I have a kitten in my sink …

… which makes being productive and involved, a little over the top. Monday, my ersatz caretaker (and oh, how loosely I use that term) “gifted” me with a brand-new, I mean born that day, orphaned kitten. “Lucky” has taken over my life, just in my efforts to keep her alive.

So, this afternoon, I went off to the meeting with the USFS at the South Coast Community Center with a four-day-old kitten in a box, and all her feeding paraphenalia. It was well-attended, for a South Coast event, and the USFS sent a number of people, including John Bradford and Michael Boone. Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade’s presence was much appreciated, too, even if Jim Borrows (sp?) had to leave early. Warren Doyle, and JC stayed until the bitter end. KUSP’s Kelly O’Brien was also in attendance, as well as Jack of Pelican Network, whose last name I can never spell. (Thank you ALL!).

I had hoped the meeting would only be 2 hours, as I would be leaving anyway, and sure enough, it ended at 2:55 pm. Now THAT’s never happened before!! The other thing is that the USFS got applause, and gratitude from the South Coast community. We’ve been through a lot of District Rangers, over the years, it seems, and with some members of the community, trust has been an issue.

I left the meeting feeling as if not much was accomplished, other than an “airing” of various positions. Don’t get me wrong, the conversation has begun, but for the most part, solutions to the interrelated problems of funding, visitor service, fire danger, and community interface seem difficult to ascertain.The USFS seems resigned to trying to reconcile disparate positions — while recognizing it is an impossible task. We have choices, I know, although there are only a few that became clear to me tonight. One, is to just take care of ourselves, and each other. A second, is to get involved in a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. I am sure there are others, but someone brought me a bottle of good Pinot Noir, and that seems preferable to thinking tonight.

Community Wild Fire Protection Page

In preparation for this afternoon’s meeting, Kelly O’Brian and I have been collecting documents regarding community wild fire protection, sample plans, the USFS mandates regarding their management plans, etc. This page — under the same title as above — is listed to the right, under “pages” and is still in its infancy, but still has some links to some good information. I will continue to add data as I find it, or it is sent to me. It is a good place to start for preparation for this afternoon’s meeting, if you are so inclined. Namasté, Kate

Campgrounds open 8/1

Official Notice from John Bradford, USFS District Ranger, Monterey District:

Kirk Creek, Plaskett Creek, Arroyo Seco Campgrounds to Reopen August 1

Los Padres National Forest officials today announced the reopening of Kirk Creek, Plaskett Creek and Arroyo Seco Campgrounds on the Monterey Ranger District, effective Friday August 1. The three popular sites have been closed for several weeks because of the fire emergency. Several day use areas on the Big Sur Coast are now open as well, however the rest of the Monterey Ranger District, including all forest roads and trails, will remain closed to the public for at least the next several weeks, according to District Ranger John Bradford.

“The closure is needed for public and firefighter safety,” said Bradford. “The Indians Fire and Basin Complex Fire are now contained which means there is a secure line around them; however, there are still islands of vegetation within the fire perimeter that will continue to burn. Also, crews are in and around the fire areas repairing fire control lines and roads damaged by firefighting activities,” he explained.

Bradford issued a reminder that the following fire restrictions are in place in all areas of Los Padres National Forest until the end of the high fire season, which generally comes in October or early November:

– Wood and charcoal fires are prohibited in all areas of the forest, including developed campgrounds and designated Campfire Use Sites.

– Portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel, are allowed in all areas of the forest; however, a California Campfire Permit is required to use a stove outside of developed campgrounds and designated Campfire Use Sites. In developed sites, position portable stoves and lanterns in cleared areas near tables and permanently installed stoves. In dispersed areas, clear all flammable material for a distance of five feet, have a shovel available, and ensure that a responsible person attends the stove at all times when it is in use.

– Recreational target shooting is prohibited in all areas of the national forest except the Winchester Gun Club in Santa Barbara County and the Ojai Valley Gun Club in Ventura County. Hunting with a valid State of California hunting license is exempt from this restriction. All hunting is currently prohibited on the Monterey Ranger District due to the emergency closure.

– Smoking is prohibited in all areas of the national forest except within an enclosed vehicle, building, or designated Campfire Use Site.

– Internal combustion engines may be operated only on roads or trails that are open and designated for such use. (This restriction is in effect year-round.) Engines must have an approved spark arrester.

For further information regarding campfire permits and conditions on the Monterey Ranger District, contact the Forest Service office in King City at (831) 385-5434 or go on-line to http://www.fs.fed.us.r5/lospadres.

Fire Monks Story — The Day the Fire Arrived

Part II of David Zimmerman’s masterful account of the Tassajara Five’s courageous bid to save the Tassajara Zen Center has now been posted. This is where it is found, it is also linked in my blog log.


Part II of the LA Times article on California Wild fires came out yesterday, and can be found here:


Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council Meetings

As Co-Chairs of the Big Sur Multi Agency Advisory Council, Congressman Sam Farr and Supervisor Dave Potter have scheduled two special BSMAAC meetings to discuss the Basin Complex Fire.

The first meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 4th and the second is scheduled for Tuesday, August 12th, and both will be held from 6 to 7:30 pm at the Pfeiffer Big Sur Lodge Conference Center in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur.

The first meeting, August 4th, will focus on debriefing from the fire – what went well, what didn’t work, what can we improve on?

The second meeting, August 12th, will focus on rebuilding efforts – what services and programs are already in place, what are needed, are there gaps that we need to work on?

Your participation is greatly appreciated. Please park in the lower parking lot and walk up to the conference center.

