Emergency Preparedness & Wildfire Resources

Virtual Town Hall on Emergency
Preparedness and Wildfire Resources

Join me and Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara for an Emergency Preparedness and Wildfire virtual town hall.

Please register for the event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/…/WN_bKABMPXvR6mEHUjsH9B7kA 

View the event information on Facebook here: https://fb.me/e/42J0NppTI

It is imperative for you to have up to date information on services and resources.

Please email your questions in advance and no later than 12:00 PM on Thursday, April 21st. We will do our best to answer all emailed questions during the virtual town hall.

For questions not addressed during the meeting, you will receive contact information for specialists who may be able to assist you directly.

Please submit your questions to crb@insurance.ca.gov with Senator John Laird in the subject line.

We look forward to a productive conversation!

From Big Sur Health Center

With Monterey County lifting the tier system to qualify for Covid-19 vaccines, Big Sur Health Center is now able to vaccinate anyone 18 years of age and older.

Vaccine clinics will be held on Saturdays.  Due to limited vaccine supplies, we are able to offer appointments to the following groups:• Patients of Big Sur Health Center• Residents of Big Sur, including Palo Colorado Canyon• Those who work in Big Sur

We are currently administering the Moderna vaccine.

There has been considerable concern regarding recent reports of a blood clot disorder following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.   This is very rare and all cases have occurred within the first 3 weeks following administration. There have been no reports of blood clots or other serious side effects with the Moderna vaccine.

If you received the J&J vaccine more recently and are currentlyexperiencing severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath, you should contact your health care provider and seek medical treatment immediately.

To schedule a vaccine appointment, please call Big Sur Health Center at 667-2580.

California’s 2021 Fire Season

The chamise plants that blanket California’s shrubby chaparral should have grown new sprouts by now, flowering after winter rains before baking in the arid summer heat.

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CALIFORNIA BRACES FOR EXTREME 2021 WILDFIRE SEASON — IT’S VERY DRY OUT THERE

They are highly flammable and abundant in wildland areas — and, for that reason, a bellwether to wildfire researchers. This month, a San Jose State University team analyzing moisture levels was shocked at what it found at study sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

At two locations researchers found no new growth to cut from the shrubs. It’s an ominous sign of just how dry the vegetation is around California, where boundless numbers of plants and trees have been starved of life-sustaining water thanks to an entire winter of paltry precipitation. Those dry plants are fuel for wildfires, and they’re primed to burn explosively.

http://a.msn.com/04/en-us/BB1fx3Qb?ocid=se

Highway 1 to Open 4/30, ahead of schedule

Date:Thursday, April 8, 2021 
District:05 – Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties
Contact:Kevin Drabinski or Jim Shivers
Phone:(805) 549-3138 or (805) 549-3237
  
  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HIGHWAY 1 AT RAT CREEK TO OPEN TO TRAFFIC BY APRIL 30

MONTEREY COUNTY – Caltrans announced today it will reopen Highway 1 at Rat Creek in Monterey County by April 30 – nearly two months ahead of its target date. A full closure has been in place following the January 28 mudslide that washed out 150 feet of the roadway.

Caltrans estimated a reopening in early summer when it began major emergency repairs March 1 and has been able to accelerate that timeline with favorable weather conditions. Crews can complete remaining construction work after the road reopens.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins added, “Our crews have worked to create a safe road in challenging conditions, and we are excited to reopen this lifeline earlier than expected.”

After Caltrans identified the enhanced fill design repair strategy in late February, crews worked seven days a week during daylight hours to fill the canyon with compacted dirt to the road level. Caltrans will establish the base of a new road during the next two weeks, to be followed by paving and striping. 

Caltrans will continue construction work that will require intermittent traffic control at Rat Creek following the reopening as crews will install a new, redundant drainage system. The 10-foot diameter culvert will improve water flow during storms and make the roadway more resilient to extreme weather activity. Caltrans will also work on landscaping and installing permanent guardrails throughout the early summer.

Caltrans reminds motorists to move over and slow down when 

driving through highway work zones.

For traffic updates on other state highways in Monterey County, travelers may contact Caltrans District 5 Public Affairs at 805-549-3318 or can visit the District 5 website at: https://dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-5

                           | #BeWorkZoneAlert | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube |

Washout at Highway 1 on Jan. 29, 2021.

Both aerial views show the progress of fill construction looking up the Canyon at Rat Creek from early March (Left) and Mar. 26, 2021.

###

Kevin Drabinski

Public Information Officer

Caltrans District 5

50 Higuera St.

San Luis Obispo CA 93401

Office: 805.549.3138

Cell: 805.748.1858

TTY 711

Dispersed Camping Etiquette

Andrew Madsen, the PIO for the LPNF sent me a link to an excellent article which helps to convey the dilemma we face with managing our public lands. It is not pretty.

“After witnessing some of the damage inflicted on public lands — our shared national resource — by campers last year who were either ignorant of their responsibilities or purposely misbehaving, I’m wary that a continued influx of visitors will result in even more damage, and, frankly, the reduction of camping opportunity for those of us who have enjoyed the activity long before COVID-19 inspired a host of new participants to buy that first tent or that first travel trailer. 

