Protecting Big Sur from Wildfires, Part 2

In 2008, Big Sur battled the Basin Complex fire which burned for a month, charred 162,818 acres, destroyed over 26 homes and 32 outbuildings, closed Highway One completely for almost a week, isolating neighbor from neighbor. Combined with the Indians Fire, burning at the same time, and right up to the Basin, 244,000 acres were burned, and it was the costliest wildfire in California’s history at a cost of $120,000,000 at the time. (The Station Fire of 2009 may have taken that title.)

Only two months later, it battled the Chalk Fire on the South Coast of Big Sur.

Out of the ashes of these fires, the Monterey County Community Wildfire Protection Plan, initially conceived in 2006, was given fresh perspective. In January 2010 the working group released its 186 page draft of this plan. You can find it here: firesafemonterey.org
As I said, it is quite long. But the area of disagreement between homeowners and environmental groups is the meat or substance of the plan contained in its recommendations. Here is the index of that section (granted a little long for a blog post, but necessary) which is only about 12 pages long. Make time to read it, if you are interested in this issue:

8.1 Recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture

8.1.1 Maintain the Big Box Firebreak

8.1.2 Maintain the Bixby Mountain Firebreak

8.1.3 Contract With CAL FIRE to Defend the Bixby Mountain Firebreak

8.1.4 Support the Santa Lucia Fire Defense System (In Progress)

8.1.5 Manage Wildfire Fuels on National Forest System Lands to Protect All At-Risk Communities

8.1.6 Priorities for Fuel Reduction Funding on Private Lands

8.1.7 Fund Emergency Ingress and Egress to the Los Padres National Forest

8.1.8 Incorporate CWPPs Into the USFS’s Pre-attack Planning

8.2 Recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior

8.2.1 Maintain Former Fort Ord Fuel Break System

8.2.2 Install and Maintain Sierra de Salinas-Gabilan Fuel Reduction Project and Strategic Fuel Break System

8.2.3 Pinnacles National Monument Fuel Reduction

8.2.4 Prescribed Fire Hazardous Fuel Reduction at Toro Creek and Creekside

8.2.5 Manage Hazardous Fuels on BLM Lands to Protect At-Risk Communities

8.2.6 Priorities for Fuel Reduction Funding on Private Lands

8.2.7 Fund Emergency Ingress and Egress to Lands Administered by BLM

8.2.8 Incorporate CWPP’s Into BLM’s Pre-attack Planning

8.3 Recommendations to Congress and the President

8.3.1 Enact Legislation to Enable and Require that Firebreaks and Fuelbreaks be Maintained

8.3.2 Statutory Exemption From the Endangered Species Act for Wildfire Fuel Reduction Work

8.4 Recommendations to all Federal, State and Local Regulatory Agencies with Jurisdiction in Monterey County

8.4.1 Annual Goal for Wildfire Fuel Reduction Work on Private Land in
Monterey County

8.4.2 Establishment of Overgrowth Hazard Zones and Approval of Fuel Reduction Work

8.4.3 Interpret Federal, State and Local Laws to Allow and Facilitate Safe Wildfire Fuel Reduction Work

8.4.4 Lead Agency for California Environmental Quality Act Purposes

8.4.5 Memorandum of Understanding to Allow Incidental Take of Protected Species in OHZs for Fuel Reduction Work

8.4.6 Within OHZs, Allow and Facilitate Creation of Survivable Space

8.4.7 Amend Regulations to Allow and Facilitate use of Large Burn Piles During Winter Rains with a Minimum of Regulatory Requirements

8.5 Recommendations to CAL FIRE and Other Fire Authorities Having
Jurisdiction

8.5.1 Designate Overgrowth Hazard Zones

8.5.2 Support Ready, Set, Go! to Include Those Who May be Trapped by Fire

8.5.3 Support Community Emergency Response Teams

8.5.4 Support Annual Treatment Goals in Implementation of the CAL FIRE Range Improvement and Vegetation Management Programs

8.5.5 Prioritize CAL FIRE Resources to Support the Recommendations in this MCCWPP

8.6 Recommendations to the California Legislature and the Governor

8.6.1 Amend the California Coastal Act to Allow and Facilitate Wildfire Fuel Reduction Work

8.6.2 Amend the California Endangered Species Act to Allow Incidental Take of Protected Species for Wildfire Fuel Reduction Work

8.6.3 Amend the California Environmental Quality Act to Provide a Statutory Exemption for Wildfire Fuel Reduction Work

8.7 Recommendations to Monterey County and to Municipalities and
Districts Within Monterey County

8.7.1 Include Language to Allow and Facilitate Wildfire Fuel Reduction Work in all Planning Documents, Ordinances, Rules and Regulations

The goal of creating this document was to make sure the devastation we experienced in 2008 is not repeated. The Monterey Fire Safe Council website listed above, is a wealth of information on how we can live in a wildland-urban interface as safely as possible.

Don Case slfting through the ashes of his home

PHOTO BY JOYCE DUFFY

As these MCCWPP posts become more numerous, and spread throughout my normal blogging, I have decided to make them easier to find. On the right, scroll down to categories, and there, under Big Sur, you will find MCCWPP. If you click on that, this site will give you a list of all the posts I have written on this subject.