COVID-19 comes to Big Sur

***I have turned off comments for this post. It doesn’t matter which restaurant. Since this published, I have heard of several others, but not verified. Cars packed all parking lots and along both sides of the highway from Nepenthe to River Inn Saturday. Lots of out of state plates. Whichever businesses that did not have it before, will in the next few weeks. It will spread all up and down the coast as it has along every major artery along the east coast, thru the south and in the west and mid-west. As Sharen Carey says, “Assume it is here and act accordingly.” Now we know it is. Make your own choices for you, but always wear a mask for others.***

Big Sur went over three months without a single case of coronavirus. The quarantines, social distancing and masks had worked, but it couldn’t stay closed forever. The closure was taking its toll on businesses and employees. And so, like the rest of Monterey County, and the State of California, we opened in stages.

After restaurants were opened for indoors dining, a restaurant was informed by an employee that s/he had tested positive for the virus on Thursday. The restaurant immediately implemented all workplace exposure guidelines put out by the Monterey Health Department and notified them. The restaurant also told the employee to stay home until cleared by his/her health care provider.

Friday evening, a notice went out to all employees about the exposure. Testing was implemented on any employee who may have been within six feet of the employee for 15 minutes or more. Every guideline was met and implemented.

I contacted the manager of the restaurant for any further information early this morning, but he did not respond. I also contacted two other Big Sur businesses to see if the restaurant manager had provided any information to them, and neither was aware that COVID-19 had shown up in Big Sur.

I contacted Sharen Carey, Executive Director of the Big Sur Health Center who told me that there are currently two cases of COVID in Big Sur. Of course, due to privacy concerns, no further information is available about either case.

We will probably never know if this case was caught from a visitor outside the area, from a family or friend, or while in town. There are many variables that come into play. As Sharen Carey has been telling us for three months, assume it is here, and act accordingly. Implement social distancing, wear masks, and stay home if sick or high risk.

Sometimes, I have to wonder if I will ever get to visit my favorite Big Sur places again. I miss them, and my friends. I don’t think being a hermit becomes me.

For insight into other rural “gateway” communities facing this pandemic and the need to open to survive, see:\


Future of Big Sur Coast & Community

View this email in your browserBig Sur Land Use Advisory Committee and South Coast Land Use Advisory Committee Joint Meeting!This is a heads up that the Big Sur and South Coast LUAC has produced an information memo summarizing some of their positions on the Big Sur LUP updates, these are critical issues regarding the future of the Big Sur Coast and the survival of the Big Sur community.

Please read and take an active role in the meeting on June 29th. Information can be found in the memo for the June 29th meeting on Monterey County LUAC website. Copyright © 2020 Big Sur LCP Defense Committee, All rights reserved. 
Thanks for joining our list of supporters! 

Our mailing address is: 
Big Sur LCP Defense CommitteePO Box 610Big SurCA  93920
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Wildfire in the time of Coronavirus

How is fire fighting different during a pandemic. I explore that today in my article published in Voices of Monterey Bay about firefighting, the Plaskett fires, and our pandemic. Here are the first few paragraphs. One can go here: to read the rest of it.

Photo by Brendon Shave


By Kate Woods Novoa

I’ve been following wildland fires since I moved to the Big Sur backcountry in 1994 and survived my first close encounter in 1996. Big Sur has had a lot of fires since then, and I’ve closely monitored them all. But I had a new fire experience earlier this month that I hope never happens again: two fires in two weeks along the road leading to my house.

The first, on June 3, was called the Plaskett Fire and was caused by humans. The U.S. Forest Service says it is under investigation. The second, the Ridge Fire, started June 17. They were both put out quickly, but before describing how, I want to talk about the science of firefighting first.

I have studied the language of firefighting in my online interactions. Every year, I am immersed in the wildland fire culture in person and online. Fire is why I first learned how to blog and has been an all-consuming summer unpaid occupation for 12 years now, as more and more people use the backcountry, some of whom don’t have a clue about the dangers.

