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.

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. 

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?