National Park Service (NPS) staff at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) are back to work and have begun the process of digging out from under the backlog of work that accrued during the month-long government shutdown.
The closure, following immediately after nearly 90 percent of NPS lands in the Santa Monica Mountains burned in the Woolsey Fire, has reportedly slowed the wildfire recovery process, and some areas of the park remain closed due to impacts from the fire.
Paramount Ranch, Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons, and the Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center are open. The popular Sandstone Peak Trail has also reopened, but the rest of the park is still closed and will remain closed until further notice. The park website (nps.gov/samo) will have the latest information on accessibility and visitor services.
“Our employees and myself included, are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and continuing the work needed to restore our public lands and all of our trails after the devastating Woolsey Fire,” said SMMNRA Superintendent David Szymanski. “Serving the American people and welcoming visitors, old and new, to LA’s national park, is what we do best.”
Syzmanski reported that the park’s partners have been supportive throughout the lapse in appropriations. Community Nature Connection and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), organized a concert fundraiser at King Gillette Ranch during the shutdown to benefit the park’s friends group, the Santa Monica Mountains Fund. The funds raised during the concert will go toward replacing wildlife tracking cameras, rebuilding Paramount Ranch’s Western Town, and park restoration after the recent fire.
Provided another shutdown isn’t in the immediate future, programs like talks and walks are expected to resume at the visitor center. In the field, damage from the fire will continue to be evaluated and addressed. Losses include signs, trail infrastructure like bridges and steps, and ranger housing, in addition to the devastating impact of the fire on natural resources.
As fire-damaged portions of the park reopen, park visitors are asked to help give the parkland time to heal by staying on the trails, avoiding walking in burned areas where soils are vulnerable to erosion, and respecting closures.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities.