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Areas of Los Padres National Forest remain closed because of storm damage

Washout Portions of the Los Padres National Forest remain closed to cars because of high water levels and slides and rocks on certain roads, officials said Thursday.

The gate at the east end of Paradise Road at the first Santa Ynez River crossing is closed because the water level is too high for a vehicle to pass through safely. Officials are not sure how long the crossing will remain inaccessible to the public.

“We don’t really have any real target that we can pinpoint in any way,” said Jim Lopez, an information technician with the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s just a matter of patience.”

There is still rock and slide damage along Romero Camuesa Road, which provides access to Middle Santa Ynez, P-Bar Flats, Rock Camp, Upper Caliente and Mono Campgrounds in the Upper Santa Ynez recreational area, according to the forest service. The area also includes Big Caliente Hot Springs, a popular area.

Lopez said the closures are unusual. He said the heavy rain in December brought as much as 18 inches of water over some crossings.

The areas will be reopened once water levels drop and road maintenance work is completed. For more information, contact the Santa Barbara Ranger District at (805) 967-3481.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

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