large storm events in order to protect people from potential slides. If you’re headed that way, be sure to check with CalTrans before you go…..

• Most of the seasonal gates across the Los Padres have now been closed due to all the recent rain and snow. We can’t list all the seasonal gates here but it’s never a bad idea to check with the Forest Service or email us ahead of time before venturing towards your trailhead of choice.

• A team from UCSB and the Forest Service recently completed a study of stream impacts and aquatic species repopulation related to wildfire. It’s a good article if interested, check it out here.

• The Forest Service will be hosting a Women in Wildfire Basic Training Camp this spring in the Santa Barbara area. Check this link for more information, this is a great program.

• In case you missed it earlier, we’re looking for feedback from you about what we can do and what help is needed across the Los Padres. If you’re reading this, you probably have an opinion, please share, we’d love to hear from you! It’s anonymous.

• Super volunteer Ellie Mora Jefferies was recognized by the Forest Service earlier this month for her tremendous contributions across the Los Padres. Ellie was awarded the Regional Foresters COVID-19 Pandemic Response Hero award in recognition for her efforts specifically restoring Santa Paula Canyon. Woot woot Ellie, so well deserved – congratulations.

• Lots going on and lots to share, hope we didn’t lose you. That being said, if you appreciate the work the LPFA does in sharing this information and our help across the forest, please consider donating to help us continue helping you and the forest. Click this link for more information, thank you!

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Where’s that confounded bridge? Fish passage bridge construction just before NIRA, see it?, photo LPNF

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!

January 2: Agua Blanca Trail Maintenance
January 6-10: Red Reef Trail – Sespe Creek, LPFA
January 14: Figueroa Mountain Trail Work, LPFA
January 15: LPFA Member/Volunteer PARTY!
January 18: Horn Canyon Trail Work, LPFA
January 20: Medicinal Herbs w/ Lanny Kaufer, SB Library
January 22: West Cuesta Trail Work, CCCMB

February 5: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training
February 17: LPFA Backcountry Update Presentation, SB Library

March – April: Fundamentals of Backpacking Course, LPFA
March 26 – April 3: Alder Creek Working Vacation – Sespe, LPFA
April 22 – May 2: Red Reef Working Vacation – Ladybug Camp, LPFA
May 14-23: Indian Creek Working Vacation – Meadow Camp, LPFA
November 5-13, 2022: South Fork Working Vacation – San Rafael Wilderness, LPFA

Los Padres Forest Association
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August Updates

The best oak frames can’t be bought at Aaron Brothers! Camuesa Peak, August 2021

Hello Friends, 

We hope you had a nice weekend and despite the heat and ever increasing lack of water, found some Los Padres exploration time. We always love seeing your photos of shaded trails, higher elevation peaks, and secret oases that many of you post on social media (remember to tag us!), email, or share on Hike Los Padres. Thank you as always and please keep sending them in, they are fantastic to see! As you know, there is rarely a dull moment here in the Los Padres and we’ve got some more news to share below including new closures, new characters, the onset of A-Zone hunting season and of course some upcoming events and projects that you no doubt can’t wait to hear about. Pins and needles for sure. Thanks everyone for following along and let’s get to it!

A-ZONE GENERAL HUNTING SEASON

We’re expecting another busy A-Zone deer season across most of the Los Padres. A-Zone starts Saturday August 14 and lasts through Sunday September 26. During A-Zone you can expect most of the forest roads and trailheads to be quite busy, especially on opening weekend. Hunters and forest recreationalists usually get along fine, but it is certainly busier than normal at many of the normally un-busy locations. Good luck and be safe! 

HOT OFF THE PRESS: 

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!

SUNSET VALLEY – NIRA CLOSURE

While this isn’t new news, we have heard complaints from quite a few people who didn’t realize the extent of the Sunset Valley Road Closure. Effective July 31, Sunset Valley Road and the Catway OHV (Old Catway) are closed due to bridge construction and repaving. The closure is expected to remain in effect until the end of March 2022 and includes both NIRA and Davy Brown Campgrounds. We realize this is going to impact a bunch of your recreational plans. For more information please click here.

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FOREST 411

  • NEW CHIEF OF US FOREST SERVICE: Randy Moore, former head of the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region in Vallejo, CA., was recently named chief of the U.S. Forest Service by President Biden. Moore, who will become the first African-American to lead Forest Service, will oversee twice as much land as all national parks. “Randy has been a conservation leader on the forefront of climate change, most notably leading the region’s response to the dramatic increase in catastrophic wildfires in California over the last decade,” said Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service. Randy takes the reins as previous Chief Vicki Christiansen will retire from federal service in August after a 40 year career in forestry. We are excited to see what a Californian Forest Service leader will do for the Forest Service. Congratulations, Randy!
  • CURRENT DOLAN & WILLOW FIRE CLOSURES: The Forest Service has made a few revisions to the the fire closures within the Monterey Ranger District for the 2020 Dolan Fire and the 2021 Willow Fire. If you’re headed in that direction, be sure to familiarize yourself with what is and is not open. Thanks!
  • CONDOR NEWS: 2020 was a difficult year for many populations, including the endangered CA Condor. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported 42 condor deaths in 2020, including 34 in California. That’s nearly triple the dozen deaths recorded in the state a year earlier.” While lead poisoning was the number one cause of death for condors in CA, the Dolan Fire in Big Sur was a close second. You can support the care and protection of condors through the Ventana Wildlife Society and/or Friends of the California Condor.
  • ROSE VALLEY LAKES PROJECT: 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. 
  • TARGET SHOOTING BAN EXTENDED: The ongoing and increasing danger of wildfire prompted Los Padres National Forest officials to extend the recreational shooting ban on forest lands for six months, until Jan. 31, 2022. Recreational target shooting is prohibited in all areas of the National Forest except in the two shooting ranges under special use permit: Winchester Canyon Gun Club and Ojai Valley Gun Club; however, hunting with a valid State of California hunting license during open hunting season is exempt from this restriction.
Taped-off fire rings and BBQs along the Buckhorn road campsites
  • LPFA VOLUNTEERS PREP FOR HUNTING SEASON: With intense fire restrictions in place and A-Zone hunting season starting later this week, LPFA volunteers drove out along the Buckhorn Road to place flagging over the fire rings, post the current fire restrictions along all the camps and trailheads between Upper Oso and Alamar Saddle, and check the status of the locked gates. Meanwhile, another group of volunteers headed out to the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation Area to do fire clearance at the campgrounds and day-use areas and helped the FS remove an old, broken sign. Many thanks to our amazing volunteers! Want to get involved? Email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org
  • DISPERSED CAMPING ETIQUETTE: While one of the best thing about the Los Padres is the ability to find great dispersed camping, there definitely are some unspoken rules for how to make sure you are enjoying yourself while being respectful to others and nature. Check out the Dispersed Campers Guide to Etiquette before you head out on your next adventure. Getting out in the forest around the New Moon is a great time to practice your night photography skills
  • WHEELER GORGE VISITOR CENTER: We are open every weekend in summer, helping forest users by providing information and supplies. The Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail was also recently been worked by our LPFA volunteers and our photo contest to find a new cover for the brochure reprint resulted in some beautiful photography! Come on by! 
  • WELCOME FOREST SERVICE STAFF TO SBRD: The LPFA would like to extend a warm welcome to new District Ranger Daryl Hodges and Recreation Technician Alyssa Thornburg for the Santa Barbara Ranger District! We are so excited to have you on board, welcome to the SBRD!
  • SLO LAND PURCHASE & FOREST TRANSFER: The Wilderness Land Trust has just purchased 148 acres of private land to be transferred to the Los Padres National Forest near Hi Mountain and the Santa Lucia Wilderness. This purchase will provide an important wildlife connection between the existing Santa Lucia Wilderness and a proposed wilderness to the northeast, and is also a key link to the planned California Condor Trail, a 400-mile route connecting the southern and northern parts of the Los Padres National Forest.
  • CHERRY CREEK CLOSED: Due to the road being damaged and overgrown, the gate at Cherry Creek Road in the Ojai Ranger District will remain closed until it can be repaired. While you can’t drive on the road, it remains open for hikers and bicycles. Contact the FS with questions.
  • LA BREA CLOSURE RENEWED: The existing closure of the La Brea Fire Area has been renewed and extended. This includes the closure of the La Brea Road between Buckhorn and down to the bottom of Rattlesnake Canyon. We’ll share the official closure order next time or through social media.

