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USFS - Los Padres National Forest

Preliminary Application Comments

 I have read the State Parks OHV grant application for the U.S.F.S. Los Padres National Forest-Operations and Maintenance-Education & Safety-Ojai/Santa Barbara's request for funds for the printing of two-district OHV maps. I believe this is an effective use of OHV funds. As an off road enthusiast who frequents the OHV trails in the area, I know first hand the lack of public knowledge concerning the plethora of OHV opportunities in these districts. Many OHV users in the area seek to gain more information about the trails, however they are unable to obtain a map that contains current trail information.  Providing OHV users with accurate maps is a crucial element towards ensuring both public safety and the preservation of national forest.  Please fund this grant request in its entirety. [Michelle Kupelian, Esq. - 4/6/09]

 I am commenting on the grants #G08-02-09 S02, Ed and Safety for the Mt. Pinos area for students K-12. This project seems important and valuable for our young people to be educated about our natural resources; plants, animals, enviornment and to be respectful of the impact we have when using our National Forest in the Mt. Pinos area. Safety practices are a must when operating off road vehicles and fits very well in this grant. Since many young people and their parents who live here use ohv's as their recreation, I support this grant and encourage the partnership with the Frazier Park Boy's and Girl's Club.

As to the USFS Los Padres Patrol District, G08-02-23-Lo1, Law Enforcement grant, the project covers 4 districts and a large geographic area. The number of officer's to effectively cover this area appears to be inadequate. Realistically, funding should be increased and more officers hired before increasing useage by ohv's. We have had the Day Fire and other fires to remind us how inattention, carelessness etc. can destroy life, property and our beautiful enviornment. The pressure will continue if the population grows as projected. Those of us who live here will not feel safe if we think there are not enough "eyes and ears" to help protect us. I support the grant with the request to admend it to add additional officers.

Personally, I do not like ohv's for the noise, destruction, pollution, etc. they cause. However, I am realistic enough to know that they will not go away, that balance and compromise is needed. We all would like to have a win-win situation.

Thank you, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me. [Anita Z. Anderson - 4/5/09]

 I would like to make a comment about two of the grant applications, which are under consideration at this time, and which were made by the Ojai Ranger District.  

Also in this letter, I would like to mention a request I have for a grant... I understand the time has passed for this cycle for me to make a new grant request, but I think it is important enough to bring up at this time.

The request that I would like to make is one which I have spoken about with some of your staff, and would very much like to try to get into the first stage of approval and planning.  In particular, some of us in the "Dual-Sport" community (we ride street-legal motorcycles that are also designed to ride off-road, like a dirt bike) would like to be able to ride from the Santa Barbara District, through the LPNF to the Ojai District, to make a longer, more interesting ride.  Presently we can ride in from Hwy 154 in Santa Barbara, on either Paradise Road to the Upper Oso, or in on Camino Cielo to either Divide Peak (where the trail ends, up above the south end of Potrero Seco/Monte Arrido road), or to Pendola and P-Bar Flat where two other (closed to motor vehicles) roads come in from Potrero Seco.

Or, if we were coming from Ojai, we could obtain gate access to Potrero Seco road from the USFS Ojai District, and ride to the south, where there is a gate we cannot gain access through.

In between these two ends of the Potrero Seco road (this closure above, at the north and Divide Peak at the south), is a corridor that was designated Back Country (allowing motorized) in the current Forest Plan.

My request is for the USFS to consider opening this corridor, so we could ride down from Divide Peak, up Potrero Seco, through the two gates, and out to HWY 33 and north or south for gas and food, or vice-versa (ride from Ojai to Santa Barbara), and return back to the start.

As street legal vehicles only are allowed on Potrero Seco, it would make sense to have this restriction be the same for the portion from Divide Peak... this will keep traffic to a minimum, and no one will be able to go in legally without street equipment, a driver's license, and insurance.  To assure this (limited) access, there should be a gate and the necessary fencing at the trail head near Divide Peak.  Access would be by permission only, as is the case now for the existing Pot Seco gate.

I believe Divide Peak is in (or managed by) the Santa Barbara district.  But, in making this connection, the Ojai District would be on the route, as well, so this request needs to be considered by both districts.  The same cross-over between districts would occur if we could gain access to the Hildreth or Pendola Jeepways to travel to Pot Seco, as well (although the latter roads' accessability will require an amendment to the Forest Plan, I believe).  Divide Peak is in the right designation now, so it seems to be the path of least resistance.  Cost to do this would be minimal, as just some brush cutting and a gate with some fencing would most likely be all that is required.

