COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting Notes
May 11th, 2020
Attendees (via Zoom):
State Senate District 17, Cal State Parks, US Forest Service, Parks Management Company, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, Big Sur Health Center, Big Sur Fire, Big Sur CERT, and the Community Association of Big Sur
Big Sur Health Center:
Executive Director Sharen Carey reports:• There are still no known cases of COVID-19 in the Big Sur planning area.• It appears that transmission of the virus is enhanced by close conditions in enclosed spaces over a prolonged exposure time frame.• There is less risk of transmission in open air settings.• There is evidence that Llamas produce more effective anti-bodies of the COVID-19 virus than humans. Research is ongoing.• Bottom line defense against contracting the virus: Assume it is in Big Sur and take all precautions recommended : wearing facemasks in public, social distancing, frequent handwashing.
Big Sur Fire, Chief Matt Harris:
Chief Matt Harris reports:• Big Sur Fire is prepared for fire season which will officially begin on May 18th.• Reported fires are now receiving a “wildland response”.• Big Sur Fire expects to respond to calls reporting illegal campfires, supporting the USFS and MOCO SO.• BSF is resuming fire, rescue and medical training.• Muster and other event dates are in flux pending Local and State SIP updated guidance.
Big Sur Chamber of Commerce,
Kirk Gafill reports:• There is a noticeable shift in momentum to begin reopening California with each County in various stages of preparedness to facilitate that reopening.• Supervisors Adams and Phillips are working with the Monterey County Hospitality Association to establish guidelines the hospitality industry will implement in order to safely reopen.• Rick Aldinger adds, establishing these guidelines is a collaborative process, bringing in public health experts and industry experts as well as lessons learned from businesses already open in countries ahead of California on the epidemiological curve.• As SIP guidance transitions in California, traffic in and out of Big Sur will continue to increase, putting pressure on closed trails and day use areas to reopen.
Community Emergency Response Team, Martha Karstens:• That the residents SIP survey is ongoing.• CERT successfully conducted two ZOOM training classes.
USFS, LPNF Monterey District Ranger Tim Short:• The Forest Order closing the Monterey District expires May 15th and that order will be reinstated with some modifications and exceptions. The new Order may reopen some Day Use areas, the Nacimiento Rd and some roads and trails on the east side of the Monterey District of the LPNF. Remaining closed will be the developed campgrounds, dispersed camping areas and roads and trails on the coast side of the Monterey District.• Fire restrictions will go into effect on May 13th. This will result in no campfires outside of developed campsites. Camp stoves with a permit will be allowed.• Butch Kronlund requested that gates at the intersection of Highway 1 and Nacimiento Rd and Nacimiento Rd and the South Coast Ridge Rd need maintenance as they are nearly inoperable. Tim pledged to get them on the list of resources needing attention.
Ca. State Parks, Superintendent Brent Marshall:• State Parks personnel extremely busy enforcing the ongoing SIP order.• The public is confused by the State softening of restrictions and the more restrictive County SIP order.• Relatively good news regarding California flattening the curve of the rate of infection.• Opening of Day Use areas will precede opening of campgrounds.• Brent appreciative of valuable input the stakeholder group provides on the weekly calls. This input helping to drive reopening policy and procedure. Between Saturday and Sunday, Parksissued over 35 citations. Verbal warnings were also issued (10 verbal warnings for each citation).
Parks Management Company, Brian Cushman, CEO:• All Campgrounds and Day Use Areas remain closed.• Seeing an increase in vehicle traffic and is in agreement that trails need to be reopened to give an outlet for people to go to.• PMC is seeing more public disregard for the closures.• Employees are here and ready and anxious to open once the SIP order is lifted.
Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mike Splain, ED:• VWA continues working on trails and campsites in the back country. • 17 campsites restored.• 41 lbs of trash packed out.• 0 hikers encountered on the Big Sur Trail.• 20 hikers advised to obey the Forest Order closing the Salmon Creek Trail.
17th State Senate District, Colleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning:• For clarification on DMV license/registration extensions, see dmv.ca.gov for more information.
If anyone has specific questions, feel free to contact Senator Monning’s office (831) 657-6315.• Department of Motor Vehicles is extending Driver License renewal and vehicle registration renewal in consideration of the pandemic. Go to California Department of Motor Vehicles website to request an extension. Late fees may be waived.• Most DMV offices are closed but Salinas DMV is open.
Community Association of Big Sur, Butch Kronlund. ED:• CABS, working with the Big Sur business HR departments, will be making a second distribution of financial assistance to those most financially vulnerable due to employment disruptions brought on by COVID-19.