Goal of zero human caused wildfires?

Sounds impossible? It is not. My friend, Barbara Sparhawk found one USFS Ranger District which has achieved this goal. The leading cause of human fires is abandoned campfires, which have seen a tremendous increase down here on the South Coast.


“Over the last three years, we have had a specific, written goal of reducing human-caused wildfires on the district to zero for an entire calendar year,” said Quentin Johnson, fire management officer for the Tusayan Ranger District. “Given that the district receives millions of visitors each year because it is located immediately adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park, we knew this would be an incredible challenge.”


The district’s success in 2014 was due largely to focused fire prevention efforts beginning almost 15 years ago that have chipped away at the leading cause of human fires on the district – abandoned campfires. Specifically, district fire prevention specialist Bob Blasi worked to gain compliance in dispersed camping areas and issued citations when necessary. With increased early-morning patrols, an extensive signing program, visits to local schools, Smokey Bear’s presence at local events, and a consistent prevention message for more than a decade, Blasi was able to systematically reduce the number of abandoned campfires and, therefore, the overall number of human-caused wildfires.


“Because of the support of fire managers, Kaibab National Forest leadership, the community and public, we have been able to go beyond just re-introducing fire into the ecosystem, to take it to the next level and demonstrate how when fire is managed responsibly, it becomes an integral part of obtaining desired forest health,” Blasi said. “This is the proof in the pudding. The more fire treatments we are able to successfully implement, the better chance we have of reducing and ultimately eliminating unwanted human-caused fire in our part of the forest.”

While focused fire prevention efforts have decreased the number of abandoned campfires in the Tusayan area, the challenge of eliminating all human-caused fires will continue. Each fire season brings a unique set of challenges including millions of new visitors to a popular tourist destination.

“If I were to designate one goal for the future, it would be that this record never last 50 years again,” Blasi said. “Eliminating human-caused fires is attainable through education, prevention and good stewardship.”

Monday Morning’s illegal campfire list

Much more ticketing, educating, and anguish for today. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn? (Peter, Paul, and Mary – Where have all the flowers gone?)



Kudos & Thanks to our USFS personnel

I just went on WildCAD to check on things and saw that our local people were patrolling after dark last night and managed to find SEVENTEEN illegal campfires – four on Plaskett, and the rest on Nacimiento RD., South Coast Ridge RD. And Prewitt camp. Since campfires are now banned, if they gave out 17 tickets at $5000/each, that is $85,000 worth. It would probably fund two firefighters for a year, if we could keep the money. Regardless, that is 17 potential wildfires that were caught before they became an inferno, and this even with the Sherpa raging in the southern portion of the LPNF. Bob Baird, Forest Supervisor, Tim Short, District Ranger, Chip Laugharn, Asst Dist Fire Management, and our pals at PV and Nacimiento Stations, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to reading tonight’s statistics. I tried to copy and paste the data, but no go. Go to WildCAD-LPNF to view for yourself.

Public Comment re Solar Power at PV STation

The USFS has sent out a letter requesting public comment by May 30th regarding the installation of a solar array system to become the primary source of power for the main firefighting station on the South Coast of Big Sur. The existing diesel generating system will be used for back-up power only. It will cover an area of approximately 15,00 sq ft and the total height of the panels will be 7 ft. None of this will be visible from the highway. This is a HUGE step, and I heartily support it, and will let the USFS know that. Of our 5 largest visitor-serving facilities down here (Gorda, Treebones, PV Station, the Hermitage, and Lucia) 2 of them will now be primarily solar powered, Lucia having been the first to take this major step. Both are setting good examples for the rest of us (I have been completely solar for over two years. I run my genie for 2-3 hours maybe 4-5 times a year in the shortest days of the year. BIG savings in gas and emissions.)

I would urge all interested parties to support this endeavor. Email to comments-pacificsouthwest-los-padres-monterey@fs.fed.us in either email, plain text (.txt) rich text (.rtf) or word (.doc). For oral comments or further information, call Jeff Kwasny, Resource Officer, at 831-667-1126. Snail mail comments to Tim Short, District Ranger, at the District Office in King City 406 Mildred, KC 93930

Scheduled USFS Road Closures in Big Sur


20S05.3 Central Coast Ridge Road

Tuesday March 10, 2015 – Thursday April 16, 2015

Road closed during construction.


20S05.4 South Coast Ridge Road

Thursday April 16, 2015 – Monday April 20, 2015 – 30 minute closures 8:00am through 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

Road closed from Tuesday April 21, 2015 – 0630 through Friday April 24, 2015 1200 noon.

Friday April 24, 2015 – 1200 noon – Tuesday April 28, 2015 – 30 minute closures 8:00am through 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.


Photography Permits in the National Forests

On 25 September 2014, a new rule proposed by the U.S. Forest Service pertaining to photography and film permits sparked internet outrage. According to circulating posts about the issue, the agency would like to charge fees of up to $1,500 before allowing “commercial filming and photography in federally designated wilderness areas.” When the proposal is finalized in November 2014, commercial photographers who do not obtain permits could face fines of up to $1,000. (Tourists and park visitors snapping photographs for personal, non-commercial use would not be affected by the proposed regulations.)

Liz Close, acting director of the U.S. Forest Service, said that the tightened restrictions have been informally practiced for the past four years. Close indicates that they fall under the auspices of the larger Wilderness Act of 1964, and that the agency aims to protect the country’s forests from commercial exploitation:

Under the rules, permit applications would be evaluated based on several criteria, including whether it spreads information about the enjoyment or use of wilderness or its ecological, geological, scientific, educational, scenic or historical values; helps preserve the wilderness character; and doesn’t advertise products or services. Officials also would consider whether other suitable film sites are available outside the wilderness.

Advocates for the First Amendment, however, objected on the grounds that such fines and permit requirements would infringe upon specific constitutional protections concerning free speech. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said that new media outlets and independent journalists would be disproportionately impacted by the proposed fines:

The Forest Service needs to rethink any policy that subjects noncommercial photographs and recordings to a burdensome permitting process for something as simple as taking a picture with a cell phone … Especially where reporters and bloggers are concerned, this policy raises troubling questions about inappropriate government limits on activity clearly protected by First Amendment rights.

Legal defense director for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Gregg Leslie, said that the U.S. Forest Service restrictions constituted a clear violation of the First Amendment. Leslie does not believe the move is legally justified:

It’s pretty clearly unconstitutional … They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can’t.

After the announcement of the proposal caused controversy among media representatives, the head of the U.S. Forest Service hastened to state that the rule would not be applied to reporters and news organizations:

Faced with increasing criticism of a proposal that would restrict media filming in wilderness areas, the head of the U.S. Forest Service said that the rule is not intended to apply to news-gathering activities.

The rule would apply to commercial filming, like a movie production, but reporters and news organizations would not need to get a permit to shoot video or photographs in the nation’s wilderness areas, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said.

The USFS is currently accepting comments on the issue here. The period of public comment will be open until 3 November 2014.

Last updated: 26 September 2014

Wildfires/Medical Aid

1:30 pm – I love our neighborhood and my neighbors. I haven’t been watching LPNF WildCAD, but a neighbor has. He called me (thank you, very much) to ask me to look out my window to Prewitt to see what was going on and if I could see smoke. I couldn’t. Abandoned campfires are now called in as Wildfires. I would have remained blissfully unaware, being deep into a book to avoid this heat, so thank you, sir. You know who you are. I will continue to pay attention, and if there is any change, I will post it here.

BTW, I count on all my neighbors and friends to let me know about these kinds of things. I am only one person – who doesn’t do heat well, so needs all the help I can get!
This is WildCAD, LPNF:

06/30/2013 12:56 LPF-1931 (New) Medical Aid PREWITT RDG & CG M . BC12LPF E16LPF 4X4 E17LPF PAT19ALPF . . .
06/30/2013 12:39 LPF-1930 (New) Medical Aid Pine Canyon Sta . E43LPF . . .
06/30/2013 12:21 LPF-1929 (New) Wildfire PREWITT RDG & CG M . . . . .
06/30/2013 12:18 LPF-1927 (New) Wildfire Nac/ferg cyn . . . . .

New USFS Monterey District Ranger

Date: June 26, 2012 Los Padres National Forest
6755 Hollister Ave. #150
CONTACT: Andrew Madsen (805) 961-5759 http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/lospadres

Los Padres National Forest Announces New Monterey District Ranger

GOLETA, CA….Los Padres National Forest officials today announced the selection of Tim Short as the new Monterey District Ranger. Short is currently the North Kaibab District Ranger on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona.