Sunset Valley Road Closure: Cachuma Saddle to NIRA 2021-2022

CLOSED: Sunset Valley Road from Cachuma Saddle to NIRA, both NIRA and Davy Brown Campgrounds and the Old Catway OHV road / trail will be closed from July 30, 2021 through March 30, 2022

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 Davy Brown 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…

In order to construct the bridges, the Forest Service will need to close both Sunset Valley Road and the Catway OHV (Old Catway) to all traffic including vehicles, bikes and hikers and as a result of the closure, both Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds will be closed.

READ THE CLOSURE ORDER HERE

The Arizona crossings at Davy Brown (left) & Lower Manzana (right)

While the initial reaction after hearing about this closure has been overwhelmingly negative, the long-term effects from the closure will be very positive. Obviously the bridges will greatly benefit fish passage along the Davy Brown, in addition the bridges will improve year-round access to NIRA and as an added bonus the Forest Service will be repaving Sunset Valley Road during the construction as well. This repaving might be worth it all by itself as that road has won the distinguished honor as the “worst road in the Los Padres” over the past couple years due to car-eating potholes.

The infamous first crossing of the Manzana. Pack up, walk 100ft, take your boots off….

NIRA is closed? Now what…..???

NIRA and the Lower Manzana is the main gateway to the San Rafael Wilderness and by far the busiest backcountry trailhead in Santa Barbara County, if not the entire Los Padres National Forest. There is no doubt that 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 as well as Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds for somewhat easy and remote car-camping.

Forest-users tend to have favorite trails and camps that they revisit frequently and while that is terrific, this might be a good excuse to find a new favorite spot or search out that peak, camp or trail you’ve always wanted to visit. There are certainly plenty of other backcountry trailheads, trails and campgrounds worth exploring. We’re very fortunate in the Los Padres to have miles and miles of backcountry trails for all fitness and experience levels and quite a few other remote campgrounds worthy of loading up the larger tents and coolers.

If you have any questions about what other spots to check out, WE’D BE HAPPY TO HELP: check out HikeLosPadres or email us at INFO@LPForest.org and we can suggest a variety of trails and camps based on the time of year, what you are hoping to find and of course any of the current forest restrictions or closures.

And for those willing to hike the extra mile and push through some extra brush, just think how uncrowded the Narrows and Horseshoe Bend will be this year……

Springtime at NIRA, it’ll be here before we know it…….

Thankful Los Padres Givings

Kids + Trail + Forest + Time to Explore = Next Generation of Los Padres Lovers

Hello Friends – Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Throughout the year we hear so much negative noise circulating around the forest.  The media regularly shares articles about what is not working in the Los Padres, the latest forest-related lawsuits, illegal pot grows, destructive wildfires, closures and photos of damaged forest land.  While it’s critically important to stay aware of all these ‘negatives’ and work to prevent unwanted change, it’s just as critically important to revisit why we love the Los Padres and what ‘positives’ are happening around the forest.  It can’t all be negative.  In fact, for every negative we hear, there are dozens of positives across the forest that are most likely not being heard.  It’s easy to leave negative feedback or write a bad review, lets flip that script and instead focus on some of the really cool, helpful and inspiring people, organizations and programs that are working to benefit the forest.  What better time of the year to focus on the positives than Thanksgiving and the Holidays, right?
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FRANKLIN TRAIL
A group of mainly Carpinteria based trail-lovers have been working the past decade to reopen, construct and restore the historic/new Franklin Trail in the hills above Carpinteria.  Unfortunately, here in the Los Padres we don’t hear the words ‘construct’, ‘new’ and ‘trail’ in the same sentence too often.  The idea of bringing the Franklin Trail back from the dead must have seemed farfetched but that didn’t stop the Carp trail community from making it happen.  They got organized, formed an organization called Friends of Franklin Trail, raised funds and worked with the Forest Service to get their dream off the ground.  The Santa Barbara County Trails Council with the guidance of Ray Ford took the lead on the trail design and with the help of countless volunteers and trail stewards they were successful in getting the Franklin Trail back on the map.  If you’ve not explored the Franklin Trail, put it on your list, do it this week if you can – it’s spectacular!  And even more spectacular is how the community of Carpinteria has embraced the trail.  Franklin has become a source of pride for Carpinteria and the local trail-users actively work to keep the trail maintained and improved.  A great example is the 3rd Annual Franklin Trail Turkey Trot where trail-users are sponsored and get donations for each time they use the trail in November which has raised thousands of dollars to continue work on their beloved Franklin Trail.  If you’re interested, the Turkey Trot Celebration is this Friday 12/1 at Island Brewing in Carpinteria.  This example of a community dreaming of more trails, organizing, working with the Forest Service, successfully reestablishing a trail and staying engaged to maintain that trail is an incredible accomplishment.  Big thanks to everyone involved and lets hope other communities can follow this Franklin Trail blueprint in order to build new trails in their neck of the forest as well.
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Recently Restored Tinta Trail

