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Rattlesnake Trail, San Roque Side of Jesusita Trail Reopen

Other trails will remain closed until spring to protect areas that received hydromulch

The U.S. Forest Service, the city of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara County opened the Rattlesnake Trail and the San Roque side of the Jesusita Trail on Friday.

Rattlesnake, Jesusita and Tunnel trails were significantly damaged in the Jesusita Fire and were closed in September during the county’s aerial mulching program and to allow for trail restoration work.

With oversight by Kerry Kellogg, wilderness and trails manager for the Los Padres National Forest, the trail restoration work was funded through the Forest Service Burn Area Emergency Response Program.

A Santa Maria-based team of California Conservation Corps, the Los Padres Hotshot Crew and the Santa Ynez Helitack Crew worked for nearly three weeks to repair trails in the Jesusita burn area.

Key to the work effort was special training provided by Garrett Villanueva, a Forest Service trails engineer from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit with expertise in sustainable trail construction and maintenance. Volunteer trail leaders who participated in a daylong training session with Villanueva in mid-October also contributed to the trail restoration work and are positioned to support ongoing trail restoration and maintenance efforts in Santa Barbara’s front country.

As a result of the work, the agencies opened Rattlesnake Trail and the Jesusita Trail from the San Roque Road trailhead to Inspiration Point.

Although trail improvements were complete throughout the Jesusita Fire area, the Tunnel side of the Jesusita Trail, Tunnel Trail and Tunnel Connector will remain closed until spring 2010 because of the need to protect the areas that received aerial hydromulch.

Trail users are reminded to exercise caution and consideration. Trails in the burn area remain subject to erosion and periodic rock debris, and will present unsafe conditions during wet weather. Remaining on the designated trails will reduce the potential for damage and additional erosion.

The Forest Service, the city and the county will continue to monitor the trails through the 2009-10 winter season. Additional trail work to address restoration needs may be needed after rain events. Trails may be closed in the future if wet weather presents significant concerns about trail safety.

— Jill Zachary is an assistant director of Parks & Recreation for the city of Santa Barbara.

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