Los Padres National Forest

Issues & Ideas: Wildfire season, Santa Barbara history, and a SLO airport project

Jul 23, 2020

In this episode of Issues & Ideas: Wildfire season has arrived in California, and managers of a preserve in Monterey County are hoping to change the way communities approach wildfires. We’ll hear from a Santa Barbara historian to learn more about what was making news one hundred years ago. Bakersfield’s South High School has had a Confederate rebel for its mascot since 1957, and we’ll hear from Marcus Hicks, who, as a Black student, talks about what it was like to be in that environment. The Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture brings new art exhibits to the community throughout the year, and we’ll learn about a current sculpture at what locals call Hendry's Beach. The San Luis Obispo Airport has an upcoming project to the airport's runway. The US Forest Service plans to prevent wildfires in the Los Padres National Forest by cutting down trees. And finally, we'll hear from a local tech business leader who believes “it’s high time we demand the right to open, tinker with, and repair everything we own.”


The US Forest Service plans to help prevent wildfires in the Los Padres National Forest by cutting down trees and chaparral across a 755-acre area of the forest. The Central Coast’s congressman and environmental groups say the project is unchecked and unnecessary.

Tyler Pratt/KCBX News

All evacuations have been lifted in Santa Barbara County even as firefighters—and the rain—continue to work on putting out the Cave Fire, which started Monday in the Los Padres National Forest. What began as a small brush fire has now burned thousands of acres, and forced thousands of people to flee from areas of Santa Barbara and Goleta. But for many in the community, the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday were just part of the California new normal.

USDA Forest Service

The US Forest Service is taking additional public comment this month on a controversial plan that will relax permitting for new logging and forest management projects.

US Forest Service

Fee increases of nearly 300 percent may be in the future for many campsites, trailheads, and recreational facilities in Los Padres National Forest. Several outdoor recreation organizations are raising concerns over the sites in the forest being handed over to a private organization, which is why the fees are increasing. 


San Luis Obispo CAL FIRE reported Thursday afterrnon that a fire was burning in heavy brush near the Rinconada Trailhead, which is just south of Santa Margarita Lake off Pozo Road. 

Update: Sherpa Fire almost completely contained

Jun 15, 2016
Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire @EliasonMike

UPDATE: Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 5:23 p.m.

Completed fire lines now surround 93-percent of Santa Barbara County's Sherpa Fire, which started on Wednesday afternoon, June 15th.  The estimated number of acres burned has been reduced to 7,474, due to more accurate mapping of containment lines, according to the Unified Command Center.

KCBX News - Randol White

Wildflowers are peaking currently in the Los Padres National Forest and Santa Barbara County's Figueroa Mountain is among the top locations to see nature's short-lived show. 


UPDATE: Friday, October 30, 2015 at 10:13 a.m.

Overnight winds in Santa Barbara did not fan the Gibraltar Fire beyond its 50 acre footprint, allowing crews to gain containment ground. The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management said Friday morning that fire was 50 percent contained—up from 10 percent on Thursday night.

Flickr member Damian Gadal

All of the wet weather the Central Coast is receiving this December has put an official end to fire season in the Los Padres National Forest, something that failed to happen last year.

Cal Fire says the high fire season is over for the first time since spring of 2013.

Unit Forester Alan Peters says the declaration gives fire crews time to engage in some training and other activities they can't do during peak season. While Central Coast hills have received enough moisture and greening to drop the fire level, Peters says the declaration could be short-lived.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

Marijuana Eradication Season is now over in Santa Barbara County according to the Sheriff's Office, and law enforcement says 47,000 plants were destroyed this year as part of the program.

Sheriff's spokesperson Kelly Hoover says the plants had an estimated street value of $131 million. This year's sweep however was down slightly from last year primarily because of the drought, Hoover said.

Most of the growing operations were found on Los Padres National Forest land by Santa Barbara County aircraft. In all, 18 individual illegal gardens were discovered.

Flickr member Damian Gadal, Winter 2005

The Los Padres National Forest is waiving its visitor fees on Saturday, September 27.

The deal applies to all Adventure Pass areas except the Lower Santa Ynez Recreation Area, where the fee will remain in effect.

While forest personnel says fall is a great time to get out and enjoy our local public lands, spokesperson Andrew Madsen wants to remind visitors that we're in peak fire season. He also wants to reiterate that campfires are banned anywhere within the forest and have been since the end of August.

Flickr member Evan Blaser

New rules are in effect this week, banning campfires at all National Forest sites throughout the Central Coast.

Andrew Madsen with the Los Padres National Forest says campgrounds are expected to be at or near capacity for the Labor Day holiday weekend. The unit includes some of the most popular destinations within the state, including Big Sur along the coast.

The state's ongoing drought pushed fire restrictions up to a Level IV on Tuesday, which could come as a surprise to some campers.