Read the rest. Go to Https://

Training Burn in Ben Lomand tomorrow

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
San Mateo & Santa Cruz Unit
Fire Captain DATE: June 23, 2020
(831) 335-5353
CAL FIRE CZU To Conduct Training Burn
FELTON – Crews with CAL FIRE CZU plan to conduct a one-day training burn starting at 9:00am Wednesday. The burn will take place on private property near the Ben Lomond Training Center in Santa Cruz County, west of Boulder Creek.
This training burn for new and returning seasonal firefighters will consume 10 acres of grass. This burn will provide the opportunity for firefighters to practice cutting line, making a mobile attack, and firing.
The burn is sanctioned by the Monterey Bay Air Resources District. Smoke may be visible throughout parts of Santa Cruz County while the burn is taking place.

River Fire, Paso Robles

8:30 final update tonight. Forward motion stopped. Evacuations remain in effect overnight. 10% containment. Two homes destroyed, four badly damaged.. It will be investigated for months before they will release a cause.


5:00 extended the evacuation area. Here is the new map: From Neblick to 46 East

3:49 UPDATE — structures burning, 60 acres.

Fire in a Paso Robles, burning from the Salinas Riverbed to the bluffs above South River Rd. Evacuations underway, avoid the area.

Rico Fire in South County

6:30 PM — UPDATE 250 acres and 50% contained.

I don’t have a name for this fire yet, nor an acreage estimate, and will add the name to the title and the acreage to the post itself when I do. There is also a fire in Paso Robles, called the River Fire. I will probably have to do a a separate post for the River Fire.

Here is a photo of it taken from the 101:

Report of Fire Location: Exit 263 Us101 N At Paris Valley Rd/san Ardo Loc Desc: EXIT 263 Lat/Lon: 36.069183 -120.987720

Detail Information
2:30 PM9[24] [Appended, 14:31:10] [2] TRANS CAL FIRE
2:30 PM8[23] [Appended, 14:31:10] [1] ABOUT 2 MI FROM RP’S HOUSE – 65301 DEAD MANS GULCH RD
2:25 PM7[17] 1039 CAL FIRE MTRY
2:21 PM2[6] [Appended, 14:22:49] [3] SEES FLAMES AND SMOKE
2:20 PM1[5] [Appended, 14:22:49] [2] BRUSH FIRE

Community COVID -19 meeting

COVID-19 Community Response Group Meeting Notes

June 17, 2020

Attendees (via Zoom):

20th Congressional District, State Senate District 17, 30th Assembly District, Cal State Parks, US Forest Service, 5th District Supervisor, Parks Management Company, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, Big Sur Health Center, Esalen Institute, Big Sur Fire, Big Sur CERT, and the Community Association of Big Sur 

Big Sur Health Center:

Executive Director Sharen Carey reports the Big Sur Health Center:

  • There are still no known cases of COVID-19 in the Big Sur planning area.
  • The State has relaxed some restrictions resulting in allowing some patients to resume preventative and elective visits to the Health Center.
  • Is making testing available to all MEMBERS of THE BIG SUR COMMUNITY emphasizing employees of Big Sur businesses. There are currently a few employees per day being tested at the Health Center. 
  • The testing is conducted in a “drive up” setting meaning that the individual being tested does not enter the building. 
  • 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:

  • A fire broke out on Plaskett Ridge just prior to the start of our Zoom meeting. Chief Harris was otherwise engaged and unavailable to participate.

Fifth District Supervisor. Sarah Hardgrave for Supervisor Mary Adams reports.

  • That BSMAAC meeting will be held as a Zoom call on Friday, June 19th from 10am to noon.
  • Supervisor Adams continues to conduct virtual office meetings with the goal to help people understand what is required from the hospitality business and travelers coming to our County.
  • That there are some red flags regarding the 14 day  metrics of County wide infections per 100k residents (110) and percentage of those tested that are positive for Covid-19 (8.6%) but that hospital ICU capacity and skilled nursing availability are good.
  • June 19th, personal care providers can resume business activities if they follow State guidelines.  Those services include massage therapy, nail salons and tattoo parlors. 
  • Sarah also shared that Yuri Anderson has been instrumental in getting COVID-19 testing available at MPC and keeping it available for Peninsula residents. Thank you Yuri!
  • Rick Aldinger asked for some clarification from the County on protocols and clear guidance regarding conducting weddings. He is requesting that Supervisor Adams office issue some specifics.  Sarah replied that Mary and Supervisor Phillips are heading up this category of business reopening and will follow up.
  • Butch observed that with our Resident Sheriff on vacation last week, the situation at Bixby, let alone the South Coast has again begun to be chaotic. Compounding this issue is the fact that the emergency road side 911 phone at Bixby is inoperable.  As this is a County OES responsibility, Butch asked Sarah to please get them on the case to fix it. She’s on it.

