Destination Stewardship Plan & Steering Committee

                                       January 15, 2020
Dear Big Sur Community Members and Stakeholders,

As we move into the new year, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with a further update on the Big Sur Sustainable Tourism Destination Stewardship Plan (DSP).
We are happy to announce the formation of the DSP Steering Committee. The primary role of the DSP Steering Committee is to assist and support the Beyond Green Travel (BGT) project management team in creating the DSP, including providing guidance, feedback and input for the success of the DSP process. The Steering Committee will help guide the DSP project to a successful conclusion through deliberation, support and action as an important advisory group made up of individuals and stakeholders in the Big Sur Land Use Area, including residents, businesses, emergency services, educators, community members and county representatives. The formation of the DSP Steering Committee follows guidelines for effective project Steering Committees, in terms of size and responsibilities.  We sought input from a diverse array of community members in forming the Steering Committee and believe that a community focus is important.  The Steering Committee includes the following members, and we want to thank them for their willingness to participate:

          Matt Harris (Big Sur Fire Chief/Emergency Services)
          Carissa Chappellet (Board President of the Big Sur Health Center)
          Mike Freed (Owner, Post Ranch Inn/Co-Chair, California Task Force on
          Destination Stewardship)
          Kirk Gafill (Owner, Nepenthe/Exec Director, Big Sur Chamber of Commerce)
          Ryne Leuzinger (CSUMB Staff and CABS board member)
          Laverne McLeod (Long-time resident and community member)
          Lee Otter (BSLUP Strategic Advisor)
          Yuri Anderson (representing County Supervisor Mary Adams)

Steering Committee meetings will be held bi-monthly and more frequently as may be determined by the Committee, and will follow a discussion format, with minutes taken.

In addition to the Steering Committee and other ongoing stakeholder engagement, BGT will continue to reach out to individuals and other stakeholders for their valuable input including US Forest Service, State Parks, Coastal Commission, Esselen Tribe Representatives, Big Sur residents, among others. To further maximize community and stakeholder feedback, a DSP website has also been created (, noting the importance of protecting Big Sur’s natural and cultural heritage for future generations. Any stakeholder or community member can provide their comments, suggestions, concerns and recommendations for the DSP directly to the BGT Team through the website. All comments are being collected and collated on a monthly basis and will be included as part of the DSP Report, as well as inform the DSP Project Team of important considerations.  In addition, a Big Sur Resident Survey is being created and will be sent out in early February to gather resident perspectives, concerns and input into solutions for visitor management strategies as part of the DSP.

Another important project update is the hiring of Kate Daniels from Monterey County to join the BGT DSP Team.  Kate has a strong record of community engagement, including her recent appointment to the Monterey County Planning Commission, her involvement with the ParkIt! initiative and her important knowledge of and familiarity with the Big Sur Land Use Plan, the Big Sur Multi Agency Advisory Council, the Coast Highway Management Plan, the Sustainable Transportation Demand Management Plan, and the California Coastal Act.
On December 10, 2019, the BGT Team provided an update presentation on the Destination Stewardship Plan at the Big Sur Area CABS Annual Meeting held at the Big Sur Grange and attended by 63 Residents, community members and Big Sur area stakeholders. This DSP Project Meeting included BGT Team members presenting different aspects of the project progress to date, led by Costas Christ, President of BGT, Sally Christ, VP of BGT and Kate Daniels, BGT Local Project Coordinator. Among other items, the presentation included a summary on Big Sur Visitation, noting that no reliably accurate statistics exist for the number of visitors to Big Sur, but the overall perception among community members is that visitation is growing rapidly. BGT noted global tourism growth trends will likely increase visitation to Big Sur in the future; how tourism impacts can be both positive and negative, with proper planning and management key to making the positive of visitation outweigh the negative impacts. This was coupled with news stories about Big Sur showing both positive and negative media coverage. In addition, the  presentation also included clarity on what a destination stewardship plan is; the need for it to be backed by reliable data and research; and a DSP project timeline, with key milestones identified leading up to a final Sustainable Tourism Destination Stewardship Plan being completed by June 30, 2020. A robust question and answer discussion about the DSP then followed, providing an opportunity for further community input to the DSP process. 
In addition to the various meetings and consultations noted above, the BGT team has continued to conduct learning trips along Highway 1 to see conditions first hand and gain a more thorough perspective of how the geography and infrastructure of the region impacts issues related to visitation, business and daily life for residents. The importance of protecting the environment has been a key aspect of these reconnaissance trips to inform the DSP, including driving from Monterey to the South Coast of Big Sur, with stops to inspect facilities and view conditions at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Garrapata State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Point Sur State Historic Park, Andrew Molera State Park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, and McWay Falls. Multiple observational visits were also made to high visitation areas including Bixby Bridge and the Big Sur Valley, on different days of the week and at different times of the day to see visitor use in action.
The intention of the DSP is to also compliment and support both the guidelines that underpin the management of Big Sur, such as the Big Sur Land Use Plan and the more recent Traffic Demand Management Plan, as well as other efforts taking place in Big Sur to address visitation concerns, support conservation of the environment, protection of cultural heritage, economic development and improving quality of life for Big Sur residents. The DSP Process Plan has been put into place including the project timeline, goals and objectives, with stakeholder input throughout the process., as well as on-going review, research and data collection from other plans and reports relevant to a Big Sur DSP, with the intention not to recreate the wheel, but to complement the work of previous studies and plans relevant to Big Sur visitation management.
We look forward to our continuing engagement and consultations with Big Sur community members and stakeholders, as we aim to create a plan that can help Big Sur remain a unique and special place for present and future generations.
Best regards,

Costas Christ
Founder & CEO, Beyond Green Travel

Community Invitation from Esalen

PLEASE READ THE INVITE — RSVP TO as directed on the invite, not here in the comments. Ask them if Cambria or Carmel are local enough. Ask them if your Big Sur pay stubs will be sufficient. Esalen did not share their criteria with me and did not define what they mean by “local.” Thank you.

Coast Ride this weekend

Upwards of 400 bicyclists are expected this holiday weekend, as well as our own Forager’s Festival. From the website:

“This year’s “Coast Ride” will be from January 18th-20th (Saturday, Sunday, Monday)

We continue this year back to the original, the classic, the standard, gorgeous, full-coastal route this year, featuring a climber’s delight on Day 2 with views and climbs that will wow you.

We are excited to return to Sports Basement [in San Francisco] to start our journey down the coast.  We will start bright and early as usual – arrive at 7:00am so we can roll by 7:45.  We end in Santa Barbara for our standard 375 miles of California coastline cycling.”\

I have a number of other news items of interest, including an Esalen invite to the community and several items from CABS, to post today.

Recreational Shooting Ban extended on LPNF

Recreational shooting ban extended for six months

GOLETA, Calif. – Los Padres National Forest officials announced that the Forest Order prohibiting recreational shooting has been extended until June 30, 2020, to provide for public safety due to increasingly high fire danger conditions in the extended weather forecast and the potential for a wildfire sparked by shooting.

Despite recent winter rainfall, live fuel moisture levels across the Forest did not significantly recover and are currently hovering just above the 60 percent critical threshold. Predictive weather forecasts indicate persistent, strong offshore wind events through April that will likely further reduce fuel moisture levels.

Long-range weather models have consistently shown well below normal precipitation and drier than average weather with a high likelihood of elevated temperatures through the spring months. If these forecasts are accurate, grasses will cure out earlier than normal and grass fire activity could occur weeks earlier this year. These conditions allow fire to burn readily and remain present in the larger dead and downed fuels in the landscape.  Even with recent precipitation and cooler temperatures, live fuel moistures are slow to rise due to a state of dormancy in the brush.  

Preventing accidental starts from recreational shooting under dry conditions is key to protecting life and property. Shooting ranges under permit by Los Padres National Forest monitor and implement preventative measures to avoid accidental starts.

Under this Forest Order, discharging a firearm is prohibited except in the designated target ranges at the Winchester Canyon Gun Club and the Ojai Valley Gun Club. Persons hunting during the open hunting season as specified in the laws of the State of California and having a valid California hunting license are exempt from this Forest Order.

A violation of this prohibition is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

Hazard Mitigation Meeting Location change

Hello all, 

Please note that the meeting location for the Big Sur Hazard Mitigation has changed to be held at the Big Sur Lodge:

Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM PST

Santa Lucia Conference Center at the Big Sur Lodge, 47225 California 1, Big Sur, CA, 93920

