Los Padres National Forest
|Los Padres National Forest|
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Jameson Reservoir is center. To the right are the Santa Ynez Mountains, to the left the Los Padres back country and Old Man Mountain. In the far distance is Reyes Peak.
|Nearest city||Santa Barbara, Big Sur, and San Luis Obispo |
|Area||2,970 square miles (7,700 km2)|
|Governing body||U.S. Forest Service|
Los Padres National Forest is a United States national forest in southern and central California. Administered by the United States Forest Service, Los Padres includes most of the mountainous land along the California coast from Ventura to Monterey, extending inland. Elevations range from sea level to 8,847 feet (2,697 m).
The forest is approximately 1,950,000 acres (7890 km²) in area, of which 1,762,400 acres (7,132.18 km²) or about 88% are public lands; the rest are privately owned inholdings.
The forest is divided between two noncontiguous areas. The northern division is within Monterey County and includes the beautiful Big Sur Coast and scenic interior areas. This is a very popular area for hiking, with 323 miles (520 km) of hiking trails and 11 campgrounds (ranging from very rugged to suitable for recreational vehicles). This division also contains the Ventana Wilderness, home to the California Condor.
The "main division" of the forest includes lands within San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern Counties, with a small extension into Los Angeles County in the Pyramid Lake area, between Castaic and Gorman. Mountain ranges within the Los Padres include the Santa Lucia Mountains, La Panza Range, Caliente Range (a small part), Sierra Madre Mountains, San Rafael Mountains, Santa Ynez Mountains, and Topatopa Mountains; the highest parts of the forest are not within named mountain ranges, but are adjacent to the western San Emigdio Mountains and include Mount Pinos, Cerro Noroeste, and Reyes Peak. The forest is also adjacent to the Angeles National Forest, which is in Los Angeles County in Southern California and is nearby Carrizo Plain National Monument in eastern San Luis Obispo County. Forest headquarters are located in Goleta, California. There are local ranger district offices in Frazier Park, King City, Ojai, Santa Barbara, and Santa Maria.
Several wilderness areas have been set aside within the Los Padres National Forest, including the San Rafael Wilderness, the first primitive area to be included in the U.S. wilderness system after the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964. Another large wilderness created in the 1970s was the Ventana Wilderness in the Santa Lucia Mountains. A total of 48% of the total area within the forest has a wilderness designation.
More recent wilderness areas created in the Los Padres include:
- Garcia Wilderness (14,100 acres (57 km2) in the Lucia District)
- Santa Lucia Wilderness (20,412 acres (83 km2) in the Lucia District, in the Santa Lucia Mountains)
- Machesna Mountain Wilderness (19,880 acres (80 km2), in the La Panza Range in San Luis Obispo County)
- Silver Peak Wilderness (31,555 acres (128 km2), in the Monterey District)
- Dick Smith Wilderness (64,800 acres (262 km2) in the Santa Barbara Ranger District)
- Chumash Wilderness (38,150 acres (154 km2) in the Mt. Pinos Ranger District, just west of Mount Pinos)
- Sespe Wilderness (219,700 acres (889 km2), in both the Ojai and Mt. Pinos Ranger Districts)
- Matilija Wilderness (29,600 acres (120 km2) in the Ojai Ranger District)
Parts of the National Forest are designated as recreation areas. There are three recreation areas,
- Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area;
- Sage Hill Group Recreation Area;
- Santa Ynez Recreation Area, in the Santa Barbara Ranger District.
Wildlife and vegetation
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2010)|
Many threatened and endangered species live within the Forest. Probably most famous among them is the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus), for whom the United States Forest Service established the Sespe Condor Sanctuary. Also present is the California Mountain Kingsnake, a California Species of Special Concern. The American Peregrine Falcon is also entirely dependent on the Forest for its survival. The Mountain Lion and California Mule Deer may be the most common large mammals. Bighorn sheep inhabit the Sespe Creek region of the forest. American Black Bears browse on grasses, Berries, and carrion. Coyotes thrive everywhere in the forest. Bobcats can occasionally be seen in the more remote mountainous areas of the forest.
Many vegetation types are represented in the Los Padres, including chaparral, the common ground cover of most coastal ranges in California below about 5,000 feet (1500 m), and coniferous forests, which can be found in abundance in the Ventana Wilderness as well as the region around Mount Pinos in northern Ventura County.
Researchers estimate the extent of old growth in the forest is 18,900 acres (76.5 km2). It consists largely of Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi) forests, although old-growth Coast Redwood (Sequoia Sempervirens), Coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii), and White Fir (Abies concolor) are also found there. In 2008, scientist J. Michael Fay published a map of old growth redwoods in and around Big Sur as a result of his transect of the entire redwood range.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2010)|
Los Padres exhibits an extreme risk of forest fires; in 1965, a truck driven by country singer Johnny Cash caught fire, and burned several hundred acres in Ventura county. Because of this risk, there are many restrictions on building fires in Los Padres National Forest. Some portions of the forest are closed entirely to public entry during the fire season (including the entire San Rafael Wilderness). Normally the fire season extends from June 1 each year until the time of the first autumn rains, which is usually in mid-November.
A National Forest Adventure Pass is required for parking in most locations of the Los Padres National Forest, as well as other National Forests in Southern California, and may be obtained from local merchants, visitor centers, or online. It is not required in the Monterey Ranger District (Ventana Wilderness and Silver Peak Wilderness).
- Monterey National Forest (est. June 25, 1906), absorbed by Santa Barbara on August 18, 1919, and which itself had absorbed:
- San Luis National Forest (est. July 1, 1908), which had absorbed part of:
- San Luis Obispo National Forest (est. June 25, 1906)
- San Gabriel National Forest (part) (est. December 20, 1892)
- Pine Mountain and Zaka Lake Forest Reserve, (est. March 2, 1898) combined with Santa Ynez on December 22, 1903 to create Santa Barbara Forest Reserve
- Santa Ynez Forest Reserve, (est. October 2, 1899)
- Los Padres National Forest: Recreation and Visitors Maps
- "Mount Pinos". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved 2009-06-29.
- SeeMonterey: Los Padres National Forest
- USFS Ranger Districts by State
- "Los Padres National Forest". Great Outdoor Recreation Pages. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
- Warbington, Ralph; Beardsley, Debby (2002), 2002 Estimates of Old Growth Forests on the 18 National Forests of the Pacific Southwest Region, United States Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region
- Fay, J. Michael (2008-09-30), Redwood Transect-Big Sur Redwoods 2.0, retrieved 2009-01-06
- Davis, Richard C. (September 29, 2005), PDF (341 KB), The Forest History Society
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Los Padres National Forest.|
- The Nature Explorers S Los Padres Expedition 1 hour 55 minute video of the S Los Padres ecosystem.
- Los Padres National Forest: US Forest Service official site
- Los Padres ForestWatch - a nonprofit organization working to protect and restore the natural and cultural heritage of the Los Padres National Forest
- Ventana Wilderness Alliance- dedicated to the preservation of wilderness areas and other public lands in the Monterey Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest
- Mountain Biking in the Los Padres National Forest- a website with maps, descriptions & links of various routes through the Forest for wilderness camping on a mountain bike.