Thursday, September 22, 2005
Fort Ord Burn Planned
On Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, weather permitting, the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) will sponsor a multi-agency habitat restoration and training burn. This is not related to the Army’s planned burn, intended to clear vegetation that covers acres of ordnance.
FORA originally scheduled this burn last fall, but cancelled it because of rain. It will be conducted in three 30- to 40-acre areas within a 147-acre parcel in the southwest corner of the Parker Flats area. The Army mechanically cleared the site to remove munitions and explosives several years ago.
FORA Executive Officer Michael Houlemard calls the scheduled burn, “a win for all,” because it will provide an opportunity for local and regional fire agencies to participate in a wildland fire response training. In addition, Houlemard says, the burn will restore key habitat areas for endangered species.
Not everyone agrees with Houlemard’s win-win scenario.<>Vienna Merritt Moore, a member of the Coalition for Alternatives and Non-Burning of Fort Ord, says she’s worried that the burn will harm neighbors’ health.>
“I worry about people with asthma—my daughter has asthma,” she says. “We definitely don’t want to slow down all of the cleanup, but we want to make sure that everything is done safely, for everyone around. People should be given a chance—if they have health concerns—to leave. Maybe it got too expensive to relocate people, but they should be given the option.”
In 2003, when the Army conducted a prescribed burn to allow for the removal of unexploded mortar shells and other ordnance, families who were concerned about the effects from the smoke were relocated to hotel rooms outside Monterey County. That won’t happen this time.
FORA reps are quick to point out that this burn is unrelated to the previous Army burn, which got out of control and filled the area with smoke. The FORA-sponsored habitat and training burn is less extensive, Houlemard says.
Restoration of habitat is required by state and federal
agencies that oversee protection of threatened or endangered
species—such as maritime chaparral that grows on the former
Fort Ord. Restoration of natural vegetation in the Parker
Flats area is one of several conditions required by the US
Fish and Wildlife Service related to approval of a basewide
habitat conservation plan, and further reuse planning at the
former military base.
Pounds of trash gathered along the California
coastline by volunteers as part of the International
Coastal Clean-up Sept. 17. Source: Surfrider
Foundation, Monterey Chapter.