Trails of Fire Along the Gaviota Coast in Santa Barbara County


What could possibly be wrong with carving hiking trails through the chaparral wilderness west (and upwind) from Santa Barbara along the Gaviota Coast? Local “environmentalists” are clamoring for expanded trails. Along with numerous other downsides, providing this sort of access has the potential to put virtually everyone on the south coast of Santa Barbara County at great risk.

The idea of hundreds, possibly thousands, of unaware and uneducated members of the public (and some with harmful intentions), many coming from well outside of Santa Barbara County, should cause significant trepidation to those concerned with the preservation of wildlife habitat in the environmentally sensitive hills, canyons and mountains along the Gaviota Coast.

Other serious matters to consider in addition to genuine fire anxiety are - the lack of sanitary facilities (the toxic effects would be accompanied with a “toilet paper trail”), ¬¬injury to hikers from myriad sources (falls, snakebite, wild animal molestation, sever sunburn, dehydration, etc.), damage inflicted (graffiti, cutting of rare vegetation, pyromania, etc.) and disastrous impact on wildlife and their habitat. For those who aren’t aware… wildlife doesn’t like human presence at all.

The citizens in the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara, and possibly as far as Carpinteria should be very concerned with the concept of unmanaged access into the backcountry of the Gaviota Coast. Regardless of what one smokes, the lighting of a match during high winds would be akin to pulling the pin from a hand grenade.

Frequent ferocious 50+ mph winds along the Gaviota Coast could drive a fire from Gaviota through Goleta and Santa Barbara in a matter of hours. How does one deal with mischief-makers or careless smokers from LA or Orange County? (For a list of articles on the many recent wildfires started in by people in California, please see below).

There are significantly more downsides to backcountry trails than positives. Activist “environmentalists” have theorized that the trails are needed to prevent residential development. Given county restrictive zoning constraints, that is a pretty weak excuse given the many problems and dangers associated with backcountry trail development and use.

The environmental movement began in Santa Barbara following a particularly damaging oil platform blowout in 1969. As is all too often the case, a good idea finds its way to someone’s personal benefit to the detriment of the original idea. In Santa Barbara County the environmental movement has unfortunately been coopted by the recreational community.

California wildfires (accidental and intentional; same results):