About the Forest

Los Padres National Forest - Animals and Plants

Animals and Plants

Condor Bitter Creek Wildlife RefugeLos Padres contains a wide range of ecosystems, from seacoast and marine habitats to redwood forests, mixed conifer forests, oak woodlands, grasslands, pinyon juniper stands, chaparral and semi-desert areas, which are home to more than 468 fish and wildlife species. There are twenty-three threatened or endangered wildlife species, twenty regionally sensitive wildlife species and thirty-four forest-level sensitive wildlife species in Los Padres. Los Padres provides habitat for and is involved with the reintroduction of California condors, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, tule elk, bighorn sheep and many endangered plants (there are more than thirty species of sensitive plants in Los Padres).

Los Padres National Forest encompasses an area of 1,752,400 acres, or over 2700 square miles, of habitat ranging in elevation from sea level along the Monterey Coast to 8,831 feet atop Mt. Pinos, the highest point within the forest. Most of the forest is composed of steep, rugged coastal mountains containing watersheds which supply nineteen reservoirs. The major mountain ranges within the forest are the Santa Lucia, La Panza, San Rafael, Santa Ynez and Sierra Madre. The climate varies from Mediterranean along the coast and portions of the interior (cool mild winters and hot dry summers) to semi-desert in the eastern badlands. The coastal areas are often tempered by fog and marine air masses resulting in very moderate, year round temperatures. Rainfall averages seven to nine inches in Cuyama area to between 15 and 30 inches throughout the interior. The Monterey District ranges from 20 inches inland up to 80 inches along the Coast Ridge. The vast land area, and the elevational and climatic factors, play a major role in the diversity of habitat types found on Los Padres.