Another man could lose his property due to the predatory practices of the clearance contractor Fire Prevention Services Inc. (FPS) and the dismissive attitude of San Diego County Tax Collector Dan McAllister.
The following is a letter to Cal Fire that we received a copy of last night concerning Benton Yue’s property near the community of Hidden Meadows, just north of Escondido. FPS claimed to have removed 72 dump truck loads of material from the property. See photo below of the property PRIOR to the so-called “abatement.”
Dear Cal Fire,
My situation has gone from bad to worse since my last email to you in September 2012.
We just sent this to the US Forest Service and wanted to keep you in the loop, which seems to be an endless one lately, playing over and over and over. But as you know, we are fighting to stop that replay.
We are having a difficult time finding out about the comment period regarding the Munhall Saddle habitat clearance project in the Trabuco Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest. As you probably know, this was the project that caused considerable embarrassment for the Forest Service when the area cleared was featured (prior to clearance) on the cover of the Fall 2007 issue of Fremontia, the journal of the California Native Plant Society. The location was used to illustrate a beautiful example of valuable, old-growth chaparral.
We are greatly concerned about this and other habitat clearance projects on National Forest lands in southern California that do not serve to protect communities from the threat of wildfires, but rather are conducted to protect non-native species such as the hybrid pines planted on Munhall Saddle. We believe the mindset that initiated the removal of native chaparral and the planting of the hybrid pine plantation on the Munhall Saddle is outdated and no longer serves the purpose of National Forests in southern California.We urge you and the staff on the Cleveland National Forest to reconsider the Forest Service’s ongoing effort to remove native habitat on the Munhall Saddle in favor of an artificial environment that is now threatened with the invasion of highly flammable, non-native weeds due to past and planned clearance operations.
At some point in the near future, we believe a dialogue would be productive between us and other conservation organizations and the Cleveland National Forest staff regarding this and other projects that appear to value non-native species over natives.We look forward to hearing back from you.
To send in your own comment:
There was no mistaking who he was that morning of June 13, 2005, when I turned my car into the Sweetwater River overlook off Interstate 8 in the wilds of eastern San Diego County. He had on his signature California-style, tropical shirt and sunglasses along with that classic smile that brought warmth to all those who knew him. Huell Howser. When I walked over to him, he grabbed my hand and I experienced one of those handshakes you’ll never forget. It was one of those US Marine, best friend, I’ve got your back, this is the guy I want to know for the rest of my life type handshakes. He then turned and introduced his assistant Cameron with a wry smile as, “Cameron the Camera Man.” The two worked together seamlessly.
Our purpose was to film an episode about the chaparral for Huell’s popular public television show, California’s Green. I’d been bugging him to do it for months.
We visited four different locations for the show: the overlook, chaparral recovering from the 2003 Cedar Fire in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, beautiful, old-growth chaparral in Guatay, and the outskirts of Pine Valley. Each time Huell would tell Cameron to roll it and without any rehearsal Huell asked exactly the right questions, constructing the entire shot in-process. It was an incredible experience to witness. Before I knew it, Huell would declare, “That’s enough,” and we’d move on to the next location. He never re-shot a scene. When each is perfect, there’s no need to complicate the process with more film to edit. This man was clearly a master of his craft.