Today in Big Sur

First, the fundraiser for Chuy and Gloria (parents of 4 children, parents injured in a car accident) will be held at the Grange from 4-9 pm today.

Second, the launch party for Ping Pong, the literary magazine for the Henry Miller Library will be held today at the Library. There will be an actual ping-pong tournament for serious players from 3-5, and a wine and cheese reception from 5-6. Readings will begin at 6:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public.

Deer hunting season ends tomorrow. Unfortunately, squirrel hunting season started. *sigh* The hills are still full. The Game Warden has asked permission to come through, and I am seriously considering it.

Later this weekend, a new, slightly more difficult-to-identify Random Photo of Big Sur will be posted.

Have a good weekend, everyone, where ever you are!

Patrolling a tinder box …

This evening, before sunset, I met one of our local USFS FFs patrolling Plaskett. I was so glad to see him. He grew up here. His lineage dates back to one of the original settlers here on the South Coast. This land is in his blood and he knows it like I never will and probably loves it more than I do. I’ve known him since he was in 6th grade when I worked at the local one-room school, and that was … 20 years ago? Really? That long ago?

It was so good to see him, and know there were other “eyes” up here on a Friday night, when all the campers and hunters are filling the place up because there is no where else to go. Campgrounds are full.

With triple digits temps, single digit RH, and two fires having burned to the east of me in the last two days, and six in August alone here on the Central Coast, I breathed a sigh of appreciation for his presence. I did not realize how alone I felt up here, until I saw him. I think I can relax a little.

We stopped and chatted for a moment. I told him, “You know, I’d almost rather it come at me, then have all this anxiety of waiting and dreading when it does. Sort of like going to the dentist.” He laughed, but I think he knew what I meant.

I knew my banjo strings were pulled a little too tight after last Friday’s confrontation with the campers with the campfire. But to know that sometimes, and especially on these hot, dry Friday nights, other eyes will be watching out for this forest of ours, brings a quiet calm over me when I most need it.

Thank you.

Bryson Fire, 8/27/09

4:00 pm update – just went and took a look. While quite a bit of smoke, no plumes, so looks like it is pretty much under control. Here is a wide angle:

And here is the zoom of the smoke:

1:30 pm update – the smoke is picking up quite a bit. Will probably go out back and take a look-see, and maybe photos.

11:30 am updates – no new reports, no new plumes, looks like this one is handled, unless the winds get it moving. If no further updates, then assume all is going well.

7:00 am update –
* 2,754 acres, 60% contained
* Current weather: 50 Degrees, 50% RH, winds light and variable
* Evacuations: 2 Ranches (4 – 8 people affected)
* Some concerns due to predicted Red Flag conditions. High temps, low RH and gusty NE winds are predicted from 1000-2200 today

I got an early morning shot, with the smoke just barely visible through the trees in my front yard. This was taken at just after 6:30 am. I will go up to the back to get a better shot at some point today.

6:30 am – no plumes, yet, but I can see the smoke near the ground.

Last night around 11 pm, this was reported:

2015 acres
15% contained
2 outbuildings confirmed destroyed
Evacuations to Lockwood Community Center
Estimated containment: 1800 hours 8/27
Firing operations along Pleyto-Cemetery Road put in good control lines. Planned firing operations along Interlake Road to the north on 8/27.

If a plume develops, you can bet I will take a photograph or dozen, and post a few here.


I thought I made it clear that I did NOT think the owner of the truck with the dogs was responsible, as he is a firefighter and as I said, they are my heros. So let me be clear. He is NOT responsible.

I apologize to him and to anyone else that felt I was inferring otherwise. I have removed that post to avoid any further confusion on this subject.

Now, I have had enough of the drama, and am looking for a little comedy in my life. Maybe the Community Pig Roast will provide some. Veggies that look like celebrities?? Really?? They’ll be a contest for that at the Pig Roast and Pot Luck, and I really look forward to seeing some people I haven’t seen in WAY too long!

