USFS Rule Change re small land tracts

USDA Forest Service announces proposed changes to improve conveyance of small tracts of lands

FEBRUARY 26, 2020 – 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is seeking public comment on a proposed rule change that would expand use of the Small Tracts Act and provide the Forest Service greater flexibility to resolve land management challenges through sales, exchange, or interchange of small land parcels. The proposed changes are among those that implement new authorities the Forest Service received through the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018—also known as the 2018 Farm Bill.

The proposed rule would allow parcels that are physically isolated, inaccessible, or lack national forest characteristics to be conveyed if they are 40 acres or less in size. It would also allow parcels 10 acres or less where permanent, habitable improvements have been made to be conveyed if encroachment was neither intentional nor negligent. Proceeds from these land exchanges could then be used to acquire lands or interest in lands in the same state that are suitable to be included in the National Forest System. Those proceeds may also be used to reimburse costs associated with the competitive sale of eligible lands.

“These changes are designed to help improve forest conditions, safety and service to the American people” said Chief Vicki Christiansen. “They will also help us to be better neighbors to landowners that border our national forests and grasslands.”

The proposed regulations will be open for public comment for 60 days following their publication in the Federal Register. More information on these rules and instructions on how to provide comments are available at

Fire Season in February?

It would appear so, and Weather West (Daniel Swain) is warning that this week and the first week in March will be hot and dry, a precursor to our seemingly never ending fire season. *Sigh*

“Baseball Fire” burning east of Covelo reaches 40 acres; Forest Service and Cal Fire responding

Is it time for me to change all my links again? Maybe the header photo, too?

Baseball Fire is 68 acres and is 40% contained. 15 miles southeast of Covelo near Atchison campground. In the Mendocino NF near the Mendocino County-Glenn County Line.

Film shoot, Bixby Bridge, 2/27 or 2/28

Date: 02/20/2020
Notification of Upcoming Film Activity – Big Sur Area
To: Big Sur Residents and Businesses
From: Mark Redmond, Location Manager
Re: Film Production Activity on Highway 1 in the Big Sur Area Scheduled for 3/27 OR 3/28/2020
In an effort to better communicate with Big Sur residents and business owners regarding upcoming film activities in the area, this is to notify you of a permitted film shoot to take place on 2/27 or 2/28 /2020 from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. Our work will require intermittent traffic control (ITC) at and near Bixby Bridge and Hwy. 1 [Mile Markers 59.8 to 55. As per our permit, a portion of parking at the Bixby Bridge turnout will also be used. Traffic holds will be in small areas [2/10- 3/10 mile.]
We will be hiring California Highway Patrol officers to facilitate the ITC and to ensure public safety and access with only brief traffic holds. Most of our trucks and equipment will be stationed a few miles away on private property.
We have taken all necessary steps to ensure that the required permits have been obtained and will comply with restrictions necessary for a safe and efficient shoot.
The production company would like to show its appreciation to the community with a donation to the MId Coast Fire Brigade .
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. I hope this advance notice is helpful for you to plan your day.
Sincerely yours, Mark
Mark Redmond
Location Manager
Lucid, Inc.
415 505 7400

Possible light rain?

NOAA forecast discussion yesterday afternoon:

The upper low will begin to move east on Friday and approach
Point Conception on Friday evening. Moisture associated with the
low will increase as flow becomes onshore. A band of light to
locally moderate rain is expected to develop over the Central
Coast late Friday and into Saturday morning. Have increased PoPs
and QPF as a majority of ECMWF and GFS ensemble members depict
this scenario. Exact placement and strength of the band is
uncertain but overall rainfall amounts will be light, with the
vast majority of rainfall confined to locations south of San
Francisco Bay.

