The Pilots Who Fight California’s Wildfires

I quite accidentally ran across an article in Air & Space Magazine which dovetails nicely with the two articles I wrote for Voices of Monterey Bay and which I featured yesterday. It is a very comprehensive article, so I downloaded all 17 pages. It also fits in with my interest in both aviation and firefighting. For those who share similar interests, I give you an introduction below.

There are days here when you walk outside and just know. Step on a stick and it snaps. Grass crunches underfoot. It’s hot, and the relative humidity is down in the single digits. If there’s a fire that day, Cal Fire battalion chief Justin McGough says, “You just know it’s going to burn very, very well.”

But today is not that day, as I step one winter morning onto Cal Fire’s Hemet-Ryan Air Attack Base in Hemet, California. To the east, Mount San Jacinto is topped with fresh snow, and ample rainfall has relieved most of the state’s drought. Here at Hemet-Ryan, which remains open year-round, firefighting aircraft out on the ramp mark time quietly in the sun.

Cal Fire—the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection—is a state agency responsible for fire control across 31 million acres of timberland, brush, and urban forest. With 50 aircraft at 23 bases around the state, it has the largest firefighting air force in the world. Hemet-Ryan hosts a little of everything in Cal Fire’s standard contingent: a Bell UH-1H Super Huey helicopter, two Grumman S-2T tankers, and a North American Aviation OV-10A tactical observation aircraft. Crews at Hemet dispatch to fires from the San Bernardino mountains, near Los Angeles, all the way south to the Mexican border.
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Cal Trans to use goats for invasive species control in SLO Co

Today’s Date: Thursday, July 18, 2019

District:            05–Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito and Santa 

                         Cruz Counties

Contact:          Jim Shivers or Colin Jones

Phone:            (805) 549-3237 or (805) 549-3189



SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY – Caltrans is using goats to aid in controlling weeds within a 20-acre site adjacent to Highway 1 just north of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse.  Instead of relying on herbicides, Caltrans is taking a more sustainable approach to revitalizing the native coastal prairie adjacent to the recent highway realignment project that was completed in 2017.

On Monday July 15th, two double decker trucks unloaded about 300 animals to help remove invasive non-native weeds such as bur clover, mustard, and thistle.  The animals are confined to selected grazing areas by temporary fencing which is moved every few days.  These goats will graze at a rate of approximately one acre per day, for the next three weeks.  This project will also help to reduce the use of herbicides.

“I am proud that our Landscape Architecture group is committed to designing sustainable and innovative solutions through collaborative teamwork.” said Caltrans District 5 Landscape Architect, Katherine Brown, who is overseeing this project as part of an intensive habitat restoration project.  The goats are managed by shepherds from Living Systems Land Management a subcontractor of the Caltrans prime contractor, Empire Landscaping Inc. of Davis, CA.

Caltrans reminds motorists to move over and slow down when driving through highway construction zones.

For traffic updates on other state highways on the Central Coast motorists can call Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs at (805) 549-3318 or visit the District 5 website