Thank you for your efforts to help the Big Sur community!

And the fires never end … Telegraph Fire

This may well be remembered as the summer when the fires never end. There have been so many of them, in so many places, it is difficult to keep track. Per our firefighter blog, California has lost over 700,000 acres to fire so far this summer. And folks, we still have 3 months of fire season left!! Rain dances, anyone?

Just as we were being declared contained, another battle looms in Mid-Pines and Mariposa, up near Yosemite. It is the Telegraph Fire. It has already burned 25 homes, 27 outbuildings, and 9 firefighters have been injured, and it is only 10% contained. You can read further details about it from Capt. Mike (Ret) in the firefighters blog in my blog roll to the right.

Here is another source of live feed: http://www.incidentfeed.com/index.php?view=article&catid=1%3Alatest&id=61%3Atelegraph-incident&option=com_content&Itemid=2

**Sigh** we can only pray that it is contained much faster than ours was, and that there are no further loses. Our hearts are with those in the path of this fire and the fires yet to come.

100% Containment!!

From the summary on inciweb tonight:

“The Basin Complex Fire, which started on June 21, was declared 100% contained at 6:00pm today, July 27. The fire has burned 162,818 acres to date; however, the final acreage will be somewhat higher due to the continued burning of islands of vegetation within the fire’s interior.

Approximately 560 firefighters are still assigned to the Basin Complex this evening, but heavy demobilization of resources is underway. Some crews will remain in the area to continue mop-up and to rehabilitate fire control lines and roads.”


Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, between my gladly adopted volunteer duties as a communications facilitator, I managed to write 75 pages of briefing, and make 58 copies of same. What a rush!! Thank gawd it is done, until Tuesday. Tomorrow, I get to rush all this to town, where I get the privilege of paying for it out of my pocket, to be reimbursed at some future undisclosed time when the state adopts a budget. Oh, yeah, and did I tell you, as an independent contractor for the state of cali-for-nee-eye-aye, I get to do all this on my own dime until gawd knows when? And some of you wonder why I am a little grouchy?? Can you say “stress?”

Now, I have 3 days this week to do it all over again, then once more the following week, and then, I MIGHT just be caught up! So, if I have been grouchy, or brusque, or not having much tolerance for some of the bull shit I hear, you will understand why. 

This is as close as I am going to come to an apology, right now, friends. I just have to call it what it is, and be done with it. No time for much else at the moment. When my work load is manageable, once again, then I will be back to my sweet, understanding, compassion self. (Did I make you gag with that one?)

Do me a favor, okay? Don’t call me or email me about this *%$# meeting. Either be there, or express your concerns and interests to a neighbor who can represent you. If you want to be able to hear it, express your interest in doing so to that same attending neighbor.

Also, I got a copy of a “Collaborative Approach for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities and the Environment — a 10-Year Comprehensive Strategy” from Kelly O’Brien which seems like a starting point for discussion, or the existing plan that the USFS has. If I can figure out how to post it on its own page on my blog, I will post for your review.

Laughter, jokes, and tolerance greatly appreciated.

Items of Interest

Kelly O’Brien is posting this morning about the formulation of a citizen’s group to help develop a plan for the mitigation of future fire damage in the Los Padres National Forest. Her contact information is below in this quote from her blog. If you wish to see the entire article, click on “fire lane” in my blog rolls on the right.

“If we as a community, formed a working group do study and understand the implications, options and limits of issues such as firebreak maintenance and periodic prescribed burns in the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF), AND WE FORMULATED A RECOMMENDATION from a citizens’ group, in the form of a report, to the U.S. Forest Service – LPNF, we could perhaps effect the way our “local” national forest is managed.

If you are willing to be a part of bringing together a community group, the goal of which, over the course of a few years, will be to recommend to the USFS – LPNF a Forest Management Plan that protects our local economy, property and the quality of our watershed, feel free to email me: kellyeo@mac.com or call: (831) 659-2320 or (650) 533-1010 cell. I’ll use what resources I have to assist in bringing together those who are interested in working together.

There is a precedent for such action, by the way, in Idaho, which I shall write about, here, in the near future. And, I believe that we have allies politically here in the State of California, who would support a sensible community approach develop from a citizens’ group.”

Kelly and I have been in communication this am, and she is coming to the 7/31 meeting, will record it, and cover it for KUSP with our permission and that of Bradford. I think that is an excellent idea.

Also, I wanted to let you know about a 5-part series begun today in the LA Times about the wildfires in California. Today’s article is about: Big Fires, Big Business — the costs of fighting fires. See:


Fire Photo Exhibit

Several of my fire photos have been chosen to be included among 30 photographers for a fire exhibit sponsored by the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Art at the Mill Gallery downtown. It will be on display for the entire month of August. Both amateur and professional photographers will be represented. It covers both the Santa Cruz fires, as well as the Big Sur fire.

With the exception of the meeting on 7/31, and the gallery opening on 8/1, my life is full with catching up with the month’s worth of work (and income) that I have lost. The fire has slowed down, and thus, this blog will be slowing down as well. As Betty reminds me, there is no going back, only forward, and taking the lessons of this experience into the rest of my life. May I share the compassion I have been shown and enjoy the simplicity that nature affords.

For those of you who don’t read the comments on my posts, there is a link to a great article in today’s San Jose Mercury about Jack English, 89, in Pine Canyon, who was helicopted out of his place, and then back in again. It is one of the many, many stories to come out of this fire. Do yourself a favor, and read it here: http://origin.mercurynews.com/news/ci_10005276?nclick_check=1