Matilija Wilderness

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Matilija Wilderness
Usa edcp relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Location Ventura/ Santa Barbara counties, California, United States
Nearest city Ojai, California
Coordinates 34°49′0″N119°10′0″W / 34.81667°N 119.16667°W / 34.81667; -119.16667 Coordinates: 34°49′0″N119°10′0″W / 34.81667°N 119.16667°W / 34.81667; -119.16667 [1]
Area29,207 acres (118.20 km2)
Established1992
Governing body U.S. Forest Service

The Matilija Wilderness is a 29,207-acre (11,820 ha) wilderness area in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, Southern California. It is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, [2] being situated within the Ojai Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest. It is located adjacent to the Dick Smith Wilderness to the northwest and the Sespe Wilderness to the northeast, although it is much smaller than either one. The Matilija Wilderness was established in 1992 in part to protect California condor habitat. [2]

Contents

Geography and characteristics

Location of Matilija Wilderness MatilijaWildernessLocMap.jpg
Location of Matilija Wilderness

The wilderness is located about 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Ojai [3] in the Santa Ynez Mountains and spans most of the watershed of Matilija Creek, the main tributary of the Ventura River. [2] Matilija Creek (sometimes known as "Middle Matilija Creek" to distinguish it from its various forks) flows from the northwest corner of the wilderness in a southeasterly direction through a deep canyon, and is joined by several major tributaries including the Upper North Fork of Matilija Creek, Old Man Canyon, and Murrieta Canyon. A small northern portion of the wilderness is drained by Sespe Creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara River. [4]

According to the Forest Service in 2005, "the natural appearance and integrity of the area are very much intact". [5] The area is extremely remote and rugged and is characterized by rock outcrops, crumbling slopes and steep canyons filled with brushy vegetation, with some gentler terrain in the northern part of the wilderness. [5] [6] Elevations range from 6,014 feet (1,833 m) [7] at Monte Arido, on the western edge of the wilderness, to about 1,600 feet (490 m) at the Upper North Fork of Matilija Creek. [3]

Riparian zones with thick stands of alder and maple are found along canyon bottoms, and conifers are present at higher elevations. [2] The Matilija poppy, which has the largest flowers of any indigenous California plant, is native to this area. [8] Wildlife found in this area include black bear, deer, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, quail, rabbits, raccoons and squirrels. [5] The endangered California condor is also known to nest in the area and was a major reason for the creation of the wilderness. [9]

History

Matilija Creek in the Matilija Wilderness Matilija Creek.jpg
Matilija Creek in the Matilija Wilderness

The name "Matilija" is derived from "Mat'ilha", a Ventureño Chumash village once located somewhere in today's Matilija Wilderness. The Chumash collected Apocynum cannabinum (dogbane) from the canyons to use for fiber, and harvested pitch and nuts from pine trees. [10] During the California Gold Rush Murrieta Canyon (named for legendary outlaw Joaquin Murrieta) at the southern edge of the wilderness was a trekking route for miners traveling from Santa Barbara to gold diggings on Piru Creek. [11] The Upper North Fork of Matilija Creek, today a recreational trail, was historically a mail route between inland and coastal parts of Ventura County before the construction of Highway 33 bypassed this area. [12]

The upper Matilija area has been a popular recreation area since the late 1800s, with many hikers making the trip up Matilija Creek to camp, fish and hunt in the canyons. [13] The nearby Matilija Hot Springs, first discovered in 1873, became a public resort in 1877 and passed through many owners before being closed in 1988. [14] Matilija Creek was known for its steelhead fishery until the building of Matilija Dam in 1948 closed off the upper section of the creek, within today's wilderness area, to fish migration. [15] The dam is now filled with sediment and it is being considered for removal. [16]

The Matilija Wilderness was established by Congress as part of the Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act of 1992. [3] The bill also established the neighboring Sespe Wilderness and five other wilderness areas in the Los Padres National Forest, with the express purpose of "fire prevention and watershed protection in such areas" and "activities that maintain and restore fish and wildlife populations and their habitats (including the California condor) inside them." [17] It also listed part of Matilija Creek to be considered for the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, [17] although it was later not designated as such. [9]

The wilderness was the scene of a controversy starting in 2010 when landowners along the Matilija Trail threatened to close access. [18] A coalition of environmental groups and hikers reached a settlement in 2016 for a public easement through the Bonsall ranch, in return for relocating part of the trail east of Matilija Creek and putting up signs to discourage trespassing off-trail. [13]

The entire Matilija Wilderness was burned to various degrees during the Thomas Fire in December 2017. [19] The area has burned on a large scale several other times in the 20th century, including the 1932 Matilija Fire, and the 1985 Wheeler Fire. [5]

Activities

The Matilija Trail follows the stream bed of Matilija Creek into the wilderness; however, the more remote sections of the trail are unmaintained and have been washed out in places. Matilija Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall known for its swimming holes, is located deep in the wilderness at the end of a difficult 9-mile (14 km) roundtrip hike. [20] USGS topographic maps show at least five waterfalls in the wilderness along Matilija Creek and its tributaries, although not all of them are accessible by trails. [4]

