Memorial Day, 2020

Last year, Bixby Bridge was backed up going south, all the way back to Palo Colorado. This year, much of Big Sur is still closed, but some people are violating the SIP orders anyway.

Just a reminder: People often confuse Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. On Memorial Day we honor those who gave their lives in the fight for our country. We honor our dead. Veteran’s Day, we honor the living.

This post is dedicated to all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and for us…In memory of all of them, regardless of who they were.

Prescribed Burns in LPNF

Los Padres to begin implementing prescribed fire activities

GOLETA, Calif.— Los Padres National Forest officials today announced plans to begin implementing their annual prescribed burning operations on the Forest over the next few months. When favorable weather conditions are present, specific project locations and dates will be shared on the Forest’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The objectives of the projects are to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire to people and communities, create conditions which offer a safer and more effective wildfire response, foster more resilient ecosystems, and minimize the effects of large wildfires on the landscape.

When implementing these projects, fire managers follow a burn plan that outlines the “prescription” or environmental conditions such as temperature, wind, fuel moisture, ventilation and relative humidity that need to be present before the project begins. When the criteria are met, crews implement, monitor, and patrol each burn to ensure it meets the goals and objectives outlined by managers. The prescribed fire program will continue through the winter and spring months as permitted by weather and other environmental factors.

Prescribed fires including both understory and pile burning are intended to reduce the amount of vegetation, such as needles, small plants, brush, and small trees which can carry fire from the forest floor into the treetops. Studies and experience have shown that prescribed fires stimulate the growth of grasses, forbs and shrubs that provide food for deer, mountain quail and other wildlife.

The ignition of all prescribed burns is dependent on the availability of personnel and equipment and appropriate conditions. Prescribed burn planning and execution are closely coordinated with the National Weather Service and Air Quality Management Districts in order to manage smoke production and minimize impacts as much as possible.

When these burns occur, information signs will be posted along the roadways to alert the public to the burning activity and subsequent visible smoke in the area.

For questions on the Los Padres National Forest prescribed fire program, please contact Fuels Management Specialist Rebecca Dykes at (805) 961-5764.

Slice of Life on the South Coast: The challenges of simple errands and illegal campfires

My latest article for Voices of Monterey Bay is out. Here is the introduction:

I had an appointment on a Wednesday late last month with the Veterans Administration optometrist. It had been a while — six years, it turned out. I needed new glasses. It takes me two and one-half to three hours one way from Big Sur due to road construction and traffic. It is hard to do a round trip in a single day anymore.

The next day was the annual luncheon for the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau. This is when they lay out the annual report for the current year, and the business plan for the next year. I find it valuable to understand the goals of this organization, how it’s intended to achieve them, and how MCCVB money is obtained and spent. Friday was the Democratic Women of Monterey County’s brunch with Adam Schiff. That afternoon, I had a second appointment with the VA optometrist.

Rather than fight traffic for three days, I stayed in town for those three nights so that I could accomplish all that I wanted to. which meant I only had to fight the traffic home on a single day; unfortunately it was the  Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Sigh. I vowed to relax and enjoy it — but I couldn’t relax. People would suddenly pull over with no warning, no signaling, making everyone behind them slam on their brakes. At least there was no road construction. And blissfully, Bixby was fogged in, so the traffic jam there was only a minor irritation.

But once I got to the dirt road to my home, the challenges increased. Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Lots of traffic on a one-lane dirt road made for an interesting drive. 

For the rest of this article, including my encounter with a nude man trying to get my attention, see: https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2019/09/11/slice-of-life-on-the-south-coast/

South Coast looking north in the fog

The Spirit of Wild Places

My latest article for Voices of Monterey Bay http://VOMB.org is out. Here are the first two paragraphs.

I’ve been enchanted with the spirit of wild places most of my life. I went backpacking to the top of Mount San Jacinto when I was 9, long before the tram was built. My family and I took a weeklong mule trip to the high country camps of Yosemite when I was 10. We camped every summer when I was growing up. I grew up as a Girl Scout and wild places were very much part of my life. We were taught to pack it in, pack it out, just because … well, what else would one do? Long before there was a “leave no trace movement,” it was what we were taught and what we did.

This upbringing probably contributed to my love affair with Big Sur. It was a natural extension of my wildness education in many of the most beautiful places in California and the West. I learned to water ski on Big Bear Lake and hike in the Sierras. We traveled to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and other wild places of the West. I wish others had the opportunities that I did. Sadly, most of these places are overcrowded and overrun now. The experience is not quite what it was. The wildness is becoming harder and harder to find.

One can find the rest of the article here: https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2019/08/22/the-spirit-of-wild-places/

Enjoy.

STRs in Big Sur

I have covered this issue before — last month before the end of the public comment period here: https://bigsurkate.blog/2019/05/16/vacation-rentals-tourism-and-big-sur/ but it comes before the Planning Commission next Wednesday, and I wrote an article for the Voices of Monterey Bay website published today.

Here is part of what I wrote:


“The special characteristic of the Big Sur Coast should also be recognized as a primary resource. Man’s presence along this coast continues to reflect a pioneering attitude of independence and resourcefulness; and the environment has been a special nurturing ground for individual and creative fulfillment. The community itself, and its traditional way of life are resources that can help protect the environment and enhance the visitor experience.”
— Big Sur Land Use Plan

By Kate Woods Novoa

Big Sur is raw, rugged, and humbling. It has been said that she can — and will — spit you out, if you don’t belong here. Longtime locals speak of her as if she is an entity. Visitors think of Big Sur as idyllic, and it is in many ways. But this romance does not have a place for short-term rentals.

Those who live here know the difficulties that are a part of the life here: the instability of the road, town trips and school days that must be canceled due to the ever-changing road conditions of Highway 1; storms that take out power lines and telephone lines; slides that take out our main artery, water systems and private roads, not to mention critical bridges; the isolation and the lack of any of the amenities most people have come to not just expect, but need. Get away from the highway, and you may see no services, except what landowners or neighborhoods provide. Here, it is still possible to live up close and personal with Mother Nature. That is why it is humbling. Those who survive the lessons that she has to teach become a community with shared values and a love for this place and one’s place in it.

Fabian Pfortmüller, a Swiss community builder and entrepreneur, defines community “as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” But community, to me, is more than that. We care about each other, help each other, and care about the places where we live. “This is where the magic of a community happens,” Pfortmüller said. “When people care about each other, they develop trust. And trust unlocks collaboration, sharing, support, hope, safety and much more. While most organizations in the world optimize their performance towards external goals, communities optimize for trust.”

Tales of collaboration, sharing, support, hope and trust are legendary in Big Sur. From the early settlers to the last fire, road closure, or bridge collapse, tales of neighbor helping neighbor abound.

For the rest of my article, please see: https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2019/06/20/big-surs-str-problem/