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In , Senator Sam Farr asked the U. They explored options including the Hearst Ranch and Ft. Hunter Liggett if it was the subject of a base closure. Farr did not act on the Forest Service report until , when he introduced H. It would have created a sub-unit of the Los Padres National Forest. Big Sur residents opposed the legislation in part because when land is designated for wilderness, firefighters must obtain the permission of the Regional Forester to operate heavy equipment such as bulldozers within the wilderness.

They contend this bureaucratic chain-of-command slows firefighters' ability to build fire breaks, which they contend occurred during the Basin Complex Fire. They also expressed concern that federal government doesn't have the resources to manage land it already oversees. They were also distrustful of federal oversight of their local lands. Mount Pico Blanco is topped by a distinctive white limestone cap, visible from California State Route 1.

Limestone is a key ingredient in concrete and Pico Blanco contains a particularly high grade deposit, reportedly the largest in California, [] and the largest west of the Rocky Mountains. Forest Service to begin excavating a 5-acre 2. After the Forest Service granted the permit, the California Coastal Commission required Graniterock to apply for a coastal development permit in accordance with the requirements of the California Coastal Act. Granite Rock filed suit, claiming that the Coastal Commission permit requirement was preempted by the Forest Service review.

When Granite Rock prevailed in the lower courts, the Coastal Commission appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States , which in a historic 5—4 decision in , found in favor of the commission.

By this time Granite Rock's permit had expired. In , the company's president stated that he believed that at some point the company would be allowed to extract the limestone in a way that doesn't harm the environment. There are oil and gas reserves off the coast, but exploration has not been permitted. In , Interior Secretary James G. Watt proposed opening the Central California coast outer continental shelf to oil and gas exploration.

Bush used an obscure law to permanently ban oil and gas development in California's Monterey Bay. Opening the area to oil and gas exploration was opposed by many environmentalists and residents. The aboriginal people inhabited fixed village locations, and followed food sources seasonally, living near the coast in winter to harvest rich stocks of otter , mussels , abalone , and other sea life. In the summer and fall, they traveled inland to gather acorns and hunt deer.

These can be found throughout the region. Arrows were of made of cane and pointed with hardwood foreshafts. The population was limited as the Santa Lucia Mountains made the area relatively inaccessible and long-term habitation a challenge.

The population of the Esselen who lived in the Big Sur area are estimated from a few hundred to a thousand or more. The first Europeans to see Big Sur were Spanish mariners led by Juan Cabrillo in , who sailed up the coast without landing. When Cabrillo sailed by, he described the coastal range as "mountains which seem to reach the heavens, and the sea beats on them; sailing along close to land, it appears as though they would fall on the ships.

Two centuries passed before the Spaniards attempted to colonize the area. They explored the coast ahead and concluded it was impassable. They were forced to turn inland up the steep arroyo. The march through the mountains was one of the most difficult portions of the expedition's journey. The Spanish were forced to "make a road with crowbar and pickaxe". Crespi wrote, "The mountains which enclose it are perilously steep, and all are inaccessible, not only for men but also for goats and deer.

After the Spanish established the California missions in , they baptized and forced the native population to labor at the missions. While living at the missions, the aboriginal population was exposed to diseases unknown to them, like smallpox and measles , for which they had no immunity, devastating the Native American population and their culture.

Many of the remaining Native Americans assimilated with Spanish and Mexican ranchers in the nineteenth century. In , forest supervisors reported that three Indian families still lived within what was then known as the Monterey National Forest. The Mora family consisting of three members was living to the south along the Nacimiento-Ferguson Road. Along with the rest of Alta California , Big Sur became part of Mexico when it gained independence from Spain in War Department purchased the land from Hearst to create a troop training facility known as the Hunter Liggett Military Reservation.

During the first survey of the coast conducted by the U. Coast Survey in , the surveyor reported:. The country between the shore-line and the Coast Range of mountains, running parallel with the shore-line from San Carpojoro to Point Sur is probably the roughest piece of coast-line on the whole Pacific coast of the United States from San Diego to Cape Flattery.

The highest peaks of the crest of the coast range are located at an average distance from the coast of three and a half miles [5. The redwood trees are from three to six feet [0. The oaks and pines are of the same average dimensions. Beautiful streams of clear cold water, filled with an abundance of salmon or trout, are to be found in all the canyons.

The spurs running from the summits of the range to the ocean bluffs are covered with a dense growth of brush and scattering clumps of oak and pine timber. The chaparral is very thick, and in many places grows to a height of ten or fifteen feet [3—5 m] The spurs, slopes, and canons are impenetrable He built a cabin near the present day site of the beginning of the Mount Manuel Trail.

The second European settlers were the Pfeiffer family from France. Michael Pfeiffer and his wife and four children arrived in Big Sur in with the intention of settling on the south coast. After reaching Sycamore Canyon, they found it to their liking and decided to stay.

Further south, in Pacific Valley, is the Junge Cabin, a one-room redwood cabin built in by homesteader John Junge. Each claim was for acres, a quarter section of free government land. William Plaskett and his family settled in Pacific Valley in They established a saw mill and built several cabins.

Other settlers included William F. Notley, who homesteaded at the mouth of Palo Colorado Canyon in He began harvesting tanoak bark from the canyon, a lucrative source of income at the time. Notley's Landing is named after him. Isaac Swetnam worked for Notley and built a house at the mouth of Palo Colorado Canyon, which as of [update] is still a residence. Sam Trotter, who also worked for Notley, later bought Swetnam's house.

He married Adelaide Pfeiffer, the daughter of Micheal Pfeiffer, and they raised a family there from to Many other local sites retain names from settlers during this period: His family descendants are as of [update] still operating the Lucia Lodge.

Along with industries based on tanoak bark harvesting, gold mining, and limestone processing, the local economy provided more jobs and supported a larger population than it does today. From the s through the start of the twentieth century, lumbermen cut down most of the readily accessible coast redwoods. Redwood harvesting further inland was always limited by the rugged terrain and difficulty in transporting the lumber to market.

Tanbark was used to manufacture tannic acid , necessary to the growing leather tanning industry located in Santa Cruz, and to preserve fish nets. The go-devil was a wagon with two wheels on the front, while the rear had rails for pulling. Notley constructed a landing at the mouth of the Palo Colorado River like that at Bixby Landing to the south.

The tanbark was loaded by cable onto waiting vessels anchored offshore. A point on the Palo Colorado road is still nicknamed "The Hoist" because of the very steep road which required wagon-loads of tanbark and lumber to be hoisted by block and tackle hitched to oxen. It was a rough road that ended in present-day Big Sur Village and could be impassible in winter.

Local entrepreneurs built small boat landings like what is known today as Bixby Landing at a few coves along the coast from which supplies could be received and products could be shipped from schooners via a cable hoist. Only the stone foundations of some of these landings remain today. They hoped to sell the electricity to the City of Monterey. They built a diversion channel along the Big Sur River, but the San Francisco earthquake bankrupted the company and they abandoned the project.

The stonework from the diversion channel is still visible. The rugged, isolated terrain kept out all but the sturdiest and most self-sufficient settlers. Travelers further south had to follow a horse trail that connected the various homesteaders along the coast. Highway 1 is a dominant feature of the Big Sur coast, providing the primary means of access and transportation. Prior to the construction of Highway 1 , the California coast south of Carmel and north of San Simeon was one of the most remote regions in the state, rivaling at the time nearly any other region in the United States for its difficult access.

After the brief industrial boom faded, the early decades of the twentieth century passed with few changes, and Big Sur remained a nearly inaccessible wilderness. As late as the s, only two homes in the entire region had electricity, locally generated by water wheels and windmills. The region has always been relatively difficult to access and only the sturdiest and most self-sufficient settlers stayed.

A rough trail from Carmel to Mill Creek present-day Bixby Canyon was in use by about when it was declared a public road by the county. Charles Henry Bixby arrived in the Big Sur area in He built a sawmill on what was then called Mill Creek. Bixby tried to persuade the county to improve a road to his ranch, but they refused, replying that "no one would want to live there. In Bixby partnered with W. Post and they improved and realigned what became known as the Old Coast Road south to his ranch near Sycamore Canyon.

It also circumvented the wide canyon mouth of the Little Sur River. Coast residents would occasionally receive supplies via a hazardous landing by boat from Monterey or San Francisco. By around , residents extended the road another 2. The Pfeiffer family's hospitality was enjoyed by friends and strangers alike for years. They finally began charging guests in , naming it Pfeiffer's Ranch Resort, and it became one of the earliest places to stay.

From that point south to San Simeon, it could only be traveled by horseback or on foot. It is currently only accessible on foot from near the Ventana Inn. It passes through private land and connects with the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. The northern and southern regions of the coast were isolated from one another. The residents near Lucia conducted trade and business to King City and other communities in the southern Salinas Valley, while those who lived in the vicinity of the Big Sur River were connected with Monterey to the north.

During the s, Dr. In , he walked the entire stretch of rocky coast from Monterey to San Luis Obispo in five days and mapped out the course of the future road. He photographed the land and became the first surveyor of the route. Roberts initially promoted the coastal highway to allow access to a region of spectacular beauty, but failed to obtain funding. California was booming during the s, driven by rapidly expanding aviation, oil, and agricultural business.

The number of state residents doubled between and This stimulated the rapid expansion of the state's road network. Rigdon from Cambria , at the southern end of the Big Sur region, embraced the necessity of building the road.

He was a member of the California Senate Committee on Roads and Highways and promoted the military necessity of defending California's coast which persuaded the legislature to approve the project.

Federal funds were appropriated and in voters approved additional state funds. In , state highway engineer Lester Gibson led a mule pack train along the Big Sur coast to complete an initial survey to locate the future Coast Highway. The first contract was awarded in The contractor Blake and Heaney built a prison labor camp for prisoners and 20 paid laborers at Piedras Blancas Light Station. Most of the road lay within San Luis Obisbo County. The region was so remote and access so poor that the company brought most of its supplies and equipment in by barge at a sheltered cove near the middle of the project.

Machines were hoisted to the road level using steam-powdered donkey engines. Construction required extensive excavation utilizing steam shovels and explosives on the extremely steep slopes.

The work was dangerous, and accidents and earth slides were common. One or more accidents were reported nearly every week. Equipment was frequently damaged and lost. Overcoming all the difficulties, the crews completed two portions of the highway in October, , the southern section from San Simeon to Salmon Creek and a second segment from the Big Sur Village south to Anderson Creek.

The California state legislature passed a law in that allowed the state to use convict labor under the control of the State Board of Prison Directors and prison guards. When the law was revised in , it gave control of the convicts and camps to the Division of Highways, although control and discipline remained with the State Board of Prison Directors and guards. The reward was automatically deducted from the all other convict's pay.

San Quentin State Prison set up three temporary prison camps to provide unskilled convict labor to help with road construction. The first was built in March, near Salmon Creek for prisoners and 20 free men. When the completed this portion, the contractor moved the work camp south to Anderson Creek.

When this task was finished, the workers reconstructed and realigned the portion of the road from Anderson Creek to Big Sur which had originally been completed in Two and three shifts of convicts and free men worked every day, using four large steam shovels.

Many members of the original families were upset by the damage to the environment caused by the construction. They were also included in the California Register of Historic Resources in The timber and steel bridges, with the exception of Castro Canyon and Mill Creek, were all replaced with concrete bridges later on. The crews built masonry stone walls around local springs at each location. One of the fountains is believed to have been lost due to one of the many landslides. Some of them are still operational.