Thank you, 

Mary Adams Fireside Chat

1200 Aguajito Road, Suite #1, Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: (831) 647-7755
For Immediate Release – January 8, 2020
Supervisor Mary L. Adams invites Fifth District Residents to Chat
The issues don’t have to be ‘hot’ to share your thoughts with Supervisor Mary L. Adams at her upcoming Fireside Chat.
Fifth District Supervisor Mary Adams will host her first Fireside Chat of the new year on Wednesday, January 15thfrom 5:30 to 6:30 pm.  This Chat will be held in the Cypress Fire Station, located at 3375 Rio Road in Carmel. At this first meeting of the year, you are expressly invited to come and help shape the Supervisor’s priorities for 2020.
About Fireside Chats
Fireside Chats are informal meetings held by Supervisor Mary Adams throughout the 5thDistrict. Meetings are held in the evening to increase access of working people to their County Supervisor. All District residents are invited to bring any issue or concern of importance to them to discuss with Mary and her staff.  
Other 2020 Fireside Chats are scheduled for:
·      March 18, City of Monterey Fire Station – 600 Pacific St., EOC Room, Monterey, CA
·      May 20, Monterey Regional Fire District Office – 19900 Portola Drive, Salinas
·      July 15, Cypress Fire Station, Rio Road, Carmel
·      September 16, City of Monterey Fire Station, Pacific Street, Monterey
·      November 18, Monterey Regional Fire District Office, Portola Drive, Salinas
An RSVP isn’t necessary.

Sustainable Tourism In Big Sur?

I have continually requested that in these types of communications when we list balancing the interests of … or listing our priorities, that we put the environment first, not last, as without the environment, the residents, the businesses, the tourists would not be here, and yet, it continues to be listed last. (See *bolded portion below in 3d ¶) Get our priorities straight, and eventually, people will listen. That is my first suggestion.

Despite this misapplication of priorities, I applaud the efforts of BGT, CABS, CHP, MoCo, USFS, State Parks, and all of us who are involved enough to make a difference. Please, let your voice be heard.

Beyond Green Travel Announces that a Community Big Sur Destination Stewardship Plan Comment Portal is Open     

In order to capture as much stakeholder input as possible, BGT has created an online website to capture written comments and suggestions pertaining to the creation of a sustainable tourism plan for Big Sur.  Please visit
Your suggestions, observations and recommendations are welcome and integral to developing a plan that *balances the interests of the visiting public with businesses, residents, commuting workers and the environment. Please take this opportunity to express constructive, solution based comments HERE:
In the coming weeks, the local DSP steering committee will be announced.  Additionally, surveys are being developed to solicit specific feedback from diverse stakeholders.  We will provide updates on both the steering committee and the survey process in the next 30 days.
On behalf of BGT,

Download a copy of the above notice HERE. (PDF, 1 Page, 132 KB)

Hazard Mitigation Forum

Dear BSMAAC and Big Sur community members:

Monterey County Office of Emergency Services is hosting a Hazard Mitigation forum at the Big Sur Grange Hall on January 16th from 6pm to 8pm.

Join us to help your community be hazard ready!

Monterey County is updating its current (2016) Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan. In compliance with FEMA’s published requirements and procedures for local hazard mitigation plans in 44 CFR §201.6(c)(1), the public outreach strategy for hazard mitigation will provide a mechanism for coordination and accountability among the jurisdictions, as we seek to enhance community engagement and education.

Monterey County is a community with diverse concerns and needs. Hazards such as, fires, drought, floods, landslides and severe weather are just a few hazards that cannot be prevented. Come join us on our hazard mitigation community event to learn more about creating strategies to reduce disaster loses and foster community resiliency.

You can register to attend here:

The Lookouts of Big Sur

Here is my latest article for Voices of Monterey Bay:

In the fall of 1984, Soaring Jenkins and future husband Isa Starkey climbed up Cone Peak for the first time. She made it up the 2¼-mile trail — cussing, sweating — and there met Ruth Albee, who’d been a lookout in various places for a decade.

Ruth “was in her 60s and loved the trail I’d just sworn at,” Jenkins said. “But I looked around and fell deeply, instantly in love with the tiny glass room and the wide expanse of ocean and mountain views. I told her I wanted to be a lookout and she said, ‘Go ahead and apply here; I’m going to work next year at Chews Ridge Lookout.’”

It was that easy. Jenkins was a lookout there for the next six years and she says she did it for the love of the place. Other Big Sur fire lookouts I know say they do it out of a feeling of service and duty. It’s a way to give back to Big Sur.

Though it was one of the most difficult and isolated lookouts in California, Jenkins-Starkey told me that “I wanted that job more than anything, I felt a strong magnetic pull to be there, yearned for it, and learned everything I could through the Fire Brigade training, to prepare for it.”

For the rest of the article, including interviews with Nadine Clark, of Big Sur, and Scott McClintock, of the Federal Fire Lookouts Association, on the Chew’s Ridge Lookout Program, see :

“I had a May Sarton quote taped next to my desk: ‘Loneliness is the poverty of self, solitude is the richness of self,’” said Jenkins-Starkey. “It got me through a lot. After I’d been there several years I began to feel that everyone ought to have a long, long period of solitude to learn the contents of their mind, to learn how to exist, to just be, instead of always doing something.”

Learn the contents of one’s mind through solitude. I like that.