Los Padres National Forest officials today reopened most of the areas that were closed for public health and safety concerns following powerful winter storms that inflicted significant damage across the Forest. Since January 13, four of Los Padres’ five ranger districts were closed under a Special Closure Order to allow for a comprehensive damage assessment.
As these areas reopen for public use, Forest officials stress that storms forecast over the next two weeks could cause further damage that may require additional closures. The public is strongly encouraged to exercise maximum caution when entering areas of the Forest that are now open for hiking and camping, and to closely monitor weather forecasts.
A new Forest order is now in place that keeps severely compromised roads, trails, campgrounds, and day-use sites closed to the public while Forest engineers, partner groups, volunteers, and contractors work on repairs as funding becomes available. Road crews and resources from other national forests in California have been assisting with road clearing and maintenance projects to reopen additional areas once they have been repaired.
Under the new order, all Wilderness Areas are again open for public use. Extensively damaged Wilderness trails will remain closed until repairs can be made. Seven of the nine Santa Barbara front country trails reopened along with popular campgrounds such as Plaskett Creek and Arroyo Seco on the Monterey Ranger District, Cerro Alto on the Santa Lucia Ranger District, and the Lower Santa Ynez Recreation Area up to First Crossing. River Road from First Crossing to Red Rock Day Use Area will remain closed until road reconstruction is complete. Three Ojai Ranger District front country trails have reopened – the Pratt, Gridley and Cozy Dell.
“This has been an extraordinary challenge for Forest Service employees and partner groups as well as for the public,” said Los Padres Forest Supervisor Chris Stubbs. “I ask for your patience and understanding as we continue what in all likelihood will be a long-term effort to restore and reopen as many of these areas as we responsibly can.”
Forest personnel continue to coordinate with city, county, state, and federal partners to prioritize, plan, and implement the storm damage response and recovery. The Los Padres Forest Association and Ventana Wilderness Alliance, among others, have provided critical support both in assessing damaged areas and leading repair efforts.
A complete list of closed roads, trails, campgrounds, and day use sites can be found on Los Padres National Forest’s website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf.