Comments sought on Forest Service plan to reshape recreation in La Brea Canyon

Posted at 12:03 AM, Jul 24, 2018

A plan to decommission campgrounds and keep off-roaders out of a large section of Santa Maria backcountry is in its final stages.U.S. Forest Service officials recently released the Environmental Assessment for the La Brea Restoration Project covering more than 56,000 acres in the North Fork La Brea Creek area about 26 miles east of Santa Maria.People used to enjoy dirt bike riding and four-wheeling in the area — part of the San Rafael Wilderness — and hoped to do so once again but the Los Padres National Forest’s Santa Lucia Ranger District says the 2009 La Brea Fire and subsequent storms damaged roads and trails beyond repair.The Forest Service is now working to "determine whether to re-open, reconstruct, reclassify, relocate, or decommission these roads and trails."The plan is to turn parts of La Brea Canyon Road, all of Lazy Camp Road and a motorcycle trail into hiking, biking and horse trails — no four-wheel driving or dirt bike riding allowed. Several camps and campgrounds would be decommissioned. A project summary shows a welded-pipe barrier would be put in at Colson Campground to keep drivers and riders out.Nonprofit environmental group Los Padres ForestWatch says the restoration project would not only protect the land but also improve federally-protected “critical habitat” for endangered California red-legged frogs and southern steelhead in La Brea Creek.Those for or against the project have four weeks left to speak up. The public comment period ends August 20. You can add your comment here or mail/deliver them here:Santa Lucia Ranger DistrictAttn: Melody Fountain1616 Carlotti DriveSanta Maria, CA 93454The U.S. Forest Service will evaluate the comments and decide what to do later this year.