Buckhorn Trail & 20 Years of VWR!

Upper Buckhorn Trailhead
Hello Everyone!  We are beyond excited to announce that the LPFA is partnering with SBMTV to host a weekend trail project along the Buckhorn Trail in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  The Buckhorn Trail has a rich history dating back over a hundred years.  It was the main means of travel between Little Pine and the Pendola area of the Upper Santa Ynez.  The Buckhorn was famous for its hunting, with hunters-camps throughout the canyon dotting the old maps.  And in more recent times, the Buckhorn was famous as an epic mountain bike ride.  In fact it was so epic that the International Mountain Bicycling Association even named it to their list of Epics.  In recent years the trail has suffered from lack of maintenance and nowadays it’s pretty epic if you can even drag yourself, let alone a bike, down the canyon.  Well, we’re going to change that and we hope you want to join in…..

March 18-20, 2016
We’ll be heading in on Friday afternoon March 18 to setup camp at nearby Happy Hollow Campground.  We’ll be camping there Friday night and then starting the trail work bright and early on Saturday March 19.  We’ll be focusing on brushing the top couple miles of the trail dropping in from the Buckhorn Rd down to the first creek crossing.  We’ll stop work in the mid-afternoon and head back to Happy Hollow for a BBQ dinner, evening festivities and camping under the stars.  After breakfast on Sunday, we’ll wrap up any work that is needed on the trail, pack up and head home.  There will be options for people who want to arrive and/or leave on Saturday as well.  If you are interested in helping or would like more information, let us know:  INFO@LPForest.org
Food will be provided for breakfast Saturday and Sunday and dinner Saturday night.  Bring your hardhat as well as your party hat, gonna be a good time……

VWR Crew, 100 Strong & Growing, photo Humphrey

Contrary to popular belief, its not chainsaw-augmented deer that keep the trails of the Los Padres open but rather a group of dedicated volunteers called the Volunteer Wilderness Rangers (VWR). Similar to deer, VWR’s range across the forest from Ventura to Monterey working tirelessly on their favorite trails and camps ensuring they stay open and passable for trail users. In order to be a VWR, one must go through an annual training where volunteers are trained on Forest Service protocol, first-aid, visitor contact, safety, trail maintenance techniques and wilderness ethics. The annual VWR Training is hosted each January in the Santa Barbara Ranger District and celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016.

The VWR program was started in 1996 by a group of volunteers and Forest Service staff in order to provide the necessary training for volunteers to lead forest supported projects. One of the chief organizers of the VWR program was named Dave Weaver. Dave was an avid backpacker, a retired teacher and loved ‘talking forest’ with anyone and everyone he could. If you had a backcountry question or adventure to share, Dave not only had an answer but a story of his own as well. He truly characterized the spirit of the VWR program with his commitment to the land and a fun, yet professional, approach to volunteerism. After Dave’s passing in 2013, the VWR program created a lifetime achievement award in his name called the Dave Weaver Wilderness Award. The award goes to the VWR who best exemplifies Dave’s spirit of sharing the stoke for the forest and working to keep the trails open and public educated on the proper way to recreate in the forest.

For 2016, the VWR recognized Mike Smith (the Goatman) with the Dave Weaver Wilderness Award for his contributions to the forest over the past 20+ years. Mike has led countless trail projects in the Los Padres, mostly deep within the forest along the Upper Sisquoc Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness. If you’ve spent any time along the Sisquoc Trail you’ve certainly reaped the benefits of his hard work and it’s likely that you’ve crossed paths, hint: he’s the one with five pack goats in tow. We congratulate Mike Smith on his accomplishments and celebrate 20 years of volunteerism through the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger program.

WeaverAwards Weaver Award Winners Rik Christensen, Mickey McTigue, Mike Smith
& SLRD Wilderness Trails Manager Joe Duran

Mission Pine Basin, “the trails that way”, March 2016



March 12, 2016
Ojai plant guide Lanny Kaufer is leading a nature hike at Rose Valley Falls.  For more information email Lanny: lanny@herbwalks.com

March 20, 2016
Lanny is leading another nature walk for the Spring Equinoz along the Gridley Spring trail.  More information here: lanny@herbwalks.com

April 9, 2016
Ranger Heidi is leading a trail project along the Murietta Trail in the Ojai Ranger District.  For more information shoot her an email:  handerson@fs.fed.us

April 16, 2016
Wheeler Gorge Open House.  If you are in Ojai or Ventura, this is a must!  More to come but get it on your calendar.

