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A proposition to create more public land in Big Sur has some residents seeing red.

It’s a rare Big Sur property that combines redwoods, grasslands and wide-open vistas. And it’s huge.

Adler Ranch, a 1,199-acre property along Palo Colorado Road and north of the Little Sur River, may be acquired by the U.S. Forest Service and turned into public land. It would enable hikers to travel from Bottcher’s Gap Campground to the sea.

It’s a possibility that has some Big Sur residents on edge. Mike Caplin circulated an online petition beginning Sept. 6 to prevent the Forest Service from acquiring it.

Caplin feels that because of federal laws, combined with a lack of funding, the Forest Service is unable to take proactive fire prevention measures of its property.

“That makes them a dangerous neighbor,” he says.

The petition also calls for legislation to “enable and require” the Forest Service to construct and maintain fuel breaks in Big Sur.

Western Rivers Conservancy, a nonprofit that makes land acquisitions to protect habitat and provide public access, has a purchase agreement to acquire the property. Peter Colby, a project manager with WRC, says he is not authorized to comment about the potential deal.  

Mike Splain, executive director of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance, wrote a letter to the Forest Service to express his support for the acquisition. The plan, Splain says, is for WRC to purchase from the current owner, Big Sur Rs Properties LLC, then transfer it to the Forest Service after receiving a subsidy from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

In his letter, Splain writes that wildfire concerns about the potential deal “are understandable, yet unfounded.”

Butch Kronlund, president of the Coast Property Owners Association, disagrees with Splain’s assessment.

“It is never a good idea for the public to own land adjacent to an existing, real community,” he says, citing the illegal campfire that sparked the Soberanes Fire in 2016. “We’re older and wiser now. This particular piece has got to be off that table.”

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(2) comments

Albert Sez

I think it would be great for the Public to own this prize acreage. The more, the better!

Dan Jensen

It's a great idea to put public land next to an "existing, real community," as occupied human structures are an impediment to effective fire management policy. We need ways to control development in fire country. Public land with restricted development is the way to avoid big fires.

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