Big Sur Chamber of Commerce reports:

  • Kirk Gafill reports that nearly all businesses in Big Sur have been allowed to reopen. Some are choosing to do so based on their own internal timing with the large Inns and Esalen slated to all be open by mid-July, if not sooner.
  • Although open, each business in the hospitality space has stringent guidelines and mitigations to contend with in order to remain open. This will result in a higher cost structure to meet the higher standard of best practices required by State Health Officials. Kirk  Is expressed concerns with the sustainability of the current situation.
  • Rick thanked Phil Deppert and Katie Moon (Congressman Panetta), Dominic Dursa (Assembly Member Rivas), and Sarah Hardgraves (Supervisor Mary Adams) for continuing to participate in our weekly calls. Our Elected Representatives play a huge role in shaping our lives and businesses in Big Sur. 

Community Emergency Response Team, Martha Karstens:.

  • Martha reported from Chews Ridge fire look-out, in real time, the start of the second fire in 2 weeks on Plaskett Ridge.
  • Live Training concludes Saturday. 17 community members will have completed basic CERT training and will be available if needed.

USFS, LPNF Monterey District, Tom Murphey sitting in for Ranger Tim Short:

  • Group sites at the developed campgrounds opening this weekend. Limited to 10 or fewer people.
  • The Forest Order closing the dispersed camping areas expired June 14th.
  • When asked, Tom reported that the LPNF is approximately 1.75 million acres over 5 Districts, with 3 USFS Law Enforcement Officers. The Monterey District, at 325k acres has 0 USFS LEO’s dedicated to patrol.  

Ca. State Parks, Monterey District, Big Sur Sector Superintendent Marcos Ortega:

  • Pfeiffer State Park successfully reopened for Day Use with the campground slated for reopening on June 29th.
  • Big Sur Lodge reopening on June 18th.
  • During the month of May, Parks issued 263 citations for violations like illegal camping and trespassing.  In 2019, by comparison, 79 citations were issued. So far in June, Parks has issued 50 citations and hundreds of verbal warnings.
  • The seasonal Bridge to be installed at Andrew Molera this week. The Bridge near the softball field in the Park goes in next Wednesday.

Parks Management Company, Brian Cushman, CEO:

  • Confirmed that group sites were opening at the developed campgrounds.
  • Lime Kiln campground having a limited soft opening on Saturday the 20th of June.
  • Early soft openings to work out bugs around social distancing protocols.

Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mike Splain, ED:

  • Between 6/10 & 6/16, 7 Volunteer Wilderness Rangers contributed approximately 100 hours on 4 patrols into the Ventana & Silver Peak Wilderness, all on coast-side trails. One week-long patrol is still underway, but so far reports include 26 visitor contacts, 7 pounds of trash packed out, & 17 fire rings cleaned or removed. Other patrol focuses were graffiti removal & posting / replacing no campfire signage.
  • Thanks to the USFS, National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, the Nepenthe/Phoenix donor-advised fund at the CFMCO, & CABS, the pilot self-registration Wilderness Permit system is fully funded & expected to launch by Labor Day weekend.

Esalen Institute. Lacy Shannon:

  • Esalen is targeting July 5th opening.
  • Does not yet have a timeline for allowing local bathing.

17th State Senate District, Colleen Courtney for Senator Bill Monning:

  • Unable to call in.

20th Congressional District, Katie Moon and Phil Deppert on behalf of Congressman Jimmy Panetta. 

