Good news for the Big Sur State Park?

This press release issued this afternoon by the State Controller’s Office certainly makes it look like the money to finish the bridges in the State Park has been freed up.

SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today announced new cash figures show the State is currently positioned to finish out the fiscal year without having to borrow an additional $1.5 billion from Wall Street.

In a letter to State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Chiang noted that Lockyer’s ability to secure a $500 million note from Golden 1 Credit Union, the Legislature’s passage of a bill last week providing $1.57 billion in federal stimulus funds in April, and higher-than-projected funds available for internal borrowing will allow the State to meet all of its payment obligations through June 30, 2009.

“Averting the need for additional borrowing in a still-tight market is great news and will save Californians about $15.4 million in high interest rates,” Chiang said. “With sufficient cash on hand, we will be able to meet all of our obligations in full and on time, including tax refunds to California taxpayers and payments to private businesses and local programs that provide needed services to our most vulnerable residents.”

After enactment of the latest budget bill in late February, the Controller had projected the State would dip to a low of -$636 million in April. However, because of additional revenue erosion and increased expenditures in March, the low point in April fell to -$1.9 billion. But three factors changed those cash flow projections, which now show a low point on April 1, when the State will have $1.1 billion in the Treasury:

• A bill signed Friday to change Medi-Cal reporting requirements will provide about $1.57 billion in federal stimulus funds in April;

• Special funds used for internal borrowing grew by $1.35 billion, largely because they were not tapped when the State stopped funding infrastructure projects during the cash crisis, and;

• The Treasurer was able to secure a $500 million short-term loan from Golden 1.

*Poppies, close-up

*Poppies, close-up, originally uploaded by wind_dancer.

This is dedicated to long-time Big Sur local, Paul Vieregge, who passed over yesterday at home at the age of 87. Blessings to you, Paul, from the beloved hills of home. My heart goes out to Penny and Josh.

Chalk Fire Burn Area, 2

So much difference in the various areas — severe damage and great restoration. I did not get a photo, but the Madrones are coming back from the roots of the burned trees. It will be years before the Madrone forests are as thick as they were, but they will recover. Some of the burned redwoods have sprouts coming out all up and down the blackened trunks. It is amazing to see.

I have some general photos of different aspects of the fire’s aftermath, and the recovery that I have been trying to upload tonight, but alas, the internet is not cooperating. When I can …

dsc_19161This is a creek that runs under Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd. It has become all silted up, and overflowed the road, at some point.

dsc_1878In the background one can see several emerald areas where the retardant was dropped. In the foreground one can see the California Poppies, red maid, and popcorn flowers. In the distance is Cone Peak.

More photos tomorrow, when I am not so frustrated with the unreliability of my internet connection. I have general photos showing the aftermath, as well as more wildflower photos — fields of Indian Warrior, Poppies, and Baby Blue Eyes, as well as a mixture of all sorts of wildflowers. Until then … sleep well, and have a great day.

Blog changes coming

Sometime before the end of April, I will be changing the links to the right. The 2008-2009 Weather Conditions – weather & flooding links – will be archived for the season to make way for fire-related links, as I posted during last year’s fire season, so everything will be readily available. The Big Sur Non-profits will remain, of course, as well as the Blog Roll and Odds and Ends. I might even add some new categories, like Big Sur Blogs, which are growing exponentially, as people find out how easy and fun they are. But tonight, I will be posting more photographs of the Chalk Peak Burn Area and Wildflowers.

*Indian Warrior


*Indian Warrior, originally uploaded by wind_dancer. (Pedicularis densiflorus)

A legend I heard years ago about these unusual flowers, was that whenever an Indian Warrior was killed in battle, his blood soaked the soil, and these flowers bloomed.

I don’t like the way the color turned out on these. The flowers are actually between red and maroon. I played with the white balance on my camera, and still couldn’t get them quite right. Notice the fern-like leaves on these flowers.
I found these in the burn area of the Chalk Fire today.

