An unnamed stream flows through a trailless redwood forest deep within the proposed Molera Wilderness
In response to vigorous opposition from locals worried that the plan would interfere with future firefighting efforts, Assembly Member Bill Monning has withdrawn his proposal to give State Wilderness designation to a portion of the Molera State Park backcountry.
Monning and his staff were obviously taken by surprise by the level of opposition to the seemingly benign and uncontroversial plan. Giving Wilderness designation to this clearly deserving area has been under discussion locally and in Sacramento for years, the area has no potential for any mechanized form of recreation, Wilderness designation does not prevent the use of mechanized equipment to deal with fires or other emergencies, and the boundaries of this proposal were carefully drawn to exclude the only ridgeline not already in the Ventana Wilderness that could conceivably be used for a dozer cut fire break.
None of this matters, though, in a community where nerves are still raw from the Basin Complex debacle and where a surprisingly significant number of people still find even the most improbable claims of fire danger and government and/or environmentalist conspiracy more credible and stimulating than the mundane facts.
Monning, understandably, has no interest in stoking Big Sur’s fire terror by pushing a proposal so many are convinced will decrease their safety. Especially as the land will remain de facto Wilderness for as long as the state refrains from selling it off or despoiling it. Sending an uncontroversial bill through the legislature would have been one thing, but with the state in crisis there are so many much more pressing priorities that it is obvious Monning and his staff don’t have time to spend facilitating meetings and hammering out compromises on a Molera Wilderness proposal.
Hopefully, this episode has increased awareness of the existence of this unique and pristine land and more people, both locals and visitors, will be inspired to visit it and come to know and appreciate its value. In the long run, regardless of official designations, it is only through people knowing and caring for the land that it will be truly protected.
See more photos of this unique area at: A Look at the Uplands of the Proposed Molera Wilderness