Saturday I found these interesting statistics offered by NOAA in my forecast discussion:

One such prominent location - downtown
San Francisco - has observed rainfall records as far back as late
1849. In all that time, only one other year had no precipitation
throughout all of its February -- 1864. Looking back at the 10
driest Februarys for downtown San Francisco as a proxy ( 1864 -
0.00, 1953 -- 0.04, 1899 -- 0.10, 1852 -- 0.14, 1964 -- 0.19, 2018
-- 0.21, 1967 -- 0.22, 1995 -- 0.24, 1866 -- 0.24, 1971 -- 0.26 ),
 we can see that a dry February does not necessarily mean a dry
 March. Of these 10 year, 3 of them had a "miracle" March with
 more than 200% of normal precipitation for the month -- 1899 had
 7.61", 1852 had 6.68", and 1995 had 7.88". Furthermore, 5 of the
 10 years had above average precipitation in March after a top 10
 driest February. Currently, the long range models do look dry
 into early March, however, there is some support for a more
 progressive pattern as the month of March progresses, but it is
 too soon to say what kind of month March will be. Stay tuned

Community Survey re Sustainable Tourism Destination Stewardship Plan

From the Team at Beyond Green Travel and Community Association of Big Sur: 

Dear Big Sur Community Members and Stakeholders,

As you may already know, the purpose of the Big Sur Sustainable Tourism Destination Stewardship Plan is to create a forward-looking action plan to better manage visitation to help protect Big Sur’s cultural and natural heritage, while also benefiting the local economy and community way of life for years to come.

As part of the process of reaching out to and collecting information from community stakeholders, the Resident Survey (links below) asks your opinions about tourism in Big Sur and potential visitor management strategies.  All individual responses to the survey will be keep confidential, and any comments that may be shared in the Destination Stewardship Plan will contain no identifying information. 

The deadline for completion of the survey is March 15, 2020Please complete the survey only once, and please feel free to share the link with other residents or others with their roots in Big Sur.  The survey is available in both English and Spanish. 



The surveys are also available via our website,, where you can continue to provide comments, suggestions, concerns and recommendations.  

While we encourage you to complete the survey online if at all possible, we can also provide a hard copy to complete.  If you would prefer a hard copy, please contact Kate Daniels at 831-241-2761, or you may also contact us via email:

Thank you for your time in completing the survey. We look forward to our continuing engagement and consultations with Big Sur community members and stakeholders, as we work to create a plan that can help Big Sur remain a unique and special place for present and future generations.

Best regards,
Costas Christ
CEO, Beyond Green Travel

Butch KronlundExecutive Director Community Association of Big Sur

Tourist Tuesday, revisited

President’s Day weekend is a good time to revisit an issue I have written about before: Local communities are in the best position to determine the level of tourism and type of tourism they want or can handle.

Three days of picture-perfect California weather, a holiday weekend and the expected happened —  tourists were out in droves. The CHP (California Highway Patrol) and MCSO (Monterey County Sheriff’s Office) have come to understand the need for a proactive presence at Bixby Bridge and often will take up positions there BEFORE they get the inevitable calls regarding the dangerous conditions brought on by the selfie instagram crowds. For that those of us who must travel the highway for work or town runs, we thank you.

I haven’t been creating “Tourist Tuesday” blog posts for some time, but now that CABS (Community Association of Big Sur) and BGT (Beyond Green Travel) have partnered to create a community-based Destination Management Plan, I think it is time to revisit the issue — not every week, but occasionally, as new information becomes available.

What started this one is an article I read on Good News Tourism here: The thesis of this article is that local communities are in the best position to determine the tourism levels and type they want or can handle. That is also the premise of the partnership between CABS and BGT.

CABS and BGT have developed a survey to be completed by residents, businesses, employees, and others, as a starting point to determine the direction this community will take in managing the overtourism we are experiencing. I reached out to CABS and BGT today (Monday as I write this) regarding this survey and was told it was being translated into Spanish. After the original posting, I received the information on the survey and will publish it tomorrow. Now, then, is a good time to draw attention to at least one other community who has done the same.

In the Good Tourism blog, there is a paragraph that stood out: “Even local authorities can be out of touch, of course. A perfect example is from a survey of residents and businesses of San Juan Islands, Washington state, USA. Results were published during the week. According to one finding, “there was wide acknowledgement among residents that vacation rentals reduce long-term housing affordability”, which is reportedly counter to the County’s prior position.” Sound like Monterey? It does to me, so I decided to check out the survey created for San Juan Islands of Washington State.