VOLUNTEER TRAIL WORK

Trails are the main artery used by people to access and enjoy the Los Padres Forest.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a birdwatcher, a mountain biker, a hunter or a backpacker; you’ll be using some of the over 1,200 miles of Los Padres trails to get where you want to be.  Unfortunately, Los Padres trails are some of the most difficult to maintain.  Chaparral grows so fast, needing to be worked every year or two.  Trees fall across the trails and fires can alter the trail landscape for the better part of a decade.  So how are the trails kept open?  The Forest Service oversees trail maintenance but most of the boots on the ground efforts come from the numerous Los Padres non-profit trail organizations and the the volunteers who work with these groups.  If you’ve not taken a day or a weekend to volunteer on a trail project, you have to find a way to make that happen.  You’d be surprised at how much fun a day of hard work along the trails can be.  It’s a chance to meet like-minded friends, get outside in the forest and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel on your way out is what keeps people coming back for more.  The LPFA alone accounted for over 12,000 volunteer hours this past year and there are many other great trail groups up and down the Los Padres who host regular trail projects as well.  Get involved if you can, volunteer, give back to the trails you use and love, you won’t be disappointed.  Check the calendar of projects below and sign up for a project near you.

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HPS Sierra Club Volunteers, photo Mark Allen – Patagonia Volunteers, photo Aanjelae Rhoads

VOLUNTEER GROUP WORK
Another great way to get out and volunteer in the Los Padres is by organizing your company, organization and/or friends to maintain or adopt a Los Padres trail.  There are fantastic examples of companies providing an option for their employees to spend a “service day” working on a trail.  Sort of like a Habitat For Humanity but instead of building homes they’re maintaining trails.  It’s a great way to get outside, often times your company will pay for your service day and trail work is a fantastic team-building exercise as well.  This format also works for groups or organizations who use the forest but aren’t trained in trail maintenance.  Student organizations from university’s and High Schools have also come together to help the forest.  A great example is the Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai which sends students out each year to help for a weekend around Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  The VWA has also had great success getting school groups involved with their programs.  There are great examples of groups and companies up and down the forest partnering with all the usual Los Padres volunteer organizations.  Get involved.  Sign up your company, your church group, your friends – you’ll have a great time and will be helping the forest with a smile on your face.  For more information check with your local Los Padres Ranger District of email INFO@LPForest.org.
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Just Another Cuyama Peak Sunrise

SCOUT PROJECTS
There have been some really great scout projects across the Los Padres over the past year or two.  While the forest has benefited from just about all levels of scouting, the most popular service project is an Eagle Project where the scout performs a larger scale project for the benefit of the community, or in this case the Los Padres Forest.  We’ve seen scouts restore and replace forest signs, rebuild and clean damaged forest structures, maintain campsites and create educational material designed to teach forest-users how to properly recreate in the forest.  The LPFA has had the pleasure of working with a few of these scouts and it’s so refreshing seeing a teenager take a concept, formulate an idea, develop a plan and then execute on that plan.  Scouting projects are a great way to get younger people involved with the forest while at the same time providing a tangible outcome that benefits the forest.  Very cool program!  If you know any scouts who might want to tackle a forest-related project, contact your local Ranger District or email INFO@LPForest.org for ideas and assistance.

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Three Concrete Crossings along Davy Brown & Munch Creeks

FOREST 411
• The Forest Service announced last week that longtime Los Padres employee Tony Martinez has been appointed the new Mt Pinos District Ranger.  Welcome and congratulations Ranger Martinez!  For more information click here.

