[Update, 8:25 p.m., May 4: Trails east of Yerba Buena Road, including the Grotto Trail at Circle X, will reopen Sunday morning. Areas west, such as the Mishe Mowka to Sandstone Peak will stay closed. The fire's size remains at 28,000 acres, but containment has increased to 56 percent.]
[Update, 12:15 p.m., May 4: As of this morning, the fire remained at 28,000 acres, but containment increased to 30 percent. Full containment is expected on Monday.]
A wildfire that has quickly spread within the western Santa Monica Mountains forced the closure of trails and park areas today. The Springs Fire, named after its starting point off the 101 Freeway at Camarillo Springs Road, had charred 28,000 acres in less than 48 hours, as of 10 p.m. Friday. Crews set containment at 20 percent.
Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, you might think there are only a handful of beaches to choose from. That's an easy conclusion to arrive at, considering all the pricey real estate lining the coast, sometimes accompanied with official looking signs "prohibiting" beach access. But don't let all of that fool you. California's coast is public, and Malibu is no exception.
Take the Malibu coast as a whole and you've got about 27 miles. Seven are easily accessed via the traditional beaches flocked to by the summertime crowds: Leo Carillo, Zuma, Surfrider, and so on. The remaining 20 are all lined by private development, making access no easy feat. But all of that is going to change.
A canyon in a popular section of Joshua Tree National Park that was closed last month so that park staff could assess major vandalism will be closed to the public for at least another month.
Rattlesnake Canyon was closed to the public in early April after rangers discovered a rash of spray-painted graffiti on the canyon's rock walls and boulders. The canyon extends from the upper end of the Indian Cove day-use area deep into the Wonderland of Rocks section of the park, and is a popular bouldering spot.
Standing at Ashford Mills in the southern section of Death Valley National Park, I appreciate this vast park's solitude and spectacular viewsheds. The sun illuminates the mountain ranges to the west, which I frame in numerous photos to document the ruins of the old mill, a relic of Death Valley's gold mining era. To the North, a wash wanders past a spider web of alluvial fans, intersecting canyons and then disappears into the horizon.
However, the purpose of my visit isn't just to marvel at Death Valley National Park's stunning landscapes, but to also visit the park's newly refurbished visitor center that opened in November. Death Valley National Park is visited by over 800,000 people per year and nearly half of them end up at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. It's there that visitors learn about Death Valley's natural and historic resources, get directions for a great day hike, plan a trip into the park's backcountry, or ask other questions at the national park ranger-staffed site.
So much for the sequester. It looks like Mother Nature (or, well, climate change) is winning. Due to the federal sequestration last month, the opening of Tioga and Glacier Point roads were a big unknown. Basically, to save money, the park was going to push off snow plowing operations by a month, which could have meant road openings in June. Over the past thirty years, both roads usually open around Memorial Day weekend.
"Now with the lower snowpack, the cost of plowing is a fourth or fifth lower," said Scott Gediman, a Yosemite spokesperson. He said the opening dates, pending any spring storms or complications, are May 3 for Glacier Point and May 11 for Tioga .
The bittersweet lemonade from this year's early high temperatures and lack of significant snowfall is access into the northern reaches of Inyo National Forest will begin earlier than usual this year. Officials have announced that plowing of numerous roads in the Mammoth Lakes area have begun with a goal of finishing all the work before the unofficial start of summer.
"Typically, we don't start the plowing until another month," said Marty Hornick, spokesman for the forest. "Our goal is to have everything open before Memorial Day weekend -- and that is early." Reds Meadow, which is typically the last area to get plowed, opened in late June or early July the past three years.
Tens of thousands of acres in and around the San Gabriel Valley are proposed to become part of the National Park Service, according to a plan put forth to Congress last week. It's the featured recommendation in a 10-year study of the San Gabriel watershed and mountains to identify if any part of the area warrants inclusion within the system.
Under the proposal, a 50,000-acre National Recreation Area would border foothill areas of the San Gabriel Mountains, down the Rio Hondo and upper San Gabriel rivers, and over the western areas of the Puente Hills. Like the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in and west of Los Angeles, the new unit's boundary would surround a mix of already-protected open space lands owned by a variety of government agencies and private property, which would only be turned into public open space if donated or purchased from a willing seller.
It's been eight years, but the full path around Lake Hollywood Reservoir is now fully open to the public. On property owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the 3.2-mile loop will be accessible to walkers, joggers, and cyclists basically from sunrise to sunset (official hours listed here).
Ticks from three parks in the Santa Monica Mountains have tested positive for Lyme disease, officials announced today. The parks, all found between Agoura Hills and Malibu, are Paramount Ranch, Malibu Creek State Park, and Tapia Park.
"This is a good reminder for visitors to stick to the trail and avoid the vegetated areas where ticks like to hang out," said Evan Jones, the chief ranger for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, in a news release. "Though Lyme disease can be very serious, simply following a few basic steps can greatly minimize exposure."
[Update #2: The path has been opened. Here's our newest story with more details and photos.]
[Update: Because many readers have asked about dogs, we checked to see if they were allowed on the path. Here's the answer from LADWP: "Unfortunately, the perimeter road path is not going to be open to dogs. We do hope that walkers and joggers will enjoy the restored area."]
When the winter storms of 2005 pounded Southern California with rain, causing mudslides throughout the region, the hills around Lake Hollywood Reservoir were not spared. The popular perimeter path closed, only to partially reopen in 2009. Now, this Thursday, the remaining closure area on the westside will see the light of day after $9.5 million in repairs. Yes, the full 3.2-mile, relatively flat loop will finally be open again to walkers, joggers, and cyclists.