In search of solutions to the extreme threat to California’s forests and watersheds, correspondent Tom Wilmer met with Bob Kingman, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Assistant Executive Officer in Auburn, California. He then visits with Sean O’Brien in San Luis Obispo about urban forested Monterey Pines in conjunction with Cal Fire in Cambria.
More than 60 percent of California’s water supply comes from the Sierras. High-intensity fires such as The 2013 Rim Fire generated greenhouse gas emissions equal to what 2.3 million vehicles produce annually. During the rainy season, the subsequent massive run off and erosion created in-filled reservoirs, and severely degraded water quality.
Sean and Dana O’Brien in San Luis Obispo are sequestering carbon, and helping to minimize the threat of forest fires through their urban-forested Pacific Coast Lumber mill operation, and A Place to Grow Recycled Greenhouses. The O’Briens work in concert with Cal Fire’s efforts to remove dead and dying Monterey Pines in and around the coastal village of Cambria, California.
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They came. They saw. They were conquered – by Placer County’s outdoor attractions.
That was the consensus of local tourism industry spokespeople after 58 writers and photographers with the Outdoor Writers Association of California were treated to a variety of opportunities to explore and learn about Placer County’s outdoor amenities as part of the group’s conference Sunday and Monday in Auburn.
Bob Semerau, association president emeritus, had praise Tuesday for organizers and Auburn attractions.
“Experiencing the broad spectrum of outdoor adventure opportunities to be found in Placer County has given the membership a real appreciation for this lovely part of California,” Semerau said. “Fly fishing the middle fork of the American River with Grady Garlough of Rise Up River Trips highlighted the pristine and wild natural beauty to be found throughout the region. And the fishing was awesome.”
Well, the trees and so much more! Writing about California is what I do; I’ve been doing it a long time – 26 years. Something of an expert, so they say, but for all I have seen and done it’s a drop in the bucket. Along with writing, most of my professional career has been about tourism, hotels, restaurants, and hospitality.
I am not new to the Foresthill Divide or Placer County, but each visit is an adventure. This latest visit netted more than one surprise. The Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) was hosted by the Placer County Visitors Bureau at our spring conference. I happily spent an extra day and night in “downtown” Foresthill at the newly opened Miner’s Camp. What an experience. "Don't judge a book by its cover" very much applies. While rough and tumble on the outside, the cabins are definitely 5-star inside. The inspired use of salvaged and vintage decor is over the top! Wendy and Leif Lowery and Brian Clausman, partners on the project, really looked outside the box on this lodging venture. And no disrespect to the men, but Wendy is an interior design creative genius!
My friend, Karen, and I enjoyed the comfort of the Bogus Thunder Mine cabin which includes the most fabulous corrugated-metal clad shower with dueling showerheads. Comfy beds and bedding a real bonus – not bogus! We got all the meals covered: Dinner at Dragon In, breakfast at the newly revised Mega’s Café and lunch at Sugar Pine Pizza – all thumbs up. Definitely didn’t leave town hungry.
Malcolm Hardy took his dad, Lester, fishing at Clear Lake. It was Malcolm’s sixth bass adventure guided by Bob Myskey. This trip produced Malcolm’s personal best 8.4-pound largemouth bass. He is one of my favorite and most dedicated young St. Helena anglers. Have a look at Bob’s informative website at FishClearLake.com.
And you thought they were designed to catch fish … I fished with Rick Tietz, owner of Blade-Runner Tackle Co. and their lure designer at the Spring Conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) in late May in Auburn. He showed us some of the beautiful new bass lures they produce. I always said that lures were designed to catch people — because not many fish go to tackle stores. Well, Blade-Runner’s latest items proved me wrong and helped us catch 16 nice Folsom Lake bass on a beautiful day in Placer County where VisitPlacer.com hosted our three-day get-together.
When I looked at the list of outdoor activities for this year’s Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) spring conference, a rafting trip down the American River practically jumped off the page. “Let’s do this!” I said to Kathy. “I haven’t rafted the American River since 1973, when I was a graduate student at Sacramento State.” I had also worked as a paid intern for the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors during that time and learned firsthand about a fledgling organization called Friends of the River. Friends of the River was mounting a campaign to stop the proposed Auburn Dam project. It seemed that certain political heavyweights were pushing to bury the breathtakingly pristine north and middle forks of the American River under several hundred feet of water. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and the project was eventually abandoned. Natural treasures like the American River Canyon are never completely safe, however. Like a bad cold that just won’t go away, the plan to build Auburn Dam still rears its ugly head from time to time.