Prescribed Burn by State Park

Ignition has been postposed to Thursday from the original Press release, but also covers a broader time frame. Here is the updated press release. If you, like I, think this is ill-advised, consider sending an email to

Letter to State Parks from Richard Wangoe:

Dear Ms. Palkovic

I am a Big Sur local and a strong believer in and supporter of prescribed burns.  I recognize and understand very well that we live in a fire-adapted and evolved ecosystem.   

I must state here my emphatic disapproval of the scheduled prescribed burn for Andrew Molera State Park.  September is ABSOLUTELY NOT the time to safely do a prescribed burn in that location.   The danger of our steady seasonal trade-winds blowing from the Northwest with great regularity and inescapable action blowing any embers or sparks flowing from the scheduled fire is astronomically out of balance to the benefit.   Any escaping fire will be naturally blown into the Big Sur valley and if bad comes to worse even beyond that !  The wind would push any escaping fire inevitably into another area that yes, desperately needs to be transitioned back to a fire-balanced state, but NOT at this time of year.   The potential for chaotic damage by fire escape is not worth stepping into that burn now.

March/April/May and such early-season time-frames are far safer to engage in such worthy work, hopefully when the general fuels-moisture is high enough to slow any unintended directional variations in the fire.

Presently the fuels moisture of the entire coastline downwind of the scheduled fire is dangerously low, well below 10% everywhere.   This situation presents an intolerable risk to the entire community south of Andrew Molera.

Please, PLEASE reconsider the schedule of your burning.   Yes, please DO burn the park and heck, everywhere else, frequently !  Just NOT NOW !   It’s way too dry.

With great intent and hope

Richard Wangoe


I concur with Richard. I am also a proponent of prescribed burning, but I also agree this is ill advised. Campfires are banned on USFS property right now. I can already hear the gasps of horror from so many of you and the PTSD from others.

27 thoughts on “Prescribed Burn by State Park

  1. thanks Kate & Richard – TOTALLY am horrified that they would think of doing this before the first rain of the season!

  2. I am a firm believer of prescribed burns as a way to reduce the danger of wildfire but strongly suggest that the first week of September right after a serious hot spell is NOT the time to do it! March, April and May, make so much more sense! I live in the forest and can testify that it is tinder dry at this point. Combine fire with any type of wind and the low fuel moisture and you have the ingredients for a serious disaster! What the heck are you thinking? My inclination is to say much stronger words, but I hesitate to offend!

  3. My jaw just dropped. I’m having trouble moving it back in position because of the stupidity. I’m sorry, I truly mean no disrespect, but this is just outlandish.

  4. We’ll hell, there is so much available fire fighting resources this time of year why the hell not …….??

  5. Richard Wangoe’s letter is both poignant and very wise. I thank him for speaking-up in such a thoughtful and considerate way. We need more of this type of respectful communication in our world these days. ❤️

  6. From Santa Cruz
    NW Winds howled down the coast today, regular wind, fog, weather pattern is back since the heat wave. Check out the winds for the 10 day on your weather site. Way above the norm and the Molera wind tunnel will be expected to blow up and over 10 mph for a while.

  7. Wrong time, wrong year, stupid, ill advised. For God’s sake, listen to locals and old timers, PLEASE💜🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

  8. I am not “against” intentional burning–IF there is solid, detailed in-context science behind it. Please cite the real, disciplined, well-designed research that backs up the practice that you are using as a foundation for this policy and practice. But please spare us the conjectural guesswork.

  9. I remember the Molera Fire of 72′ and the devastation it caused; I also remember the debris flow that followed after the winter rains came and the destruction it caused … though that fire was not a prescribed burn it did get out of control just like some prescribed burns do. So why not wait until the 1st of next year! thank you …

  10. please, EVERYONE, contact the good Ms Palkovic and convey your concerns. not likely she reads Kates blog. step up folks, use your fine email skills and support her doing this burn SOME OTHER TIME.

    and I have questions about the liability coverage for this, who will be financially responsible if this goes sideways ? would anyone be made whole after the fact ? what is the legal background for these concerns .

    how has this appeared so suddenly ? has there been ANY community input ? what is the position of the BS chamber of commerce or the community association of BS ?

    but again friends and neighbors, please, everyone contact Ms Palkovic !

  11. Hi Kate, I’ve been a reader for a long time- never commented. But today, I will! I emailed in and sent this link along to all my friends and family asking them to email as well. This is a truly terrible idea, and timing.

  12. I sent an email to Amy Palkovic and am wondering if there are more agencies or higher- ups who should be contacted as well.

  13. I believe that the professionals at CAL FIRE and State Parks have done extensive planning for this prescribed burn. I don’t think it’s as easy as just burning in a different time of year. A lot of time, effort, and knowledge goes into making these plans. It makes sense that people are worried about the worst case scenario when it come to fire, but it’s important to have conversations with these agencies instead of calling their restoration plan stupid.

  14. Mandy: I respect those agencies too. I read criticism of the timing of a prescribed burn, nowhere do I see the restoration plan called stupid. But maybe I missed it.

  15. Mandy, I am with Scrub Oak. I have yet to see anyone claim the restoration project is dumb. In fact most who expressed an opinion belief in the benefit of prescribed fire in our fire flighting arsenal. I hear people were just concerned about the TIMING of the burn when the state’s resources are spread so thin, it is the beginning of the fall winds and Santa Anas for soCal, and in light of the low Rh and the dryness of the fuels. Most, in not all of us, believe in prescribed burns during the Spring or under the right conditions. We just don’t have those right now. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  16. Mandy, you are not wrong! I did comment that this now cancelled burn was ‘stupid’. I am sorry for using that demeaning word, and will also offer another apology for commenting on situations in which I do not have technical knowledge or expertise. I had a guttural reaction to the prescribed burn. I still think the postponement is the best plan, but I am sorry if I offended anyone. Thank you for calling it out.

  17. BigSurKate & ScrubOak: thanks for the dialogue. I have always been a firm believer on education and conversation regarding topics that not everyone has an in-depth understanding of. That being said I think it’s important to note that burn plans have extensive detail on many of the topics of concern; ie fuels moisture, RH, weather conditions, etc. There are so many programs that can model fuel behavior nowadays that are incorporated in the planning phase of the prescribed burn (sometimes the planning phase can take multiple years!!). In regards to timing, I am sure there is a logical explanation for the month of September. My guess would be because it is a restoration burn, maybe the timing has to do with plant phenology.

    Lauren: thank you for your comment! I think it’s very important to have these conversations

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