Weekend Weather & yay-hoo updates

9:30 pm, and all is quiet here on Top o’ the World. Before sunset, I went and checked the back gate. No campers. No illegal fires. I went and checked the front gate. Same. Now, I go outside and check Prewitt Ridge — lots of lights, but no campfires. All quiet here on the western front. *sigh* Thank you, Goddess, Buddha, and all the other powers that be.

As you all know, there is a 20% chance of thunder showers through Sunday. Frankly, I’d rather deal with Mother Nature than with stupidity, but chances of fire are every where, until the first real rains of the season. It is just part of the life of living in the wilderness.

This morning’s NOAA discussion includes: “ISOLATED TO

Okay, so it is late morning, and nothing yet. Of course, this specifically says, “southeast” so hopefully won’t affect the coast, particularly the lightning.

Last night’s Rave party was calm, as far as I could see and hear. No trouble. I can look out with my binoculars and see a HUGE number of vehicles, all along the top of the ridge, back toward the east of the ridge, down below on the south side, in the actual camp area, and at least one vehicle, way below the camp, south east from it, where I’ve never seen vehicles before.

I did not go out to check on the Cayucas yay-hoos (think accent here, not misspelling) last night, as I had my hands full with Prewitt.

I woke to the sounds of gunfires and dogs barking in response, this morning. Lots of shots means either a couple of bad shots, or a bunch of hunters. I’m betting on the latter. At some point today I will probably patrol some of the area, but it is a work day for me.

Ponderosa Update, 8/5/09

As of approximately 7:30 pm, inciweb had this to say about the Ponderosa Fire:

The Ponderosa Fire started on Saturay, August 1st at approximately 7:45 in the evening. The fire is located in the Ventana Wilderness in very steep, rugged terrain. The cause is still under investigation. Approximately 458 acres have burned and 69 percent of the fire is contained. The fire is being aggressively fought by fire crews constructing line on the fire’s edge where possible and going indirect with the use of dozers outside of the wilderness boundaries. Also assisting handcrews is the use of helicopters and air tankers dropping both retardant and water. No structors are threatened at this time. At the present time, there is no containment date.

Basic Information
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Under Investigation
Date of Origin Saturday August 01st, 2009 aprox 07:45 PM
Location Monterey Ranger District, Ventana Wilderness
Incident Commander James E. Smith
Current Situation
Total Personnel 730
Size 458 acres
Percent Contained 69%
Estimated Containment Date Sunday August 09th, 2009 aprox 06:00 PM
Fuels Involved
Oak woodlands and Chaparral
Fire Behavior
Minimal activity with isolated pockets of heat.
Significant Events
Significant increase in containment was achieved today due to exceptional effort by ground and air resources. Crews continued to widen and strengthen lines throughout the fire with good success. Suppression cost to date is $2,100,000.00. There have only been 3 minor injuries to date with firefighters returning to duty.
Planned Actions
Tonight crews will continue to improve the lines on the southern to eastern sections of the fire. Crews and fire personnel will continue to mop-up and patrol existing lines in the northern and western sections of the fire.
Growth Potential
Terrain Difficulty
CCIIMT-7, Jim Smith’s type 2 team has assumed command as of 0600 on 8/3/2009. Today, August 4, 2009, the incidet went into unified command with Fort Hunter Liggett. Highway 1 is open. Nacimiento-Ferguson Road is open from Highway 1 to the junction with the South Coast Ridge Road only to residents. The South Ridge Road is closed at the junction with Nacimiento Ferguson Road. Nacimiento Ferguson Road is closed from the junction with the South Coast Ridge to Ft. Hunter Liggett.
Current Weather
Wind Conditions 8 mph W
Temperature 50 degrees
Humidity 60%

8/2/09 Fire Wrap-up

9:00 pm – keeping up with two fires this afternoon was challenging. The Ponderosa started last evening, and the Sam Jones this afternoon. Each has their own post for today, with updates and photos as available.

To summarize, as of 6 pm this evening, Ponderosa was 500 acres, and Sam Jones was 600 acres. Sam is completely on Ft. Hunter-Liggett, and spreading north, toward Ponderosa, but still some distance away. Ponderosa is a unified command with USFS and the Army. While both may continue to spread this evening, it will hopefully be relatively quiet, as temperatures are lower than they have been, and humidity is higher. We can hope, anyway.

