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THANK YOU FOR READING THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION - updated February 25, 2021 

ALERT: Due to a January 26-28 storm, Highway 1 is closed from Big Creek Vista Point in the south to just north of Lime Creek Bridge in the north. Long-term, there is a significant washout of the Highway 1 at Rat Creek (just north of Big Creek Reserve and just south of Esalen Institute). Expect this closure to be in place until summer 2021. Nacimiento-Fergusson Road (which connects Highway 1 at Kirk Creek with Fort Hunter Liggett on the eastern side of the Coast Ridge) is also significantly damaged and may not be open for quite some time.  

Effective January 22, 2021 U.S. Forest Service - Los Padres National Forest has re-opened most unburned areas of the Monterey Ranger District. In and around the northern Ventana Wilderness, most lands north of and including the Marble Peak Trail are open. Wilderness camps in the backcountry can be accessed from the Arroyo Seco Recreation Area near Greenfield (off 101) or via Tassajara Road deep in the Carmel Valley. 

The Pine Ridge Trail from Big Sur Station to Redwood Camp remains closed. 

Lands south of Willow Creek Road, including most of the Silver Peak Wilderness, are also open.

Most secondary roads (including Del Venturi/Milpitas, Nacimiento-Fergusson, Plaskett Ridge, Willow Creek/Los Burros, & South Coast Ridge roads) remain gated and closed. 

This map depicts the closure boundary. Not sure if a particular road, trail, or camp is open? Call the Monterey Ranger District at 831-385-5434. Please enjoy your public lands responsibly. When in place, abide by NO CAMPFIRE restrictions. Pack out everything you pack in (including toilet paper). Leave this special place better than you found it. Leave No Trace ethics are more important than ever with visitors concentrated in fewer places to go.  

State Parks 

The following are open for day use:  Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park - Soberanes Canyon Trail, Andrew Molera State Park, Point Sur State Historic Park (tours only), and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (go online or call to find out if the park's campgrounds are open)  

The following remain closed: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, John Little State Natural Reserve, Limekiln State Park  

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (additional US Forest Service information for the Monterey Ranger District): Please note that the information above is oftentimes more up-to-date than the US Forest Service site. Call 831-385-5434 with questions. 

 

Ventana Wilderness Forums • View topic - Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-6/1/20

Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-6/1/20

This is the place for general discussion and backcountry information.

Moderators: Betsy M, dknapp1

Re: Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-6/1/20

Postby Muzzled on Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:32 am

Resist! Many in Big Sur get information from this source

https://bigsurkate.blog/2020/04/28/mary ... weds-4-29/

Many only see this headline:
https://bigsurkate.blog/2020/04/15/mont ... -june-1st/
Muzzled
 

Re: Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-6/1/20

Postby gfelsman on Tue Apr 28, 2020 4:52 pm

Just a note, we were out on Patrol today. When we got to our destination. We found the trailhead sign had the trail closed, forest order and fire restriction sign ripped off the trailhead sign. I understand the frustration. But ripping off informational signage designed to help the user understand current Fire Restrictions is unwarranted. It takes time and personnel to go out and replace this signage to help keep folks informed of the current regulations.

Please do your part leave signage as it is found, whether you agree or disagree with it. We want to help educate the public about how to recreate safely in the forest.

As mentioned below there will most likely be another Forest Order coming out soon. We will see what it says about trail access when it is released.
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Re: Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-6/1/20

Postby jack_glendening on Tue Apr 28, 2020 10:46 am

Update/Correction: I'm informed by Mike Splain that USFS feed was incorrect, current closure still ends April 30, though USFS is working on a likely less onerous extension. (So Big Sur Kate's info likely came from the same source.)

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Re: Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-6/1/20

Postby jack_glendening on Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:58 am

My info re closure going to June 1 comes from this USFS link (which came up on a USFS news feed 4 days ago):

Los Padres closes Monterey Ranger District roads and trails to the public until June 1
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/lpnf/new ... EPRD725280

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Re: Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-6/1/20

Postby VWA Admin on Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:30 am

From the forum moderators: There have been a few posts in this topic (& others) which violate the VWA forum rules & in some cases served little purpose other than to vent frustration, pose unfounded accusations, &/or circumvent the current closure order. We've contacted folks who have done so with a legitimate login, but have (& reserve the right to continue doing so) deleted all or portions of anonymous posts that violate forum rules & do not advance the conversation. Let's keep it civil & constructive.
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Re: Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-4/30/20

Postby mikesplain on Tue Apr 28, 2020 9:14 am

I just checked the LPNF website & the current order does indeed expire on April 30th- https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/lpnf/ale ... ?aid=57918

Rumor has it the Forest is planning to renew it, at least in some form...
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Re: Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-6/1/20

Postby jack_glendening on Mon Apr 27, 2020 10:44 pm

To update this thread, the USFS Forest Closure Order was extended until June 1 about 3 days ago.
:-(
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Re: Monterey Ranger District COVID-19 Closure- 4/16-6/1/20

Postby pantilat on Mon Apr 27, 2020 12:04 pm

Further to Salty's point below, the Turner Creek Trail was included in the second closure order. Must we believe that the couple dozen visitors who use that trail ANNUALLY, those who are willing to tangle in a sea of sticker vines and brush, actually pose a social distancing threat?! Of course use of Turner Creek Trail doesn't... there is no nexus to COVID on that trail or in the vast majority of the Ventana.

While there remains a few ways into the forest (as has been pointed out, but note that Arroyo Seco is totally closed and barricaded!), the intent of the closure is to effectively shut down the whole forest and it actually accomplishes that objective for most of the forest. I suspect that they understood that a forest-wide closure order has shaky legal standing, but let's call it what it is.

