The Tree that survived 9/11

One can only imagine the grim job that 9/11 workers had at Ground Zero, working day in and day out to clean up the wreckage of such devastation. And one can only imagine the surprise they must have felt when, a month into the job, they discovered a bit of life sticking out from the rubble—the charred remains of a Callery pear tree.

The tree was originally planted in the 1970s at the World Trade Center site and had been humming along for decades, providing shade to humans and habitat to wildlife both local and passing through.

But upon its discovery in the ruins, it had little more than a few leaves issuing from a single branch, with snapped roots and burned and broken boughs. Yet the battered tree was sent to Van Cortlandt Park for convalescence under the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Park workers say they weren’t sure the tree would make it, but the little tree that could, did. In the spring of 2002, she sprouted a riot of leaves; a dove made a nest in her boughs.

When Ronaldo Vega was hired as a special project manager in 2007, he remembered the story of the tree and went to the Bronx to find it. “I fell in love with her the second I saw her,” he recounts in the video below. “She was a fighter. We knew she was going to come back here.”

For the rest of the story, please click here and be sure to watch the video:

Non-Emergency Temporary Phone Numbers

UPDATE, 6/19 – The technical malfunction that impacted non-emergency phone lines at Monterey County’s Emergency Communications Center since Wednesday afternoon has been repaired.

Residents can now use regular non-emergency lines for police and fire as needed. (For Coastal MoCo Sheriff, that number is 831-647-7911.)
This malfunction did not impact 911 service in the county.

Maia Carroll
Communications Coordinator
County of Monterey

Drones & the Marine Sanctuary

This came up at the BSMAAC meeting yesterday, and many locals don’t seem to know this, particularly given the photos they post on FB taken of their house on the edge from a position over the ocean. Drones are not allowed to go over 400’ I am told, but have not personally verified.

The zones include coastal waters from the mean high tide line seaward to distances of up to 5 nautical miles offshore. For more information about NOAA overflight regulations within MBNMS and othermarine sanctuaries on the west coast, visit the National Marine Sanctuaries webpage “Pilots: Know Before You Go!”.

Resource Issues: Aircraft, Model Aircraft, & Drones

drone aircraft over surfOverview of the Issue:

Marine animals, such as sea lions, seals, otters, whales, and birds are found throughout the sanctuary. While some use water and land areas near human populations, most prefer remote habitats, free of disturbance from human activity. Seabirds are often the most sensitive to human disturbance and select coastal cliffs and offshore rocks as preferred resting and nesting sites. Seals and sea lions often share these same or similar remote sites to avoid human activities that startle them, causing stress and serious physiological responses to that stress. Severe and/or repeated disturbance of wildlife can interrupt feeding and sleeping patterns, resulting in weight loss, fatigue, weakened immune systems, sickness, and even death. Sudden disturbances can flush animals off rookeries and nesting colonies, causing direct injury and mortality to eggs and young animals as adults scramble in panic. Disturbances can cause indirect injury by exposing eggs and young animals to cold, heat, predators, dehydration, starvation, and stress during the absence of adult protectors.

drone aircraft with camera model aircraft

Motorized aerial vehicles, whether traditionally piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft systems (e.g. model aircraft, quadcopters, drones, etc.), can pose a special threat to marine animals due to their ability to access areas generally free of human presence. Aerial vehicles can appear suddenly and cause disturbance by sight, sound, and movement. To some wildlife, a hovering or circling aircraft or drone exhibits characteristics similar to a predator bird, such as a hawk, falcon or seagull. To other wildlife, the whir or hum of a motor is indicative of human presence – something most wild animals instinctively avoid for protection and self-preservation. They equate such disturbance as an immediate and serious threat, and their typical response is to flee quickly. Even if they remain, the animals often continue in an elevated alert posture, on guard against a potential return of the perceived threat. This takes a toll as well. Imagine the impact of a stranger frequently peering into the windows of your home at night. Even if no crime were ever perpetrated, the stress of such uncertain intrusion into your place of rest could begin to have significant effects on your stress level and health. It is no less the case for wild animals, particularly those preparing to give birth or raising young.

The sudden increase in availability and use of of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) is requiring special attention by natural resource managers across the United States, both in the marine and terrestrial environment.

aircraft flying along delta

How is the Sanctuary involved?

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) addresses overflight disturbance through a mix of educational outreach, regulatory, and enforcement approaches. Educational outreach efforts are described in greater detail under Resource Issues: Wildlife Disturbance.

Sanctuary regulations explicitly prohibit harassment of marine mammals, turtles, and birds by any means, including disturbance from the air. All of the marine mammal and turtle species, and most birds that frequent the sanctuary, are also protected under the Endangered Species ActMarine Mammal Protection Act, or Migratory Bird Treaty Act everywhere within the United States and its territories.

In addition to the general prohibition against disturbance of marine mammals, turtles, and birds, sanctuary regulations prohibit the operation of motorized aircraft (including model aircraft, quadcopters, drones, etc.) within within four NOAA regulated overflight zones in the sanctuary. If a flying apparatus of any kind has a motor, then it must remain above 1000 feet altitude within the four zones. The zones include coastal waters from the mean high tide line seaward to distances of up to 5 nautical miles offshore. For more information about NOAA overflight regulations within MBNMS and other marine sanctuaries on the west coast, visit the National Marine Sanctuaries webpage “Pilots: Know Before You Go!”.

