Monday, July 25, 2011

Ban on Hunting in the Los Padres National Forest
Have you heard about the ban on hunting in the Lower Santa Ynez Recreation Area of the Los Padres National Forest? It falls in the Santa Barbara Ranger District. I'd be willing to bet you probably had no idea until now. J.R. Robbins, Managing Editor of NRA's Hunters Rights, wrote up this piece discussing the situation. I am thankful that J.R. decided to communicate this because I know of a few hunters that hunt the lower LPNF that probably have no idea about this order. I am only highlighting a few things, but if you are a Southern California hunter, regardless if you hunt the LPNF, I suggest you pop over and read the full article.  Who knows how many other 'closures' will appear right before hunting season.

"Los Padres National Forest officials announced that hunting will not be allowed within the Lower Santa Ynez Recreation Area of the Santa Barbara Ranger District. The Forest Order was issued to provide for public safety and will remain in effect through February 29, 2012."

And there was this, too: "Violators are subject to a $5,000 fine for an individual or $10,000 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both."


At the bottom there was a big blue link to the actual order, but clicking on it took me to a "Page not found" message.


Moreover, this hunting ban was apparently put in place purely at the discretion of the Santa Barbara District Ranger. Asked if the public had any chance to comment on the decision before the ban was implemented, Madsen said, "Not that I'm aware of. I don't believe there is a stipulation that we need to involve the public in closure orders."


Whether there is a stipulation or not, a certain group of citizens about to be banned from using public land deserves to be included in the process. To exclude them is nothing short of arrogance.


While nobody advocates trespass (even one hunter who commits it makes us all look bad), no hard figures were offered as to how many complaints were filed, or if they were all confirmed violations. Beyond that, the relevant agency cannot give out "vague descriptions" to hunters trying their best to obey the law. And while a government agency may be obligated to address residents' complaints, the process needs to involve all affected parties. A sudden, blanket closure of public land to hunting is a rash, knee-jerk reaction.

The original forest article from July 15 said this:

GOLETA, CA….Los Padres National Forest officials announced that hunting will not be allowed within the Lower Santa Ynez Recreation Area of the Santa Barbara Ranger District. The Forest Order was issued to provide for public safety and will remain in effect through February 29, 2012.

Violators are subject to a $5,000 fine for an individual or $10,000 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. Law enforcement personnel will strictly enforce the prohibition, and the public is strongly encouraged to report any violations to the Los Prietos Ranger Station on Paradise Road.

For more information on authorized hunting areas on the Santa Barbara Ranger District, please call the district office at(805)967-3481.

Let this serve as a heads-up warning to all of my fellow hunters. If you hunt the local forests, please check the websites for closures before you go. Getting a ticket in these closed areas is just the start of trouble. I wouldn't think to check the forest site every day before I hunt, but it's looking more and more like we are going to have to. Best of luck to those who are out in the heat and hunting the legal sections of the forests.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this.

    I spoke with a ranger this afternoon regarding the closure. Evidently there had been complaints from residents and some incidents. I haven't been to that area but given the park setting it might well be staff of the park. The closure is in fact a 1 and 1/2 mile band along the roadway from the entrance to the lake.

    He said there had been no injuries from hunting, and I said that wasn't surprising since statistically hunting is safer than bicycling. I asked if there had been any other injuries from other activities and he said yes, lots. Interesting that hunting is the activity singled out. The good news is this seems like a very localized issue, regarding specific complaints from residents, rather than a general policy direction.

    Nonetheless, I think it is good to politely work toward the removal of the ban, by hopefully mitigating the issues they are concerned with. A classic case of a few bad apples causing a reactionary response from a bureaucracy, ruining access. There is a lot of land beyond that in the forest, but I think it is important that a precedent isn't set.

    Neil H

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  2. Thanks, Neil. I agree, we need to tread carefully and politely. It just seems very odd that they are singling hunters out and not everyone. I am sure residents get frightened when they see a person with a weapon, and rightly so, but if it's public land they have no say. If those hunters are venturing onto the private land then I see the problem. The Forest Service hasn't (so far) produced any evidence that a hunter has breached the public land into private, so I hope to hear more from them as to why the focus is on hunters.

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