Photo Credit:  Jeff Kuyper, Los Padres Forest Watch


Photo of newly acquired Cox Canyon property near the San Rafael Wilderness

Lands Protected in the Los Padres National Forest

Lands Protected in the Los Padres National Forest

May. 03, 2011

High in the Sierra Madre Mountains, above Santa Barbara, CA, we hiked along a damp drainage on the Cox Canyon property, recently acquired by the Trust.  The Forest Service district ranger suddenly held up his hand for us to stop.  He pointed to fresh bear tracks.  “They used to hunt grizzlies up here in the Cuyama badlands”, said the Forest lands officer.  We all looked around us with ears perked, but no bears rustled the surrounding bushes—only the breeze through early spring flowers.  The Trust is working to transfer the Cox Canyon site to the Los Padres National Forest.


The Wilderness Land Trust in partnership with the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County recently acquired this 69-acre private inholding to the Los Padres National Forest, which is located in a potential addition area to the San Rafael Wilderness.  In the nearby San Rafael Wilderness, condors frequently soar and mountain lions roam near one of the largest Native American Rock art assemblages in the country. The property helps protect trail access and water in the current 197,380 acres of wilderness.


“The owner was ready to sell and a residence was allowed on the property, which is very close to good roads and an easy drive from the Southern California metro area,” said Aimee Rutledge, California Program Manager.


“We worked with willing sellers to protect Cox Canyon as wild and to ensure that ‘man is a visitor and shall not remain’--a goal of the Wilderness Act.  We are proud to create the future opportunity to add Cox Canyon to the San Rafael Wilderness”, said Reid Haughey, President.


“We are happy to have the chance to partner with the Wilderness Land Trust. We acted quickly to help bring this beautiful piece of land into our national forest,” said Michael Feeney, Executive Director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County.


"Our family is pleased to cooperate with the Trust in this transaction and to know that this pristine piece of de facto wilderness in the Sierra Madre will become part of the National Forest lands," Eric Hvolboll of Santa Barbara.


San Rafael Wilderness-Los Padres National Forest

After the initial preservation of land under the Wilderness Act of 1964, the original San Rafael Wilderness (1968) was the first Primitive area added to the National Wilderness Preservation System.  In 197,380 acres of chaparral-covered Sierra Madres and San Rafael Mountains, elevations range from 1,166 feet near the confluence of Manzana Creek and the Sisquoc River in the west to over 6,800 feet on Big Pine Mountain near the eastern boundary and Dick Smith Wilderness. All but two of the Sisquoc's 33 Wild and Scenic miles are within the Wilderness, tumbling through rocky pools and oak-shaded grasslands, over waterfalls and past archaeological sites. The region known as Hurricane Deck stretches for 17 miles of steep escarpments, grassy potreros, dry plateaus, and wind-carved sandstone formations. Wildflowers are abundant March through June. The Wilderness contains the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary, and black bears and mountain lions also live here with numerous smaller animals. San Rafael Wilderness has over 125 relatively rugged miles of trails.


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