As residents of the Santa Barbara region, we’re proud of the amazing outdoor opportunities at our fingertips. From world class waves to great local climbing areas, our backyard (aka: the Los Padres National Forest) feels like an enhanced version of the playgrounds of our youth. But amazing opportunities beget hefty responsibilities to respect and conserve these lands. That’s why we partner with the Los Padres ForestWatch (LPFW), the only nonprofit organization protecting wildlife, wilderness, and clean water throughout the Los Padres National Forest. In early August, we hosted the LPFW summer gathering at our Toad HQ where activists sipped on local beer from Figueroa Mountain Brewery, and heard from our CEO, Gordon Seabury, and local photographer Chuck Graham.
This year’s focus was the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Carrizo Plain is part of the Los Padres National forest, about 3 hours northeast of Santa Barbara. It’s the largest single native grassland remaining in California and includes Native American ruins like the Painted Rock. The Plain is 50 miles long and is border by the San Andres Fault; the section in the Carrizo Plain is the oldest section along the entire fault zone. It’s an expansive, beautiful landscape and one that photographer Chuck Graham knows well. Graham has a personal connection with Santa Barbara’s public lands (he was a long time guide at Channel Islands National Park), and he’s been capturing stellar images of Carrizo Plain for nearly 20 years (see for yourself here). Graham showed the crowd his favorites from over the years and encouraged all attendees to visit the National Monument as frequently as possible. The future of the Carrizo Plain is currently unknown since it’s been called for review under the Department of the Interior’s National Monument Review. Looking at photos of these beautiful landscapes, we were inspired by nature’s awesome beauty and heartbroken by the thought of losing it. Graham’s deep love for the area made it all the more palpable.
On the heals of Graham, our Toad&Co CEO and Chairman of the Outdoor Industry Association, Gordon Seabury, had some choice words about the necessity of protecting public lands. Gordon stressed the importance of speaking up and sharing comments in support of public lands, and urged everyone to continue using public land for the activities we love. He also stressed that the future of public lands should be in public hands. From an economic standpoint, public lands are in the best interest of local communities, businesses and schools. Gordon, along with fellow members of the OIA , are working as a group to present this view to the current administration. We’re all in this fight together, so we’re proud to partner with like-minded organizations and individuals to keep our public lands wild and free.
So consider this a PSA: Your public lands need you now more than ever. Whether you are a birder, a hiker, a climber or all the above, our public lands are ready for you to use them. Find the areas closest to you on the Public Lands Website. Be sure to respect all limitations of public lands (including fire restrictions and endangered species awareness) and try to leave it better than you found it (gold stars for people who pick up litter when they see it). Our public lands are one of our nation’s greatest idea, so get out there and show your support for conservation.