No campfires in Los Padres National Forest effective immediately!

Just in time for 4th of July! Thank you LPNF!

Los Padres officials raise fire restrictions

GOLETA, Calif. – In response to the increasing potential for a wildland fire start, Los Padres National Forest officials announced that fire restrictions have been raised throughout the Forest effective immediately. These restrictions will affect the use of campfires, stoves, smoking materials and internal combustion engines, and will remain in effect until the end of fire season in late autumn.

Effective immediately, the following restrictions will be in effect:

  • No open fires, campfires or charcoal fires will be permitted outside of developed recreation sites or designated Campfire Use Sites (list attached), even with a valid California Campfire Permit. Lanterns and portable stoves using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel will be permitted, but only with a valid California Campfire Permit, which are available free-of-charge on the Forest website and at any Forest Service office. Forest visitors must clear all flammable material for five feet in all directions from their camp stove, have a shovel available, and ensure that a responsible person attends the stove at all times during use.
  • Smoking is prohibited, except within an enclosed vehicle, building, or a designated Campfire Use Site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
  • Internal combustion engines may be operated only on roads or designated trails. This restriction is in effect year-round. Please make sure your engine is tuned, operating properly, and has an approved spark arrester.

“The moisture levels are approaching a critical threshold. Combine that with warm temperatures and high winds and we have all the ingredients for fire starts,” Los Padres Deputy Forest Fire Management Officer Jim Harris said. “The most important thing is for forest visitors to be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution when conditions are ripe for a wildfire.”

For a list of Developed Recreation Sites and Campfire Use Sites in Los Padres National Forest, or further information regarding Fire-Safe Camping, visit www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf or contact the Forest Service district office nearest you.

 

Park Management as the USFS steward on the South Coast of Big Sur

While the lack of bathrooms on the entire Big Sur Coast is a huge problem, Park Management, who manages several of them, has locked them up, and is no longer providing access, creating a huge health issue as well as a disgusting experience.

Xasauan Today https://xasauantoday.com/ covered this issue just a few days ago. Today, Gail D and Lisa G sent me these three photos of conditions at Mill Creek, one of 3 public bathrooms on the South Coast outside of the campgrounds. The fourth photo is of Willow Creek, and looks to be the same location in Xasauan Today’s shot. Sand Dollar Beach has had its gates closed and locked, so I cannot get in to check the bathrooms there.

Gail D has contacted Jeff Benson, recreation officer of the Monterey District, but not received a reply. Anni Agren has contacted Tim Short, District Ranger of the Monterey District, but he is out of town until next week. I have sent these photo on to Tim Short as well as to Merv George, who is the Acting Supervisor of the Los Padres National Forest and have sent both these four photos.

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Tourist Tuesday #2, 5/22/18

Someone managed to get this trailer wedged in sidewise on South Coast Ridge Rd in the narrow “chute” where no one could get by, and then drove off and left it there last night. A neighbor had to go all the way back down Nacimiento – with the traffic – and back up Plaskett, through my place, in order to get home. The USFS dragged it out of the chute and to a nearby turnout so that traffic could again use South Coast Ridge Rd. is one story I was told, another is that a local helped others get the damn thing unstuck. It was still there late this am. Wedged in is even more stupid than flipping it.

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Fire at Sand Dollar Beach

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From Susan Perry of Pacific Valley School:

“I had just signed out from work at 11:35pm, was walking through the school’s K room to use the b-room b4 my long drive home, and saw huge, tall, flames just to the right of my view of the school’s wooden fence enclosed recycling yard.  I couldn’t tell if the fire was on the east or west side of the highway, but immediately ran down to the lower buildings to confirm that no one was aware of the fire, or at least not trying to extinguish it.  On the way down there I was able to see that it was across the highway and appeared to be right by the entrance to the Sand Dollar day use parking area, possibly under or in the cypress trees by the gate.

I ran to Carl’s room (the southern-most lower classroom, where he sleeps), banging on his door as I unlocked it and woke him up with my laryngitis frog throat screaming as loud as I could to wake up and call 911 so I could run to the office and call Joel & Brooke and then round up our school’s fire hoses.  I ran up the ramp while screaming across the creek to wake up Parks Management staff.  I then ran around looking everywhere I could think to look for those hoses, but never found them.

I gave up looking for the hoses and ran back towards the fire just as several trucks with Parks Management staff pulled up outside the day use parking area.  It was then that I could see that the lot’s gate shack was totally engulfed and that there were no trees or bushes involved, just the structure.  One staff member told me that she had locked the gate shack earlier in the evening, after placing the American flag that hangs outside the shack during the day, inside it for the night.  […It appears that] the fire …[may have been] started intentionally because the flag had been removed from the shack before the fire started and placed into the hole in the top of an orange traffic cone 15 to 20 feet away from the shack.