While the current closure order ends on April 30th, I am can say with near certainty that they are under pressure to re-issue the closure order in its current form for May. This gives an opportunity for the public to provide further comment with hopes that they will reconsider the scope of the next order (i.e. open up the trails!).

It is true that not all voices are being heard. Our elected representatives and public officials should give equal and proportionate consideration to all voices, but that requires everybody with concerns to first speak up, otherwise all they hear are the complaints from a few vociferous, highly-motivated individuals. I have drafted a letter to voice my concerns (see below) that can be adapted for personal use as one sees fit. Please send me a note if you would like a WORD version of this this letter, the PDF of Outdoor Visitation Model or more info.

____________________________________________________________________

Dear District Ranger Tim Short, Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, Supervisor Mary Adams, Supervisor Chris Lopez:

I’m writing with the hope that you will reconsider the scope of the forest closure order that has effectively cut off access to all lands within the Monterey District of the Los Padres National Forest. While I am very concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic and feel every precaution should be taken to slow its spread and to prevent people from congregating in groups, I do not believe that a continuation of a forest-wide closure is warranted or advisable. My reasoning is as follows:

1. The Los Padres National Forest consists of five ranger districts and only the Monterey District has been subject to such a closure. All of the districts of the Los Padres contain certain parts of the "front country" that are overcrowded with an empty backcountry. Why the disparate impact for the Monterey District? Similar to other parts of the forest, the challenges particular to the “front country” of the Monterey District can be addressed with targeted, common sense solutions that do not ultimately require a different approach to enforcement.

2. Open spaces and wilderness are vital to people's physical and mental health, even more so in a pandemic. People will seek safe spots for fresh air. It is well understood that outside air is much safer than indoor air. The physical and mental benefits of exercise are undeniable, especially considering that lack of exercise contributes to high risk factors for complications with COVID-19 (including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity). The local closure orders understand this and exempt “Outdoor Recreation.” There has been no evidence linking hiking in the Los Padres backcountry with any community spread of COVID in any shape or form, nor is there any evidence that such activity has contributed to any spread in any national forest or local public parks.

3. Indeed, this closure may actually make the problem worse. By forbidding people to enter the national forest, where they are unlikely to encounter many if any others, a closure order will further concentrate people in the outdoor spaces that remain open, undermining the goal of social distancing.

4. What is the optimal way to regulate public lands during a pandemic to ensure maximum social distancing? Max Reese, a Sr. Robotic Algorithms & Control Engineer, took on this question from a modelling standpoint to provide statistical insight into the problem and graphically show the negative effects of closing down large swaths of recreational lands. The conclusion is that targeted closures of a small number of high use areas is shown to be an effective strategy for minimizing visitation density in recreational lands, but closure of more than a small fraction of a total area’s recreational lands will result in an undesired increase in visitation density in the remaining open areas. This effect is exacerbated when large areas of public land like the Monterey District of the Los Padres National Forest are closed. If our goal is social distancing then most of the Monterey District should remain open. I attach this study for your review.

5. No data has been submitted to support the claim that all trailheads and trails in the Monterey District are overcrowded. On the contrary, the vast majority of trails and land in the forest are empty to near empty making it an ideal location for people to receive the benefits of outdoor recreation while adhering to social distancing. Moreover, even if there are cars at the trailhead, it does not necessarily mean that hiker density on hundreds of miles of trails within the forest is high and many trails do afford opportunities to allow opposing hikers to safely pass.

6. I am very concerned with the precedent that large swaths of public land can effectively be closed to the public even though 98%+ of the 313,000 acres in the Monterey District has no direct nexus to the crisis. If, or when, there is another wave of COVID, or another crisis unrelated to the forest, I am very worried that public access to the entire forest may be prohibited again. I am particularly worried that such closures will be at the behest of local residents without input from the greater community.

7. I believe the residents of surrounding communities like Carmel, King City, Monterey, Salinas, Pacific Grove, Seaside, Greenfield, Soledad, etc. who do not live immediately adjacent to the forest should be allowed to have safe public spaces to get fresh air for mental and physical health. These residents should not be crammed on neighborhood streets where the risk of community transmission is undeniably higher when hundreds of thousands of acres are available nearby. All residents of the regional community should be given an equal and proportionate opportunity to comment on decisions with respect to their public lands before such decisions are made.

8. Both the governor of California and county officials are discussing ways to ease restrictions in the coming days and weeks while still maintaining social distancing. It is time to implement common sense, effective solutions to limit crowding at the most high use areas of the “front country” in the Monterey District while easing restrictions on the vast majority of the forest that see few visitors.

Therefore I would like to encourage you to reconsider alternatives to a forest-wide closure such as the following:

1. Temporarily ban dispersed car camping at the high-use dispersed camping areas on the south coast of Big Sur where concerns with dispersed camping are longstanding and well documented even prior to the COVID pandemic.

2. Restrict roadside parking near otherwise closed developed recreation sites such as Sand Dollar Beach where visitors have apparently been parking outside the closed parking area along Hwy 1 en masse.

3. Consider a targeted approach to closing the most historically crowded trailheads like Salmon Creek and Kirk Creek.

I continue to believe that a more targeted approach designed to limit crowding at the high-use areas would be easier to enforce with limited resources focused on these biggest problem areas. I am assuming that most (if not all) enforcement is focused on these very same spots currently. In addition, adopting more targeted alternatives will further the goal of social distancing while giving residents the physical and mental benefits of exercise and fresh air in nature.

I appreciate your consideration.
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