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Cachuma Lake Nature Activities for February

From Passport to Santa Barbara, walks and lake cruises, there are many ways to explore the area

By Liz Gaspar |

The Cachuma Lake Recreation Area is a beautiful outdoor destination set amid oak woodland off Highway 154 in the picturesque Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County. You’ll find practically everything you need for a relaxing lakeside getaway in the great outdoors: year-round tent, yurt and RV camping, cabins, boating, boat rentals, fishing, nature cruises on the lake, birdwatching, photography, picnics, a hands-on nature center and a general store.

The following is a list of Cachuma Lake nature activities scheduled for February.

Passport to Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara County Parks at Cachuma Lake and the Cachuma Lake Nature Center participate in the Passport to Santa Barbara program for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. The Passport program offers children free admission, along with one adult, to more than 25 organizations of the Santa Barbara Educators’ Roundtable — museums, gardens, visitor centers, public lands and libraries.

The Passport booklet contains program guidelines and information needed to arrange for tours and admission to individual sites. Passports are available at the Cachuma Lake Nature Center, at local public libraries, and can be downloaded from www.sbert.org. Passports were also distributed in December to schools in Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley areas.

Ongoing Nature Activities

» Cachuma Lake Eagle Cruise — Offered 10 a.m. to noon Wednesday through Sunday and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Santa Barbara County park naturalists lead two-hour cruises that focus on bald eagles, other local and migratory birds, local wildlife, flora, cultural history and geology. The cost is $15 for adults and $7 for children ages 4 to 12; please, no children younger than 4. For reservations, call 805.686.5050 weekdays and 805.686.5055 on weekends. There is an $8 park admission fee per vehicle. For more information, call 805.688.4515 or click here and then on “Calendar of Events.”

» Cachuma Lake Nature Center — Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. Exhibits and hands-on displays for all ages feature local wildlife, birds, plant life, geology and local history, as well as a gift and book shop. Admission is free with $8 per vehicle park day-use fee. For hours and information, call 805.693.0691, see park bulletin boards or click here and then on “Calendar of Events.”

» Cachuma Lake Nature Walk — Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 am. Meet at the Cachuma Lake Nature Center. Santa Barbara County park naturalists and docents lead an easy-paced half-mile walk on the Oak Canyon Trail. Walk is free with $8 park admission per vehicle. For more information, call 805.688.4515 or click here and then on “Calendar of Events.” Groups of 10 or more are encouraged to call in advance.

» Cachuma Lake Junior Ranger Program — Every Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Cachuma Lake Nature Center. Kids earn a badge with the help of a Santa Barbara County park naturalist as they learn about wildlife and care of the natural environment. The cost is $2 per child in addition to the $8 park admission per vehicle. For more information, call 805.688.4515 or click here and then on “Calendar of Events.”

» Cachuma Lake Hiking — There are four miles of trails for self-guided hikes within the park. Pick up a trail guide at the front gate or at the Nature Center. There is an $8 park admission fee per vehicle. For more information, call 805.688.4515 or click here. Also, within a 15-minute drive of Cachuma, you can access multiple hiking trailheads in the Los Padres National Forest.

» Cachuma Lake Fishing — Fishing from shore in the campground or from a boat is open all year (including Christmas Day) with a valid fishing license. The lake supports healthy populations of large- and smallmouth bass, crappie and channel catfish. Plants of rainbow trout began Oct. 1 and continue through April 8. Click here for the trout planting schedule, the Weekly Fishing Report, and for strict boat inspection and launch requirements to control invasive plants and animals. The Cachuma Lake Marina & Boat Rentals is open daily dawn to early dusk, about 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in February. Boat rentals, slip rentals, one-day fishing licenses and full bait and tackle are available. Call 805.688.4040 for prices and specific times. There is an $8 park admission fee per vehicle.

» Bowfishing for Carp — Bowfishing is now allowed in Cachuma Lake. Required permits are free and are distributed at the main gate. Regulations apply and are posted on the permit, on Park Bulletin Boards and online. Carp populations in the lake have increased dramatically in recent years, and it is hoped that bow fishing to reduce their numbers will benefit other fish species in the lake. See Carp Bowfishing at Cachuma Lake at www.cachuma.com for more information.

» Lake Cruise Field Trips for Elementary Schools — Santa Barbara County Parks offers lake cruise field trips at Cachuma Lake for kindergarten through sixth grade. Lake cruises focus on watersheds, the ecology of oak woodland, chaparral and lake habitats. General emphasis touches on nature conservation, traditional Chumash life ways, plant life, geology, wildlife observations, and resident and migratory birds including bald eagles. Nature walks and a visit to the Cachuma Lake Nature Center are also included. For more information, call 805.688.4515 or click here and then on “Calendar of Events.”

— Liz Gaspar is a park naturalist for the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area.

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