After 18 years of construction, aided by New Deal funds during the Great Depression , the paved two-lane road was completed and opened on June 17, The wife of the late Senator Elmer Rigdon, who had promoted the bridge and obtained funding, dedicated a silver fir to her husband's memory.

The caravan then drove north to Pfeiffer Redwoods State Park, where a larger dedication ceremony was held. The road was not paved and was frequently closed for extended periods during the winter, making it a seasonal route. Slides were so common that gates were used to close the road to visitors at the northern and southern ends during the winter.

The opening of Highway 1 in dramatically altered the local economy. Pfeiffer wanted the land preserved and he sold acres 2. They used redwood lumber and river rocks as building materials to create a wood and stone "park rustic" style.

They also fought fires and removed poison oak. Some residents regretted the access provided by the highway. Jaime de Angulo, who first arrived in Big Sur in , wrote: But my coast is gone, you see.

It will be an altogether different affair. I don't know what to think of it, on the whole. My first reaction of course was one of intense sorrow and horror. My Coast had been defiled and raped. The spirits would depart. And as I travelled with Mr.

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn was opened in The region's economy and population growth was driven by a change to a tourist-oriented economy and the construction of permanent and summer homes.

Many visitor facilities were constructed. The agricultural and industrial economy was quickly supplanted by a tourism-oriented economy. The route was incorporated into the state highway system and re-designated as Highway 1 in In , the state legislature limited the road along the Big Sur coast to two lanes.

Highway 1 has been at capacity for many years. As early as , the U. Forest Service noted in its environmental impact statement, "Highway 1 has reached its design capacity during peak-use periods. The primary transportation objective of the Big Sur Coastal Land Use plan is to maintain Highway 1 as a scenic two-lane road and to reserve most remaining capacity for the priority uses of the act.

Due to the extreme slopes and condition of the rock, the California Department of Transportation has had to make many repairs to the road. Highway 1 has been closed on more than 55 occasions due to damage from landslides , mudslides, erosion, and fire. At the Big Sur Maintenance Station, 8.

Twenty-six bulldozers worked for 22 weeks to clear the highway. Highway 1 was closed for 14 months. One individual was killed while repairing the road. In , Skinner Pierce died while clearing the slide near Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park when the bulldozer he was operating fell down the slide into the ocean. His body was never recovered. During the summer of , the road was closed on several occasions due to the Soberanes Fire.

During the following winter, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park received more than 60 inches of rain, [] and in early February , several mudslides blocked the road in more than half a dozen locations.

CalTrans immediately closed the highway and announced the next day that the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge was damaged beyond repair and would have to be replaced. The new roadway was designed without support piers. For about two weeks supplies and residents were ferried in and out by helicopter. On May 20, the largest slide in the highway's history at Mud Creek blocked the road 1 mile 1. The slide was national and worldwide news. The Santa Lucia Mountains are characterized by extremely steep slopes, all associated with watersheds flowing directly or indirectly into the Pacific Ocean.

The range is of recent tectonic origin, and is rugged, steep and dissected by deep stream canyons. The general trend of the range is northwest-southeast, paralleling the numerous faults that transect the area. The topography is complex, however, reflecting active uplift and deformation, a variety of lithological types, rapidly incising stream networks and highly unstable slopes. The Franciscan complex is composed of greywacke sandstone and greenstone , with serpentinite bodies and other Ultramafic rocks present.

Small areas of marble and limestone lenses form resistant outcrops that are prominent landscape features, often white to light gray in color. The Salinian block is made up of highly fractured, and deeply weathered meta-sediments, especially biotite schist and gneiss , intruded by plutonic granitic rocks such as quartz diorite and granodiorite.

Both formations have been disrupted and tectonically slivered by motion on the San Andreas and associated fault systems. The Palo Colorado and Church Creek faults are prominent features influencing the linear northwest-southeast alignment of primary drainages. Stream canyons frequently follow the north-westerly trending fault lines, rather than descending directly to the coast.

