A popular recreational area will be closed to the public starting next week for Southern California Edison’s construction work in Mission Canyon above Santa Barbara.
The project is located along Spyglass Ridge Road north of Mission Canyon and west of Mission Creek.
Trail closures are necessary in the immediate area beginning Monday through Oct. 30 because of the nature of the work, including the use of heavy equipment and the need to complete the work ahead of seasonal rains, according to SCE spokesman Robert Laffoon-Villegas.
Construction is expected to occur from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday each week.
“We want to make sure the public is safe,” Laffoon-Villegas told Noozhawk. “Taking that closure is needed, and hopefully that will help us as well complete that work speedily and get it done before any sort of major rains.”
Starting Oct. 31, the trail will be open for recreation access most weekends and holidays (from Saturday morning to Sunday evening). Construction will continue from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Most activities will be conducted in a one-mile section of the existing access road, with minor activities such as material storage occurring in additional areas, according to Laffoon-Villegas.
“It should be a pretty contained site,” he said.
The project will include grading and road maintenance activities along an existing utility access road at the end of Tunnel Road in Mission Canyon, Laffoon-Villegas said.
In addition, the installation of a rockfall drapery system is proposed in a section of the access road with a vertical rock wall to minimize rockfall hazards. The work will include remediation for native vegetation and repairs to the roadway drainage system, according to Laffoon-Villegas.
“This current project is primarily focused on trail user safety and is just one of a series of important steps to fully restore and mitigate SCE’s damage to our beloved trail and creek,” Mission Canyon Association board president Jason Saltoun-Ebin said.
In December 2019, road work performed by SCE crews caused dirt, soil and other debris to enter Mission Creek near Tunnel Road and the Inspiration Point trail. SCE personnel performed extensive road grading that generated debris to move down canyon slopes into Mission Creek, according to the company.
The road widening project moved more than 6,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock, according to the Mission Canyon Association.
“Mismanagement and failure to supervise by SCE resulted in severe environmental impacts to the road/trail, slopes and Mission Creek among others,” the association stated in an email. “The most serious damage is the highly visible dumping of approximately 1,500 cubic yards of rock and dirt directly over the creek bank alongside and into Mission Creek in the 450 feet of the road approaching the Tunnel Trail bridge.”
SCE removed rocks and debris from roads, installed a k-rail and fencing in areas of potential rockfall, and removed steel plates to allow completion of the bridge assessment in March, according to the company.
During the closure, those who want to hike the Inspiration Point trail can access it using the Jesusita Trail. The path starts near Santa Barbara’s Cater Water Treatment Plant at the end of San Roque Road.
For more information about the project and closures related to the work, click here or call the SCE information line at 805.244.0095.
Safety is SCE’s top priority, Laffoon-Villegas said.
“We recognize the importance of the trails for residents and visitors, and understand the inconvenience that these closures may cause,” Laffoon-Villegas said. “These temporary closures will allow for this work to be completed safely and efficiently, so that the area can be reopened to hikers and visitors in a timely manner.”
The Tunnel Trail in Mission Canyon is among the Los Padres National Forest trails, campgrounds and day-use sites temporarily closed because of high fire danger. The U.S. Forest Service has extended the closure until Monday.
— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.