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August 2023 Equestrian Trail and Recreation Master Plan Updates

· Important Meeting #1: August 14th…Joint Santa Barbara County Riding and Hiking Trails Advisory Committee (CRAHTAC)/County Parks Commission Meeting on the County-Wide Recreation Master Plan, County Trail Policy and Process

· Important Meeting #2...SAVE THE DATE! August 30th…Planning Commission Community Workshop on the County-Wide Recreation Master Plan- Your attendance and/or email comments requested!

· Good News! Trail Updates

Viva la Fiesta and happy August! Hope you all had a wonderful celebration! We have some good news to share about our trails but first we want to let you know about two very important meetings that are coming up that influence our ability to ensure the Live Oak trail (and any trail in the County’s trail system for that matter) remains safe for equestrian riders.

Important Meeting #1

On Monday, August 14th, 3:00 – 5:00 PM at the Cachuma Lake Clubhouse (at Cachuma Lake Recreation Area), the Santa Barbara County Riding and Hiking Trails Advisory Committee (CRAHTAC) and the County Parks Commission will hold a joint meeting to discuss the County-Wide Recreation Master Plan (Rec Plan) currently in development. We are asking your help to write an email or letter to support the recommended Trail Policy as explained below.

For the past five months equestrians have been working with the CRAHTAC Working Group to develop a Draft County-wide Trail Policy for the Rec Plan that will be forwarded to the Parks Commission for their review. The Commission may make edits, or completely revise it, and ultimately to make a recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors.

The CRAHTAC Trail Policy (as voted on at their July 10th meeting) is:

“The Santa Barbara County recreational trail network is intended to serve trail user groups including pedestrians, equestrians, cyclists, and others. On a case-by-case basis, trails and/or trail segments will be designated as single-use, dual-use, or multi-use based on factors listed in the Santa Barbara County Trail Design Guidelines.”

Equestrians need to speak out now and support the recommended CRAHTAC Trail Policy at the August 14th joint meeting. We must have a good showing of equestrian support for the Trail Policy as written. Why??? Because the purpose of the Trail Policy is to eliminate any reference to requiring “multi-use trails” on every County trail (as has been the past practice of the County Parks Department), and to open the possibility of allowing single- or dual- use equestrian trails for horses and hiker/equestrian trails. The policy will open the door to accommodate Live Oak Trail as the County’s only equestrian trail. Without such a policy, we may indeed lose Live Oak as the County’s last safe equestrian trail.

Won’t you take a minute to send the citizen email (below) to support the Trail Policy? Edit the attached or write your own personalized email, it’s up to you! Emails must be sent to by Thursday, August 10th, 2023 @ 5:00 PM.

Citizen Trail Policy Support Letter 8_14_23
Download DOCX • 26KB

Important Meeting #2

Save the Date Please!!!

On Wednesday, August 30th, 9:00 at the Betteravia Government Center in North County, 511 East Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission will hold a Community Workshop on the Rec Plan. The Planning Commission will take public input on the Rec Plan – what facilities that equestrians want (such as safe equestrian trails, trailhead amenities – adequate trailer parking and staging area, hitching posts, water source, etc., horse camping, and others) and are necessary recreational amenities in Santa Barbara County. The Planning Commission will consider the comments collected at the workshop and use the information to enhance the Rec Plan.

This Community Workshop is not the last, but a significant milestone for equestrians to show up in numbers to pack the hearing room in person or if you’re not able to attend, by registering in in advance and participating on Zoom. A reminder with the link to register on Zoom will be sent out as soon as it becomes available. Why should you attend? There is a growing voice for the number of individuals participating in a sport to drive the need for recreational trails – even to the point of quantifying the number of horses in the Santa Ynez Valley to compare to of other users such Mountain Bikers. How can this be done? Well, in reality, it cannot. The number of horses coming and going throughout the County at various times of the year as well as separating out those riders who do trail ride…it is a fool’s errand and designed to detract from the real issue – equal and safe trails for all trail users, including equestrians. Equestrians must keep the conversation focused on the glaring lack of recreational equestrian trails and other amenities in the County and the need for the County to provide separate and safe recreational opportunities for equestrians. All other surrounding coastal Counties do!

You’re encouraged to bring yourself, your kids, grandkids (let the little ones speak too!), friends, relatives and anyone else you know who is interested in trail riding in Santa Barbara County and let the Planning Commission know that we need safe equestrian trails to teach our kids to ride, what they learn from riding and caring for their horses, what seniors need to feel safe trail riding, that we need trails to introduce inexperienced horses to trail riding and what our open and wild spaces mean to us and the wildlife we enjoy. This workshop is one of the critical times to speak up.

Won’t you think about attending in person or via Zoom? If you can’t make it, take another minute to send a citizen email? A sample email is provided below. Please edit as you like or write your own personalized email, it’s up to you! Submit your comment via email prior to 12:00 p.m. August 28th on the Monday prior to the Commission hearing to the Recording Secretary at In the Subject Line add County-Wide Recreation Master Plan on August 30th. Your comment will be placed into the record and distributed appropriately.

Aug 30 citizen letter
Download DOCX • 30KB

Good News! Trail Updates

1. Live Oak Trail

Live Oak Trail was opened in late June with the previous controlled access procedures. To access Live Oak:

· Annual Pass: call the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area Kiosk at ([805) 686-5055] and ask for the gate code. You will be asked for your permit number (on the windshield sticker) and required to call and confirm you’re leaving as you exit Live Oak.

· Day Use: Drive to the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area Kiosk to pay the day use fee and get the gate code for Live Oak.

Also note that the Trail Volunteer program has been discontinued with the reinstatement of the controlled entry.

2. Las Flores Ranch

Las Flores Ranch trails will be open to equestrians beginning on Thursday, August 10th!

3. Los Padres National Forest

Fire restrictions will be implemented throughout the Forest effective August 1. These restrictions will affect the use of campfires, stoves, smoking materials, and internal combustion engines, and will remain in effect until January 31, 2024. For more information visit

Thank you all for your interest and support. Hope to see you soon riding the Live Oak Trail!

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