SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - The Los Padres National Forest's full closure has been extended through Monday, Sep. 21.
The extension comes from a U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region order, which also includes the Inyo, Sierra, Sequoia, Stanislaus, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland National Forests. The closure will be re-evaluated daily.
The emergency closure began on Sep. 7. At one point last week, all National Forests in California were closed.
Record-breaking wildfires across California are stretching firefighting resources thin. The U.S. Forest Service wants to prevent any new fires from starting and adding to the current statewide crisis.
The closure includes all Front Country trails on the Santa Barbara South Coast, which either begin on or extend into Los Padres land.
"We’re kind of in unchartered waters at the moment," said Bryan Conant of Los Padres Forest Association, a non-profit that assists the U.S. Forest Service in maintaining the Forest. “I don’t ever remember an entire Forest being closed—let alone eight… What we’re dealing with across the state, and even the West Coast, with fires really is unprecedented.”
Conant points out that the full forest closure is also to prevent emergency or search and rescue calls that could further stretch resources.
With Los Padres trails, campgrounds and day-use areas closed and the air quality in Santa Barbara County deteriorating, getting outdoors during the pandemic has become more difficult this month.
Those still looking to get outdoors this week are asked to avoid the Forest and Front Country trails.