Friday, September 12, 2008

PBSR Recovery and Master Plan meeting 9/11/2008

On Thursday, the 11th of September, 2008, an open forum was held by the Monterey Bay Area Council to address various concerns regarding the damage done to camp during this summer's fires as well as to help formulate a "master plan" to look to in order to better organize camp recovery efforts.
Council Executive Albert Gallegos began with a rundown of the current status of camp. The water treatment and storage facilities are in tact, but the water system has been obliterated, so there is currently no running water down in camp. There is also active tree collapsing from the burnt out areas that continue to pose a risk to structures, trails, and roadways. The biggest concern as of now is the status of the road and preventing it from washing away, which would terminate any hope of fixing camp to operational order next summer.
Through an emergency meeting held earlier this summer, 12 recovery committees have been formed to address various specifics that require attention. This includes roads, insurance, erosion, forest conservation, construction, and the '09 camping season. Trail rehabilitation, also on the list, is currently under the jurisdiction of the Esselen Lodge.
There is a desire to bring troops and other units as work parties in the spring, but camp "looks like a war zone" in several areas at the moment and there is zero intention of bringing in any scouts until the area is deemed completely safe and stable to do so.
The council is actively seeking volunteers, especially those who can help provide professional services such as plumbing, as well as monetary donations.
Next up was Mr. John Stewart (sp?), who is an engineer with National who specializes in situations such as ours. He began with the importance of developing a "master plan" which he described as a tool to envision the future that builds a consensus within the council and stronger unity behind a project. The participants were then allotted about a half hour of time to write down ideas within their groups that were to be presented to the entire assembly.

There were many items discussed, very many repeated, and quite a few showed keen insight into the situation. Some others, in my opinion, were not as good. For purposes of fairness, I will not pass personal judgement on individual items in this post, as it is intended to primarily inform.
These ideas fit into several groups by nature of their similarities.

Ideas regarding the ecological uniqueness of camp:
-Use the dynamic environment to emphasize a more nature oriented program as the area changes right around camp
- Make the nature trail a complete trail by having it end where archery is currently
-Reroute poorly planned trails around camp and its surrounding area now that the most of the shrubbery has been burned away
-Build a fish hatchery
- Remodel the recycling and garbage system
- Make a worm farm

Ideas involving infastructure
-Look into alternate forms of energy for camp, such as the possibility of putting it on the grid.
- Make improvements for the disabled, including better paths around the central camp area as well as better bridges. For the future wellfare of the bridges, have a standardized design and keep the plans in order to be able to stay ahead on upkeep as well as simplify their repair.
-Improve the septic system
-Fix and standardize the water distribution system.
- Fix the electrical system and distribute it to other areas of camp, mainly the fire bowl.
-Look into hydroelectric and solar energy possibilities as well as any federal or state grants that could be utilized to create such.
-Pave the road.
- Ensure that there is proper water diversion on the road.
- Control erosion

Ideas involving facilities
-Build a handwashing station at the dining hall.
- Restore the trading post
-Remodeling the kitchen
-Dorms above the kitchen
- Build a new ranger's house. It was also proposed that a helipad be built on the area of the burnt ranger's house. Some historical reasons for its previous placement are to keep tabs on traffic in and out of camp as well as provide more sunshine to make the winter months more bearable.
-Remodel the Chapel
-Remodel the boat house
-Make a clothes changing facility for the waterfront
-Finish the dining hall
- Build multiple bathrooms and shower facilities and renovate existing ones
- Build more female bathroom and shower facilities, especially for female members of the staff.
- Rebuild the rifle range. It was also propsed to relocate the rifle range to where the shotgun range is as well as relocating the archery range to where the rifle range is.
-Rebuild the firebowl. This project is currently being planned by the OA. Thier plan is to use some of the downed redwoods as their construction material.
- Possibly relocate scoutcraft.
- Rebuild the staff lodge. It was also proposed to have several dorms in said lodge to be used for year long programs.
-Build a library type facility to hold camp literature and memorabilia.
-Rebuild COPE and climbing, possibly at a different location.
-Build an equestrian area
- Create an area for the Pico Pathfinders program.
-Build cooking facilities at scoutcraft
-Remodel the infirmary.

Monetary ideas:
- Look into radio advertising.
- Promote the year long use of facilities to groups outside of scouting to help provide a sustainable income.
- Avoid the "black pit" of fundraising and promote specific smaller projects that require donations.
-Sell the "vision" instead of asking for money.
-Contact Sam Farr

Program ideas:
-Run a week long family camp that is open to all ages.
- Look into a synthesis of cub and boy scout programs in summer camp.
- Focus on new ways to entertain adult leaders.
- Focus on new ways to entertain cub aged scouts.
- A low frequency radio station.
- A P.A system
- More high adventure options.
- Offer a science camp style program
- Look into various emergency vehicles where available for purposes such as fire fighting.
- Sporting clays
- A program open to Girl Scouts
-Dividing camp into several areas, including a "comfort camp" in the central area and other areas emphasizing things like "wilderness" and "roughing it"
-Focus on the scouts and scouting
-Focus on keeping the camp appearance to be "rustic" as well functional and to focus on the natural beauty of the area rather than compete with it.

After the presentations, Mr. Stewart explained how he was sent from National in order to help along with the process of project management. His main input was in the following steps that he believed to be the best way to handle things.
1. Recover from the fire. This includes control and prevention of what has yet to yeild from the winter rains.
2. Finish the Hayward Lodge. It sends the message that projects are being completed and aid isn't going into a "black pit" It will also serve as a centerpeice for year long facilities usage to help generate revenue.
3. Go to an engineering firm for a better system of dealing with the water and electrical systems. Make a comprehensive plan and keep them on record to standardize the systems and remove the guesswork of working on them.
4. Progress from there. This was a catastophe, but it also serves as an opportunity, especially to fix various issues in infrastructure that have been worked around for half a century.

After that, Mr. Gallegos informed us that there are some federal reports regarding the situation that will be coming in soon and that the situation is still constantly changing. Also, Mr. Hayward has committed more money for the completion of the Hayward Lodge. There is some insurance money, but it will nowhere near begin to cover even a fraction of the proposed items on the master plan.
More info regarding these matters, as well as a link to donate to the Pico Blanco recovery fund may be found at

No comments: