Vandals broke into the Hi Mountain Lookout post sometime last weekend, the latest in a series of break-ins to the remote California condor observation station.
The facility stands on a crest of the Santa Lucia Mountains between Lopez Lake and the unincorporated community of Pozo to the northeast.
Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen said vandals broke windows, pried open doors and stole equipment. Madsen did not have an estimate of the cost of the damage and stolen items.
“It’s unfortunate that we have these type of people that will do this because the work they do is so important,” Madsen said. “It’s not like the people that run this have the money to replace this equipment.”
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The building, a retired fire Forest Service lookout, stands just to the northeast of a designated critical habitat for California condors. Observation and research programs there are a joint effort by federal agencies, Cal Poly, the Morro Bay Audubon Society and others.
Madsen said the Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service are actively investigating the break-in. He said the Forest Service will be installing surveillance cameras.