Fire Restrictions, Trail work Updates & Volunteer Opportunities

Just Another Mission Pine Sunrise
Photo by Conor Watson

Hello Friends,

While the green of Spring certainly has felt short-lived this year, with 100% of the state of CA experiencing drought and 41 (out of 58) counties experiencing a drought emergency, we were glad to get out in the Los Padres to enjoy all the brief but beautiful spring moments we could. After our Santa Cruz Working Vacation at the beginning of May, we have stayed busy with work on the North Cold Spring trail, Mission Pine Trail, Blue Canyon Trail, Little Falls Trail and more work on the Santa Cruz Trail, and are headed out this next week to Beartrap camp to tackle sections of the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail for our next Working Vacation.

With the low rainfall the state has seen this year, we were not surprised when the Forest Service announced Fire Restrictions on backcountry campfires that went into effect earlier this week. No open fires, campfires or charcoal fires will be permitted outside of developed recreation sites or designated Campfire Use Sites, even with a valid California Campfire Permit. Lanterns and regular gas camping and backpacking stoves will be permitted, but only with a valid California Campfire Permit, which are available free-of-charge on the Forest website. We cannot stress enough the importance of adhering to these campfire restrictions, and in general the importance of fire safety during these dry, dry times. The state is gearing up for an intense fire season and while most of the Southern CA counties were not included in the emergency drought proclamation from the governor’s office, it is on all of us to make sure that the lands we cherish remain safe from human-caused fires. Please be safe, follow the rules and do your part to help protect your Los Padres National Forest. We all love a good campfire, but it’s definitely not worth the risk. Besides, camping without a fire can definitely be fun and a great way to connect to different aspects of nature at night. There are lots of great things that camping without fire can include, like more time for stargazing, playing cards or music, listening to the sounds of nature, and getting some extra sleep! Enjoy your time in the forest and let’s all stay safe! 

SANTA CRUZ WORKING VACATION PT 2

Weather permitting, we’ll be headed back out to Santa Cruz Guard Station the week of June 12-20 to continue work on the Santa Cruz Trail. This time we’ll be based at Santa Cruz and working up towards Little Pine along the legendary “40 Mile Wall”. Most of the work will be cutting tread until it gets too warm and then retreating to spend the hotter hours relaxing under the oaks or in the nearby Santa Cruz Creek pools. The exact dates will be weather dependent and we’d love to have any of you help out and join the fun. If interested in either signing up or to get some more information, please email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org. We will be driving in to Santa Cruz Station – hope to see you out there!

Volunteers relaxing at the Santa Cruz Guard Station, May ’21. Photo by Marianne Henry

Forest 411 

  • Senator Alex Padilla introduced companion legislation to Representative Carbajal’s Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives in February. This bill will protect special places in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument for their ecological, cultural, and recreational values. Rep. Carbajal’s bill will also designate the Condor Trail as a National Scenic Trail. The senate version also prohibits future oil drilling in certain places, improves equitable access to the outdoors, and benefits local and statewide economies. Thank you Senator Padilla and Rep. Carbajal! 
      
  • Condor populations are healthily growing and expanding their range! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced a new initiative that calls for releasing four or six juvenile condors each year for 20 years throughout Redwood National Park, which is about an hour’s drive from the Oregon border. Partnering with the Yoruk tribe, conservationists hope to boost populations of these endangered birds, which suffered great losses during the Dolan fire. Good luck, condors! 
      
  • 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. 
      
  • Volunteers are returning again this year as citizen smoke watchers at the 92-year-old Chews Ridge lookout tower south of Carmel. This commanding vantage point has given spotters the ability to detect and quickly report new wildfire starts before they get large and destructive. If you’re interested in becoming a Chews Ridge volunteer, visit the Chews Ridge Fire Lookout FB page or email Scott at PalomarTowers@gmail.com for more information.
      
  • LPFA-Operated Visitor Centers are open and ready to help you navigate the Los Padres! With Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center serving the Southern Los Padres and Big Sur Station serving the North, our visitor centers are a great place to stop before you head into the forest. Come by to learn about the ecology of the area, pick up a map and supplies, or get your Los Padres-related questions answered by our friendly staff and volunteers. LPFA members receive a 15% discount on all purchases (exception for Adventures Passes) at Los Padres Ranger Stations and Visitor Centers. 
      
  • Graffiti removal efforts have been advanced by local Boy Scouts. Members of Troop 26 helped remove over 30 pieces of graffiti on Tunnel Trail in the SB Frontcountry. Great work, Scouts! We hate to see graffiti in the forest, so please let us know if you find any – email INFO@LPForest.org
Member of Troop 26 helping remove graffiti. Photo by Paul Weakliem

Volunteer Opportunities 

  • National Trail Day is coming up on June 5th! This is a great day to give back to and enjoy the many trails we love. Click here to find a volunteer event near you! 
      
