Milpitas Special Interest Area


Update February 20, 2012

Great News!

KING CITY, CA-Los Padres National Forest officials have announced the completion of the management plan for the Milpitas Special Interest Area (SIA).  The entire plan is available for viewing here(Linked to PDF of document).

Following is a quote from the US Forest Service press release announcing the completion of the management plan. 

“I encourage the public and Salinan tribal members to continue the dialogue regarding the Milpitas SIA so that we work together to keep Milpitas the special place that it is.” said Monterey District Ranger Sherry Tune.

The VWA, of course, was instrumental in this entire process.  Following is a quote from VWA President Tom Hopkins upon the signing of the plan:

“This is very good news and caps an effort launched way back in 2003.  Special thanks go to Gordon Johnson for providing the initial concept that was submitted as a VWA comment to the 2005 Forest Plan Revision process that resulted in the SIA being designated in the 2006 Forest Plan Revision.  Special thanks go also to Dennis Palm for his dogged and successful leadership of the whole planning process following the Forest Plan revision to include rounding up the funding and finding the FS enterprise team that drafted the plan for the FS and then coaxing it all along to this successful conclusion.  And lastly, special thanks go to Paul McFarland for drafting the last round of VWA comments.  All in all, this is a very significant accomplishment by the VWA, akin to the passage of the 2002 wilderness expansion that strongly advances the VWA mission.  Well done everyone.”


(Photo Credit: Dennis Palm)


Previous Updates:

UPDATE 3/7/2011 - Click here to read our comments on this plan to guide collaborative stewardship of this unique and special area. If you are interested in getting more involved or learning more, please don't hesitate to give us a call at 831-421-2098 or drop us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


UPDATE- 01/14/2011- Draft Management Plan released! A public meeting is scheduled for February 15th, 2011. To download the Management Plan  and find out more information, click here.

Those who frequent the Ventana Wilderness and surrounding lands all have there special places, but few are as magical and spectacular as The Indians in the springtime. It has been studied by academics and enjoyed by individuals, wilderness schools, and families for generations.  

In the Los Padres National Forest Management Plan of 2005, the Forest Service recognized the unique aspects of the area and designated the Milpitas Special Interest Area (SIA). The SIA contains a cultural landscape reflecting a continuum of Native American occupation from prehistoric through historic times.  Besides the archaeological significance of the area, the valley oak savannahs and sandstone outcrops have become field laboratories, regularly studied by scientists and universities.

The Milpitas SIA contains approximately 9500 acres, located in the upper watershed of the San Antonio River, much of which is within the Ventana Wilderness. It is approximately 17 miles from Mission San Antonio near the border of Ft. Hunter Liggett.  The dominant feature of the area is Santa Lucia Peak (Junipero Serra Peak), at almost 6000 ft., the highest peak in the Santa Lucias.

Prehistorically, the SIA was inhabited by the Salinan people. After the secularization of the mission in the 1830s, many of the mission Indians returned to their ancestral lands. The community became known as The Indians.  The name Milpitas, is derived from the small gardens or farms that were planted.

The LPNF Management Plan described the desired condition of the SIA:

“Protect the scenic nature of the area, which constitutes the cultural landscape and is an important part of the cultural values, and the cultural sites.  Minimize the numerous unimproved dirt roads that cross the savannahs, bisecting cultural sites, using physical barriers compatible with the scenic values.  Control off-road vehicle use, camping, and fires to protect cultural sites.  Where appropriate, enhance the sites through public interpretation.  Where needed provide a suitable combination of public education and regulations to provide to protect the rock outcrops and other aspects of the setting where the area is being damaged by various recreation activities.”

Due to decreases in funding and personnel, the Forest Service has been unable to develop a management plan for the SIA to achieve the desired condition.  The VWA has facilicitated and funded  an agreement between Los Padres National Forest and Mountain Heritage Associates to create a comprehensive management plan for the area with input from the Salinan tribes, recreational users, and the local community.