The Salinian block is immediately south of the Monterey Submarine Canyon , one of the largest submarine canyon systems in the world, which is believed to have been an ancient outlet for the Colorado River. The falls were formed when the softer sandstone was worn away. The land is mostly steep, rocky, semi-arid except for the narrow canyons, and inaccessible. About 50 streams flow out of the mountains into the sea.

Along with much of the central and northern California coast, Big Sur frequently has dense fog in summer. The summer fog and summer drought have the same underlying cause: The high pressure cell inhibits rainfall and generates northwesterly air flow.

These prevailing summer winds from the northwest drive the ocean surface water slightly offshore through the Ekman effect which generates an upwelling of colder sub surface water. The water vapor in the air contacting this cold water condenses into fog. Fog is an essential summer water source for many Big Sur coastal plants. While few plants can take water directly out of the air, water condensation on leaf surfaces slowly precipitates into the ground like rain.

Fire plays a key role in the ecology of the upper slopes of the Big Sur region's mountains where chaparral dominates the landscape. Since the late s, there have been a number of very large fires in the Big Sur area. In , a fire burned for weeks through the upper watersheds of all of the major streams in the Big Sur region.

Another large fire in burned without any effort by the few local residents to put it out, except to save their buildings. Forest Service began managing the land in In recent history, the area was struck by the Molera Fire in , which resulted in flooding and mud flows in the Big Sur River valley that buried portions of several buildings the following winter. The Basin Complex Fire forced an eight-day evacuation of Big Sur and the closure of Highway 1, beginning just before the July 4, holiday weekend.

In the lower elevations and canyons, the California Redwood is often found. Its thick bark, along with foliage that starts high above the ground, protect the species from both fire and insect damage, contributing to the coast redwood's longevity.

A study compared post-wildfire survival and regeneration of redwood and associated species. It concluded that fires of all severity increase the relative abundance of redwood and higher-severity fires provide the greatest benefit.

The July Soberanes Fire was caused by unknown individuals who started and lost control of an illegal campfire in the Garrapata Creek watershed.

After it burned 57 homes in the Garrapata and Palo Colorado Canyon areas, fire fighters were able to build lines around parts of the Big Sur community.

A bulldozer operator was killed when his equipment overturned during night operations in Palo Colorado Canyon. Coast residents east of Highway 1 were required to evacuate for short periods, and Highway 1 was shut down at intervals over several days to allow firefighters to conduct backfire operations. Visitors avoided the area and tourism revenue was impacted for several weeks.

Big Sur typically enjoys a mild climate year-round, with a sunny, dry summer and fall, and a cool, wet winter. Coastal temperatures range from the 50s at night to the 70s by day Fahrenheit from June through October, and in the 40s to 60s from November through May. Farther inland, away from the ocean's moderating influence, temperatures are much more variable.

The weather varies widely due to the influence of the jagged topography , creating many microclimates. During the winter, Big Sur experiences some of the heaviest rainfall in California. The summer is generally dry. Scientists estimate that about 90 in. But actual totals vary considerably. The wettest winter season was —, when it rained more than in. The wettest calendar year on record was , when it rained The month with the greatest rain fall total was January it rained a record In —, it rained only 15 in.

The many climates of Big Sur result in a great biodiversity, including many rare and endangered species such as the wild orchid Piperia yadonii , which is found only on the Monterey Peninsula and on Rocky Ridge in the Los Padres forest. Arid, dusty chaparral -covered hills exist within easy walking distance of lush riparian woodland. Fort Hunter-Liggett is host to about one-fourth of all Tule elk found in California, and provides roosting places for bald eagles and endangered condors.

It also is home to some of the healthiest stands of live valley and blue oaks. The high coastal mountains trap moisture from the clouds: They are found near the ocean in canyon bottoms or in inland canyons alongside creeks and in other areas that meet its requirements for cooler temperatures and moisture. The redwood trees in Big Sur are the remnant of much larger groves. Many old-growth trees were cut by the Ventana Power Company which operated a sawmill near present-day Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park from the late s through , when its operations were bankrupted by the San Francisco earthquake.