  • Panetta is working with other Congress Members to increase funding for wild fire preparedness and infrastructure maintenance in our Forests.
  • On June 15th introduced legislation for tax credits for small business reopening.
  • Katie and Phil provided some background on the upcoming BSMAAC presentation on the wind turbine project proposed for Federal waters off the coast of Big Sur.

30th Assembly District, Dominic Dursa for Assembly Member Robert Rivas:

  • EDD constituent service is a major focus of the Assembly Members office.

Monterey County Sheriff Department, Deputy Villasenor:

  • Unable to call in.

Community Association of Big Sur, Butch Kronlund. ED:

  • The Draft Sustainable Destination Stewardship Plan for Big Sur is now available for review and comment on-line:
  • COVID-19 relief effort has assisted 111 Big Sur Families. 137 checks totaling $152,400 distributed. A final tranche of financial relief is anticipated to go out next week. 

Stage Fire

7:30 pm — IC reports fire is holding @ 52 acres & is now 30% contained, should have dozer line around it in the next hour. All aircraft have been released/diverted to other incidents.

7 pm – fire has slowed considerably, so release some aircraft, the hand crews of BEU are completely depleted from the Hunter, Stage, and Vista, east of San Juan Bautista. I have more photos from the Stage Fire, but technical difficulties are preventing me from uploading them.

4:45 pm — New fire at Old Stage and Williams road. Local government only at the moment. Seems to be a delay in getting BEU started. They have told their dispatch multiple times that this is a big fire and in the SRA.

Was 5 plus acres when the first unit got on scene. Structures are threatened.

BEU is just now dispatching

4:36 PM10[24] NO FIRE TRUCKS 97
4:35 PM7[16] [Notification] [CHP]-MTY SO DPTYS 1097 – REQ CHP CLOSE DOWN RDWY NEAR 1029 OLD STAGE RD [Shared]
4:35 PM6[15] B27-050 1097 JSO WILLIAMS
4:26 PM2[6] LRG FIRE

Hunter Fire, FHL/BEU, 6/21/20

As of 10 am 6/22, Hunter Fire still at 140 acres with 15% containment. (Just for frame of reference, when the Ridge fire was at 30%, it was no longer of any concern to me)

Photo by Rolin Coth, USFS

7:30 PM — spotting on left flank. Two additional tankers being ordered. Now 140 acres burned. Talk of moving resources into the Copperhead area out front of this.

7:00 PM — 140 acres, spotting, starting to take the next “bowl” and still need two tankers that were diverted to Stage, and to Vista, a 3d fire in San Juan Bautista. 0% containment on the Hunter incident.

UPDATE 5:20 PM — HunterFire [update] in Lockwood (Monterey Co) 100 acres, 0% contained. 20 structures threatened. Evacuations in progress Copperhead Canyon Rd & Bryson-Hesperia Rd.

UPDATE 4:30 pm —

It is now 70 acres with short range spotting. Current weather in Jolon; 94, 25%, 10 mph out of the North. Evacuation of Copperhead Rd/Dr going on now.

State ID: CA
3 letter designator: BEU/FHL
Fire name: Hunter
Location: Sam Jones Road; Lockwood, CA
Reported acres: 40
Rate of spread: moderate
Report on Conditions: started in the grass, transitioned to the brush. Short range spotting now occurring with potential for 500 acres
Structure threat: yes: evacuation advisories for Copperhead Road/Bryson-Hesperia community.
Resources: AA230, T74, T75, T79, T80, T102, T137
Radio channels:
Scanner link: 28
Webcam link: 37 36
Agency Website:

Fire on Sam Jones Road. FHL unit is making his way into the incident, stating that its on private property and in the SRA. BEU is going to start aircraft as soon as they have coordinates. BEU & FHL resources responding to a working fire, with a structure involved, on Sam Jones Road approximately 1 mile passed the green bridge.

This should be in the area of Bald Mountain, which is the border of FHL and BEU, near the Bryson-Hesperia community.

Full response from both agencies, with a large column visible. Additional ground resources responding from SLU.

Here is the broadcastify link:

AA- 230, T-74, T-75, H-527 assigned. FHL  8802 on scene. 2 acres mixed grass and brush.