Los Padres National Forest officials today announced that many forest roads will remain closed to vehicle traffic until the required environmental analyses are completed and road damage can be fully evaluated.
Recognizing the impact these closures have on public recreation, Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez addressed the regulatory steps required to re-open storm-damaged roads, and outlined her strategy for accomplishing the work required under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
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“We are working as expeditiously as we can to complete the NEPA work so we can open the roads for our crews to deal with the extensive damage from the winter storms,” Hernandez said. “My goal is to move this process along as quickly as possible, while ensuring our compliance with environmental safeguards.”
Many of the roads currently closed potentially qualify for Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) funds due to the winter storms. The Forest must apply to the Federal Highway Administration for ERFO funding after completing a full assessment of the damage, however an inventory of damaged roads cannot occur until Biological Evaluations required under NEPA are finalized.
“There’s been some speculation these closures are due to litigation,” Hernandez said. “This is not true. The reason some roads remain closed is that the extent of the storm damage across the Forest—and the work required to do the NEPA and consultation—has exceeded our capacity to get the needed environmental clearances in time to conduct early season repairs.”
Visitors are strongly encouraged to “Know Before You Go” and call the District for more information about roads open to vehicle traffic and campgrounds that are inaccessible by car.
Santa Lucia Ranger District (Santa Maria) – (805) 925-9538
Santa Barbara Ranger District (Santa Barbara) – (805) 967-3481
Ojai Ranger District (Ojai) – (805) 646-4348
Mt. Pinos Ranger District (Frazier Park) – (661) 245-3731
Monterey Ranger District (King City) – (831) 385-5434