Indeed, I found the similarities to be striking. This is from the 65 page summary of the findings from the San Juan Islands survey, which can be found here,

“One finding that differs from the county government’s beliefs regards vacation rentals. The county says they do not have an impact on availability of housing. According to the study:

‘There was wide acknowledgement among residents that vacation rentals reduce long-term housing affordability. Residents recognize economic benefits from tourism, but also that tourism-related crowding reduces the quality of visitor experiences and has negative impacts on the environment.’

‘A higher percentage of businesses than residents recognized the economic benefits from tourism, but most agreed that vacation rentals reduce affordability of long-term rentals.’”

It is important for everyone involved in promoting our area to aim toward promoting a quality experience for the tourist that focuses on the existing infrastructure and businesses who are the life blood of community. Both businesses and community need housing which is affordable to provide employees who live where they work, and for the volunteers on which all of Big Sur’s major non-profits depend. STRS do NOT provide an affordable alternative to existing campgrounds, inns, and hotels — they are often as expensive or more than what already is here. It isn’t affordable alternatives that are driving tourists away from local businesses and infrastructure and into the fast disappearing wildness of Big Sur, it is the crowds who stream here who can’t get reservations because we are already overbooked. We are loosing the characteristics that originally drew our visitors — friendly, accommodating locals, day trips into the wilderness from their base in Big Sur in our campgrounds, inns, and hotels. Instead, tourists are making our wilderness their base with no reciprocity to our businesses, spending little or no money actually IN Big Sur . The current selfie-tourist brings little to our community and businesses.

I don’t leave my property on holiday weekends because it has become untenable. My son counted 75 cars when he came home from a town run. That’s probably 150 plus people camping along a five-mile road. One of them was camping in the middle of the road after their clutch gave out and they got themselves stuck. They had come from San Jose. If they spend ANY money here, it will be to Cambria Towing. My son has become extremely experienced in getting town folk out of the predicaments they have gotten themselves in to.

75 cars equate to 150 plus people camping on a five-mile road. Since much of it is too steep for camping, and there are only a finite number of places suitable for camping, this means tourists were camping on top of each other. How is that a sustainable experience for tourist or local? One local asked others if anyone had noted any USFS presence during this weekend, so far, no one has reported seeing any. This will make for an interesting fire season this year.

The Ballad of Kit and Rachel

Many of you know of this story, but I wrote it up for Voices, and it was published today.

Big Sur loves its dogs. Lost dogs have become sort of a specialty of mine on my blog. I am a sucker. Whether they are born here, brought here or dumped here, all are welcome. No bad dogs, sometimes bad owners. This is the story of three such dogs, but mostly the last of the three.

Feb. 4, 2013, was a warm, gorgeous winter day. I got up and opened the door to let out the four dogs I already owned. I left the door open, so I could go back to bed for a bit. Shortly after I closed my eyes, I heard the clinking of toenails on the hardwood floor. I rolled over to see which dog it was. “Oh, my! Who are you, Missy.” It was a stranger, making herself at home. I didn’t even know the sex at that point, but that is how she got her name. She is a smart border collie, probably McNab. She was skin and bones and covered with ticks. I took her into the bathroom, where I planned to keep her isolated from my own dogs until I could get her to the vet and have her checked, which I did. Seven years later, she never willingly leaves my side.

On Nov. 21, 2019, Elsa Rivera posted a photo of a German shepherd puppy that a couple had abandoned at the Loma Vista gas station. My other four dogs were all gone by then, having lived 14 to 16 years each, and Missy the Mystery Dog needed a high energy playmate that wasn’t me. That night, Lady was ours. That was two months ago, and today she is housebroken, knows basic commands and is highly entertaining.

Then, on Jan. 7 I got one of those emails I get way too often about a dog wandering the highway. No photo, not much of a description (looks like a fox, but not). Not much I could do with that. She was spotted near the vista point at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

A couple days later, at the same vista point, Jon Knight spotted her and he and several state park rangers tried to capture this gal, but were unsuccessful. She was scared to death and ran away. There were sightings reported to me on and off, but no photos until Jan. 15. Rachel Fann spotted her near her place, three miles south of JP Burns.

You can read the rest of the story at

Hint: It has a happy ending.