USFS projects

1:30 pm – just got word that the USFS CANCELED the controlled burn at the Brazil Ranch today. Unknown at this point if it will be rescheduled this season.

Additionally, I will scan and upload the map of all the brush work that will be done now through the end of summer later today here on this post. That announcement is also on the USFS page to the right.

Okay, let’s try that again. It came through upside down!

The legend in the lower left corner is extremely hard to read due to the size, but it lists the names, numbers, and length of each section scheduled to be brushed out.

Life & Blogging

As all my regular readers know, I post almost every day, unless I am on vacation. Sometimes, life gets in the way. That is what is going on now. I have the map of the brush work going on in our area to scan and upload tomorrow, and a reminder of the Brazil Ranch controlled burn, but the last two days I have had to deal with the hospitalization of my mother, yesterday; my step-father, two days ago; and a friend a week ago. Not to mention a few other matters – which really don’t need to be broadcast. I plan to get the USFS work update uploaded tomorrow. Thanks for your understanding.

In the meantime, enjoy the clouds from last night.

Clouds, 7/20/10 by bigsurkate

Illegal Campfire #2 on Plaskett

I started to post a comment to yesterday’s post, but thought that in fact this should probably be a new post.

The current maximum fine for an illegal campfire is $5,000.00. Whether it is imposed, or how much is imposed, is quite another thing. From the order banning campfires in LPNF on June 26, 2010 until the rains: “A violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. 16 USC 551 and 18 USC 3559, 3571, and 3581.” In other words, it is a federal misdemeanor. A criminal act. You can read the entire order here:

Yesterday’s illegal campfire was in the exact same spot I posted at my “How not to build a campfire” which is here: it is the second fire ring, behind the grass up against the bushes.

What is distressing about these campfires is that they are below the only really populated area on Plaskett. Lots of structures. Fortunately, that portion of the road is often in the fog, and is regularly traveled by locals, and so fires there are usually caught in time to report them before they run amok.

Today, a friend found yet ANOTHER illegal campfire only a few hundred yards away from yesterday’s camp fire!! He reported it to the USFS. Now, if they actually fined these people the maximum (probably not, unless they have a history) that $10K could pay for some much needed work and/or equipment to actually prevent this sort of behavior. I would love to see tickets or arrests made for each and every illegal campfire, particularly where as here, the offenders are immediately caught. Until the current codes are enforced, regularly, the behavior will not stop.

Come on USFS. You can make some money here. Stop treating these people as lost, clueless souls, and treat them as the danger they really are.

Illegal Campfire on Plaskett Ridge Rd.

I was turning onto Plaskett Ridge Rd. from South Coast Ridge Rd. late this afternoon, when my phone announced a new voicemail. I had apparently been out-of-range, and was just receiving it.

Fortunately, there were TWO voice messages from a friend on another ridge. The first informed me of a fire on Plaskett Ridge, and asked for information. That got the adrenaline going.

The second, from the same friend, said it was an illegal campfire and it was caught and immediately put out. It included an apology for causing my heart attack with the first message.

I confirmed with my one and only neighbor the illegal campfire, but he added it had knocked two trees down, which the USFS was clearing. Whew! Going to be a hot summer for me on the ridge, in more ways than one! It makes absolutely no sense what-so-ever to have a campfire up here when the mercury is hovering around 100 for days on end.

Kinda glad I didn’t get home until all the shouting was over.

A perspective … or how hot is it?

It’s only been a tad over 100 all weekend. It is 88 at 8 pm. It is all relative, you know?

Up here, I experience the highs, the lows; the good, the bad, and the ugly – and on days like this, the ugly is me. I don’t tolerate heat well, but I do get used to it. I just haven’t acclimated, yet. Or, at least, that is what I tell myself.

I have been through summers where I PRAYED for 100 degrees. I’m not there, yet. I am praying for 90. The extremes up here can be vicious. I have recorded a high of 117 degrees and a low of 19 degrees. Different years. (don’t remember the years, but it is in the journals, calendars, and records I keep)

Was it only a week or two ago when I was thinking this had to be the “coolest” summer on record? Man, what was I thinking?

So, the brain shuts down in the heat – or at least mine does. I can do no creative thinking, and can barely carry on a conversation. Fortunately, my dogs don’t care, and if I DO need to carry on a conversation, I can drive down the coast and enter “the fog zone.” I know, those that live on the coast put on jackets and caps, and pray to see the sun. Me? I dress in as little as possible, and wait for the sun to go down. All this within a short little mile or so.

