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Los Padres National Forest crews working to reopen Figueroa Mountain

Fig Mountain
Posted at 4:48 PM, Feb 17, 2023

As sunshine has returned to the Central Coast after January's many days of rain, Los Padres National Forest maintenance crews are working to repair several areas that were impacted by the storms.

In a map provided by Los Padres National Forest officials, you can see the more than 50 locations across the Central Coast that were affected by last month's heavy rain.

Storm Damage Map
A map provided by Los Padres National Forest officials shows the more than 50 locations across the Central Coast that suffered storm damage.

On Friday morning, Los Padres Forest crews and other assisting agencies were at one of those sites roughly 15 miles down Figueroa Mountain Road, east of Los Olivos.

"Water came down and basically blew out this section of the road so we are trying to repair the shoulder and make it passable," explained Michael Fuerch, a task force leader for the repair efforts on Figueroa Mountain.

He says crews only began servicing the area two weeks ago, as the initial damages from the rain prevented them from accessing the site themselves.

"Just getting access to these roads has been very treacherous and difficult," Fuerch added. "A lot of it has to be done on a side-by-side or possibly hiked to. We are still trying to get to some of these areas in our forest."

"We have had roads that have had dirt washed across them, sides of the roads have been undermined, trees across roads. For a while, we had water crossings that had water coming over them so we couldn’t get through there also," said Cassy Buckley, a member of Figueroa Mountain's Patrol 38.

While there is no timeline for when these roads or the rest of Los Padres National Forest will reopen to the public, officials say doing so is a top priority with peak fire season around the corner.

"We have histories of some very large fires out here so these roads are one of our number one access to these fires, so if we cannot get through, that is going to make it very difficult for us and fire season in California," Fuerch said.

Buckley adds that as a possible spring super bloom approaches, her team is working quickly to fix the damaged areas so they can resume welcoming visitors to the park.

"Wildflower season is coming up. It is time for the community to start hiking, backpacking. The public is eager to get out in nature. [The] weather is beautiful. We want to reopen it so they can have a place to go," she said.

Officials say operators from the Lassen, Plumas, San Bernardino, and other national forests have all assisted in clearing the roads on Figueroa Mountain. They say several landowners on the mountain were also left without access to their properties following the storms.

Repair efforts are expected to continue over the next few weeks.