Short replaces Sherry Tune, who became Forest Supervisor of the Mendocino National Forest earlier this year.

“Tim has a solid background in natural resources and wilderness management, and will play a pivotal role in the community,” said Los Padres Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez. “He’s worked as a district ranger for nearly a decade, and his experience will be instrumental in his new position.”

Short is a native of Spokane, Washington, and began working with the U.S. Forest Service as a seasonal employee on the Umatilla and Okanogan National Forests in Oregon in 1979. He graduated from Oregon State University in 1985 with a degree in Forest Management. From 1986 to 1988 he served as a community forester with the Peace Corps in Nepal. Short worked as a forester on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona following his stint with the Peace Corps before accepting a district recreation officer position in 1992 on what was then the Las Vegas Ranger District of the Toiyabe National Forest along the California-Nevada border. This area was subsequently redesignated as the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.

From 1999-2004, Short served as Deputy District Ranger on the Jackson and Buffalo Ranger Districts of the Bridger-Teton National Forest before returning to the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area as District Ranger. He has worked since 2007 in his current position as District Ranger on the Kaibab National Forest.

“This is an exciting time to be a part of public stewardship along this magnificent stretch of coastline,” Short said. “I’m looking forward to engaging with local stakeholders and the many visitors who come to enjoy these incredible recreation opportunities.”

Short reports for duty July 30.

USFS Los Padres District enters high response mode

Guess it is time to change over from my winter weather watch to summer fire watch links on the right. Will try to get to that ASAP, but hard to think fire at the moment, unless it is a fire in my wood stove! (It was in the 30’s last night)

Date: May 23, 2012 Los Padres National Forest
6755 Hollister Ave. #150
CONTACT: Andrew Madsen (805) 961-5759 http://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf

Los Padres Implements High Response for Declared Fire Season

GOLETA, CA…Los Padres National Forest officials announced that wildland firefighters will transition into a “high response” posture beginning May 25 in conjunction with the declared start to fire season. This action is based on low plant moisture levels and increasingly dry conditions across the Central Coast and inland regions. The Forest Service is adopting this heightened posture along with fire departments throughout the local area.

“This past winter and spring saw below average rainfall, and with a hot summer ahead of us we need to take precautions against wildfire starts,” said Los Padres Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez. “Our fire staff is shifting to high response and we’ll be prepared for whatever the (fire) season brings.”

As seasonal fire staff report for duty, suppression resources will reach full capacity. The Reload Base at Santa Maria Airport will have full-time staffing throughout fire season. Although Santa Maria is not a Tanker Base, the Forest Service will request air tanker support through national federal emergency managers in the event of a large fire. Full staffing at the Reload Base will ensure that whenever national or Cal Fire air assets are available, the Forest Service will ensure retardant is efficiently reloaded onto the aircraft.

“The Reload Base at Santa Maria is a force multiplier for the Forest and the community,” said Los Padres Fire & Aviation Chief Anthony Escobar. “The retardant loading operation is based on a quick turnaround. It’s ready to go whenever it’s needed and tankers are on-site.”

Forest officials estimate that Level II fire restrictions will take effect next month, and visitors are reminded to exercise caution when enjoying recreation activities in Los Padres.

For more information, visit the Forest website at http://www.usda.gov/lpnf.

Rain Totals & Dirt Road Report

First, so none of you panic, I have had no reports of any problems on Highway One, thus the “dirt” in my title. A couple of yahoos showed up at my place a bit ago, on foot. They had gotten themselves stuck in a “ditch” in the middle of the road. I sent an email to Sherry Tune about this. I have been literally begging the USFS to grade this road for YEARS! Last time it was graded was the Plaskett II fire of 2000. These yahoos are really lucky that Rock Knocker just happened to stop by my place today, or they would be outta luck. My neighbor’s car is in the shop, and Rock Knocker is giving him a ride on Monday to go pick it up, and I won’t go out when conditions on Plaskett are this bad, so I would have lent them my phone to call 805-927-HELP, Cambria AAA, who is the only one who will come up here, and it is damn expensive!

On to rain totals, my gauge read .9 this morning, which is all that I recorded for yesterday’s downpour. I have doubts about the accuracy of that reading, however. Debbie, in Big Sur Valley, reports just under 1.5 inches for that neck of our neighborhood.

Warmer, drier weather supposedly on the way for this next week.