The health of the conifers in Los Padres forest has its caretakers considering pile burns in the Figueroa Mountain area. Between the drought and pine beetles, numerous trees have died and will be cut, chipped, piled, burned, or left to decompose as conditions allow. Pile burns of the forest understory, ladder fuels, and piled brush will take place during the wet winter months between now and March 1, depending on air quality conditions. The Forest Service conducts these treatments to lessen future wildfire intensity and to lessen tree deaths from insects, disease, and stand-replacing wildfires.
And thanks to the recent rains, Los Padres lifted restrictions on campfires and charcoal barbecues at Campfire Use Sites in the forest. For camps that are not so designated, a permit is required and guidelines must be followed. These include clearing flammable vegetation for 10 feet around the campfire area, having a shovel at hand to extinguish the flames, keeping a responsible person at the fire at all times, and drowning the fire with water and feeling it make sure it’s out before campers leave.
Other forest restrictions remain in place for spark arrestors on vehicles and engines, permits for explosives or welding, and the prohibition against tracer ammunition.
For information on the pile burns, call the Santa Lucia Ranger District Office at (805) 925-9538. Information on forest permits can be found at fs.usda.gov/lpnf.