Chalk Fire Burn Area & Wildflowers

This afternoon, I took a trip through the Chalk Fire Burn Area, looking for wildflowers, and found many. I’ll be posting a few examples here, over the next few days. Parts of the forest are still incredibly devastated, and others are recovering nicely. One thing that was just astounding was the vibrant green of the hills where the fire-retardant was dropped. I had been told years ago that it was a fertilizer, but boy, I’ve never seen the effect as clearly as I did today. I have shots of some of these places, or I watched, as the planes dropped the retardant. The affect is not to be believed. 

This is straight out of the camera, but it looks surreal! Wherever the retardant was dropped, is now an emerald field!


South Coast Ridge Rd., and the forest it traverses, is still closed to the public from Nacimiento Rd. to Willow Creek Rd. However, many wildflowers are viewable from Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd. I’d advise caution, however, as there are LOTS of tourists on that road, at least today, and most of them were apparently afraid of the edge, and preferred the wrong side of the road! 

Watch for photos throughout the week. I will try to post one tonight as a teaser. 😉

And finally, a note about our rather “overzealous” new USFS “cop” — please send or call with any serious stories, if you are willing to back them up, but also remember, we may be VERY glad to have him here this fire season. Note this morning:

“03/29/09 09:14 Big Sur, Mile Marker 14 Plasket Ridge Rd.  Report of illegal campfire, USFS responded with Law Enforcement, no fire.”

Big Sur State Park remains closed

“No timeline is in place to reopen the eastern part of Pfeiffer Big Sur Park and the site of the campground.” KSBW-TV reports tonight. 

This is a complex issue that is at the forefront of everyone’s mind in the Big Sur Valley, where businesses rely on the influx of campers to fuel its summer economy. It consumed much of the public discussion at the BSMAAC meeting on Friday, March 20, 2009. Many local business owners are thinking creatively to come up with solutions to reinstall the bridges needed to open the Park, and have recruited politicians Able Maldonado’s office, Sam Farr, and Dave Potter, among many others, to assist in this project.


The state budget fiasco is a continuing problem and is behind the failure to open the State Park. The monies to fund the rebuilding and reinstallation of the two bridges are not available. The State Controller, John Chiang, continues to stop and start payments to independent contractors almost daily, based on the amount of money in the states’ treasury. The website for the Controller’s Office is: however, in reviewing it, the information does not appear as up-to-date as that provided, at least for those of us doing appointed indigent appeals,  to us on almost a weekly basis from the Administrative Office of the Courts. I have not found a source of similar information for the bridge contractors, although I am sure they have something similar.

As an independent contractor for the State of California, who provides a constitutionally-mandated service, I am only too aware of the lack of payments to people like myself, and those that have contracted to build and reinstall the bridges. If I could stop work when payments stop, I would. That is what the bridge contractors have done.

Based on all that I’ve read, unless Big Sur itself comes up with some very creative ideas, the park is not likely to open by the beginning of the summer tourist season on Memorial Day. And if the State of California does not come up with long-term budget solutions, quickly, there is no telling when the Big Sur State Park WILL reopen.

One thing that has become clear this Spring Break week, is that with the State Park closed, private campgrounds, as I predicted a month or two ago, are becoming crowded, and lodging here is becoming more and more difficult to find without prior reservations. I suggest anyone interested in visiting Big Sur make reservations far in advance. In fact, one might want to make reservations first, then plan the timing of your vacation here.

Good luck!

There’s no place like home, Toto

Managed to stay out in front of the Colorado/Utah storms by mere inches, and came home Friday afternoon to gorgeous weather here on the coast. Sorting through a thousand photos, it seems, and will post a few of my faves.

Don’t forget the Gold & the Jade presentation and dinner at TreBones this weekend to benefit PUSD. See Announcements for details.

Details about the re-opening of the State Park to follow as soon as the details are as clear as mud. Like all programs resting on state funding, everything is up in the air, and changes moment to moment.

Another random Big Sur photo for you to identify in the next week. Otherwise, have a great weekend, everyone!!