April 20, 2016
LPFA will be hosting a forest talk in Santa Barbara, more to come but also be sure to put this on your calendar……

LPFA Events Calendar
And if you have any events you’d like promoted or included, please let us know…..



The 8th of July Version

Hope everyone is well and finding some time to get on the trails.  Couple quick updates and information to share with you.  If you have any announcements or information that you’d like shared, please send our way.  Thanks………


W A T E R    U P D A T E

The 2013-14 rain season was pretty wimpy by just about standards.  Most of the Los Padres got under 50% of normal rain totals with some places getting significantly less than that. Yet hidden amongst the calm of the winter was one rain event that turned out to be far from calm.  The last three days of February and first day of March brought lots and lots of rain to the Los Padres.  The upper Sespe recorded nearly 18 inches of rain during that time.  There was a lot of water running and quite a few rescues as a result of that storm.  Turns out that we are still seeing the results of that storm.  Reports from around the forest are that many of the reliable pools and swimming holes are filled in with silt at the moment.  How did this happen?  In order to find out we enlisted the help of a few local scientists, and in layman’s terms, concluded that after having a few seasons of light rain, the silt buildup in the forest was stacking up.  The one large storm we had in February freed up most of that silt and carried it downstream filling in pools.  Since then we’ve had no additional rains that would usually carve out the pools and remove the silt.  As a result we are left with filled in pools until at least the next rain storms have the opportunity to clear them out again.

While we’ve heard reports of filled in pools from Indian Creek, Mono Drainage, Little Pine area and the Sespe; the most extreme example has to be at Fishbowls Camp on the upper reaches of Piru Creek.  Fishbowls is usually a series of pools carved into the sandstone that is highlighted by a 7 ft deep pool.  The main Fishbowl is normally a godsend in the summer heat as the pool promises cold water to jump into.  Not this year.  James Wapotich hiked out there a few weeks ago and found the pool completely silted in.  Such a shame.  But never fear, these things happen and no doubt that in the next year or so when the rains re   turn, the Fishbowl will be carved out again.

Silted in Fishbowls, June 2014, photo Wapotich


Seven foot deep Fishbowls, August 2007, photo Rose


Any other questions about water availability or to share what you’ve found along the trails, hit us up: info@LPForest.org


W I L D E R N E S S    R A N G E R    T R A I N I N G

The Sierra National Forest hosted a week long Wilderness Ranger Training in early June.  Over 170 rangers from across California convened near Huntington Lake to hear about ranger techniques, learn new skills and have an opportunity to share stories with rangers from other forests who are doing the same things we’re doing here in the Los Padres.  The rangers included Forest Service personnel as well as volunteers.  We had around 15 people from the Los Padres representing the various districts and including volunteers from the VWA, UTMC and LPFA.  Some of the classes included crosscut sawing, axe work, rock work, Leave No Trace, stock packing, rigging and wilderness first aid.  It was a great training and after talking to the other rangers it really makes you understand how unique many of our issues are here in the Los Padres.  Hope you can make it next year………

Day 4 Morning Briefing, Wilderness Ranger Training 2014




F O R E S T    C L A S S I F I E D

Santa Barbara Urban Creeks Council Projects
Have you heard of Cape Ivy?  It’s a very aggressive, non-native vine that invades the chaparral community and smothers it ultimately killing the native vegetation.  The Santa Barbara Urban Creeks Council is hosting volunteer events every Sunday in July from 8am-12pm and 2-5pm.  They could use your help.  If interested contact Jason Nelson (805.569.5429 – jnelson@sbbg.org)  Hope to see you there!

Gaviota Coastal Trail
There has been a lot of talk lately about the California Coastal Trail.  You can find descriptions of the trail online as it makes its way around the Los Padres.  While the trail generally follows the coastline, there are some areas where private property, geographic confrontations or federal lands prevent the trail from actually being on the coast.  There are a few areas that fit this description along the Gaviota Coast.  The SB County Trails Council has been working on a plan to develop the trail along this area and completed a report earlier this year studying and documenting the trail and coastal access along the Gaviota Coast.  Check it out and be sure to weigh in with your thoughts on the plan.

Friends of the California Condor
Got plans on July 18?  Now you do.  The Friends of the California Condor are hosting a free event at the Ojai Libby Bowl on July 18.  They’ll be showing The Condor’s Shadow, which is a great documentary about the condor that came out a few years back.  There will also be opportunities to meet some birds up close.  Check out the attached flier for more information.  Once again, hope to see you there…..