  • SB County Parks & Recreation is hosting a National Trail Day event on June 12th at Tunnel & Jesusita Trails. Email Sbiddle@SantaBarbaraCA.gov to RSVP and get more information. 
      
  • Volunteer Trailhead Ambassadors Needed for the popular Pine Ridge Trailhead in Big Sur! Trailhead Ambassadors will help visitors understand how they can enjoy the public lands of the Big Sur coast safely and responsibly. To learn more, please email toan@ventanawild.org
      
  • SBRD Biologist Valerie Hubbard is seeking volunteers for noxious weed removal. The initial work would include mapping high priority weeds on the East Camino Cielo and also manually treating spotted knapweed. Future work might be assisting with herbicide treatment of tamarisk in the Santa Ynez River, manual treatment of yellow star thistle on Zaca Ridge road, manual treatment of pampas grass on the Happy Canyon allotment, manual treatment of medusahead grass at Happy Hollow camp and mapping and manual treatment of yellow star thistle on the Buckhorn road. Email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org to get involved! 
      
  • Help collect seed to restore areas invaded by Spanish broom along East Camino Cielo in Santa Barbara! Saturday volunteer seed collection dates are: 5/22, 6/5, 6/19, 7/10, 7/24, and 8/7. There are sign-up 10 slots for each date, with a limited number of vehicles allowed to park along East Camino Cielo Road. We will announce additional dates for the fall. Please email Josie Lesage at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (jlesage@sbbg.org) to sign up.
The LPFA Trail Crew in Action

The work we do would not be possible without the support of our community! Please consider donating or becoming a member of the LPFA to help ensure that we can continue to care for the Los Padres National Forest. 

A Quick Guide to Help Parents Combat Nature-Deficit Disorder

Photo by Laura Marks on Unsplash

While nature conservancy and various environmental organizations continue to take steps to curb nature-deficit disorder, parents often still feel at a loss in how to help their children connect. Not every child is born into a family that hikes or camps regularly, and then there’s the struggle with limiting screen time since most kids are loath to put away their devices.

To help kids connect with nature more, especially if you’re a family that isn’t particularly outdoorsy, it’s going to take some creative thinking and some exploration on everyone’s part. And it’s also going to require parents to let go a little. This means allowing your kids to climb a tree, go for a hike or find ways to help them connect with animal life. If you find the right activities, you can all get comfortable with nature and learn to enjoy the great outdoors.

The Los Padres Forest Association is dedicated to protecting the Los Padres Forest so that it stays safe and open for people to enjoy. Learn about our volunteering opportunities!

Children Need to Spend More Time Outdoors

Learn about the risks of too much time inside and why your kids should spend more time in nature.

Connecting Kids to Nature: We Need to Get Childhood Back Outside

Nature Deficit Disorder Has Real Consequences

Kids Need Adventure – Parents Need to Teach Them How

Backyard Fun

To start enjoying the benefits of nature, all you and your family need to do is open the door and step outside.

Parents — Stop Worrying and Let Your Children Climb Trees!

14 Easy Ways to Make Your Backyard More Fun

How to Identify Different Types of Trees

Birding 101: Get Started Birding With Kids

How to Safely Observe Wildlife from Your Home

Set Up an Adventure!

Time in the backyard is great, but you can really immerse yourself in nature with these ideas.

Volunteer with the Los Padres Forest Association!

Preparing for Your First Family Hike
A Beginner’s Guide to Family Camping
7 Rules for Teaching Kids to Fish the Right Way

This list is barely the tip of the iceberg on ways to help your family connect with nature. It might be a little uncomfortable at first, but don’t let a bad encounter or experience turn you off. Be open-minded and try everything. Before you know it, you’ll all be avid outdoor enthusiasts.

Article by Jenny Miller – StopNND.org

Hindsight is 2020

The sun sets early over the Mono Jungle this time of year but we’ve spent many long days of late working the new Cold Spring reroute trail.

