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Posted on 02.10.2014 1:12 p.m.

Volunteer Wilderness Rangers Raising Funds to Help Keep Trails Open in Los Padres Forest

Lori Rafferty and other Volunteer Wilderness Rangers try to find the route along Mission Pine Trail, west of Big Pine Mountain in the backcountry of Los Padres forest.
Lori Rafferty and other Volunteer Wilderness Rangers try to find the route along Mission Pine Trail, west of Big Pine Mountain in the backcountry of Los Padres forest.  (Curtis Wathne photo)

Source: Bryan Conant for the Volunteer Wilderness Rangers

Chances are that if you have hiked on any backcountry trails in the Los Padres National Forest over the last 20 years, the Volunteer Wilderness Rangers have at some point helped maintained those trails.

The VWR program collaborates directly with the U.S. Forest Service to provide volunteer trail maintenance and patrol, community outreach projects and outdoor recreation opportunities.

VWR members represent a diverse group of nonmotorized outdoor enthusiasts ranging from hikers and backpackers, horse packers, mountain bikers (where permitted), trail runners, peak baggers — everybody of all ages! Families, young teens and even retired folks in their 70s and 80s enjoy getting out and helping with basic trail maintenance, including crosscut sawing, brush lopping and clearing.

As anyone knows who explores the local backcountry, our trail system is in need of constant repair due to fast-growing brush and highly erosive geology, plus the numerous trees still falling down from recent fires including the Zaca, Day, Piru and La Brea. And all the more so since over the last 10 years, the Forest Service budget for recreation has been declining at a pace as about as fast as the chaparral grows.

What a lot of community members don’t know is that in the recent 2013 White Fire along the lower Santa Ynez River, the VWR headquarters was completely destroyed and along with it a majority of their tools, supplies and gear.

So the VWRs have put together an Indiegogo Campaign to help raise money to replace these lost tools. If you would like to continue enjoying our backcountry trails, click here and pass it along to anyone and everyone you know who uses our trails. Also join the Los Padres Forest Association on Facebook where anyone can find the latest and greatest information on trail conditions, access road closures, water levels and more.

Click here for more information about the VWR fundraiser campaign.

— Bryan Conant represents the Volunteer Wilderness Rangers.

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