COMMENTS ON PROPOSED
MONTEREY DEFENSIBLE FUELS PROFILE ZONE (DFPZ) PROJECT

Steve Chambers, local resident

August 10, 2001

Dear ACT 2 staff,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed Monterey DFPZ
project. Allowing the public to comment, on this proposal, is much different
than the complete exclusion of public involvement during the past three
catastrophic fires on the Monterey District, LPNF.

The exclusion of natural fire from areas and increasingly frequent
catastrophic fires in other areas of the northern Santa Lucia mountains has
created a complex, difficult, expensive and potentially fatal situation. I
feel that this proposal attempts to resolve these problems.

The comments made below are offered to assist with the success of the
proposed Monterey DFPZ project.

FUNDING The proposal calls for implementation to begin in October, 2001 and
continue for ten years. District staffing is currently increasing with
expected year around personnel available to implement the fall - winter -
spring portions of the proposal. But, based on the past decade of bare bones
non fire season staffing, the proposal needs to be designed so that it will
continue even when Monterey District staffing again drops to below minimum
levels.

CREDIBILITY Many locals recall the ³South coast Fuel Break² of the 1980¹s:
labeled a ³boondoggle², ³ nightmare², and such. One acknowledged failure was
the creation of a corridor, from the coastal strip up slopes to the high
ridges, which allowed the spread of exotic plants. This corridor (fuel
break) has allowed hundreds of acres of French broom to become established.
This continues to be an insolvable problem. French broom has spread rapidly
in the Nacimiento - Cone Peak Roads area after the 1999 Kirk Complex Fires.
Please design and implement all elements of the proposed Monterey DFPZ
project to reduce or eliminate the establishment or spread of exotic plant
species.

HAZARD REDUCTION One important stated purpose of this proposal is to
³Protect highly valuable real estate within and adjacent to the National
Forest boundary.² Equally important is the creation of a mandatory hazard
reduction program, in Monterey County, modeled on the existing successful
program in Ventura County. A reduction in real estate loss, due to
wildfire, will only be realized when a vigorous hazard reduction program is
implemented.

ROADS & VEHICLE ACCESS Past fire records show that >80% of unplanned
ignitions occur along or adjacent to roads on the District. Please consider
reducing or restricting vehicle access to parts or all of the District when
fire danger ratings reach predetermined high levels.

FIRE PERMITS are required by all Forest users who build a legal campfire or
use a stove during fire season. Unfortunately there is little to no
enforcement due to a lack of personnel. Please increase fire permit
compliance by increasing personnel or redirecting staffing assignments.

EDUCATION Success of the Monterey DFPZ proposal will require a vigorous and
proactive educational effort to inform locals of the benefits in the design
and implementation of the proposed project. Of highest importance is
promoting the fact that this proposed project is an attempt to avoid or
reduce the ³war zone² type management of the past three catastrophic fires
on the Monterey District, LPNF. As District staffing is limited, consider
using knowledgeable and supportive local (ideally from the same watershed or
sub watershed) volunteers to explain and receive feedback as all phases of
the proposed project move forward. Members of adjacent volunteer fire
departments would be one source of these outreach people.

 

SITE SPECIFIC COMMENTS

ARROYO
1. Consider that the currently closed road Indians - Arroyo Seco Road (I-AS)
might, in the future, be decommissioned. An Environmental Assessment (EA) is
proposed, on road maintenance, during FY 2001-2002 or FY 2002-2003. The road
will not be reopened or reconstructed until this EA is completed.
2. Populations of Arroyo Seco bush mallow, a LPNF listed sensitive plant
species, are present at numerous locations along the I-AS road. Please
conduct a survey, using approved protocol, to identify all locations of this
plant, and then design and implement whatever protections are necessary.
3. Hanging Valley has extensive cultural resources. They need to be surveyed
and protected from adverse impacts due to wild or managed fire.
4. Removal of vegetation, either by fire or other means, on the excessively
steep slopes above and below most of the I-AS Road will likely increase
landslides, slipouts, washouts, and increase sediment delivery to the Arroyo
Seco River. The Arroyo Seco River is home to the only remnant population of
the once enormous Salinas River steelhead run. Please design and implement
the Monterey DFPZ so that steelhead are not adversely impacted.
5. Star thistle occurs at may locations within the roadway of the I-AS Road,
and is being spread by each maintenance or reconstruction event. Please
design and implement the Monterey DFPZ to reduce or eliminate these noxious
exotic plants.
6. The Arroyo Seco River is a candidate for WILD designation under the Wild
and Scenic Rivers Act. The Act requires that the Arroyo Seco River be
managed as WILD while awaiting a decisions. Please design and implement the
Arroyo section of the Monterey DFPZ to reflect this required management
direction.

CARMEL Creating buffers between the Forest and private property in the
Ponciano Ridge areas is supported. This area needs fuels reductions to slow
the spread of unplanned ignitions. Please design and implement the Carmel
section of the Monterey DFPZ so that exotic plants do not spread nor new
species become established. Please design and implement the Carmel element
of the proposed Monterey DFPZ project so that illegal ORV - OHV use is not
able to be established or is reduced and/or eliminated.