Hello Friends,

As we near the end of 2020, the saying ‘Hindsight is 20/20’ has never been more applicable or felicitous. While 2020 will live in infamy for so many reasons (no LPFA Working Vacations – BOO), we sure hope it hasn’t been without at least a few silver linings.  Looking back, COVID hit and we saw record numbers of people visiting the forest. At the time, it was overwhelming and many of the trailheads, camps, creeks and canyons were inundated with people seeking time outside. While the infrastructure wasn’t ready for this onslaught, the silver lining was that people were getting out and enjoying the forest.  Of course, it would have been nice had many of these people known more about Leave No Trace, forest etiquette or been better at dispersing, but at the same time, let’s hope that these people, in particular the forest newbies, were able to establish an appreciation for the outdoors and that they continue to carry that appreciation with them into the future. We can teach the curious, but we can’t teach curiosity. Life will get back to the next newest normal and group activities will commence again, but we have to believe that the world is a better place with as many people appreciating nature as possible. Maybe, if we’re lucky, that will be a positive lasting legacy when looking back, hindsight on 2020.  

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Thanks to everyone who donated on #GivingTuesday to continue the LPFA trail work on both the Santa Cruz and Piedra Blanca NRT’s.  We got started earlier this month clearing brush and grooming tread on the Santa Cruz Trail (see photos below) but had to stop due to the latest Stay at Home Order. Can’t wait to get back out there, hopefully soon!

LOS PADRES UPDATE

California issued the latest regional COVID Stay at Home Order on December 6 and shortly thereafter the Forest Service released additional forest related regional closures and restrictions. While the forest remains open, all developed campgrounds across the Los Padres will be closed through January 6, 2021.  Here’s a list of the developed Los Padres campgrounds, in general they are the ones you might consider car-campgrounds. That being said, the trails, trailheads, picnic areas, day use areas, OHV routes and dispersed camping remain open for us to enjoy across most of the forest.

The Monterey Ranger District remains closed due to unsafe conditions as a result of the Dolan Fire. This closure is expected to last until the Dolan Fire is 100% contained which is dependent on getting more rain. This is a bit of a conundrum, as more rain should lead to the full containment of the Dolan Fire, but it’s that same rain that causes more unsafe conditions in and around recent burn scars. It’s likely that once the Dolan Fire reaches full containment, the Forest Service will keep the fire scar closed, but reopen other parts of the District. Time will tell and please remain patient. We need rain….

An additional closure was extended for the Pine Ridge Trail which is also within the Monterey Ranger District. This most recent closure lasts through May 21, 2021. A quick little backstory, the Pine Ridge Trail was severely damaged in the 2016 Soberanes Fire and subsequent 2017 storms.  The Ventana Wilderness Alliance has been working with the Forest Service to restore the trail but have had unforeseen 2020 COVID related and fire delays that have pushed the reopening back. From what we hear, the trail is looking great to a certain point but a few more weeks of work is needed. Hang in there…..

And last but not least, the regional fire restrictions remain in place through December 31, 2020 for the Los Padres NF. Again, this means no campfires anywhere and the use of camp stoves only at developed campfire use sites, which are mostly closed due to the above mentioned COVID closures. We have come full circle….  While the northern Los Padres has seen some rain, there has been very little rain across most of the forest. Santa Barbara is currently at 2% of County-Wide Percent-of-Normal Rainfall, whereas historically we should have received around 30% of our rainfall totals by the end of December. That’s a lot of catching up to do – might need a January, February and March miracle this year. Anyway, the fire restrictions should remain in place until the forest receives a couple inches of rain and good news is that there is rain in the forecast….  Fingers crossed and remain safe everyone….

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Sneak peak at the 2021 Los Padres Calendar, get em while you can!

FOREST 411

• Thanks everyone who has ordered the 2021 Los Padres calendar.  The calendars are set to arrive very soon and we’ll have them shipped out or delivered hopefully in time for Christmas but certainly before the end of the year. We went with a local printer this year and they are looking great! If you’d like one, click here. Happy New Year!

• Quick volunteer update, all non-emergency or non-prioritized work across the Los Padres has been cancelled through January 6 as part of the regional COVID stay at home order. This includes our volunteer projects and Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. As a result, there’s not much scheduled right now as far as volunteer projects but we’re planning 2021 with the hopes of Working Vacations and regular volunteer trail projects. See below for more…..

• Seems like ancient history already but it was officially released that arson was the cause of the November 25, 2019 Cave Fire.

• Some of the seasonal gates have been closed across the forest while some gates that usually close in November remain open due to the lack of rain. At this point in time, we suggest that if you’re headed into the forest to a place where gate access might be a concern, be sure to contact the local Ranger District ahead of time to see if the gates are open or closed. We do know that Pine Mtn gate closed earlier this month and should remain closed until spring.

• Speaking of roads and gates, the Forest Service was able to repair the severely damaged and rutted section of road just before Thorn Meadow off Grade Valley Road.  Great to see that work accomplished!

