Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hodgepodge 223/365 - Los Padres National Forest (6/9/17)

On our drive home, Steve, Beth, and Lynn—the real ringleaders of the Ventana Wilderness Ranger group—started plotting the next "summit," where all the rangers come together to go over such things as radio procedures, how to schedule a work outing, tips for staying safe, etc.

Games are also a feature of the summit, to help keep things light. One year, for example, we had a speed race to see which team could find and pick up the most scattered toilet paper (fortunately, not used) with pairs of grippers in a certain length of time, or who could stuff their backpacks fastest with the Ten Essentials. On the drive, we bounced around the idea of a trivia contest. I suggested that it be multiple choice with harder questions (as opposed to general knowledge), so we could learn something in the process.

Somehow, that suggestion turned into me volunteering to create said quiz.

Full extent of Los Padres NF
Now, I know very little about our local wilderness, the Ventana, or the neighboring one, the Silver Peak, both of which make up the vast percentage of our local national forest, the northern division (Monterey Ranger District) of the 1.75-million-acre Los Padres National Forest. So I guess I'll be doing some research. Starting now. Just for fun, I may throw in a few questions about the southern division as well, which extends from San Luis Obispo County south into Ventura County and east into Kern County and includes four districts: Santa Lucia, Santa Barbara, Ojai, and Mount Pinos.

Monterey Ranger District
There are ten wilderness areas in the Los Padres NF, accounting for 48 percent of total forest acreage. The largest is the Ventana, with 240,026 acres (375 square miles). Next up, the Sespe and San Rafael, with 219,700 and 194,380 acres, respectively. The last seven—the Dick Smith, Chumash, Silver Peak, Matilija, Santa Lucia, Machesna, and Garcia—range from 64,800 acres down to 14,100 (22 square miles). That's a lot of wilderness!

The extent of old-growth forest is estimated to be 18,900 acres (30 square miles), consisting largely of Jeffrey pine, as well as some coast redwood (that would be in our area), coast Douglas-fir, and white fir.

Wild & Scenic Rivers
There is a great interactive list of all the wilderness areas in the United States—California alone has 146—that I will continue to mine for information for this little quiz. In the short time I've been finding what I've included here, I've learned some interesting and surprising facts. For but one example: 31 miles of Sespe Creek, in the Sespe Wilderness, are designated a Wild & Scenic River, held back by no dams—making it one of the last wild rivers in Southern California. Only 23 rivers in California are included in this designation—the 19.5-mile-long Big Sur in the Ventana Wilderness being another one. I have also learned that only 1 percent (±2,000 miles) of all California's river mileage (±189,454) is deemed Wild & Scenic. Two thousand miles may seem like a lot until you realize that 187,000 miles have been obstructed by dams or otherwise rechanneled.

So yeah: I guess I'm glad I got volunteered for this task. I'm also glad that the summit won't be for a few months. Plenty of time to procrastinate.

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