Destination Stewardship Plan info & survey

Dear Big Sur Community Members and Stakeholders,

We hope that all of you, and your families, are staying safe and healthy in these challenging times due to the Coronavirus.  Although public health advisories in California and elsewhere have resulted in disruptions to daily schedules and planning, we want to let you know that the Beyond Green Travel team continues to move forward working on the Big Sur Sustainable Tourism Destination Stewardship Plan (DSP). 

Among the most important goals is to continue to collect feedback and comments from the Big Sur community.  Given the need to adjust to new public health protocols, including avoiding public meetings and gatherings, we are extending the timeframe for completing the Big Sur Residents Survey to allow more residents of Big Sur the opportunity to complete it.  We are happy to report that we have received 306 completed surveys to date and we hope to receive more, so if you have not yet filled out the survey, please do so soon.  Here are the links in both English and Spanish. The survey will remain available until March 27:

Survey links: 

In addition, we wish to remind everyone that the Big Sur Destination Stewardship Plan comment, remains open 24/7 to provide an easy way for you to share your thoughts, recommendations and ideas for how to better manage visitation to Big Sur for the future as part of the DSP multi-stakeholder process. 

We wish you a healthy and enjoyable Spring season – a time for nature’s renewal and an inspiration for better days to come.

Best regards,
Costas Christ & The Beyond Green Travel Team


I ended my multi-year discussion of overtourism in Big Sur through my Tourist Tuesday posts sometime ago and how it relates to other destinations in the world. It seemed to be on a trajectory where nothing could be done. I am not convinced, one way or the other, that it is a problem than will be solved, only that it must. Unsustainable population translates into unsustainable tourism, which in turn contributes more than its share to climate change. As we know from other studies, systems here on this finite planet are intimately interwoven and interconnected. Overtourism is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The Atlantic wrote and created video on this problem, published yesterday.

Mass Tourism Is Destroying the Planet

Dec 12, 2019 | 12 videos 
Video by  The Atlantic

Last year, 1.4 billion people traveled the world. That’s up from just 25 million in 1950. In China alone, overseas trips have risen from 10 million to 150 million in less than two decades.

This dramatic surge in mass tourism can be attributed to the emergence of the global middle class, and in some ways, it’s a good thing. But the consequences are grave—particularly for the planet. In a new episode of The Idea File, the staff writer Annie Lowrey explains how overtourism has contributed to large-scale environmental degradation, dangerous conditions, and the immiseration and pricing-out of locals.

“Tourists can alter the experience of visiting something such that they ruin the very experience that they’ve been trying to have,” Lowrey says in the video. “That’s the essential definition of overtourism.”

To watch the Idea File Video (less than 5 minutes), click

For more, read Lowrey’s article, “Too Many People Want to Travel.”

Tourist Tuesday on a Wednesday, 1/2/19 – Big Sur is a health hazard

National Parks during the government shutdown – several examples from CA:

Joshua Tree National Park: 

“The government shutdown has left America’s national parks largely unsupervised. No one is at the gate. No one is collecting a fee. The visitor centers are closed. There are some law enforcement and emergency personnel on site, but certainly nothing as standard as a park ranger who can answer a question.

People are streaming into the parks, enjoying the free access, but they’re finding trash cans overflowing and restrooms locked. Vault toilets are not serviced, and there’s hardly a flush toilet to be found anywhere. If nature calls — well, the woods are over that way.”

Read more of this article here:–heavily-populated-and-barely-supervised/2019/01/01/db51564e-0d3b-11e9-84fc-d58c33d6c8c7_story.html

Joshua Tree National Park campgrounds will close at 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 2 “to take…action for health and safety concerns as vault toilets reach capacity,” according to a National Park Service news release.

During the government shutdown, much of the onus of park upkeep has been left in the hands of volunteers. 

“In addition human waste in public areas, driving off road and other infractions that damage the resource are becoming a problem,” reads the release.”Additional closures include Lost Horse Mine Road due to illegal activity and Rattlesnake Canyon in order to reduce the number of search and rescue events for rangers already spread thin due to the government shutdown.”

