Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Angora Fire of 2007, just over a year later...

(click to enlarge)
The Angora Fire was a wind driven fire that started near North Upper Truckee Road subdivision near Angora Lakes, Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake and South Lake Tahoe, California around 2:15 PM on Sunday, June 24, 2007 as a result of an illegal campfire.

The fire burned 3,300 acres, destroyed 242 residences and 67 commercial structures, and damaged 35 other homes. At the peak, there were as many as 2,180 firefighters involved in battling the blaze. The fire cost $12.1 million to fight.

(More pictures and text to come, on the Angora Fire!)

Controlling Nature's Wrath...

I watched this movie recently and I can highly recommend it. It covers not only Defensible Space but also Fire Safe Councils.

Finding the video was particularly timely, since I'd been touring the site of the Angora Fire near Fallen Leaf Lake at South Lake Tahoe.

Friends invited us to stay at a house they were renting on Fallen Leaf Lake, just over the ridge from the Angora Fire burn area, so it was easy to tour.

Talk about object lessons, the pictures certainly told a lot! 

In addition to touring the burn area, this video turned up on the cabin owners bookshelf, unopened, since last year.

My guess is that the video was a giveaway to the neighbors, in order to encourage defensible space activity, etc.

If you'd like to watch the video, I've uploaded it HERE.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council Meeting, 12th August...

August 12 2008, about 6 pm....

The Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council (BSMAAC) met at Big Sur Lodge last night.

Agency representatives with responsibility for post-fire programs were on hand to discuss what is being made available and the work that they are doing.

Monterey County Planning Department will waive permit fees under their emergency permit process.

USFS BAER and CalFire's similar SEATS programs will publish reports - available via website within 2 weeks.

Consultations to estimate mudslide potential this winter in the Big Sur area will be done routinely AND BY REQUEST of individual homeowners with specific concerns. Contact Coast Property Owners Association to schedule a consultation.

Audio of the meeting can be found HERE and in KUSP's website.

(left: Congressman Sam Farr makes a point during the well-attended BSMAAC Meeting of the 12th of August.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Neighbor to Neighbor Big Sur Fire Relief Gala...

August 9th, 2008 about 6pm... Monterey Convention Center

Fantastic food from two of Big Sur's best chefs, a live auction, a silent auction, wonderful wine from the likes of Talbott, Pessagno and others, nine hosted bars, and Big Sur PuertoRiqueño music were the hallmarks of last night's Neighbor to Neighbor Big Sur Fire Relief Gala.

I'm not quite sure exactly how much money was raised, but a guess would be in the neighborhood of a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Big Sur Volunteer Fire Fighter Toby Rowland Jones (far-right in the picture to the right), of Partington Ridge, offered for auction dinner for 6 at his home. Toby, who stayed with a number of others to fight the flames face to face, was floored when the winning bidder raised his hand at $9,000.

It was such a successful and amazing moment, that, shortly thereafter Toby - always fast on his feet - made a unscheduled auction offer of dinner for four at his home, which netted about $3500.

Toby, hide the Spaghetti-O's, dude...

As the event wore on, an people were treated to poignant video of those who stayed to defend their homes, complete with Johnny Cash singing Tom Petty's "I won't Back Down."

I had the chance to catch up with the host of the event, 5th District Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter. He was gracious enough to chat with me about where things might go from here, now that the Basin Complex fire is behind us. 

You can listen to the audio by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council Meeting...

August 4, 2008, about 6pm...

The Big Sur Multi-Agency Advisory Council (BSMAAC) met at Big Sur lodge last night. The photo at left has Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief Frank Pinney addressing the group of about 100 Central Coast residents, as the meeting began.

While the meeting was emotionally charged and many impassioned testimonies were heard, the tone of the meeting was respectful.

Audio from the two hour plus meeting can be heard HERE and at KUSP's website.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Life in the Fire Lane - PART DEUX

After a wee hiatus, it seems sensible to avoid having a discussion of wildfire and how to deal with it as a community, in a vacuum. 

Thus, Life in the Fire Lane - PART DEUX, is born. 

I've been doing a lot of research - journalism-like research - on the overall disfunctionality of our wildfire prevention scheme, and a little bit of work on the multi-agency structure of wildfire response and suppression, and I think it's work sharing, the solicitation of feedback and coordination between active groups bordering the Los Padres National Forest.

My wonderful partner, Martha, has gotten caught up in this - one might say, it's "caught fire" with her, and she's coming up with ideas and references that have been and continue to be, extremely useful.

I would hope that you, who have taken the time to visit this 'blog and read, will also feel inclined to share your ideas, contacts, activities and knowledge!

I hope to develop a series of radio pieces on these subjects, to be aired, perhaps, on KUSP Central Coast Public Radio at some time in the not too distant future.

There are also lessons to be learned from activities - success stories, really - in groups not local.

Hopefully, this 'blog can make a contribution to furthering the understanding and discussion of how we who life cheek-to-cheek with wildfire-prone lands, should act in order to protect our lives, property and the natural environment of the spectacular area in which we live.

On a practical note, I have ideas and information from recent meetings and conversations on about managing in the face of threat of wildfire.

I'm editing some rather lengthy audio from a meeting in Pacific Valley, in Big Sur south, from the previous Thursday (July 31).... many thanks for the audio tapes - I was a few minutes late to this 2-hour long meeting - to Linda Padilla, who also made a lovely contribution to KUSP, just because she wanted to do so!

I also had the opportunity to meet Big Sur Kate tete-a-tete... hiya, Kate!!! Great to meet you! 

There's much to discuss and very few for whom interest will outlast the immediate threat of wildfire. 

But, we're in good company. Here's the question that poet Gary Snyder, a Grass Valley resident, posed to forest scientist Jerry Franklin:

"I was on a panel in San Francisco several years with Jerry Franklin the eminent forest scientist now based at the University of Washington. So last month I took it on myself to write him the following question:
'When I talk to the Biodiversity Council in June, I would like to be able to say something like this: 'Long range sustainable forestry practices - that will support full biodiversity - and be relatively fire-resistant - and also be on some scale economically viable - over centuries - is fully possible. And what we must now do is search out and implement the management program that will do that.' Do you think I can say this and the science will support it? Any comments?'

Jerry Franklin immediately wrote me back,

'What you propose is totally and absolutely feasible for the Sierra Nevada. I.e., long-term sustainability, full biological diversity, relative fire resistance (low probability of catastrophic crown fire), and economic viability. A system which provides for restoration and maintenance of a large diameter tree component (with its derived large snags and down logs) and which provides for moderate to high levels of harvest in the small and medium diameter classes (allowing escapement of enough trees into the large diameter class to provide replacements for mortality in the large diameter group) and prescribed burning in some locations can do this. Other considerations include riparian protection and, perhaps, shaded fuel breaks. Economic and sustainable in perpetuity!' "

To quote SuperMario.... "Here weee g-o-o-o-o-o-oooooooo..."