The 9.1-mile (14.6 km) North Fork Matilija Trail follows the Upper North Fork of Matilija Creek. [21] Several primitive campgrounds are located along the trail, which can be accessed from the south via Forest Road 5N13 (Matilija Canyon Road) and from the north via Cherry Creek Road, both off Highway 33. [22] Road 5N13 continues west through Murrietta Canyon, offering hikers, riders and mountain bikers a path to the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation Area. [12]

There is also fishing in Matilija Creek during certain seasons. [3]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Sespe Creek

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Ventana Wilderness Protected wilderness area in California, United States

The Ventana Wilderness of Los Padres National Forest is a federally designated wilderness area located in the Santa Lucia Range along the Central Coast of California. This wilderness was established in 1969 when the Ventana Wilderness Act redesignated the 55,800-acre (22,600 ha) Ventana Primitive Area as the Ventana Wilderness and added land, totalling 98,000 acres (40,000 ha). In 1978, the Endangered American Wilderness Act added 61,000 acres (25,000 ha), increasing the total wilderness area to about 159,000 acres (64,000 ha). The California Wilderness Act of 1984 added about 2,750 acres (1,113 ha). The Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act of 1992 created the approximately 14,500-acre (5,900 ha) Silver Peak Wilderness and added about 38,800 acres (15,700 ha) to the Ventana Wilderness in addition to designating the Big Sur River as a Wild and Scenic River. The Big Sur Wilderness and Conservation Act of 2002 expanded the wilderness for the fifth time, adding nearly 35,000 acres (14,000 ha), increasing the total acreage of the wilderness to its present size of 240,026 acres (97,135 ha).

Dick Smith Wilderness Protected wilderness area in California, United States

The Dick Smith Wilderness is a wilderness area in the mountains of eastern Santa Barbara County, California, United States, with a portion in Ventura County. It is completely contained within the Los Padres National Forest, and is northeast of the city of Santa Barbara and north of the city of Ojai. It is most easily accessible from two trailheads off State Route 33, which runs north from Ojai. It is adjacent to the large San Rafael Wilderness on the west and the Matilija Wilderness on the south. Across Highway 33 to the east, and also in the Los Padres National Forest, is the large Sespe Wilderness.

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Matilija Creek

Matilija Creek is a major stream in Ventura County in the U.S. state of California. It joins with North Fork Matilija Creek to form the Ventura River. Many tributaries feed the mostly free flowing, 17.3-mile (27.8 km) creek, which is largely contained in the Matilija Wilderness. Matilija was one of the Chumash rancherias under the jurisdiction of Mission San Buenaventura. The meaning of the Chumash name is unknown.

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Sespe Wilderness Protected wilderness area in California, United States

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Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act of 1992

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Matilija Fire 1932 wildfire in California, United States

The Matilija Fire was a major wildfire that burned nearly 220,000 acres (89,000 ha) in the Santa Barbara National Forest of Southern California, during the autumn of 1932. The fire is named for Matilija Creek, near the location from which it originated.

Sespe Hot Springs Thermal springs

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References

  1. "Matilija Wilderness". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey. 2004-02-20. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Matilija Wilderness". Wilderness Connect. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Matilija Wilderness". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  4. 1 2 United States Geological Survey (USGS). "United States Geological Survey Topographic Map: Old Man Mountain, California quad". TopoQuest. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Land Management Plan Part 2, Los Padres National Forest Strategy. U.S. Forest Service. Sep 2005. pp. 92–93.
  6. Record of Decision, Final Environmental Impact Statement and Resource Management Plan, Los Padres National Forest. U.S. Forest Service. 1988. pp. 3–4.
  7. "Monte Arido". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey. 1981-01-19. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  8. Mohlenbrock, Robert H. (2006). This Land: A Guide to Western National Forests. University of California Press. p. 127. ISBN   0-52093-051-7.
  9. 1 2 "New Wild & Scenic River Recommendations". Los Padres Forest Watch. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  10. McCaslin, Dan (2016-07-22). "Big Matilija Creek and Canyon Day Hike". Noozhawk. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  11. Hulse, Jane (1996-01-18). "Trail from 1800s a Gold Mine for Hikers : Little known and out of the way, the Murietta Road northeast of Ojai is a scenic challenge for both hikers and bikers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  12. 1 2 Carey, Craig R. (2012). Hiking and Backpacking Santa Barbara and Ventura. Wilderness Press. p. 209. ISBN   978-0-89997-635-8.
  13. 1 2 Carlson, Cheri (2016-09-23). "Agreement reached for public access on Matilija Falls trail". VC Star. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  14. Mason, David (1994-10-22). "Matilija Hot Springs has Colorful History". Ojai Valley News. Ojai History. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  15. "Steelhead". Los Padres Forest Watch. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  16. "Removing Matilija Dam". Matilija Coalition. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  17. 1 2 "H.R.2556 - Entitled "Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act"". United States Congress. 1991. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  18. Saillant, Catherine (2010-06-27). "Landowner puts foot down on mountain trail". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  19. "Thomas Fire". Los Padres Forest Watch. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  20. McCaslin, Dam (2012-06-13). "Matilija Falls Day Hike (Ojai)". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  21. "North Fork Matilija Trail". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  22. "Matilija Wilderness - Hiking and Backpacking Trails". Hike Los Padres. Retrieved 2018-01-18.