CONE
1. As noted above French broom is spreading along the Cone Peak Road,
especially since the 1999 Kirk Complex Fires. Please design and implement
the Cone section of the Monterey DFPZ so that exotic plants do not spread
nor new species become established.
2. Local knowledge has been aware, for many years, of the Cone Peak Road
being used by dope growers to access the areas on both sides and north of
the road. Consider restricting vehicle access on the Cone Peak Road, to
reduce the attendant adverse impacts, including unplanned ignitions, caused
by dope growers.

MANUEL
1. Parts of this section have been reopened by re-bulldozing existing fire
lines during all of the large fires over the past decades, resulting in a
long excessively disturbed strip of land. Please design and implement the
Manuel element of the Monterey DFPZ proposed project to reduce or eliminate
the too frequent dozing of this strip.
2. Please design and implement the Manuel element of the Monterey DFPZ
proposed project so that exotic plants do not spread nor new species become
established.

PARK
1. Another WILD section of the Arroyo Seco River lies next to the southern
half of the I-AS Road between Escondido and Memorial Park Campgrounds.
Please design and implement the Park section of the Monterey DFPZ to reflect
the management direction required by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
2. The proposed DFPZs around Escondido and Memorial Park Campgrounds are
needed. Please consider working with the cabin owners of the adjacent
recreational residence summer home tract on any needed hazard reduction and
or fuel breaks. Please design and implement this part of the Park section
of the Monterey DFPZ to be aesthetically pleasing, while reducing the
potential loss of campgrounds, historic structures,and recreational
residences.
3. Please design and implement the Park element of the Monterey DFPZ
proposed project so that exotic plants do not spread nor new species become
established.
4. The amount of illegal roadways and resultant illegal fire rings in the
San Antonio drainage of the Park unit increases each year. Please plan to
close all illegal roads and remove all illegal fire rings in the area. A
continuing level of monitoring for illegal OHV use and illegal campfires
will be necessary.

PINEY
1. Some experts feel that high frequency burning increase the spread of
exotic plant species. Please design and implement the Piney element of the
Monterey DFPZ so that exotic plants do not spread nor new species become
established.
2. Illegal ORV - OHV activity has been a problem within this unit. Please
design and implement the Piney element of the Monterey DFPZ proposed project
so that illegal ORV - OHV use is reduced or eliminated.

RELIZ is the black hole of the District. Nothing, as far as the public is
concerned comes from it: no knowledge, no access, no awareness, no support,
nor education. Essentially locked up public lands which only benefit
adjacent property owners.

RIDGE
1. This unit will continue to be the most important defense to the spread of
wildfire into the areas of excessively expensive real estate of the Big Sur
coast. Please remind the Big Sur locals that this proposed project is an
attempt to reduce the excessive damage frequently caused during wildfire
suppression efforts. Please design and implement the Ridge element of the
Monterey DFPZ to be aesthetically pleasing, while reducing the potential
loss of excessively expensive Big Sur real estate.
2. Please work with locals to educate, on an ongoing basis, and gain
acceptance of the design and implementation of the Ridge unit. Remind locals
of what happens when wildfire is burning toward them.
3. Please design and implement the Ridge element of the Monterey DFPZ
proposed project so that exotic plants do not spread nor new species become
established.

SKINNER
1. Please design and implement the Skinner element of the Monterey DFPZ
proposed project so that exotic plants do not spread nor new species become
established.
2. Please consider the negative aspects of potentially opening access points
from the Forest onto adjacent private property.

TASSAJARA
1. Base map note: Wildcat Camp is shown twice, adjacent to the southern
parts of this unit. Please remove the most southern Wildcat Camp and
associated trail (leads to the northwest and is forked) as they do not exist
at that location.
2. Removal of vegetation, either by fire or other means, on the excessively
steep slopes above and below major parts of the Tassajara Road will likely
cause an increase in landslides, slipouts, washouts, and increase sediment
delivery into tributaries of the Arroyo Seco River. The Arroyo Seco River
and its tributary Tassajara Creek is home to the only remnant population of
the once enormous Salinas River steelhead run. Please design and implement
the Monterey DFPZ so that steelhead are not adversely impacted.
3. The Church Creek area contains large areas of rich cultural resources.
Please design and implement this portion of the Tassajara unit of the
proposed Monterey DFPZ project so that these elements are not adversely
impacted.
4. Please design and implement the Tassajara element of the Monterey DFPZ
proposed project so that exotic plants do not spread nor new species become
established.
4. The proposed DFPZs around White Oaks (not mapped) and China Camp
Campgrounds are needed. Please consider working with the owners of the
adjacent private residences on any needed hazard reduction and or fuel
breaks. Please design and implement this part of the Tassajara section of
the Monterey DFPZ to be aesthetically pleasing, while reducing the potential
loss of campgrounds,and private residences.

 

I intend to continue supporting the design and implementation of the
proposed Monterey DFPZ project. Please continue to notify me of any and all
opportunities for involvement.

Sincerely,

Steve Chambers,