By Los Padres National Forest
Los Padres National Forest officials today issued a 60-day closure order for four ranger districts in response to the extreme winter storm that delivered punishing rain and wind across the Forest this week. This closure order takes effect immediately.
The closure order will be superseded or terminated when conditions and recreational access improves. Forest employees will be assessing the extent of the damage over the coming weeks and months and will scale back the closure based on improving conditions.
Over the last month, Los Padres received more than 100 percent of its annual rainfall along with extremely damaging wind events. The “atmospheric river” delivered record rainfall amounts January 8-10 ranging from 17 inches at San Marcos Pass on the Santa Barbara RD to 18 inches in the Ojai RD backcountry. These weather events have caused flooding, debris flows, slope failures, bridge, road and trail failures, and serious impacts to administrative and recreation facilities.
Public access to Los Padres recreation sites is limited or not currently possible due to compromised roadways.
Weather forecasts predict additional precipitation at variable intensities and amounts over the next week on top of already saturated conditions. Future storm events are expected to compound existing damage.
The full extent of damage to the Forest will be known once a full assessment is completed, which will likely take many weeks. Forest personnel are continuing to work with city, county and state partners on post-storm damage assessments and repairs when conditions are safe for work and travel.
“We’re taking this precautionary step to ensure visitor safety as we determine the extent of the damage and develop a strategy to prioritize and address the extensive impacts to infrastructure and natural resources,” said Los Padres Forest Supervisor Chris Stubbs. “I’m asking the public to heed the closure order while these recovery efforts are underway. My intention is to re-open closed areas as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Forest Service law enforcement officers will strictly enforce the closure order, which carries a penalty of $5,000 and/or six months in jail.
For more information, please visit Los Padres National Forest’s website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf.