Tar Creek and Biddle Park

Thunder Clouds in April
What season is it…?  It’s been rather hard to figure that out of late.  This past week we had June gloom, temps in the high 80’s, rain, wind, showers and most surprisingly some rather large summer’esque thunderheads.  There’s been reports from around the Forest that most of the backcountry potreros have turned brown and that the poison oak is already starting to turn red.  We’ve also heard of springs going dry that haven’t done so in decades.  The creeks are still flowing due to the marginal rain season we’ve had but the deep springs are going dry as a result of the 4 years of drought we’re enduring.  That has flipped compared to what we had last year where the creeks were dry but the springs had water.  It’s going to get real interesting once summer truly kicks in and the creeks go dry.  Water will be real scarce.  Until then, almost all the creeks have water at the moment so get it while you can.We’ve got a couple updates and notes to share today.  As always, if you have any information to share, we are more than happy to spread the news……….
T A R   C R E E K   C L O S U R E
There are quite a few designations for protected lands within the Los Padres.  These include wilderness areas, biological and botanical reserves, recreation areas and Condor Sanctuaries. Of all the designations, the one that offers the most protection is the Condor Sanctuaries. Protected and enforced by federal law, Condor Sanctuaries prohibit any human entry onto those lands. There are two Condor Sanctuaries in the Los Padres, the larger being the Sespe Condor Sanctuary in Ventura County. Back before the sanctuary was designated in the mid 1900’s, people would access lower Sespe Creek along a road that dropped down the Tar Creek drainage through what is today the Sespe Condor Sanctuary. When the sanctuary was established, the road was obviously closed. While people stopped driving the road, it was not completely abandoned. The road transitioned into an unofficial trail and continued to be used by recreationalists seeking the water along Tar Creek and the Sespe. This went on for decades even though it was technically illegal to enter the Condor Sanctuary. Unfortunately, over time, Tar Creek gained a bit of a cult following due to its spectacular waterfalls, cliffs and pools. You might say it got discovered – word spread – and it became overrun. Loads of trash, bottle-caps and broken glass accumulated throughout the creek. Sadly, the poop hit the fan in 2009 when a condor was found dead in Tar Creek after getting caught up in some abandoned climbing rope. Not okay. The sanctuary was designed to protect the condor yet it obviously was not working. Something had to give, and now it has. The Forest Service is now enforcing the closure of the Condor Sanctuary and ticketing people who pass along Tar Creek within the Condor Sanctuary. This has been going on for the past months and quite a few tickets have been issued. “Violators are subject to a penalty of $5,000 and/or six months in jail”. You can browse the world wide web and find all sorts of information about the Tar Creek closure and how its being perceived by the public. The Forest Service has created a page that explains the plight of the condor and the closure of Tar Creek, linked here:
G I B R A L T A R   C L O S E D

Speaking of closures, for those who have plans to access East Camino Cielo and the Upper Santa Ynez River area within SB County, we have some either good or bad news for you. Gibraltar Rd, which is the main artery for accessing this portion of the forest, is closed for repaving and will remain closed until May 25. This is certainly great long term news for cyclists, who will eventually have fresh pavement to ride, but in the short term the closure may put a damper on some of your backpacking, OHV and camping plans. You can still access East Camino via 154 or Painted Cave.  The bad news is that for South Coasters it means a much longer drive, good news is that the crowds should not be an issue for those willing to take the longer drive.  We’ll keep you posted as the project moves on.


Come join the Los Padres Unit of the Backcountry Horsemen of California and the Condor Trail Association as they host a Wilderness Celebration to raise awareness and fund-raise to build a new trail segment called the Garcia Potrero reroute.  The “trail” through Garcia Potrero has some private property issues and the hope is to build a new section of trail that bypasses the private property.  This is also along the Condor Trail.
The celebration is Saturday May 2 from 11am – 2pm at Biddle Park (Willow Bluff Area) in Arroyo Grande.
There will be Santa Maria Style BBQ, live music, beer, wine, displays, booths and kids activities.  IT WILL BE FUN.  See below for more information.Hope to see you there……….
April 17-26: Working Vacation Upper Sisquoc
May 2: Garcia Potrero Wilderness Celebration
June 5-7: National Trails Day, Mono Campground Trail Weekend
June 27: Big Sur Wilderness Celebration


Logging in progress, Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, Photo Rik