Joshua Tree business people and volunteers have tried to take over for the furloughed rangers and maintenance staff as best they can.

About 35 people pitched in Saturday during a volunteer event, while businesses in downtown Joshua Tree tried to help incoming visitors looking for information.

Volunteers including retired park ranger Caryn Davidson, Stone Adventures co-owner Annie Semmelroth and Coyote Corner co-owner Ethan Feltges manned a makeshift information booth outside Coyote Corner through the weekend.

One of their main concerns by Saturday afternoon was where to put all the trash generated by the thousands of visitors.

“Our dumpsters are full,” Feltges said.

It pointed out a larger problem with the volunteer effort. “It’s not sustainable for the long haul, and the cash isn’t going to be here,” said Seth Zaharias, co-owner of Cliffhanger Guides.

He estimated he and other business owners had paid several thousands of dollars over the past week to stock bathrooms with toilet paper, buy cleaning supplies and rent portable bathrooms.

Park Superintendent David Smith praised the efforts of locals who have been working to help park visitors. (

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite visitors turn roads into toilets as shutdown crises mount at national parks

Mountains of garbage and human waste are challenging efforts to keep U.S. national parks open during a partial shutdown of the federal government, National Parks Traveler reported.

In California, Yosemite National Park officials have closed the Wawona and Hodgson Meadows campgrounds, along with the Mariposa Grove of redwoods, after finding human feces and urinebeside Wawona Road, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors,” National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz told the publication in an email.

“It’s a free-for-all,” said Dakota Snider, 24, a Yosemite Valley resident, reported The Associated Press. “It’s so heartbreaking. There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rulesthan I’ve seen in my four years living here.”


Sequoia or Kings Canyon National park

The partial federal government shutdown, now into its 11th day, has forced furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal government employees. This has left many parks without most of the rangers and others who staff campgrounds and otherwise keep parks running.

The lack of staff and unsanitary conditions have led to the closures of several areas of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

The closures went into effect at 6 p.m. on Monday, according to Sintia Kawasaki-Yee, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks public affairs officer.

Closer to home is Pinnacles National Park

“Park rangers will close the eastern park entrance… due to impacts from human waste and increased vehicle congestion,” the press release says.

All of the above listed California National Parks are now closed (or partially closed) due to trash and human waste, which are health hazards. Sound familiar? Big Sur has become a health hazard. Just ask anyone who lives or camps here. Trash, feces and toilet paper everywhere. Big Sur, one of the most beautiful and healing places on the planet is now a health hazard. How did we let it go this far?





Geotagging is ruining natural landscapes

Starting with this Tourist Tuesday report, I am looking to only post ideas for dealing with the issues we face. We know what the problems are. We now know it is a world-wide problem, so we need to look at approaches and ideas. There is no one solution, there are only steps we can take to minimize the impacts. Being mindful of geo-tagging is one.

From a NY Times article by Laura M. Holson in the Travel Section on Sunday (thanks Ken Wright):

“Sorry, Instagrammers. You are ruining Wyoming.

Last week, the Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board asked visitors to stop geotagging photographs on social media in an effort to protect the state’s pristine forests and remote lakes. Explaining the campaign, Brian Modena, a tourism-board member, suggested the landscape was under threat from visitors drawn by the beautiful vistas on Instagram.”


A few years ago, one or two hikers a day would make the nine-mile trek up to Delta Lake. Now, he said, as many as 145 people are hiking there each day to shoot engagement photos and hawk health supplements. Little-known trails are heavily trafficked and eroding in some places, taxing park resources.

“We want people to have a real connection to nature,” Mr. Modena said, “not just a page with a pin on it.”


Six months ago, Colorado-based Leave No Trace, an organization that promotes ethical use of public lands, published new social media guidelines that discourage geotagging. In Jackson Hole, the tourism board has suggested that visitors use the generic location tag, “Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild.”

