dispatches & explored

National Public Lands Day: Ortega Trail and Horseshoe Hill

Late in coming, I know, but following is the short account of a service project I led for the Los Padres Forest Association this past National Public Lands Day (weekend) on September 28th.

The official USFS press release read thusly:

A work crew 72 volunteers deep descended on Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, the lower Ortega Trail, and Horseshoe Hill for a concerted NPLD work day under the auspices of the Los Padres Forest Association today. Spearheaded by Scouts, leaders, and parents from Cub Scout Pack 3179, Boy Scout Troop 103, and Girl Scout Troop 60718 and led by a crew of Volunteer Wilderness Rangers, the volunteers cleared a shooting area and brushed trail, and performed maintenance and general upkeep at the Visitor Center. Thanks to all the volunteers for their hard work!

But as with any project, there’s the logistics. After LPFA Executive Director Bryan Conant (who, among many other things, is also He of the Cartographic Infamy) reached out to ask if I could help with a project on the Ojai District, I turned to Bardlero Primero (Patron Saint of the 20W15), who dutifully scouted out the Horseshoe Hill shooting area.

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Image courtesy Bardlero.

Confirmed. It was a mess out there.

While there are all the usual administrative tasks in coordinating a volunteer project (forms, transportation, tools, drinks, safety regs, etc.), the real struggle is the actual labor … getting enough boots on the ground and hands on the tools to complete the work. I’d had decent success recruiting during my tenure as ForestWatch‘s volunteer coordinator — knocking out 31 projects in 13 months (more on that later) — but for this project, I wanted to knock it out of the park. I needed POWER.

So naturalement I went to the most reliable pool of Forest-ready volunteers I know … Scouts! Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts … dozens signed on for the project, and — bolstered by their parents, siblings, and a plethora of VWR and other adult volunteers — we took to painting and carpentry at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, clipping the lower half-mile of the Ortega Trail, and clearing the shooters’ debris from Horseshoe Hill.

It was a great day, and I’m thankful for everybody who rolled up their sleeves and made it the best-attended NPLD project on the Los Padres this year.

Enjoy some photos!

No More Processing Here

Image courtesy Sr. Avila or Ranger Heidi

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Image courtesy Sr. Avila

Buckets o' Junk

Service with a View

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Image courtesy Sr. Avila

View from On High

Skunk Bait Afield

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Image courtesy Sr. Avila

Clipmasters w/Ranger Carol

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Image courtesy HF McCabe

Squeaky Clean

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One Response to National Public Lands Day: Ortega Trail and Horseshoe Hill

  1. Nico says:

    Nice work! I assume this area isn’t a legal target shooting area? If not, what’s being done (if anything) to discourage its contined use?

    The ongoing target practice out there drives me crazy. I’m not particularly against guns or target shooting, but I can’t tell you how sh!tty it was to come around a corner on the Ortega Trail and find myself in the midst of a couple of yahoos’ makeshift target range. They literally had their targets set up in the middle of the tread. We rounded a corner and found ourselves standing just behind the targets. Not good. Fortunately they weren’t firing at the moment.

    As usual, the knuckleheads ruin it for everyone else. Fortunately there’s folks willing to get out there and invest some effort in cleaning up these areas and protecting other less abused areas. I appreciate it. Hopefully your new career direction won’t pull you away from the SLP for too long!

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