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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 16th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 11

Forest Service seeks to restore parts of La Brea Creek area

By BRENNA SWANSTON

The public comment period for the proposed La Brea Restoration Project is winding down, slated to close on May 21. Until then, individuals and organizations may write in their comments on the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed project, which aims to restore damaged portions of the North Fork La Brea Creek area for recreational access.


WHERE THERE’S FIRE
Areas surrounding La Brea Creek have been closed for recreation since the 2009 La Brea Fire (pictured). Now, the U.S. Forest Service is seeking to restore certain sites there.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREW LEE

The roads, trails, and campgrounds in the area—which sits about 35 miles East of Sisquoc in the Los Padres National Forest—have closed since the 2009 La Brea Fire. The fire burned about 90,000 acres and was followed by intense storms, severe flooding, and sediment deposition. Now, the Forest Service is evaluating portions of the La Brea and La Brea Canyon roads, as well as the Kerry Canyon Trail, to determine whether to reclassify, relocate, reconstruct, or decommission them, according to a project summary from the service.

“Restoration of the area to provide a sustainable level of recreational use and access to the public while preserving the natural ecosystem, riparian habitat, and cultural resources is the goal,” the Forest Service’s project summary stated.

The area in question includes 10 recreation sites, and the project summary details specific goals for them:

1. Repair La Brea Road from Pine Canyon Road to Wagon Flat Campground, primarily using a bulldozer.

2. Convert La Brea Road from Wagon Flat to Rattlesnake Canyon to a non-motorized trail, since washed out stream crossings have made the road “impassable by vehicle.”

3. Convert the Kerry Canyon motorcycle trail to a non-motorized trail, because creek crossings “make it difficult to ride and maintain.”

4. Convert Lazy Camp Road to a non-motorized trail, also because of creek crossings.

5. Convert La Brea Canyon Road from Rattlesnake Canyon past Barrel Springs Campground to the gate near Alejandro trail to a non-motorized trail, because the segment has 10 stream crossings that have been washed out.

6. Construct a trailhead at Wagon Flat Campground, which would establish a parking area, information kiosk, and welded pipe barrier to define the area and limit vehicle access.

7. Construct a trailhead at the bottom of Rattlesnake Canyon, also including a parking area, information kiosk, and welded pipe barrier.

8. Construct a trailhead at the Forest Service administrative site near Colson Campground, which would establish a parking site to give access to trails and accommodate horse trailers.

9. Reclassify the Barrel Spring Campground as a primitive campsite, which are not serviced or maintained and “therefore require a pack-it-in, pack-it-out mindset,” which would remove campsite pit toilets.

10. Decommission Alejandro, Bear, Kerry, and Lazy primitive camps, which would remove all picnic tables, fire rings, and bulletin board’s, and take these camps off forest maps.

11. Decommission Colson Campground and build a pipe barrier around it to keep out vehicles, since the campground has not been maintained to protect cultural sites, and because the area is experiencing soil erosion.

The project is currently undergoing an environmental analysis, which will help determine whether to implement the proposed actions. Those who submit comments on the proposed project will remain on the Forest Service’s mailing list for future comment requests.

Residents wishing to contribute comments can do so online on the Forest Service’s La Brea Restoration Project page; by mail to Nathan Rezeau at 1616 North Colotti Drive in Santa Maria, Ca., 93454; or in person at the Santa Lucia Ranger District office.




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