• MONOLITH/ˈmänəˌliTH/ a large single upright block of stone, especially one shaped into or serving as a pillar or monument. If you missed the recent monolith craze, it’s worth a Google search and some time while drinking your morning coffee. Interestingly enough, the Los Padres made the news earlier this month when one of the monoliths made a cameo near the summit of Hi Mountain above Arroyo Grande. We found it very interesting that the aliens who planted the Hi Mtn monolith chose to plant it where they did. I guess aliens don’t have the needed FS keys to get to the actual summit either.

• For those of us procrastinators (it’s not a bad thing) who still have some last minute shopping to take care of, remember that you can always use Amazon Smile and choose the LPFA as your charity of choice.  Help the forest and shop at the same time, what could be better – maybe being done with shopping of course. Thanks for choosing to help the LPFA!

• Show of hands, who has sat in a rock art site and been baffled by trying to figure out what is being represented within those amazing lines, colors, curves and images? There might be an answer after a recent study found evidence of psychedelics at a nearby painting site.  It’s amazing how science continues to uncover information about the native people of these lands. Be sure to practice proper etiquette when visiting these sacred sites!

• Momentum continues to grow with the restoration of the Rose Valley Lakes and Sespe Creek Watershed. While still at the conceptual design phase, the idea is to remove fish passage barriers including the three man-made Rose Valley Lakes. For more information check the link here and we’ll keep you posted as more information is available.

“The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places” – Roald Dahl

UPCOMING EVENTS

While it’s impossible to predict  or schedule anything right now, we’re really hoping to put together some extended volunteer projects this season. Stay tuned, fingers crossed!

February 2021: Blue Canyon Volunteer Weekends, LPFA
March 2021: Sespe Volunteer Weekends, LPFA
April 2021: Santa Cruz Trail Working Vacation, LPFA
May 2021: Puerto Suelo Dick Smith Working Vacation, LPFA
May 2021: Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
June 2021: Haddock Camp Sespe Working Vacation (GMPB Trail), LPFA

Thankful for the Los Padres Sneaker Snow Storm

Remnants of the sneaky November 2020 snow storm, Pine Mtn, Ventura Backcountry, Tuesday November 10

Hello Friends,

Welcome to fall in the Los Padres.  We’ve been seeing peak fall colors this past week across most of the LP with sycamores, alders, maples and cottonwoods all dazzling in their fall bests.  Fall has been especially dramatic this year thanks to the sneaky snow storm that came in a couple weeks back.  If you remember that first storm, it was predicted to be light and cold with very little precipitation.  The storm came and went but instead of light and cold we surprisingly found most of the high country covered in a solid blanket of 6 inches of snow.  A sneaker storm for sure and it was very nice getting out over the past week and seeing the mountains drinking up some much needed moisture.  Hopefully a good sign of things to come…..

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Maybe I’ll just hold it after all, Santa Barbara Backcountry, Sunday November 8, photo Bates

LPFA TRAIL UPDATES

The LPFA has been busy with our fall – winter program of trail work and we’re hoping the recent shift in COVID tiers doesn’t slow us down too much.  The LPFA Trail Crew is currently helping the Forest Service with some BAER work in the Dolan Fire but we’ve spent much of the past months working some of the trails in and around the SLO Backcountry.  We cleared the lower portion of the Lopez Canyon Trail, brushed the worst section of American Canyon and cleared trees along the Castle Crags Trail in the Machesna.  Lots of work left to do in SLO and we’re hoping to get back out there soon.  Our main focus this fall and early winter will be in the deeper parts of the SB Backcountry working primarily on the Santa Cruz and Mission Pine Trails while also strategically hitting Poplar, Alamar, Madulce and the upper Sisquoc.   We’ll share more details and potential volunteer opportunities but we should be out there as much as we can until the rains come and shutdown access. 

We had a great volunteer projectlast week and cleared about 0.4 miles of some of the nastiest wilderness chaparral you can imagine along the Mission Pine Trail, it was great to get out there!  In addition, we’ll be continuing work on the Mono Jungle Reroute of the Cold Spring Trail and should also get started on restoring the North Franklin Trail out behind Carpinteria.  As the weather changes we’ll plan to move closer to paved roads and should spend some time working the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail, North Fork Matilija, Sulphur Spring Trail, Blue Canyon, lower Santa Cruz while also organizing triage projects where needed to help clear storm caused trees and slides.  We certainly have a lot of trail work scheduled and our collective fingers are crossed that it all goes as planned.  Thanks everyone for the support and as always, if you come across any bad sections of trail, downed trees or slides, take pictures and post to HikeLosPadresand email the Forest Service or your favorite trail group – things change so quickly across the trails and any information you can share is always appreciated!  See you on the trails….

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The aforementioned nastiest wilderness chaparral you can imagine, Mission Pine before and after photos by KVarga

FOREST 411

• Despite the recent rains, the forest remains in fire restrictions which prohibit campfires across the forest and camp stoves are only allowed in designated campfire use sites.  These restrictions generally stay in place until the forest has collectively received a few inches of rain.  The Forest Service is monitoring and checking moisture levels weekly and we’ll be sure to share when any changes occur in the fire restrictions.

• We are officially within the Seasonal Gate Closure season where some of our favorite trailheads and campgrounds become harder to get to as the FS swings the gates for the winter.  As of right now the only closed seasonal gates outside of the MRD that we’ve heard of are Dough Flat outside of Fillmore, Cherry Creek in the upper Sespe and the Upper Santa Ynez gate at Romero (which has now been closed for 3+ years).  Everything else should be open at least until the next big storms.  If you find any locked gates, please let us know so we can pass along the news.  It’s also very wise this time of year to check with the FS ahead of time to see if the gates are closed.  Nothing worse that trying to get to Santa Barbara Canyon (or wherever you want to go) and finding the gates closed 4 miles before the trailhead.

• The Monterey Ranger District remains in a hard closure due to the Dolan Fire, which is currently 98% contained and is holding at 124,924 scorched acres.  The cause of the fire was verified earlier this month as arson related to an illegal marijuana grow.  There is no set date as to when the MRD will reopen but as we’ve seen in years past, it might be a while due to very valid post-fire safety concerns.  Stay tuned….

• In case you missed last months LPFA Seven Minute Story Night, never fear, it’s on YouTube, check it out…  Oh yeah, and if you’d like to sign up to present in the future, we’ll likely be hosting another one in January.  Let us know….

• Four condors were released earlier this week into the wilds outside San Simeon.  Another great step for our beloved California condor!

• The Los Padres National Forest is hiring!  They are looking for a Forestry Technician in Santa Barbara and a wilderness/stock program manager in the Monterey RD, check it out and good luck!

• The Forest Service is also looking for volunteers who might be interested in helping treat and eliminate non-native noxious weeds within the Santa Barbara front and backcountry areas.  You’d be working with the FS biologist.  If this sounds fun or for more information email us at Volunteer@LPForest.org.

• Thanks to everyone who submitted photos for the 2021 Los Padres Calendar.  We are just about done with the layout and the calendars should be ready in plenty of time for the holidays.  To learn more or purchase your very own 2021 Los Padres Calendar, CLICK HERE…..

• Some slight changes in the West Cuesta closure order: the Forest Service revised the closure so that bicycles and hikers are once again permitted along West Cuesta.  The closure remains in place for vehicles and dispersed camping.

• If you Amazon, remember that you can always use Amazon Smile and choose the LPFA as your charity of choice so that you not only shop but also help the forest, all in just a few clicks.  Check it out – thanks

• And last but certainly not least, our latest volunteer spotlight features the great Bardley Smith.  You know the saying about a tree falling in the woods, right?  Well, it should be changed to if a tree falls across the trail in the Ojai Ranger District…. yes, Bardley will most likely cut it out.  Thanks for all you do Bardley!

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The ever-elusive Los Padres maple, looking good enough to almost not notice the Hurricane Deck.

Late Spring Volunteer Projects

Here Pollywog Pollywog, photo Humphrey

LATE SPRING 2018 TRAIL PROJECTS

Hi Everyone,

Here’s a list of some upcoming LPFA and non-LPFA trail projects and specific contacts in case you’d like to volunteer.  Hope to see you out there……..

May 16 – White Rock Trail Work: The LPFA continues work clearing brush along the Figueroa Mtn network of trails.  Up next is White Rock Trail.  Led by Bryan Conant, we’ll be focused on brushing a middle 1/2 mile section of the trail.  Please RSVP via email: INFO@LPForest.org

May 18-21 – Bluff Camp Sawyer Trip: Led by Mickey McTigue, we’ll be driving in to Bluff Cabin via the Buckhorn Rd and Upper Oso.  From Bluff we’ll be day-tripping up to both the Mission Pine and Sisquoc Trails (part of the Condor Trail) to cut out fallen trees across the trail.  Work will be primarily crosscut with some brushing intermixed.  This work is within Santa Barbara County within the San Rafael Wilderness.  For information or to sign up please contact Mickey at: mickey.joecache@gmail.com

May 19 – Santa Barbara Canyon Crosscut: Join Mark Subbotin as he leads a project to cut out two large oak trees along the Santa Barbara Canyon Trail (along the Condor Trail).  The first tree is 3.2 miles from the trailhead while the second is 4.1 miles.  To sign up please email Mark at: msubbotin76@gmail.com