This is just a beginning, but we must get the message out. New Zealand has adopted one program which I urge MCCVB, Visit California, and See California to also adopt, spending some of the millions of dollars of advertising monies on plans and programs to ensure the survival of the natural areas in California – particularly in Big Sur. I will post about one thing New Zealand does which we can easily adapt here next Tuesday,

In case you may be wondering…

I haven’t been online much this week, as I have been on the road, taking care of things all week, so far.

Monday, I met Rock Knocker in Nipomo Mesa, where he was taking his Motorhome. I had planned on coming to SLO to see about winter tires – the best for my new MBZ Sprinter Van. This one:


(Yeah, that pink license plate holder has GOT to go! Clashes with the Aqua Green. Purple, yeah. Red, yeah. But pink? Nah.) Anyway, after meeting Rock Knocker, I went to get a camping spot for the night.

It is a gorgeous van, and my son built me a bed to go in it. Looked like this, but I have already changed it.


My first overnight (except when I brought it home) was to Morro Bay. Tonight, I am back there, but this time, unintended.

My road is a mess. People tearing it up because it is fun to get muddy! (Their parents must have denied them the opportunity when younger.) And the storms, and clay, and I couldn’t take my new van out unless I got good mud tires. I had done my research and knew that BF Goodrich All Terrain KO2s were the best (per owners) for the MBZ Sprinter. I did some more research, and found out that I should get some black rhino wheels, and I settled on the Warlords. I found the best tire shop around (and no, I am not going to tell you which one that is. It is already way too busy!) I called them on Tuesday. They ordered them for me, to be in on Thursday. I had reserved my campsite for 3 nites, so all was good.


This was my campsite. I can tell you this because unless you are retired military or 100% disabled vet, you can’t camp there. It is $5/nite for no hook-ups. Camp San Luis.


This is the drive to the campsite.

Wednesday morning the tire store called me, and they were delivered a day early, so I ran right down. I had had one cup of coffee, so I was good to go.


These are the final tires and rims. They are gorgeous and should really help during the winter months. I kept the “old” tires and rims as they only had 500 miles on them, and I can use them in the dry months and extend the life of these mud tires.

Alas, on the way home, I hit a significant size rock and limped into Gorda with 14 PSI to spare, only to find my son there. There were some major issues with the jack, the lug  nut tire iron, as the new ones were a different size, etc. but still, he got it changed, and missed the School’s Christmas Show in order to help me. Sorry, everyone. I then drove down here to Morro Bay for yet another night. Just couldn’t drive the rest of the way at night. I was beat.

So, I was out of there before I could get a photo, this am. But I was on the beach at the Strand, being lulled by the waves. I went by the tire place and dropped off the damaged tire, ordered a new one, had them tighten the lug nuts once more time, just to be safe, and now I am hanging in town until the tire comes in. Another night at Camp San Luis. Since I did not stay there last night, and my card had already been charged, they aren’t going to charge me for tonight. Finally, the universe is going my direction. Now, I get to play “tourist” in SLO.



Pfeiffer Beach Shuttle Service Public Meeting

From and written by Weston Call:

Please join your community At 6:00 PM on Monday May 21st For a round table discussion regarding this summers Pfeiffer Beach Shuttle Survice

A presentation will be given by Weston Call of Sur Transportation.

Ask Questions, Seek Clarification and Learn how the local community is crucial in reducing traffic down Sycamore Canyon by telling inquiring visitors about the Pfeiffer Beach Shuttle.

When is the project taking place? What will the shuttle cost? Where will people park? Won’t a shuttle just add more people to the beach? What about locals? What’s this long term plan I keep hearing about?

These questions, your own, and more will all be discussed Monday night at 6:00pm at your local Grange Hall.

If you cant make the meeting, or have questions that you would like on the agenda, please send them to

What were they thinking??? 5/12/18

From Rose Welch, who just happened upon this little scenario. Educate our tourists? Perhaps we should start with the tour bus drivers.


From CHP:

6:40 PM 8 [16] B27-P 1185 1097
5:39 PM 7 [13] [Rotation Request Comment] 1039 CALIFORNIA TOW 424-8615
5:36 PM 6 [12] 1185 HEAVY DUTY
5:12 PM 1 [2] 1125 NB LN