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  • Santa Ynez Valley Riders Information

The Santa Barbara County Parks Commission Meeting is this Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Santa Barbara County Parks Commission Meeting is this August 25, 2022 – In person only - at Cachuma Lake Clubhouse 2225 Hwy 154 at 9:30AM. The agenda and Meeting

We're in somewhat of a holding pattern until October, when we hope to find out the fate of the Live Oak Trail. You're welcome to attend the meeting and/or you may send comment letters.

This month's letter to the Park's Commission is below. You are welcome to cut and paste this letter, edit as you would like, and send it via email to Eva Camarena at

Thank you all for your ongoing support and for hanging in there!!!

RE: Live Oak Trail Status

Dear Honorable Park Commissioners:

Equestrians continue to monitor the "Pilot Project" at Live Oak Trail. The Parks Division's "Pilot Project", the study that allowed hikers on the Live Oak Trail beginning in April 2020 and is slated to end in October 2022. We respectfully request that you Commission request a full analysis and report of the collected data before any changes to the trail occur. We also request that your Commission consider the benefits of a community working group to create a Master Plan for Live Oak Camp and Live Oak Trail. We are hopeful your Commission would support such a planning effort and make a recommendation to form a working group to the Board of Supervisors.

On another issue: Two examples of methods to increase revenue at Live Oak are being implemented at Joshua Tree National Park and locally at Montana de Oro State Park. Live Oak Camp and Trail could benefit from the models these two projects provide.

Joshua Tree National Park: Just this past month, the volunteers and Park staff at Joshua Tree National monument have been working to make the Park a great equestrian camp spot. Five new horse corrals were installed at the Black Rock Horse Camp at Joshua Tree National Park as a gift from local equestrians, local riding groups and the equestrian patrol there at the Park. This generous gift brings the total number of corrals at camp to nine (9). Black Rock Horse Camp is essentially a large open area (trailhead parking lot) and the establishment of the horse camp required very little in terms of cost and labor. If you’d like to learn more about the trails and campground and to stay current on events at Black Rock Equestrian Camp, join Facebook user group “Horse Culture of Joshua Tree National Park”. In February 2021 Parks staff and Joan Hartman, Third District Supervisor had requested the Santa Ynez Valley Rides prepare in early 2021 for the re-establishment of Live Oak Horse Camp and as depicted in Figure 3.9-3 of the Cachuma Recreation Master Plan. This proposal would be similar to the project at the Black Rock Equestrian Camp in Joshua Tree, only requiring placement of corrals at campsites. A water system is currently available throughout Live Oak Camp and dumpsters could be made available for manure collection. A low-cost option with possible high return to the County as horse camping is rapidly expanding as a popular recreational activity. Coast Mounted Assistance: There is a great model program that funds the horse camp and trails at Montaña de Oro State Park (MDO) in Los Osos. The Coast Mounted Assistance (CMA) was established in 1973 by local San Luis Obispo County, California, equestrians who originally assisted State Park employees to map and construct the trails system within MDO State Park. Today, this volunteer organization is part of the California State Parks Volunteers in Parks Program (VIPP). CMA is under the umbrella of Central Coast State Parks Association. CMA volunteers assist the park rangers by patrolling trails and alerting them of any violations of Park rules and regulations. They gather information on trail conditions and report changes to flora and fauna. The volunteers maintain and/or construct trails as approved by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. CMA members also assist in the improvement and maintenance of the Horse Camp facilities at Montaña de Oro State Park. Members make themselves available to park visitors to answer questions and suggest things to see and do within the park. CMA enjoys quite good rapport between mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, and equestrians in San Luis Obispo County. A similar organization is missing, but necessary, in Santa Barbara County. CMA hosts two fundraising events each year at and for the MDO horse camp and trails. The next event is coming up in October. The flyer and reservation/entry forms are available on their Facebook page at In the past Live Oak has been home to weekend-long campouts were sponsored by the Back Country Horsemen, North American Trail Ride Conference, American Endurance Ride Conference, Ride and Tie races, and other Trail Riding groups and seems to lend itself to the CMA model. In addition, there is already a Live Oak Trail volunteer patrol group established at Cachuma and they could become the core for what could be a new nonprofit, for example “Friends of the Live Oak Trail”. We have initiated discussion with Parks staff about such an arrangement and welcome additional opportunity to further explore opportunities regarding this option. We understand the need to create revenue at Live Oak Camp and call to your attention that there has never been any marketing to expand or even mention of the opportunity to bring your horse to Live Oak Camp and ride your horse on Live Oak Trail. Surprising because all types of other activities (mountain biking, fishing, hiking, etc.) are extensively advertised on the County’s Cachuma web site. Perhaps through equestrian partnerships, fundraising, and marketing, the equestrian camp would become a viable revenue stream for the County. Thank you for your time and attention as we continue to monitor the Pilot Project at the Live Oak Trail. We realize there are many things going on at present requiring your attention and the Parks Staff’s attention, but it’s necessary to address inadequate funding and staff issues especially at Live Oak camp and Trail, which are necessary to protect recreation visitors and natural resources. Best Regards- YOUR NAME

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