One concern is that there is a predicted change in the weather beginning Wednesday, with possible thunderstorms in the area, bringing the potential for lightning and erratic winds to the fire area for Wednesday and Thursday. We will all be keeping an eye out for that.

If you like photos, see the two posts below. That’s it for tonight, folks, and thanks for your support, information, and your readership. Working together, we can assure accurate, up-to-date information for Big Sur and her family of friends everywhere.

Blessings, bigsurkate

Two meetings this week

The first is the CWPP — Community Wildfrire Protection Plan — meeting. The South Coast one is Wednesday, July 29, 7-9 pm at the school. The North Coast one is Thursday 7-9 at the Lodge. A draft of the preliminary planning document is being circulated. I sent it to all on the South Coast, and some on the North Coast, for which I had email addresses. If you want to see it, but did not receive a copy, send me an email at


This old fire engine never did work the types of fires we see, but she sure is a beaut, isn’t she?

The second meeting is the Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council on Friday, July 31, from 10-1 pm. This is the agenda:

10:00 a.m. I. CALL TO ORDER Congressman Sam Farr




1. Update on Los Padres National Forest Rep. Sam Farr
Big Sur Management Unit Line Item

1. New Code Enforcement Ordinance Tim McCormick, County Building
2. Prospects for Broadband on the Central Coast Arlene Krebs, Central Coast Broadband Consortium

(please bring written report)

Big Sur Resident Member
Big Sur Chamber of Commerce
Coast Property Owners’ Association
Monterey County Planning and Building Inspection
Monterey County Board of Supervisors
Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District
California Coastal Commission
State Parks and Recreation
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
United States Forest Service
27th District, State Assembly
15th District, State Senate
United States Congress


1:00 IX. NEXT MEETING ON November 13, 2009

(10:00 a.m. Pfeiffer Conference Room, Big Sur Lodge)

1:05 X. ADJOURNMENT In Memory of Bill Post

BSVFB Fundraiser

Some of you may have seen this today, put out by CPOA, but for those who did not, I am reproducing it in its entirety. An evening in Monterey is hard for South Coast folks, but any North Coast folks might be interested. For others, who cannot attend, but would like to donate, the BSVFB makes it easy. Click on their link to the right, and when you get to their home page, there is a donate button that goes through paypal. Takes just a few minutes, or seconds, depending on your internet speed. (Sorry, the pictures did not come through in the copy & paste.)

It’s a Happening!

It’s been a year since the Basin Complex Fire.
Tom and I wanted to do something
so we’re organizing a benefit for the
Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade
5PM – 7:30PM
Thursday, August 6th
at Wave Street Studios

774 Wave Street, Monterey

It’s a reading and an interview

and an art show

and a celebration

Gary is pouring wine (Pinsoni Vineyards & Winery)

and Tom and Nepenthe

are cooking up lots of treats.

Bubbly will flow courtesy of McIntyre Vineyards

Hospitality and service will be provided by Big Sur Food & Wine Festival

You won’t want to miss it!

Tickets are $50 per person.
Make your check payable to Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade.
30% of all art sales go directly to the Brigade, too.
Space is very limited.
Call 831/646-9000 now to make a reservation or to sponsor the event

P.S if you have to miss it, catch it on line at from 6PM-7PM.
P.P.S Call Wave Street at 831/ 655-2010 for directions.

Journal excerpt, August 2, 1972

” Yesterday there was big fire at Jack Flat’s. It burned most of it up. It leapt the road and landed on the trees and started up the hill. It burned 3,000 acres. The Rangers say that by the time it stops 10,000 acres will be burned. Today it burned all the Pfeiffer Falls area. About 1,000 people had to be evacuated out of the park itself. Now it is going fast into the mountains where no human lives are in danger. I don’t know but there must be at least thousands of dead animals out there. At Nepenthe Restaurant, thousands of ashes flew on to the terrace. The ashes are gone but its pretty dusty! They have closed off the highway so the equipment can go through. Overhead I can hear the air tankers (planes, jets.) A few days ago we went to a flea market in Moss Landing. I got a doll-flower bowl. Holly got a surprise.”

Well, I was not yet 9 years old when I recorded these first impressions of the 1972 Molera Fire. What I remember now is sitting in the Hopkins pool on Partington Ridge watching the smoke billow up before we knew what was going on. Later that winter, there were terrible mudslides. The river rose up and cars were washed downstream below River Inn. I was in third or fourth grade. I remember we went down to Big Creek and planted trees to replace the ones that had burned. It seemed like they would never grow back.

During the Basin Complex Fire last summer, we talked about how things would be later, when the fire was out, when we were home again. But talking about the way it would be after the fire while the fire was still raging was eerie and unsettling. Would we be able to go home again? Not everybody did. What would we see when we made that drive south for the first time? I know I cried from Molera to Nepenthe the first time I made that drive home, after the mandatory evacuation had finally been lifted.

During that intense period of fire and aftermath, I felt incredibly grateful to the men and women who were fighting the fire. I wanted to do something to thank them. But most of my energies went into getting my life back on track, working on getting my studio up and running in Monterey, Chi’s wedding, helping Emily find a new apartment in Santa Barbara, and finally closing my studio and coming home again. Time passed, life went on.

Now it’s been a year. It’s time.

Please join me in thanking all the men and women of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade and Auxiliary by attending our upcoming fundraiser for the Brigade at Wave Street Studio August 6th. Come for the reading, the wine, the cause. Stay for the conversation, the connecting, the community-building.

It will be an evening to remember.

831/646-9000 or 667-2454
CPOA Board

Community Wildfire Protection Plan

Here is a quick sketch of why we should take our opportunity to have input into the CWPP seriously. This was provided to me by Mike Caplin, who gave me permission to post it here.

“Here is a quick sketch of the significance of CWPPs.

I think of CWPPs as a gift from Congress to tiny communities near National Forests and BLM land.

The concept of CWPPs is a creation of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 (HFRA, attached and highlighted).

Any “at-risk community” near federal lands managed by the US Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management can write a CWPP, and in it the community can say how the community thinks wildfire fuels (vegetation) should be managed on the federal land to protect the community from wildfires starting on the federal land, and can say how the community thinks federal fuel reduction grant awards should be prioritized in the community’s area.

The federal agency is not required to do the fuel reduction work, but there are a number of incentives and directives once the community makes the recommendation in a CWPP.

First, the Secretary (of Agriculture or Interior) is directed to give priority to “authorized hazardous fuel reduction projects” that implement a CWPP.

Second, authorized hazardous fuel reduction projects on federal land recommended in CWPPs are provided expedited review under the National Environmental Policy Act (different degrees of red tape are cut depending upon whether the project is within the “wildland urban interface” (WUI) for the at-risk community, and whether the project is inside the WUI and within 1 1/2 miles of the boundary of the at-risk community.

Third, an at-risk community can use the CWPP to say where the WUI boundaries are for the at-risk community (wherever the community thinks it is needed to protect the at-risk community), and apparently to decide where the boundaries are for the at-risk community.

Fourth, the Secretary shall consider (authorized hazardous fuel reduction) recommendations made by at-risk communities in a CWPP.

Fifth, the at-risk community can say in its CWPP where the priorities are in its area for federal grant money to be awarded to perform fuel reduction work on private land.

Sixth, 50% of all federal fuel reduction monies must be spent in WUI areas.

Big Sur qualifies as an at-risk community. So, it can say in a CWPP, for example, where its WUI is, how it wants fire breaks maintained in the Los Padres National Forest, and how it wants other wildfire fuels to be maintained in the LPNF. It can also say which areas should be which priority for federal fuel reduction grants.”

So, send an email to Steve Daus or come to the meeting on the 29th 7-9 at the South Coast Community Center. If you do not have YOUR say about the areas of concern, I will certainly have mine. In fact, I sent my concerns to Steve already.