With Restrooms Locked, Big Sur Roadsides Sink Deeper into Squalor

June 25, 2018

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Human waste next to locked restrooms at the Forest Service’s Willow Creek Picnic Area

When ya gotta go, ya gotta go and when ya gotta go in Big Sur, finding an appropriate spot can be difficult – especially when the public is locked out of the few facilities that do exist.

Word is that two or three restrooms on the South Coast, which means pretty much all the public restrooms on the South Coast, have been locked for several weeks now. We don’t know why, but this is the predictable result.

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Meanwhile, illegal campfires, like this one lit directly on top of dry grass, continue to threaten new conflagrations.

Welcome to summer…

(Photos by Branham Rendlen) 

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Wildflower of the Week: Dudleya

May 13, 2018

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It will take a bold poacher to snag this Dudleya

If a year ago someone had said that Dudleya poaching was about to become a problem along the California Coast, it would have been difficult to believe. But in an increasingly globalized and irrational world, we should probably not be surprised when the not-so-invisible hand of a distant market suddenly reaches out to rip a random thread from the local web of life.
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FORA Develops Exciting New Plan to Perpetuate Itself

April 1, 2018

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Exploring the post-apocalyptic landscape of the former Ft. Ord

Ever since the Army closed Ft. Ord, in 1994, The Ft. Ord Reuse Authority, or FORA, has been working tirelessly to complete munitions clean-up, redevelop the blighted acres of abandoned barracks, and ensure that the former base meets its potential as an economic driver for the community. Yet, after nearly 25 years, the blight has largely grown worse, the clean-up hasn’t been completed, the agency burns through around 6 million of your tax dollars per year, and some suspect FORA boss, Michael Houlemard, is more interested in prolonging his well over $200,000 per year job than in completing FORA’s mission.

FORA was originally expected to finish its work by 2012. When that didn’t happen, the state legislature extended FORA’s mandate to 2020. By law, FORA must have a plan for transitioning themselves out of existence in place by the end of this year. Yet the thought of bringing such a wonderful agency to a close has proved so difficult to bear that all efforts to devise such a plan have only resulted in plans to ask for yet another extension.

But another task force of FORA insiders is now hard at work and our sources tell us their consultants have finally found a way to allow FORA’s Ft. Ord reuse responsibilities to sunset, while still preserving FORA as a bastion of opaque bureaucracy and inflated salaries. To do this, they have advised FORA to focus on its core competencies.

High-level visioning sessions have revealed that FORA’s greatest expertise is in lack of responsiveness to the public and dismissiveness toward public input, in using questionable unexploded ordnance concerns as an excuse to exclude the public from land slated for development, in threatening trail users with collective punishment, and in jaw-droppingly inappropriate and self-serving gestures – as when Houlemard charged the taxpayers for his ticket when he ran a stop sign.

On the basis of these findings, consultants have advised the task force that FORA should embrace its strengths. Specifically it should transition itself from the Ft. Ord Reuse Authority into the Farcically Officious Rebranding Authority. In this way, imposing ridiculous rules to punish political enemies, acting for personal gain, rather than in the public interest, and continually shifting the purpose of the agency to meet political expediency could itself become the agency’s mission.

A win-win for FORA and aficionados of ossified, self-perpetuating bureaucracy everywhere.


Local Streams Shrug Off Atmospheric River

March 22, 2018

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The rain is still falling out there, but it looks like our multi-day storm is beginning to wind down.
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Wildflower of the Week: Giant Trillium

February 28, 2018

Giant Trillium (Trillium chloropetalum), also known as Giant Wakerobin, is currently in bloom in the Santa Lucia Mountains. This plant is a true California native, inhabiting the coast ranges from Santa Barbara to Siskiyou, as well as the Sierra foothills. It is closely related to, but much larger than, the Western Wakerobin (Trillium ovatum) found in our coastal redwood forests.

Impossible to mistake for anything else, Giant Trillium consists of a robust stalk, rising as much as two feet above the ground, topped by the distinctive three leaves than make a trillium a trillium. The Giant Trillium’s single flower emerges directly from the branching top of the stalk and is not lifted above the leaves on a stalk of its own, as is the case with T. ovatum.

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Giant Trillium
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Forest Service Lifts Fire Restrictions Just in Time for a Red Flag Warning

January 27, 2018

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7:30 pm; June 16, 2016: Sundowner winds blow the Sherpa Fire down from the Santa Ynez Mountains and onto the coastal terraces west of Santa Barbara (as viewed from the comfort of Cojo Anchorage). Dry season conditions of this kind have been common so far this winter.

The Los Padres National Forest covers about 1.75 million acres. The northern boundary, near Carmel Valley, is over 200 miles from the Forest’s southernmost point, near Los Angeles. As fire restrictions are imposed Forest-wide, strict prohibitions on campfires tend to remain in place in the Big Sur area, even after substantial rain, so long as the southern end of the Forest remains dry.
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Oil vs. Wind: The Big Sur Coast and the Struggle for Energy Dominance

January 24, 2018

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South Coast views

On January 4, Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, announced plans to open essentially the entire US coast, specifically including Central California, to offshore oil and gas drilling. Zinke described his plan as “a new path for energy dominance in America.”
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