May 20 – Tumamait Trail Crosscut: Mark will be at it again, this time working the Tumamait Trail high atop the Chumash Wilderness.  They’ll be cutting out three downed trees about 2.5 miles out from the trailhead.  Mark can be reached at: msubbotin76@gmail.com

May 26 – Sulphur Spring Sawyer Project: Bob Burtness has been caring for the Sulphur Spring Trail since the 1970’s.  It’s become impassable due to fallen downed trees.  Bob will be leading a project on May 26 to help cut out the downed trees along the trail.  The work will either be using chain saws or crosscut, depending on PAL fire levels.  Sulphur Spring Trail is located off of Figueroa Mtn Rd near the San Rafael Wilderness.  For more information please contact: INFO@LPForest.org

June 2 – Chorro Grande Trail: The LPFA will once again celebrate National Trails Day by hosting a much overdue trail projects.  This year we’ll be working the Chorro Grande Trail within the Ojai Ranger District.  Chorro Grande is a lovely trail nestled between Hwy 33 and Pine Mtn ranging in elevation from 4,000ft to over 6,000ft.  We’ll be primarily brushing the middle portion of the trail.  Jasonn Beckstrand will be leading the efforts.  For more information email: INFO@LPForest.org

June 2 – Boulder Canyon Trail: Mark Subbotin will be leading a chain saw or crosscut project down the Boulder Canyon Trail (Condor Trail) focused on clearing an estimated 20+ trees.  This will also be part of the National Trails Day celebration.  For more information or to sign up, please email Mark: msubbotin76@gmail.com

June 8-10 – Alamar Trail Sawyer & Tread: The LPFA will be hosting one last project this year focused on clearing the Alamar Trail (part of the Condor Trail) within the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Led by Bryan Conant, we’ll be driving to Alamar Saddle and working from the Saddle down 3 miles into the canyon.  The majority of the work will be crosscut with some brushing and tread work mixed in for good measure.  INFO@LPForest.org to sign up or learn more.

June 15-18 – Upper Sisquoc Trail Project: Mike Smith is leading another assault on the Upper Sisquoc.  The exact location of this project is TBD but it will be somewhere between Alamar Saddle and Heath Camp.  For more information or to sign up please email Mike at: TrailSmith@LPForest.org

Alamar Downed Tree, Snow No Longer Included

 

 

 

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!

Volunteer Season & Pine Valley Legend

San Luis Obispo Backcountry, March 2016
SLOCamp

NOW is quintessential Los Padres.  Flowers are blooming, grass is green, water is flowing (mostly), days are warm (mostly) and nights are cool.  If you’re not getting out on the trail (or off-trail), you really should find some time for a ride or hike.  When you get back, send us your photos, we’d love to see some good ones and be sure to check HikeLosPadres.com for the most up-to-date trail conditions.

 

VOLUNTEER SEASON

The best time to be in the Los Padres is not limited only to riding/hiking but it’s also the best time for getting out on a trail project, giving back to the trails you love and volunteering.  There are a ridiculous amount of volunteer projects and events lined up over the coming weeks/months across the Los Padres.  We’ll note a few here but feel free to contact us directly for more information or check Facebook/Meetup for updates:
April 8-17: LPFA Madulce Working Vacation, Dick Smith Wilderness

We’re set for a 10-day Working Vacation starting this coming Friday.  There is space available on the project, in particular the second weekend.  We’ll be working the Santa Barbara Canyon, Madulce, Don Victor and Puerto Suelo Trails.  For more information let us know at INFO@LPForest.org, all food will be provided for volunteers.

April 9: ORD Murietta Trail, Matilija
Ranger Heidi of the Ojai Ranger District will be leading this project to brush and clear the Murietta Trail in Matilija Canyon.  The project starts at 0830, email Heidi for more information or to sign up: handerson@fs.fed.us

April 9: SB Trails Council, Bill Wallace Trail, El Capitan State Park

Volunteer with SBCTC as they work the Bill Wallace Trail above El Capitan State Park along the Gaviota Coast.  For more information, click Meetup here.

April 16: Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center 11th Annual Open House
The Visitor Center at Wheeler Gorge will be hosting the 11th Annual Wheeler Open House.  We’ll provide more details soon but there will be booths setup from a variety of local organizations, a guided nature hike, games, food and much MUCH more……..  A super fun event that is a must for families with kids of all ages.

April 16: ORD Chorro Grande Trail, Highway 33
Join Ranger Heidi of the Ojai Ranger District along the Chorro Grande Trail on the south side of Pine Mtn.  The project starts at 0800, email Heidi for more information or to sign up: handerson@fs.fed.us

April 16: Slide Mountain Fire Lookout, Pyramid Lake
This is a cool event focused around California Trails Day.  Slide Mountain is within the Los Padres National Forest but is administered by the Angeles National Forest.  Volunteers will be meeting at Frenchman’s Flat at 0800 and working from there up towards the fire lookout.  Email Chris Fabbro (cfabbro@fs.fed.us) for more information or to sign up.

April 16-17: VWA Santa Lucia Trail, Ventana Wilderness
Join the Ventana Wilderness Alliance as they work the Santa Lucia Trail from Memorial Park Campground.  Meetup here for more information.

April 19: LPFA Wilderness Trails Presentation, Santa Barbara Veterans Hall
The LPFA is hosting a Trails Talk on Tuesday April 19 at the Santa Barbara Veterans Hall.  James Wapotich will give a presentation about the Wilderness Trails of Santa Barbara County and there will be plenty of time to socialize and hang out talking trails – what could be better?  For more information check out Meetup here, event is free for LPFA members.

April 23: Jesusita Trail, Santa Barbara Frontcountry
Another event focused on California Trails Day will be working the Jesusita Trail above Santa Barbara.  The project starts at 0830 and will meet at the water treatment trailhead off San Roque Rd.  For more information see Meetup here.

April 23-24: VWA Pine Ridge Trail, Ventana Wilderness
The Ventana Wilderness Alliance will be hosting a 2 day project along the Pine Ridge Trail working out of China Camp (near Pine Valley, spoiler alert)Meetup here for more details.

April 29 – May 1: LPFA Alamar Trail Weekend Project, Dick Smith Wilderness
The LPFA will be hosting a 2 or 3 day project based out of Bluff Cabin and working the upper 2.4miles of the Alamar Trail.  All food will be provided and work will involve crosscut sawing, tread and brushing.  This portion of the Alamar Trail is along one of the more beautiful stretches of trail in the wilderness.  Come along…..  INFO@LPForest.org for more information or to sign up.

May 20-30: LPFA Middle Sisquoc Working Vacation, San Rafael Wilderness

The second LPFA Working Vacation of 2016 will be set at Sycamore Camp along the Sisquoc River within the San Rafael Wilderness.  We’ll be working the Sisquoc Trail downstream from Sycamore to Abel Camp.  Access will be provided to Painted Rock Camp and down the Jackson Trail to camp.  The water will be perfect in late May along the Sisquoc.  INFO@LPForest.org

LittlePineSunset

Little Pine Sunset, March 2016


THE PASSING OF A LOS PADRES LEGEND
There is no shortage of legendary Los Padres figures who helped shape the landscape, protect the environment or add character to the geography.  Study any local maps and you’ll see dozens and dozens of unique placenames dotted across the Los Padres revealing many of these characters.  Sadly, we lost one of the LP living legends last month with the passing of Jack English.  Jack was able to purchase a private inholding of land in beautiful Pine Valley surrounded by the Ventana Wilderness in the late 1970’s.  Jack and his family built a small cabin on their land, chose a simpler life and called it home.  You’ll find tons of articles about Jack with a quick Google search, a few articles are linked below.  What you might not find is all the stories from backpackers who had the pleasure of meeting Jack and his family at Pine Valley over the years.  Stories about him sharing pancakes with campers, sharing his cabin during storms and most importantly sharing his time and stories with Pine Valley visitors.  Truly a legend and gentlemen, he will be missed but his legend will live on forever……..


English Cabin 2005, Pine Valley, Monterey County
PineValley

Los Padres Volunteer Hours & Water Reports

Pine Mountain Alpenglow, October 2015
SespeSunset

Hi Everyone,

A little official business to take care of today.  The Forest Service reports volunteer hours in conjunction with their fiscal calendar, which runs from October 1 – September 30.  For those of you who regularly volunteer, you’ve most likely already been contacted by the FS requesting you to report your hours.  It might seem like a pain to track and report your volunteer hours but it’s really important for the FS to have an accurate count on the volunteer hours being spent within their districts and across the forest.  In general, the Project Leader is supposed to take care of tracking and then reporting the hours for her/his project.  If you haven’t reported your hours or have any questions about the process, please contact either your Trail Leader, the organization sponsoring your project or the FS District you worked within.  And if all else fails, feel free to contact Jasonn Beckstrand:  JasonnB@LPForest.org

Along those lines, late last year John Ziegler from www.HikeLosPadres.com was nice enough to create an online volunteer hour project tracker.  Again this should be managed by the Project Leader but after a project is complete you can report the hours of all the volunteers and the project specifics within the HLP tracker.  It only takes a few minutes and at the end of the year it’s very easy to pull spreadsheet reports which break down volunteer hours by individual, by district, by organization, by trail, etc…..  This is the first year the online project tracker has been used and it’s been a huge help for reporting and tracking hours.  BUT it’s only as good as the information that is input into the system.  If you are not using HLP to report your hours, you should probably check it out.  For more information check in with Jasonn, see email address above.




