— The Reyes Peak (aka Pine Mountain) Forest Health Project on Los Padres National Forest’s Ojai and Mt. Pinos Ranger Districts was cleared to proceed after U.S. District Court Judge John Walter ruled against lawsuits brought by Los Padres Forestwatch and other parties. The court affirmed that the proposed thinning and fuels reduction work is consistent with law and Forest Service regulation and issued a decision in favor of the Forest.
The Reyes Peak Forest Health Project will protect an area that is at risk due to overstocking and the devastating impacts of disease and insect infestation. The project lays within a federally designated Insect and Disease Treatment Area where declining forest health conditions have put the area at risk for substantial tree mortality over the next 15 years. The primary goal of the project is to reduce tree densities and promote forest resilience to insect and disease, persistent drought, and wildfire. To address these threats, professional Forest managers will selectively thin specific areas across 755 acres that extend along Pine Mountain between state Highway 33 and Reyes Peak in Ventura County.
The project will reduce hazardous surface, ladder, and crown fuels, and include prescribed fire, piling and burning. Treating these areas will reduce competition, improve the health of the remaining trees, and increase the overall average stand diameter. Trees between the 24-inch and 64-inch diameter would be retained unless they pose a safety risk.
This project aligns with the U.S. Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy, which combines a historic investment of congressional funding with years of scientific research and planning to dramatically increase the scale and pace of forest health treatments over the next decade. As part of this strategy, the agency will work with states, counties, Tribes and other partners to address wildfire risks to critical infrastructure, protect communities, and make forests more resilient. “We are in a wildfire crisis and must take immediate action to protect our forests in Southern California,” said Los Padres Forest Supervisor Chris Stubbs. “Let me be clear – this is not a commercial logging project. We are trying to save the remaining trees on Reyes Peak from the devastating effects of a stand-replacing wildfire.” For more information about Los Padres National Forest, please visit our public website at www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf.