Segments of the Backbone Trail Re-Open Today, Four Months After Woolsey Fire

A portion of the Backbone Trail managed by the National Park Service in Malibu reopened today, along with the popular Grotto Trail in the Circle X area.

The majority of the 67-mile Backbone Trail is now open, with the exception of a four-mile stretch from Yerba Buena Road to the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead and a six-mile stretch from the Kanan Trailhead east to the Corral Canyon Trailhead. Large portions of the trail have been closed since the Woolsey Fire destroyed 88% of federal parkland in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area last November.

Backbone Trail repair work (Photo Courtesy of National Park Service)

Backbone Trail repair work (Photo Courtesy of National Park Service)

“Our small trails crew, assisted on some days by our valuable partners, which include members of the California Conservation Corps, Camp 13 and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, did a phenomenal job in restoring these trails,” said David Szymanski, superintendent of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “An especially rainy season hindered the work and created a variety of additional hazards, but these folks really came through and made it happen.”

Other trails and areas in the park still closed include Solstice Canyon and trails in Zuma/Trancas Canyons.

All official trails in Circle X Ranch, one of the park’s most remote and scenic locations, are now open ,including the Mishe Mokwa Loop, Sandstone Peak Trail, and the Tri Peaks Trail. Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons, Paramount Ranch, Rancho Sierra Vista and the Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch are also open.

Click here to see photos of the extensive post-fire work (including some before and after photos) that was done to mitigate safety issues caused by “hazard trees” (trees that were badly burned in the fire and are susceptible to falling), eroded trails and warped, burned culverts. Tasks included clearing trails of hazardous rocks, branches and sticks and reestablishing trail pads by spreading any slough that fell from the hillsides onto a trail and finding large rocks and dirt to fill deep ruts that cut directly across trails.

Although these areas are open, there is a closure order for all burned areas that restricts the public to the trails only. Visitors are being asked to stay on trails and be aware that numerous safety hazards still exist. Hikers going off trail can cause more damage to newly restored trails, trample new plants, and prevent the re-growth of fragile vegetation.

The NPS trail crew collaborated on multiple sections of the Backbone Trail with local members of the California Conservation Corps and Camp 13, the only all-female, Malibu-based fire camp in Los Angeles that occasionally assists with trail work. The Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council also helped repair a portion of the Backbone Trail section along Kanan Road in Zuma Canyon.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area boasts a network of approximately 500 miles of trails.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it comprises a seamless network of local, state and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/samo.

Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Trails Re-Opened to the Public Today

Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Trails in the Santa Monica Mountains Re-Open to the Public Today

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All trails in the Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons have been re-opened to the public today, Friday, November 21, 2018. Please note, however, that the Chesebro Road Bridge is currently inaccessible due to heavy fire damage. There is a barricade and signage at the bridge indicating that passage is not possible. Use alternative routes.

While the trails in Cheeseboro have been cleared of hazards, there may be additional hazards in recently burned areas off trail. For your safety, stay on trails!

The Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch is also open today until 1:30 p.m. It will be closed through Sunday. Satwiwa Native American Culture Center in Newbury Park will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9-5.

Rancho Sierra Vista in the Santa Monica Mountains is Open Again November 16th

As of Friday morning, November 16th, the entire Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was closed to public use because of the Woolsey Fire, with the exception of Rancho Sierra Vista, which became publicly accessible at 10 am. However, the entrance to Point Mugu State Park remains close.

For updates on the Santa Monica Mountains, visit www.nps.gov/samo/index.htm.

For updates on Point Mugu State Park, visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=630.

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Mountains Restoration Trust Seeks Volunteers at Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park

Mountains Restoration Trust (MRT) has received a $94,469 grant from the Ventura County Tree Mitigation Fund and will work closely with the National Park Service (NPS) to to revive native trees and plants at Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park. Rancho Sierra Vista is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Elementary school students plant native plants at Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park. The National Park Service and Mountains Restoration Trust are seeking volunteers to help plant nearly 5,000 native plants and trees. (Credit: National Park Service)The project encompasses 24 acres and consists of planting, monitoring and regular maintenance of 2,000 trees, including coastal live oaks, valley oaks, walnuts and sycamores. In addition, there will be 3,000 understory plants, including shrubs such as sage, bunchgrass and herbs. All plants and trees will be maintained and monitored over a 10-year period.

"This is an exciting and important restoration because we are connecting to 10 acres we planted last year in the upper reaches of Potrero Creek," said Irina Irvine, a restoration ecologist for the National Park Service. "We will be creating a functioning, self-sustaining riparian corridor which will benefit overall watershed health, reduce flashy fuel loads and provide water, forage and shelter to wildlife."

The public is invited to volunteer either a few hours or on a more long-term basis to help with planting and weeding. More information is available at www.volunteermatch.orgsearch/opp1943238.jsp.

All trees and plants will be grown locally at native plant nurseries operated by the two agencies.

Mountains Restoration Trust is a non-profit land trust dedicated to preserving natural land in the Santa Monica Mountains through restoration, education and land acquisition. Founded in 1981, MRT collaborates with government agencies in an ongoing effort to maintain a cooperative relationship between urbanization and native land. More information is available at www.mountainstrust.org.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it encompasses a seamless network of local, state and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/samo.

The Ventura County Tree Mitigation Fund distributes funds for projects that result in the planting and maintenance of protected trees, including restoration and/or maintenance of their associated habitat. The program is administered by the Ventura County Planning Department.