• The Los Padres National Forest, in conjunction with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is working on a proposal to improve aquatic organism passage along Munch and Davy Brown Creeks by removing three concrete water crossings and replacing two of them with bridges.  If you’ve ever driven Sunset Valley Road to NIRA, the two main crossings are between Davy Brown Campground and the lower Manzana Trailhead.  See attached document for specifics.  The Forest Service will be hosting an open house to discuss this proposal on November 30, 4-6pm at the Santa Lucia District Office in Santa Maria.

• The LPFA 2018 Los Padres wall calendars are going to the printer later this week.  They cost only $15 but will provide you a years worth of priceless Los Padres vistas, scenery, wildlife and stoke!  Get em while you can, you can order them here.

Brookshire, La Panza and Miranda Pine Campgrounds are currently closed as older pit toilets are removed and replaced with new vault toilets.  See here for more information, they are expected to be closed for 3-4 more weeks.

Condors continue their remarkable recovery as four new juvenile condors will be released into the San Simeon flock by the end of the year.

• There was an interesting article posted in the SLO New Times earlier this month discussing recent wildlife population trends and how those trends relate to drought, agriculture and changes in hunting restrictions.  It’s a good read.

• Due to potential storm related closures, camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park will become first-come first-serve only starting December 1, 2017 and lasting through April 30, 2018.

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The Epic Thorn Point View, and getting there is more than half the fun!

Lost Valley Trail Maintenance Working Vacation

Lost Valley Trail Maint. Working Vacation

Los Padres Forest Association        

April 8th – April 17th 2016

 

Trip Purpose – The main purpose of this trip was to perform brushing and tread-work in the areas heavily covered in brush. Remove debris slides and cut out and remove the estimated 10 downed trees blocking the Lost Valley Trail from the lower trailhead starting at the Lost Valley/Manzana trail intersection and ending at the Hurricane Deck trail intersection. This trail took heavy debris damage during the August 2015 thunderstorms.

Water Conditions – Water conditions were about as expected considering 5 years of drought. The creek bed had some wet areas in the lower 2 miles. The dependable wet area, ¾ miles below twin oaks, was wet and vulture springs was trickling. Packers brought us water for camp every other day or so.

Weather Conditions – We experienced rain the first 3 days of the project and stayed at NIRA, then moved camp to Twin Oaks and finished the project from there. The remaining 7 days were mostly clear with highs in the high 70’s and low 80’s.

Description of Work/Surveys Accomplished

Project Overview

  1. Bucked out 10 fallen trees along the entire Lost Valley Trail.
  2. With the total length of the Lost Valley Trail being about 8 miles, we cleared the first 5 miles to Vulture Springs to full LPFA standard. We also completely cleared the remaining 3 miles from Vulture Springs to hurricane deck of all trees and heavy brushing and worked on tread areas in problem spots.

Trip Overview – This 10-day working vacation was originally planned for the Madulce Trail. However, rainy weather during the first few days, caused concern for getting pack animals safely in and out of camp and up the infamous heartbreak hill.

So we moved the project to the Lost Valley Trail, which sustained heavy damage during the August 2015 thunderstorms. That particular weather event brought down trees and debris slides, making the trail nearly impassable to hikers.

We car-camped the first 3 days of the project at NIRA while working on the first few miles of the Lost Valley Trail. After the weather cleared, and the remaining work was farther up the trail, we moved to Twin Oaks Camp to continue our efforts.

The trip was very successful overall, especially as an alternate to the original plan. Each day we broke into several teams, performing brushing, tread-work and/or tree removal as needed.

Future Projects for the area – The remaining 3 miles, from Vulture springs to hurricane deck, need to be completed to Full LPFA standard. A multi-day trip, with workers staying at cowboy camp and packers bringing water to camp, will make working this section feasible. This will allow us to work on the East Hurricane deck section simultaneously.

Backcountry users observed in the area – We observed several groups of day-hikers and backpackers in the Manzana trail and NIRA camp areas. On the final day of the project, a couple of backpackers who hiked the middle-deck loop mentioned that they were very pleased to hike a freshly worked Lost Valley Trail.