Protecting Big Sur from Wildfires, Part I

This is a story that has spanned the last 18 months, and came into being as a result of the Basin Complex Fire of 2008. It is the story of the Monterey County Community Wildfire Protection Plan. (MCCWPP)

It embraces the efforts of many, many volunteers, and thousands of hours of planning. Now, this draft plan is in jeopardy, because the Ventana Branch of the Sierra Club does not want this plan approved, and Gary Patton, a lawyer out of Santa Cruz, is taking to the airwaves, supposedly as a neutral reporter, but really as a spokesperson for environmental groups without disclosing that he is “of counsel” to at least one of them in this fight against the MCCWPP.

I am not “of counsel” to anyone in this battle, but I must admit, I am not neutral. It affects my life, my property, my neighbors, the wildlife, and this land and place that I love.

At this point, the only agency, of the 20 involved, that has not signed on to the MCCWPP is the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. They are afraid of a law suit, as has been inferred in a letter from Gary Patton. In a future post, I will reproduce this letter.

This is a complex issue, involving many people, and organizations, and it has a long history. It is time to reveal some of that which has been going on behind the scenes, as those of us who live in the wilderness, or on its edge, face the challenges of protecting both the environment and the lives and property of those who live amidst it, and also seek to protect it from devastating wildfires like that experienced two years ago.

As is usual, emotions are strong on both sides of this issue, and compromise seems difficult, if not impossible. However, perhaps we can find a way to achieve that which is necessary – that is protecting the Big Sur Coast for all that live here, travel here, and love her.

Devastating wildfires, which close the only available road for locals and tourists alike, come within inches of historical landmarks like Deetjen’s, Nepenthe, and the Henry Miller Library, must be controlled. We cannot sit idly by and do nothing. It is up to us – all of us – who love Big Sur.

I will have many posts about this issue in the coming weeks and months as we try to find the solutions which make sense for the protection of this coast. They will include the letters, relevant portions of the MCCWPP, radio transcripts, rebuttals, and any information I can obtain so that we can all educate ourselves about what would be best to preserve this magical place for ALL to enjoy – not just the two currently major players – the people who live here, and the environmentalist groups who don’t want us to come up with a workable solution for uncontrolled future wildfire.

I will also provide my readers with the point of view of as many of those involved as I possibly can, so you can come to your own informed decision. Please share with friends and others. This is an important issue, and it is coming to its flash point.