So, the next time you are in the coastal fog zone, think of it as nature’s air conditioning and be grateful. People in California’s Central Valley pay a lot of money to come cool off in our fog. And those of us in the mountains of Big Sur sometimes look down enviously, and sometimes come down to cool off. If this continues, maybe I’ll set up my office on the coast. The brain quits functioning in this heat.

A challenge

Do you remember this photograph I posted of the yellow hills of Big Sur?

Valley View by Daniel Danbom

Well, I ran into Joe Burnett, biologist for the VWS’s Condor reintroduction program, last night and he suggested a challenge. If Jeff Norman were still around (we miss you Jeff!) this challenge would not be necessary.

This is the challenge – hike into Mt. Manual, and take close-up photographs of the various yellow flowers contributing to this unusual phenomena, and send them to me at I will post them on my blog. If you know what they are, include that information. But even if you do NOT know what they are, send them in, and hopefully, someone can help us identify them. We will also see how much of what we are seeing is native or introduced.

Here is a close-up of one flower that is making the hills yellow, at least close to the highway. Is it also on Mt. Manual? I originally thought it was a tansy, but I believe that may be incorrect, and would love for someone to identify it for me. It is all over right now, in more abundance than I have ever seen – both in areas touched by the Basin Fire, and those untouched.

Do you know what this is? Barbara Woyt does. It is Eriophyllum staechadifolium or lizard tail, also known as Seaside Woolly Sunflower. Is it part of the display on Mt. Manuel? Get out there soon, as this display won’t last long in this hot weather! And send those photos in! Let’s all find out what is causing this unusual display! Thanks, Joe, for the challenge. Now let’s see if my readers are up for it!
(Note, this photo was not taken for the challenge, or it would be a closer shot. Here, I wanted the hills and ocean in the background, but a good photo for this challenge would clearly show the flowers AND the leaves for identification purposes as close-up as your camera would allow.)

7/16/10 Fires

BTW, I changed the title of this post, as there are so many small fires starting today. Most, if not all of them, are small and are being controlled quickly.

12:30 pm – WildCAD is reporting a new wild fire in Stoney Valley on Ft. Hunter Leggitt. That is mostly grass, so probably not a problem, unless winds pick up this afternoon. Although temps over 100 degrees may be a factor.

3:00 pm – Vegetation fire at the Dairy Creek Golf Course on HWY 1 between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Dairy IC reporting 5 acres, rapid rate of spread, wind driven. Ordered some aircraft. Full response to Dairy Creek Golf Course of Hwy 1 near CMC [Calif Men’s Colony, State Prison]. 3403 reporting 5 acres rapid ROS wind driven up slope. Limited access through course. Potential for 150.

3:00 pm – The Bear Fire is under control, per my reliable information. There was another one at Arroyo Seco and Carmel Valley Rd., but that one was also controlled by multiple AA and helios and ff units.

Weather was reporting lightning strikes moving north today, but so far nothing on the coast. Don’t know the cause of the 4 fires above.

As of 3 pm it is reported that: “2100+ strikes in the last 8 hours, most of them in California. Strongest cells are moving NE into NV.” Rain has been reported with these strikes, as well.

Bear Fire

07/16/2010 10:36 LPF-2134 Bear Wildfire Training area 27 FHL. Sam Jones Rd and Bear Trap Loop. 1/4 acre veg fire in training area 27. One source of mine says there is a CAL FIRE plane, but that report has not been verified.

I am off the mountain for a day, in Big Sur Valley meeting with a number of people for a number of things. I am hoping this one gets caught early and small!

Rough Road Ahead

Rough Road Ahead, originally uploaded by wind_dancer.

This has been on my wall for some time, and I’ve always wanted to scan it into my computer. I finally did. This was taken in 1993 at Rain Rocks. While slightly blurry (I was on “dawn patrol” in a moving truck – shush – don’t tell Cal-Trans) it is still a classic. Maybe I’ll upload it for sale at my smugmug site.

Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council Meeting

The next meeting of the BSMAAC will be held on Friday, July 30, 2010 beginning at 10 am. BSMAAC meetings are always held at the Conference Center at the Big Sur Lodge, and they request that you park below by the Lodge or the Store, and walk up. The agenda has not yet been sent out. It is normally released the week of the meeting. When it is released, I will post it here.

I have been attending all but a handful of these meetings since 1985. The information sharing and discussions that happen here are invaluable. It is the one time when almost all the stakeholders in Big Sur come together – governmental and private. So, if you can attend, do so.