Brooke and Joel showed up at the fire a few minutes after I had returned from the office with my phone so I could take some pictures.  It was then that someone noticed that the large wooden Parks Management sign had been cut free from its posts near the shack and removed, perhaps tossed into the shack to be burned.

Two off duty USFS staff members then showed up in their personal vehicles, still in PJ’s, to attack the fire with the shovels that Brooke & Joel and thought to bring with them.  The USFS staff said that, even though Carl had reported our physical address to 911 and gave them the name of the school and the Sand Dollar Day Use Area, they never got a call from anyone.  They only learned of the fire when a tourist driving by saw the fire and drove into the Pacific Valley USFS Station and woke them up to report the fire in person.   They first called Monterey Dispatch and then their fire captain, who is out of town, and he told them not to use the engine but to call him if the fire threatened to head toward wildland (to the east) and he would return for duty, and to command the engine.  Monterey dispatch apparently had not called out anyone to respond and asked the USFS guys who they should contact to respond to the fire.  (DUH!)  “Call Big Sur Fire” was their response to the dispatch person, of course.

At some point, while we watched the fire, Joel claimed that he heard what sounded like someone shooting a 22 to the north of us, somewhere along the cliffs or the fields along the bluffs.

Obviously, we were lucky with this one, but why didn’t dispatch place a call out?  Why couldn’t I find the school fire hoses?  What will we do on the south coast if no one responds to a wild fire that starts here?  Thank you to Brook, Joel, Caleb and Mike Handy (I think it’s him, maybe Luke?) for getting training to fill that gap, soon, I hope!

Feel free to share this accounting of this event with whomever you wish, wherever it needs to be shared.

———————-

Susan Perry, Administrative Assistant

Big Sur Unified School District & Pacific Valley School

Here is this morning’s photo by Paolo Gonzalez:

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Tourist Tuesdays, 4/17/18

It is hard to write anything for today, after dealing with the Rio Rd. fiasco all weekend, for the second weekend in a row, and also seeing and hearing – loud parties, drunks asleep in the middle of the road, and booming speakers – what people did in my neighborhood. None of what you see below was here a few years ago, and the off-roading was twice as bad on Sunday as it was on Wednesday when I went down the hill to town. So many new tracks and destruction over the weekend. I am saddened beyond belief and my hope in maintaining any semblance of wilderness has been shaken. Soon, all the wildflowers, grasses, and wildlife will be gone.

Tomorrow I will be attending the MCCVB Sustainability Forum, and it will be a challenge for me. I want people who contribute to this madness to be held responsible for the damage. I want those charged with protecting the wilderness, the coast, the highway, and the community to take responsibility. Have we reached the tipping point? Are we past the point of no return?

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Tourist Tuesday, 4/3/18

I took  a closer look at thepresentation MCCVB made at the last BSMBAAC meeting. While I can see the need for a “Destination Master Plan”  for Monterey County, I think we need a separate and community oriented, implemented, and managed Sustainable Destination Stewardship Program/Plan for Big Sur. In discussions with Tammy Blount of MCCVB, she has agreed that a separate, “special” forum should be held for Big Sur. I look forward to working with Tammy and finding a common vocabulary which will strengthen our sense of community here in Big Sur – the crown jewel of Monterey County.

A “Master Plan” reminds me too much of dystopian novels like 1984, Brave New World, Handmaiden’s Tale, Soylent Green, etc. Personally, I think the Sustainable and Stewardship components of any plan are critical to how we approach the issue of sustainability of both the community and the environment of Big Sur as tourism continues to increase exponentially. The focus needs to shift from making money to sustaining the sense of place, in my opinion. Making money is only relevant if it is used to enhance the experience – not profit from it. I also see that Big Sur needs a bigger voice in any planning endeavor.  Big Sur needs to take the lead in any efforts to “market” her unique beauty, and if necessary, tell others she is not for sale. Several members of the board of CPOA are willing and delighted to work with us on creating an entity for such a purpose.

Naming, to me, helps to define, refine, and focus our goals so we don’t get distracted from the purpose we have for going forward, obtaining financing, other backing, and instituting meaningful change to save our community and place while we share it with visitors. Also, it will help establish the roles of all our various governmental and non-governmental agencies who claim a stakehold in Big Sur by helping them to fulfill their management plans and see the many ways each is compatible with the others. We need to get away from the singularity which defines each government agency and begin to see our Big Sur Coast as a holistic entity, entitled to the protection she needs and deserves.

Here is a quarterly event that MCCVB hosts that addresses this issue:

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The above is a screen shot, so the registration button is not “live.” Here is a link you can go to to register for the Sustainable Moments marketing forum: Sustainable Moments Quarterly Forum. I have signed up to attend, and will report back after the Forum. Marcus Foster has also indicated he is interested in attending. I would encourage all of you interested in the future of Big Sur and her tourism component to come to this forum to listen, learn, and contribute, if appropriate. Big Sur is the driving force behind tourism for the entire Monterey Peninsula. It is time we have a bigger voice that is heard.

