What are we suppose to do?

Yes, traffic is horrific and dangerous on Highway One. I avoid going north, but could not do so Friday and Saturday and I got to experience it once again. (I stayed in town Friday night.) One positive I noticed is that the work Cal Trans and State Parks did at Julia Pfeiffer Burns works! No more madness, craziness, and dangerousness. Now, traffic is funneled smoothly into the parking lot there at the State Park off highway. There is a lesson there.

But I did not want to address this issue today, instead, I would like to address an even more serious one. I just wrote two articles for Voices of Monterey Bay on this uniquely summer tourist issue, which permeates all the back country. The subject is illegal campfires. A neighbor asks, what are we supposed to do?

A neighbor sent me the following text Saturday night, which I got Sunday morning. I am going to forward it to all that I can think of, but I also wanted to post it here and on social media:

“Last nite there were 3 illegal campfires. I told all 3 parties it was illegal. The 1 near […] put theirs out. The 1 […] ignored me and the party on Chalk Peak told me to fuck off & get the hell out of here ! I called 911 on them which is a joke! They don’t know who to contact. What are we suppose to do?”

Good question. I will send it to everyone I can think of and see what they have to say. In the mean time, continue reporting matters like this, but be careful not to put yourself at risk.

14 thoughts on “What are we suppose to do?

  1. I think you if you tell the 911 operator to connect you to USFS Enforcement or State Parks that should help. I know there is a person standing by at parks on the line because I was passed to them on a call I made a couple of years ago. Maybe parks has a way to contact USFS.

  2. For those of you also wondering what you should do, Big Sur Fire says: “tell 911 to page out Big Sur Fire and we will get the page and get someone on it!!!Then tell them they were hostile and you want SO also!!! call back id they don’t come!!”

  3. Always carry a digital camera or phone with camera.
    Photograph them with the fire.
    Photograph their vehicle license plate.
    That is evidence.

  4. How is the signage out there right now? I know there are a lot of times that signage has either not be installed or has been removed illegally. A lot of times people aren’t even aware that they are breaking the law.

  5. If signs are unmistakeable – and they should be – then penalties need to be severe (increased by legislation if necessary). What seems like idiocy is often bloody-mindedness. Penalties should, of course, be posted too. I and sure there are examples of penalties Not working, but they where applied, can help pay for availability of relevant officials to administer and enforce. That’s my million-dollars-worth (hey…inflation, you know!?).

  6. Bryan, it is well posted in many places. Large signs, hard to miss. However, even if it were not, upon being informed, “Go to hell, and get the fuck out of here” is not the appropriate response.

  7. The fine is $5,000. Of course, if it starts a wildfire, then the costs are also the responsibility of the person who started it.

  8. The fire agency needs to be proactive, not just reactive, by patrolling, or at least responding to complaint calls about a campfire. Violators license plate numbers need to be reported to the sheriff. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that any thing will be done. Anytime I have needed the sheriff where I live, they have done absolutely nothing.

  9. Unfortunately, the responsible fire agency is USFS, and last I heard, they don’t have enough personnel to staff an engine at Pacific Valley. (Have 3, need 5) It is partially due to money, which also contributes to the lack of housing for these people.

  10. Carry a switched-on walkie talkie on your belt? Put a BSFB (friends of) sticker on your car window? Look as official as possible? this is horrific. like you’re living in a war zone…city people off the deep end, no personal responsibility…

  11. Download a copy Forest Order 05-07-00-19-05 Fire Use Restrictions, make hard copies and give to each person you talk to about their campfire (if you feel comfortable doing so), it’s factual and not personal.

  12. I have done that, and recommended it to others. Sometimes it works. I suspect in the Chalk Peak case it would have been tossed on the fire.

  13. The lack of law enforcement personnel–USFS, SO–is chronic. There simply aren’t enough funds. I know Big Sur has one full-time deputy, and Los Padres NF has one LE officer (who may indeed be based out of the southern Los Padres?). It’s a huge problem that has no foreseeable solution.

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