The Dry Canyon Artillery Range Formerly Used Defense Site, or FUDS, comprises 16,984 acres and is located in Ventura County, California. The site is located approximately 41 miles northwest of Valencia, a neighborhood located in north Santa Clarita. The site is approximately 25 miles west of Interstate 5, just north of Lockwood Valley Road. Today the area is part of the Los Padres National Forest, which is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Department.
In 1942, the U.S. Army acquired approximately 2,880 acres from the Agriculture Department by a use permit to establish the Dry Canyon Artillery Range. Between 1942 and 1944, the 161st Field Artillery, 170th Field Artillery Battalion, 174th Infantry Unit and the Sixth Armored Division used the site as an artillery range. A flat, open area at the south entrance of Dry Canyon is believed to be the location of the military gun emplacements, with the firing range oriented northeast into the canyon. Several ordnance inspections were completed by the military between 1945 and 1951. During the inspections any munitions and explosives of concern found were immediately destroyed. In 1952, the land was declared excess and returned to the Agriculture Department.
Today, Los Padres National Forest is divided into two separate land divisions: the main division, which encompasses land within San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern counties; and the northern division, which encompasses land within Monterey County and northern San Luis Obispo County. Recreational activities within the forest include bicycling, camping, climbing, swimming, fishing, hiking, horse riding, hunting, picnicking and off-highway vehicle driving.
The northern and northeastern FUDS property borders are located in the Chumash Wilderness, which is situated in the Mt. Pinos Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest, near the town of Frazier Park. This area gets used year round by visitors enjoying the snow and by hikers, campers and other recreationalists during the warmer months.
The Dome Springs Campground is located in the northeastern Los Padres National Forest and within the former Dry Canyon Artillery Range site. The campground is accessible from a single dirt road off Lockwood Valley Road.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began investigating the former artillery range in 1993 through the FUDS Program. Since that time, munitions debris and munitions and explosives of concern have been found within the former range including artillery rounds, fuzes, projectiles and bullet-casings.
The Corps of Engineers completed the Remedial Investigation in 2017 and the Feasibility Study in 2018 for the Artillery Range. Based on the findings and in consultation with the U.S. Forest Service, the Corps of Engineers prepared a Proposed Plan to document the identification of two areas and recommended remedial alternatives for each area. The Potential Target Area was recommended for a surface and subsurface clearance of accessible lands. The Low Density Area was recommended for a focused clearance. Land use controls would also be implemented in both areas. The Corps of Engineers will prepare a Decision Document that will identify the chosen remedial alternative for the project area.
An Administrative Record file containing project documents and reports for Dry Canyon Artillery Range MRS 01 is available at the Frazier Park Library, Frazier Park, California.