Sanctuary regulations allow for the operation of piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft systems within NOAA regulated overflight zones if aircraft operators receive prior authorization from MBNMS. Permit requests are evaluated based upon the design and purpose of proposed low-altitude flight operations. Permits have been issued in the past for research and education flights that benefit sanctuary resource protection and management. Permits include conditions that limit collateral impacts to wildlife from flight operations. Some flight operations for production of television commercials and movies have been authorized where strict controls and careful planning prevent direct and incidental disturbance of wildlife in the project area. To request a permit to operate any motorized aircraft, including UAS/drones, in NOAA regulated overflight zones, go to the MBNMS webpage for permit requests.

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries occasionally conducts aircraft operations within a sanctuary using traditional aircraft or UAS, generally for research or general surveillance purposes. MBNMS applies constraints upon its own aircraft operations when they are conducted within the NOAA regulated overflight zones. The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has been testing a 13-pound UAS known as the “Puma” for several years to determine how this remotely controlled aircraft can aid in large-scale marine protected area management. The system is being tested in several marine sanctuaries around the country, and requires detailed mission planning, as well as flight authorization by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It represents the next development in marine resource monitoring, since it is cheaper, greener, and safer than manned flights.

The question of UAS/drone operation across the country (including over marine protected areas) is receiving considerable discussion and debate. If a need arises to update sanctuary regulations or regulatory definitions to better manage UAS activities within MBNMS, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries will provide information on this website and elsewhere.

For questions and answers about FAA policy regarding unmanned aircraft systems (e.g. model aircraft and drones), visit FAA’s website.

Overflight Map

Foto Friday, 8/22, posted on a Monday

The Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarious)


Wild Orcid (Piperia elegans) This was pointed out to me by Barbara Woyt just two weeks ago.

Sorry I am so very late with this. I tried since Friday. If it was an emergency, I would have sent to Debbie or Mike to post. Thanks for having my back, Debbie and Mike!<

Lost Border Collie

Having had Missy show up, this is close to my heart. It might even be a clue as to how she got here, but her owner(s) didn’t go to the extent this one is going.

Hi Kate! I have a request for you to put an APB out for a lost Border Collie who took off from Plaskett Campground last night around 9:30 pm because of a loud bang or shots or whatever the noise was that made him flee. His name is, “Chief”, is typical black and white, 6 years old and very friendly. He’s tagged, chipped and been reported to MoCo Animal whatever, law enforcement and posters have been hung.

Locals in the area have been alerted. I hope he is as smart as Missy, and finds a dog person to help him!

Fatality at Big Sur State Park

UPDATE: correction – per State Parks, a father and son were hiking at JPBurns, when the father spotted something shiny. Turns out to be a license plate. A badly decomposed body was found in the car, which had been there for probably a couple weeks. Sorry for the error.

One person died late Sunday afternoon at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, according to the California Highway Patrol. CHP said a vehicle went off the roadway and into bushes.

No additional information at this time.

Jade Festival 2009 – set up

I stopped by the school late this afternoon, to check on things. You know, see what was happening. Plaskett Creek Campground is full, not surprisingly. Vendors are there, setting up. The sound stage is going up, lots of activity going on.

It’s a happenin’…


Did I say there was going to be music, or what?? Look at all that equipment!!


That’s Kirk Brock setting up Rock Solid Jade. He’s put together over 50 vendors who come almost every year. There is always a waiting list.

Can you tell I’m getting excited?

Ambulance Service in Big Sur

Received this from Kirk Gafill today asking me to spread the word. This is the last non-Jade posting until after the Festival, though, goddess willing. Tomorrow, posting live from the Festival, if all goes well! See you there. Stop by the Main Information Booth and say “hi.” BigSurKate

What: Critical Meeting of Monterey County Board of Supervisors to hear presentation of Countywide Ambulance Contract Request For Proposal
When: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 1:30 PM
Where: Board of Supervisors Chambers at 168 West Alisal Street in Salinas

At this meeting, the Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMS) will be recommending to the Board of Supervisors a tentative winner of the contract to provide countywide ambulance service and the EMS Agency will then be requesting authority from the Board of Supervisors to negotiate the details of the contract with this ambulance provider.

This is the critical moment when we need to have the Board of Supervisors give the EMS Agency the authority to negotiate for a continuation of current service levels, if not then Big Sur’s service levels will be split out into a variety of options to be bid upon separately. Should this occur, our community, uniquely in the entire County, will be required to lobby the Board to provide ambulance service to our area at a cost of many hundreds of thousands of dollars. A most daunting task, which would pit our community’s interests against those of other communities and county departments requesting funding for their own agendas and needs.

The EMS Agency is on record as considering it acceptable to have ambulances dispatched from the Monterey Peninsula, adding one to two hours to response time to future ambulance calls. This is simply unacceptable and would take us back to service levels last seen 50 years ago.

It is of the utmost importance that our community show up at this Board of Supervisors meeting in person. Martha Karstens, Chief of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade, will coordinate several speakers to address the key concerns. It is not necessary, nor desirable to have most people speak to the issue due to limited time available on the agenda, but it is of the utmost value to have a show of community support by residents being present and showing their hands in support of this issue.

Personal participation is needed and now! Please make every effort to attend this meeting and support our community’s efforts to ensure that we continue to have a 24 hour a day/7 day a week, Advanced Life Support Ambulance, located in Big Sur.

Only 40 residents showed up at the community meeting at the Big Sur Lodge last month, our community can and must do better than that if we wish to impress upon the Board of Supervisors the value we attach to a locally based ambulance.

Please pass the word.

Thank you,

Kirk Gafill
President – Big Sur Chamber of Commerce

Two weeks from today – Jade Festival!

Count down has begun. Three days of fun, jade, food, and music so join us at noon on Friday, October 9th. It’s free — well entry is free. If you want food or jade, we’ll have vendors selling both. Stop in the first booth and say “hi.”

Also, a reminder that the fundraiser for Don Case is this Sunday at 6 pm at the HML. Come support a great effort!