Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest

Infobox_protected_area | name = Los Padres National Forest
iucn_category = VI

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nearest_city = Santa Maria, California
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area = 1.9 million acres
established = December, 1936
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governing_body = USDA / US Forest Service

Los Padres National Forest is a forest located in southern and central California, which includes most of the mountainous land along the California coast from Ventura to Monterey, extending inland. Elevations range from sea level to convert|8831|ft|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. 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.

Many rivers in Southern and Central California have their points of origin within the Los Padres National Forest, including the Carmel, Salinas, Cuyama, Sisquoc, Santa Ynez, Sespe, Ventura, and Piru.

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.

More recent wilderness areas created in the Los Padres include:

* Garcia Wilderness (convert|14100|acre|km2|0 in the Lucia District)
* Santa Lucia Wilderness (convert|20412|acre|km2|0 in the Lucia District, in the Santa Lucia Mountains)
* Machesna Mountain Wilderness (convert|19880|acre|km2|0, in the La Panza Range in San Luis Obispo County)
* Silver Peak Wilderness (convert|31555|acre|km2|0, in the Monterey District)
* Dick Smith Wilderness (convert|64800|acre|km2|0 in the Santa Barbara Ranger District)
* Chumash Wilderness (convert|38150|acre|km2|0 in the Mt. Pinos Ranger District, just west of Mount Pinos)
* Sespe Wilderness (convert|219700|acre|km2|0, in both the Ojai and Mt. Pinos Ranger Districts)
* Matilija Wilderness (convert|29600|acre|km2|0 in the Ojai Ranger District)

Wildlife and vegetation

Many threatened and endangered species live within the Forest. Probably most famous among them is the California Condor ("Gymnogyps californianus"). The American Peregrine Falcon is also entirely dependent on the Forest for its survival. The California Mule Deer may be the most common large mammal.

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 the northeastern portion of the Forest.

Use restrictions

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).


Los Padres was named Santa Barbara National Forest until December 3, 1936, and was assembled from a number of smaller National Forests, including: [citation|title=PDFlink| [http://www.foresthistory.org/Research/usfscoll/places/National%20Forests%20of%20the%20U.S.pdf National Forests of the United States] |341 KB|date=September 29, 2005|author=Davis, Richard C.|publisher=The Forest History Society]
*Monterey National Forest (est. June 25, 1906) , absorbed by Santa Barbara on August 18, 1919, and which itself absorbed:
**Pinnacles National Forest (est. July 18, 1906)
**San Benito National Forest (est. October 26, 1907)
*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)

ee also

* Angeles National Forest
* Ponderosa Campground


External links

* [http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/lospadres/about/ Los Padres National Forest: US Forest Service official site]
* [http://www.southerncaliforniapermits.com Los Padres National forest Online Permit Sales]
* [http://www.LPFW.org Los Padres ForestWatch] - a nonprofit organization working to protect and restore the natural and cultural heritage of the Los Padres National Forest
* [http://www.ventanawild.org/ 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
* [http://www.marcuse.org/harold/pages/077LosPadresMountainBiking.htm 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

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