THE NATIONAL FOREST
By Bonnie Ketterl Kane
The National Forest was first established locally in 1898 and named the “Pine Mountain Forest Reserve” for a mountain by that name that is located over towards the coast. In 1903 two other Forest Reserves were combined with the Pine Mountain Reserve and the three units became the Santa Barbara Forest Reserve – named the Santa Barbara National Forest in 1908.
By the 1930's public opinion instigated the change of the forest's name so as to not be so identified with one geographic location. It was decided that the heritage of the nine missions located adjacent to the forest were a meaningful influence therefore, in December of 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the change of the name to the “ Los Padres National Forest ”.
The first rangers locally were the sons of two of the earliest homesteading families – chosen because of their knowledge of the area. Joseph “Don” Cuddy served the area from Lockwood Valley to Tejon Pass – Mt. Pinos to Hungry Valley . Jacinta “J.D.” Reyes served the Ozena/ Cuyuma region. Both men worked out of their homes and would spend days at a time out checking their area of responsibility.
Early in the 1900's the forest was divided into Ranger Districts and the local area was named the Tejon Ranger District as the first Ranger Station was located in Tejon Pass along the main roadway through the area. When that station burned in 1927 a new Ranger Station was built just west of the community of Lake of the Woods , across the road from the first ranger's home (Don Cuddy) where it remains to this day. The new station was built below a spring named for the mythical Indian Princess Chuchupate – a medicine woman to her people – and therefore named Chuchupate Ranger Station.
In December of 1936 the name of the Tejon Ranger District was changed to the Mt. Pinos Ranger District to better reflect the area served.