History of the Los Padres

In 1898, President William McKinley established the Pine Mountain and Zaca Lake Forest Reserve. It was renamed the Santa Barbara Forest Reserve in 1903 and was eventually combined with the Santa Ynez, San Luis, and Monterey Forest Reserves. President Franklin D. Rooselvelt renamed the area the Los Padres National Forest in 1936.

In July 1985, E.R. “Jim” Blakley (a naturalist and historian of the Santa Barbara backcountry) and Karen Barnette (Cultural Resources Specialist with the Los Padres National Forest) published a book titled Historical Overview of the Los Padres National Forest. Today, it remains as the only comprehensive historical guide to the entire southern Los Padres National Forest.

Historical Overview of the LPNFCurrently out of print, ForestWatch – with the cooperation of the Blakley Family and the U.S. Forest Service – is now presenting the book online, in its entirety, for the very first time. We hope that it unlocks some of the many secrets hidden in the history of these wild lands, beckons your curiosity to get outside and explore their far reaches, and broadens your understanding of the need to protect the forest for generations to come.


Historical Overview of the Los Padres National Forest
by E.R. “Jim” Blakley and Karen Barnette, July 1985

Blakley’s history was based upon the earlier work of William S. Brown, USFS.

History of Los Padres National Forest, 1898–1945
by William S. Brown, June 1945 (rev.1972)