Now, I wish to make comment on the existing grant requests I mentioned at the start of this letter... the first grant request I speak of, is the Potrero Seco restoration project.  This restoration project consists of moving the current (south) gate on Potrero Seco road, because some 4-wheel vehicles have gone off the designated route and caused damage, playing in the mud.  Moving the gate to a place approx. 1/4 mile to the north (as proposed by USFS) will cut off some of this rare backcountry, but I can see something needs to be done to keep the vandals out of this delicate spot.  However, couldn't this be accomplished, simply by putting up a fence along that section of the road, thusly preventing access to it and keeping the drivers on the road?

I represent motorcycle riders only, and we do not seek out mud to play in it.  We always try to avoid it, unless there is no alternative... mud can be very slippery, and a bike can go down very easily in it, taking the rider with it.  We like moist soil, which is better for traction and less dusty, but mud is the worst.  The reason I mention this, is because I don't see the Dual Sport bikers breaking this rule, if we are allowed access through the gate.

The other grant request I would like to comment on, is the ORD's request for fencing, to fence Cherry Creek road prevent 4-wheel vehicles from being where they are not supposed to be. And I agree... something needs to be done to prevent this illegal activity.  However, this section connects the top of Ortega Trail to the highway, so I hope access through the gate at the top of Ortega onto Cherry Creek will be allowed.

I know that Ortega has been closed for repairs for some time, now, and that (I think) repair work is still ongoing to reopen this short, but excellent single-track motorcycle trail.  If and when it does open, the motorcycle riders with street legal bikes (coming from Pot Seco) would like to be able to continue down 33 to Cherry Creek Road, south to the gate at the top of Ortega, and down Ortega to the south end at Hwy 33.  The same but opposite route could be taken by riders coming from Ojai, and those returning to SB.

At this time, even if Ortega was open, without gate access, you would have only the south end for entry and exit (not very practical for riders coming over Pot Seco from SB)... and, being able to ride through from one end to the other is not only more fun, but more practical, to be able to get back out to the highway and continue your ride, from either direction.  For riders from Ojai, it would be nice to be able to ride up Ortega and out to 33 to go to the Pine Mountain Inn or continue up to Tinta Trail, or into Pot Seco, etc.  Access through this gate should be available by permission.

Another Ideal route would be if Matilija Canyon road could be used... then a loop could be completed... I have not looked into that, to see what the issues with it might be, but I have heard there are some private property owners who may own the right-away.

I appreciate all the USFS does, and expect to continue in my sport and work with the Forest Service for many years to come.  My primary riding area are these two districts, as I live in Ventura.  Occasionally I get up to Santa Lucia as well... perhaps we can discuss connecting to Sierra Madre Road from the top of Tinta and Santa Barbara Canyon as a future potential project... again, it appears that would require an amendment to the Plan, but could make a really good dual-sport route.

As for now, I hope we can get the access from Divide Peak into a planning stage, for the next grant cycle.

Many of us ride most every weekend, year around.  Most of us are middle-aged and older... we try to be good stewards of the forest, we would really like to ride more of these existing forest roads and trails.  The more variety, the better... and the more mileage available, the less long-term impact... in fact, our traveling through these areas and reporting back to the USFS when we see a problem, could help with maintenance and could even save lives... it would also make for easier patrolling for law enforcement purposes.
Thank you for your consideration. [Bruce Boring - 4/3/09]

 The Condor Group of the Sierra Club heartily supports the plan presented by the Mt. Pinos District of Los Padres in regard to the OHV program… money for repair and monitoring of present trails and no new trails being developed. If monitoring of trails leads to discovery of trails that are causing excess erosion and are leading to more off-trail damage, consideration should be given to closing those trails. Need more be said? [Mary Ann Lockhart - 3/31/09]

 These comments are submitted on behalf of the Central Coast Motorcycle Association (CCMA), the Cal Poly Penguins Motorcycle Club, and the California off Road Vehicle Association (CORVA).

The CCMA and the Cal Poly Penguins are active partners with Los Padres National Forest, providing over 1800 hours of volunteer time during the last grant cycle. Our organizations promote safe, responsible OHV recreation on the Los Padres designated system of routes that has been in existence since the 1970’s.

1. Santa Lucia Ranger District Planning Grant – 16E02 Las Chiches reroute.

This is a critical project for the area as it reroutes an existing designated OHV trail around private property. Although the project description states that there is an addition of trail mileage to the system the only purpose is to reroute an existing designated trail around private land. The project does not represent an expansion of the system nor would it result in any increase in OHV use. Las Chiches 16E02 is an existing designated trail that functions as a critical link in the system. We have discussed this project with the landowner on many occasions and he is in full support of the project.