When John and Florence Pfeiffer opened Pffeifer's Ranch Resort in , they built guest cabins from lumber cut using the mill. The mill was resurrected when Highway 1 was constructed during the s. It supplied lumber for housing built for workers.

While many trees were harvested, a number of inaccessible locations were never logged. A large grove of trees are found along the north fork of the Little Sur River. In , scientist J. Michael Fay published a map of the old growth redwoods based on his transect of the entire redwood range. It is just north of the Salmon Creek trailhead. A common "foreign" species is the Monterey pine Pinus radiata , which was uncommon in Big Sur until the late nineteenth century, though its major native habitat is only a few miles upwind on the Monterey Peninsula, when many homeowners began to plant the quick-growing tree as a windbreak.

There are many broadleaved trees as well, such as the tanoak Lithocarpus densiflorus , coast live oak Quercus agrifolia , and California bay laurel Umbellularia californica.

In the rain shadow , the forests disappear and the vegetation becomes open oak woodland, then transitions into the more familiar fire-tolerant California chaparral scrub.

The Big Sur River watershed provides habitat for mountain lion , deer, fox, coyotes and non-native wild boars. The region was historically populated by grizzly bears. During the Spanish period of California history, the Spaniards rarely entered the area, except to capture runaway Mission Indians or to hunt grizzly bears that ate their livestock.

The Mexican settlers captured bears for Monterey's bear and bull fights, and they also sold their skins for 6 to 10 pesos to trading ships that visited Monterey. Bear Trap Canyon near Bixby Creek was one of their favorite sites for trapping grizzly bears. European settlers paid bounties on the bears who regularly preyed on livestock until the early 20th century.

Since about , American black bears have been sighted in the area, likely expanding their range from southern California and filling in the ecological niche left when the grizzly bear was exterminated. The California Department of Fish and Game says the Little Sur River is the "most important spawning stream for Steelhead " distinct population segment on the Central Coast, where the fish is listed as threatened.

A US fisheries service report estimates that the number of trout in the entire south-central coast area—including the Pajaro River , Salinas River , Carmel River , Big Sur River, and Little Sur River—have dwindled from about 4, fish in to about in Numerous fauna are found in the Big Sur region.

Among amphibians the California giant salamander Dicamptodon ensatus is found here, which point marks the southern extent of its range. The California condor Gymnogyps californianus is a critically endangered species that was near extinction when the remaining wild birds were captured.

A captive breeding program was begun in The Ventana Wildlife Society acquired 80 acres near Anderson Canyon that it used for a captive breeding program. The birds take six years to mature before they can produce offspring, and a nest was discovered in a redwood tree in As of July [update] , the Ventana Wildlife Society managed 34 free-flying condors.

Within that sanctuary are other conservation areas and parks. The onshore topography that drops abruptly into the Pacific continues offshore where a narrow continental shelf drops to the continental slope in only a few miles. Final Season Queer As Folk: Best of Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication Rock Schoolhouse Rock: Grammar Rock Schoolhouse Rock: Songs in the Key of Springfield The Simpsons: Chef Aid explicit lyrics South Park: Hankey's Christmas Classics explicit lyrics South Park: The Original 3-disc set Star Trek: The Next Generation Star Trek: The Next Generation Vol.

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Big Sur is a rugged and mountainous section of the Central Coast of the U.S. state of California between Carmel Highlands and San Simeon, where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific is frequently praised for its dramatic scenery. Big Sur has been called the "longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States," a "national. Adelaide couple Ron and Esther Collings this month have celebrated a remarkable 80 years of marriage - a milestone that was marked by the Prime Minister in the Federal Parliament. News Dive into the world of science! Read these stories and narratives to learn about news items, hot topics, expeditions underway, and much more.