Smokey Bear at the Los Prietos Ranger Station, Santa Barbara Ranger District
Los Padres National Forest provides Southern California and the Bay Area with a variety of terrain, vegetation, and recreational settings. There are 1,257 miles of maintained trails which provide both day-use and extended backpacking opportunities. Much of the forest is unroaded and primitive and has 10 congressionally designated wildernesses comprising approximately 875,000 acres or about 48% of the forest. These include the Ventana, Silver Peak, Santa Lucia, Machesna, Garcia, San Rafael, Dick Smith, Sespe, Matilija and Chumash wildernesses.
In 2014, our nation will celebrate "50 Years of Wilderness".
On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people. Over the past 50 years, and as a result of America's support for wilderness, Congress has added over 100 million acres to this unique land preservation system. The 1964 Wilderness Act defines "Wilderness" as areas where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people, where the primary forces of nature are in control, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain. To learn more about the Wilderness Act and the NWPS, visit http://www.wilderness.net, the official wilderness information website.