2. Santa Lucia Ranger District Mixed Use Planning Project

This project would allow completion of NEPA analysis to allow mixed use (green sticker registration) on two of the critical connecting routes on the SLRD, Black Mountain Road and Pine Canyon Road. The mixed use project should ideally include several additional routes that are not described in this project.

Routes to be analyzed for mixed use should include:

Black Mountain Road 29S10, sections of Navajo Road 29S02.2, Quail 28S02B, sections of Red Hill Rd. 29S15, and Pine Canyon Road.

The Pozo La Panza trail system was originally laid out utilizing existing PG&E access roads and Forest roads as connecting links between designated OHV trails. These roads, including Black Mountain, Navajo Road, and Red Hill Road have been part of the trail system since it was first established in the 1970’s. These routes have been used for decades by OHV’s. At different times these roads have been posted as open for highway licensed vehicles only; at other times they have been posted as open to all vehicles. The extremely stringent standards recently imposed by the Route Designation process have called the status of traditional mixed use on some these roads into question.

This planning project would allow resolution of mixed use issues on the system through the application of contemporary planning procedures.

This project describes adding route to the system when in might be better described as preserving the integrity of the system by allowing existing use to continue on existing roads.  No new road or trail would be added to the system. The project would simply clarify use according to vehicle class.

The routes to be analyzed are lightly used Forest Roads that are able to withstand some increase in traffic including OHV use. The roads serve as alternatives to more difficult trails and as connecting routes that reduce two way traffic on narrow single track trails. This improves safety.

3. Los Padres Ground Operations

This part of the grant application requests essential funding to continue basic facilities and trail maintenance on the Los Padres OHV Trail system. We have made great progress though a combination of Forest and volunteer efforts to improve the condition of facilities and routes. Due to the loss of OHV opportunity around the State use on Los Padres has increased but is still sustainable at present levels.

Specific line item comments, Ground Operations:

   a. Direct expenses – SLRD volunteers include 3 certified professional
heavy equipment operators. Their hourly rate should be higher than 20.00.

   b. Contracts –

       1. SLRD vault pumping should include Turkey Flats

       2. SLRD CCC crew – the contract for the CCC crew was arranged by the CCMA. The funding for the CCC crew was originally to have been used by the County for other areas outside the Forest. Given that the funding would not have been available without volunteer efforts we contend this contract should be counted toward matching funds.

   c. Materials/ supplies – Should SLRD have a line item for fencing and barrier materials?

4. Santa Lucia Restoration

This is the continuation on the Red Hill restoration project.  Volunteers will provide heavy equipment operators to rip compacted soil and install water bars as part of the restoration as well as assisting with installation of wire fencing. Hourly volunteer wages for tractor operators should be greater than 20.00. Also should there be an item for tractor rental for this project?

5. Los Padres Patrol District Law Enforcement

The Law enforcement grant request is for the 2008-2009 grant cycle was 79,000 with a total funds being 156,250. Last year’s grant request was 392,500 with the total funding being 544,000. This appears to be a very large reduction in the funding for law enforcement for Los Padres. Law enforcement is a critical component of any OHV program and is necessary for resource protection as well as safety. We recognize that adequate law enforcement provides the three tiers of defense and prevents possible progression to the fourth tier which is use restriction and closure which is one possible outcome of insufficient presence due to inadequate funding.

Last year’s grant request was for 110 days of LEO time and 1400 days of FPO time. This year’s request is for only 55 days of LEO time and 316 days of FPO time. Given the size of the district and the number of areas requiring coverage the request would not be sufficient to allow even one LEO to cover both the Santa Lucia district and the Mt. Pinos District on all weekends and this is assuming all other Districts had no coverage. FPO presence also appears to be insufficient as it would allow for roughly one year of coverage across all OHV areas. We are assuming that law enforcement funding must be available through other sources? We recognize that the number of applications for law enforcement funding have far exceeded the available grant funds, but we contend that an area with the geographical area and the levels of use experienced by Los Padres should receive funding at a more realistic level.

6. Mt. Pinos Tecuya Ridge Reroute Planning Project

We support this project which would perform the required NEPA studies to reopen this important trail. Motorcycle single track trails are rare and highly prized by the OHV community. In order to maintain their character they must be groomed mostly with hand work making them time consuming to maintain. All to often they widen with time and become two track trails. This project would allow for the reopening of a trail with erosion. More of these projects should be undertaken. Single trak opportunities are very limited.


We hope these comments will assist the Los Padres National Forest in preparation of a successful grant application.  [Bruce Whitcher, Board of Directors, Central Coast Motorcycle Association - 3/18/09]