Hurricane Deck

Richie DeMaria

Hurricane Deck

James Wapotich Speaks at First-Ever LPFA Fundraiser

Santa Barbara Veterans’ Memorial Building Event Funds Trail Maintenance

Hundreds of miles of trails cross through our local backcountry, but nary a backpacker could pass over the storied paths of places like Hurricane Deck or Madulce Peak were it not for the work of the Los Padres Forest Association (LPFA). Founded in 1979, the volunteer-driven LPFA maintains much of our region’s wildernesses, engaging in work projects that cut through chaparral and flag the way for future travelers.

On April 19 at the Veterans Memorial Hall, the LPFA will be hosting its first-ever fundraiser talk, with a special presentation on backpacking Santa Barbara’s wilderness trails by celebrated backcountry-man and Santa Barbara News-Press writer James Wapotich. The event is free for LPFA members or $10 for non-members, with free beer included, and all proceeds will go towards funding LPFA trail projects.

LPFA Fundraising Chair and Super Volunteer Scott Kipp hopes the talk series will illuminate the work LPFA does and how those interested could get involved. “Making good trails enables more people to get out there. There’s so many gorgeous trails out there, and a great way to experience it is by volunteering with the LPFA,” Kipp said.

The trail maintenance keeps existing trails clear, saves old trails from erosion and brush encroachment, and helps offset the costs of salvaging almost-lost trails and the creation of new trails. “I think people don’t understand how trails cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make,” Kipp said.

Wapotich says his talk will feature a slideshow and stories about the Upper Sisquoc and Madulce Ridge areas in particular, both of which have recently received trail treatment from the LPFA. A Q&A and a mixer will follow his slideshow. Wapotich, who first joined the LPFA when meeting volunteer ranger Dave Weaver during a solo hike, says joining the LPFA is a “great way to learn about obscure places and gear, and to give a sense of community about being outdoors.”

Wapotich says anyone iffy about the workload shouldn’t fear joining in on work projects. “If you can backpack, you can do trail work,” he said. “It’s just fun to be out there, interacting with the land in a different way.”

Future talks will include a July talk by Brittany Nielsen, the first-ever thru-hiker of the Condor Trail.

The LPFA presents Backpacking Santa Barbara’s Wilderness Trails by James Wapotich April 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Veterans Memorial Building (112 W. Cabrillo Blvd.). For more information, visit

This story was updated to clarify that James Wapotich was introduced to the LPFA by David Weaver, not Scott Kipp.

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