Next week, I will seek out information on how to work with and organize all the diverse stakeholders present in Big Sur. Thanks to others in the community with whom I have had conversations, I am convinced that the MCCVB is NOT the appropriate entity to spear head an issue to preserve and protect Big Sur, and am looking at a whether a disinterested outside consultant might be the way to go, along with formulating a non-profit Big Sur entity capable of grant-writing, funding a consultant, fund-raising, organizing, and implementing a long-term plan that incorporates all the various interlocking pieces that comprise Big Sur and make her who she is. If you want to be a part of this process, please let me know how you see yourself contributing, either in the comments or via email to kwnovoa@mac.com

I had not intended to make this portion of my blog a full-time endeavor, but that is what it is becoming. Big Sur needs protecting and all of us must become proactive in this. All the individual concerns we have: bathrooms, traffic, degradation of the wilderness, camping, enforcement, tourists who drive Highway One (poorly), but don’t spend here, preserving our community, work-force housing, our history, protecting our environment and so much more are pieces of this much larger puzzle. Join us in becoming a part of the solution, instead of just bitching. Let’s save the love of our lives and our home, Mama Sur.

Shooting on Nac-Ferg Rd. Tonight, 12/11/17

MCSO responded to reports of a shooting 5.5 miles up Nacimiento from Highway One. (Near Summit) They gave chase to the shooter, and lost him. A helicopter assisted in the search and came right by my house down Prewitt Loop but was lower than my house. The suspect was eventually caught on San Miguelito Loop, over by the Mission on FHL. They retrieved the pump action shotgun and EMS was ordered from FHL, as well as a life-flight. Victim drove himself past the med 24 and ended up at Post Ranch. (This report put together with help from Jim Kimball who sent reports from scanner.) The victim is Peter Harris, USFS. From his wife:

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Fire behind Ventana, 12/11/17

7:15 am – As of 12:34 am, a fire back behind Ventana was reported at about 3 acres.  It was reported to me that evacuations were issued. 4 LPF responded. I am sure BSVFB, also, but have no collorboration. At 2:11 am, Ryan Webster was made IC, but at 3:29 am, Peter Harris was made IC, both of the LPNF, and the acreage was reduced to 1.6 acres.

Los Padres NF – Monterey District Closure Order, 11/7/17

Los Padres Issues Closure Order for Key Trails, Camps on Monterey Ranger District

GOLETA, CA, November 7, 2017…Los Padres National Forest officials today issued a forest order to maintain a temporary closure of the Pine Ridge (Forest Trail No. E306), Terrace Creek (Forest Trail No. 3E22) and Ventana Camp (Forest Trail No. 2E14) trails, as well as Barlow Flat, Sykes, Redwood, Terrace Creek and Ventana Camps.
The remainder of the Soberanes Fire closure instituted last December on the Monterey Ranger District has been lifted.
Forest Service law enforcement officers will strictly enforce the new closure order, which carries a penalty of $5,000 and/or six months in jail. The order will expire November 6, 2018.
The closure order prohibits the public from being on these three trails or entering these five developed recreation sites due to continued public safety and natural resource concerns within the Soberanes Fire burn area. The closure will remain in effect until the hazardous trails conditions can be mitigated. Adequate surveys of these trails are being undertaken to determine the amount of damage, the subsequent repair needs, environmental planning, and funding sources to accomplish the necessary trail repair work before allowing public access to these popular trails and camps.
The scoping regarding this temporary closure included discussions with local landowners, members of the public, government agencies, as well as cooperators and volunteers.
For additional information, please contact the Monterey Ranger District at (831) 385-5434, or by visiting the Los Padres National Forest website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf.

TO BE CLEAR – THE SOBERANES EAST LOOP IS STATE PARK AND NOT AFFECTED BY THIS ORDER. IT IS STILL CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE! AS ARE THE LIMEKILN TRAILS, I BELIEVE.

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LOVING THE WILDERNESS TO DEATH…

“If you were to hike nearly nine miles into a wilderness area, paralleling a creek through alpine meadows and woods, you might expect to find solitude. But that’s not the case at Conundrum Hot Springs, an extremely popular area of natural pools at an elevation of over 11,000 feet with views of surrounding peaks in White River National Forest. Dozens — and on busy weekends, sometimes hundreds — of overnight visitors hike in. Some even carry speakers and cases of beer. “It’ll be like you’ve gone to someone’s backyard for a pool party,” Karen Schroyer, Aspen-Sopris district ranger, says.”

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One can read the rest of this article here: http://www.hcn.org/articles/recreation-the-conundrum-of-loved-to-death-wilderness?utm_source=wcn1&utm_medium=email