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Dead Trees Prompt More Los Padres National Forest Closures in Figueroa Mountain Area

Additional roads and campgrounds in the Figueroa Mountain recreation area of the Santa Lucia Ranger District have been closed after Los Padres National Forest officials deemed the locations pose a safety risk to visitors.

The closures were implemented last weekend due to dead and dying hazardous trees that have created a threat to campers, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Andrew Madsen said.

Temporary closures include the Figueroa Lookout, Pino Alto, Cumbre day-use areas, as well as forest roads 8N16 and 8N32.

“We are temporarily closing these areas until we can safely eliminate the risk these hazard trees pose to visitors as well as our employees,” Santa Lucia District Ranger Nathan Rezeau said.

“We appreciate the public’s cooperation and understanding while we take the necessary steps to safely remove the dangerous trees.”

The sites will remain shut down until Forest Service wildland firefighters cut down the dangerous trees, Madsen said.

“Some trees need to be removed on the floor and chainsaw qualified firefighters do that,” Madsen said. “They are busy with the new fires starting. We are hoping to reopen as soon as possible.”

Madsen said crews have cleared a majority of Figueroa Campground, but there are trees along the road that still need to be removed.

California’s forest are under attack by the five-year drought, warmer temperatures and aggressive bark beetle infestations, creating a tree mortality epidemic across the state.

Combinations of tree mortality from the drought and bark beetle has reached more than 60 million trees since 2010, located in six counties across 760,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada region of California, according to the Forest Service.

Dead trees are scattered around the landscape and creating hazards near surrounding communities, and fire responders if a wildfire occurs in these high-hazard areas, Madsen said.

Many recreation sites in the national forest remain open to visitors with no closures at this time.     

Open trails and campgrounds include: Rockfront Ranch off-highway vehicle riding area, Bates campground, Baja, Buck Springs and Paradise, Cerro Alto Campground, Colson Campground, Friis Campground - Pozo/La Panza area, Davy Brown Campground, High Mountain Campground, Miranda Pine, Horseshoe Campground, Nira Campground, La Panza Campground, Navajo Flat Staging Area/Campground, Friis Campground, Navajo Flats Campground, La Panza, Turkey Flat off-highway vehicle staging area and Pozo OHV area.

Open roads include: Figueroa Mountain Road to the junction of Happy Canyon Road, Sunset Valley Road, Cachuma Saddle, East Pinery Figueroa Mountain, Bates Canyon past Bates Canyon Campground, High Mountain Road to High Mountain Campground, Sierra Madre Road at intersection with Highway 166, Sunset Valley Road to Davy Brown and Nira Campgrounds, Red Hill Road and both sides on Pozo Road.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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