“To be frank, if what I saw last summer is going to repeat itself this summer, our federal land-management agencies will be faced with some tough decisions, particularly when it comes to dispersed camping on public lands. 

Here in the West, on our vast swaths of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management acreage, dispersed camping is allowed, and in most cases, it’s free and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Some camping locations are just wide spots in the road, and others are located off of spur roads and trails leading into more remote areas. For those of us who have been camping on public lands for years, there are unwritten rules to ensuring that we’ll be able to continue visiting these special places for years to come. And the rules don’t just have to do with how we treat the land, but also how we treat our fellow campers and others who use public land for recreation.

I think it’s time the unwritten rules earn some ink, and that advocates for public lands recreation speak up and earnestly help police their pastimes for fear of having them curtailed. And for those new to dispersed camping, consider the following before you hitch up the new RV and head for the hills:”

One can read the rest of this article and the unwritten rules here:

https://www.hatchmag.com/articles/dispersed-campers-guide-etiquette/7715246?fbclid=IwAR3PJ1p3UjG1QN0z9k0Zuuk4Peh9wofWrJNRvgeDOA6mna444Dz-3xVsOqc

The post on Facebook about this article on the LPNF page had this comment: “The grossest place we ever saw was on the drive up to Prewitt Ridge. Ive never seen more trash, human waste and toilet paper than what i saw up there. Sad because its such a cool place and people just have to ruin it 😞 i dont even want to know what its been like up there since covid hit.” For those of you not familiar with it, Prewitt is the next ridge north from me and I can see and hear the all night amplified music parties for which it became known. She is right, it was not pretty and many of the very best dispersed camping spots in Big Sur were destroyed last summer. Some healing has gone on with the land since the roads were closed after the Dolan Fire, but it will take years to recover from just this one past summer.

Pine Ridge Trail

From Tim Short, Monterey District Ranger, LPNF:

Dear Partners,

I want to share with you that the Pine Ridge Trail, which has been closed to the public since the 2016 Soberanes Fire, will be re-opening next Tuesday, April 13.   I’m reaching out to you in advance of the general public because of your role as a key stakeholder in the health and welfare of the Big Sur region.   Regarded as one of the most iconic coastal trails in North America, the news of the PRT re-opening will garner wide attention in both traditional and social media. Day hikers, trail runners, backpackers, and equestrians will now have another reason to visit Big Sur. The re-opening will be an opportunity to engage with visitors on shared trail stewardship that helps protect these cherished public lands.

In the nearly five years it’s taken to secure the funding for our partners and volunteers to restore the trail for public use, we’ve reflected on the message of “Responsible Recreation” that needs to be conveyed to all visitors, especially first-time PRT hikers. Educating hikers on trail conditions, campfire restrictions, and wilderness ethics will prepare them to safely enjoy this magnificent area while protecting its natural beauty for future visitors.

Here’s why I could use your support in emphasizing these key messages:

  • The natural warm springs at Sykes Camp approximately 11 miles inland from the trailhead attracted visitors in the past who built structures to impound the spring water. These “tubs” are no longer on site and won’t be re-installed as this area lays within both a Congressionally protected Wilderness Area as well as the Big Sur Wild & Scenic River corridor. Structures of any type cause resource damage and are prohibited; violations will be taken seriously. If you hear folks mention these tubs, please feel free to point out the tubs are a thing of the past and no longer exist.
  • When fire restrictions are in effect, usually between May and November, campfires and smoking are not permitted anywhere along the PRT. During extreme fire conditions even stoves and cooking devices are prohibited. Visitors need to plan ahead and should stop by the Big Sur Station visitors center, or call (831) 385-5434 for current conditions and to obtain a California Campfire Permit.
  • Whatever is packed in must be packed out. There is no garbage service in the wilderness and visitors are encouraged to leave these areas in better condition than they find them. Where available, hikers must use the wilderness toilets – they are the only appropriate place to defecate. Visitors should bring a large plastic bag to pack out hygiene products, disposable towelettes and toilet paper. Dog owners are responsible for picking up after their pet just as they would anywhere else.

A new three-panel display has been installed at the trailhead and we are encouraging visitors to use our new voluntary self-registration system and take time to read through the posted information. Data gleaned through self-registration will guide future management decisions and determine whether additional steps are needed to protect natural resources.

This re-opening would not have been possible if not for the extraordinary efforts of our partners at Los Padres Forest Association, Ventana Wilderness Alliance and California State Parks.  I would like to also thank the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, the Community Association of Big Sur, and the Nepenthe/Phoenix Corporation for critical financial support. On behalf of Los Padres National Forest, I want to thank you for all that you have done to help safely reopen this amazing trail to the public.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me or Forest Public Affairs Officer Andrew Madsen who’s cc’d on this message. We’re excited about working with all of you as we welcome the public back onto this historic trail, the Gateway to the Ventana Wilderness.

See you on the trail,

Tim

Forest Service ShieldTimothy J. Short 
District RangerForest ServiceLos Padres National Forest, Monterey Ranger District