HikeLosPadres Water Table
HLP_Water
WATER IN HLP
As long as we’re at it, HikeLosPadres.com is an awesome site.  Call me biased but the information that is being shared through the site is incredible.  Probably most important right now is the sharing of water availability.  Check the Water Report link posted below.  This allows you to see all the water reports that have been posted within HLP across the forest.  You can sort by clicking on the red text at the top which allows you to see which camps have water and when it was last reported.  With water scarcity being an issue, this is a great tool for helping plan your next trip.  Check it out and be sure to post what you find when you get back.

http://www.hikelospadres.com/los-padres-forest-water-reports.html


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PicoBlanco
And if you’re interested in peak bagging, there’s a great discussion right now about Los Padres peaks.
Check it out on the Facebook page, click here.

LPFA Transverse – Spring Volunteer Season

Frosty Madulce, March 2015

Madulce

Hello Everyone,

Most of the Forest is experiencing cool, cloudy and hopefully rainy conditions today.  That is going to change.  By this weekend we are looking at potentially record setting heat across most of the Central Coast.  And next week….. who knows.  That’s part of the beauty of Spring.  If you don’t like the weather, wait a day and you’ll get something different.  Hope you’re finding some time on the trails and if you have any nice photos and you want to share, please send our way.

We’ve had quite a few questions of late asking for volunteer opportunities.  We’ve outlined a few below.  If you’d like us to mention any of your upcoming events, please send our way and we’d be happy to share.

Little Pine along the Santa Cruz Trail
SCMeadow
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

WEST CUESTA RIDGE TRASH CLEANUP
San Luis Obispo
March 14, 9am
The illegal shooting range off West Cuesta Ridge in SLO has become quite a mess.  A combination of LPNF, LPFA, CCCMB and LPFW forces are meeting this Saturday (3/14) at 9am to help clean up the mess.  See the attached CCCMB map and Forest Press Release for more details.  Hope to see you there……….

POTHOLE TRAIL BRUSHING PROJECT
Ventura
March 14
The Ojai Ranger District is having the last in a series of trail projects along the Pothole Trail outside of Lake Piru.  The project is most likely full but if you are dieing to work a remote backcountry trail this weekend, there might still be some room.  Contact Ranger Heidi: handerson@fs.fed.us

SANTA CRUZ TRAIL, LITTLE PINE TRAIL MAINTENANCE
Santa Barbara
March 15, 9am
The SBMTV is hosting a trail project along the Little Pine section of the Santa Cruz Trail.  The work will mostly be along the southern wall of Little Pine down towards 19 Oaks Camp.  For more information contact Chris Orr: chris.orr@sbmtv.org

MISSION PINE TRAIL SAWYER WORK
Santa Barbara
March 27 – 29
The LPFA will be continuing work along the Mission Pine Trail in the SB high country.  The project will be based out of Mission Pine Spring Camp and will be focused on logging the trees across the trail between Mission Pine Spring and Mission Pine Basin.  The project will be stock supported, which means light packs and good food.  If interested please contact Curt Cragg: Curt@LPForest.org

FOREST 411
The Los Padres Trail Riders will be presenting a free screening of Mule: Living on the Outside.  This is a documentary about Mule and his adventures while roaming the western United States.  If you haven’t been following this epic journey, it’s pretty cool stuff.  Check it out March 19 at the Santa Barbara Human Society.For those of you interested in mud runs or obstacles races, there is a super fun race coming to the Central Coast on March 28.  It’s called the Checkpoint Challenge and will be held at Santa Margarita Lake in SLO County.  If you’ve ever been curious about this, check out their website and watch the promotional video.  Looks like a lot of fun.  Registration is open now, charge on!WILDFLOWERS!  It’s wildflower season and Helen Tarbet of the Santa Lucia Ranger District has released her first Figueroa Wildflower Update of the season.  See attached.  If you’ve not taken the pilgrimage to Fig Mtn to see the flowers, you have to……  It’s incredible when timed right.

The 11th Annual Wheeler Gorge Open House is schedule for April 11.  This year promises to be the best Open House yet as we’re focusing the event on recreation as well as education.  You’ll hear much more about this in the coming weeks but be sure to put this on your calendar.  April 11 – ALL DAY!

BeartrapCreek

Piedra Blanca – Gene Marshall Trail, Mount Pinos Ranger District