November 2015

Canyon Beat:

Fair, weather, friends​​​​

By Michelle Manville

This year’s Silverado Country Fair was a smokin’ hot time! Scorching heat may have kept fair attendance down, but spirits remained high. “Everybody came together to help,” rejoiced Jane Bove, fair chairperson. Fair committee: Jane and Paul Bove, Brett and Chay Peterson, Judy and Rufus McKibben, Denise Ater, Vivi Wyngaarten, Kevin Topp and Sash Sill, along with lighting expert Wendy Hayter, and handymen Steve Kerrigan and Joe Lamano, created an old west extravaganza. 

Two days of music, food and drink, arts and crafts, and community camaraderie brought out countless volunteers, who helped with everything from parking and saloon sales to old-timey classes like pickling and chicken rearing. Temperatures in the high 90s made this the perfect year to inaugurate Silverado Saloon. Profits from the previously prohibited beverages, donated by New Belgium Brewing and local wineries, flowed in at about $4,000. Attendance-related sales are expected to add about $2,500 to the total. All proceeds go to the Inter-Canyon League to fund community organizations.

Fair or not
The U.S. Forest Service will continue its closure of the Maple Springs public access gate for at least another year. This gate, at the end of Silverado, leads to the Cleveland National Forest. More gates may be installed “soon” to make the closure area smaller, according Darrell Vance, the USFS spokesman at the October ICL meeting. Vance’s proclamation elicited at least one “whoo-hoo” from the audience. He warned that the Maple Springs area is a “big concern” due to the burned, hard, steep terrain, which could crumble and easily erode if trod upon. Although residents living adjacent to the public access gate and fire zones might celebrate this decree, a not-so-cheerful Naturalist for You Joel Robinson lamented that only a small portion of the trails behind the gate were actually damaged in the fire, and that “there are many gorgeous unburned areas we cannot access because of this blanket closure.” Robinson says the closure was initially instated to protect people and property only after a heavy rain, and that the ongoing closure requires him to obtain permits to lead hikes there, while others continue to trespass, facing fines for hiking on public lands. All the while, local businesses suffer losses due to lack of tourists.

Talk about the weather
Nearly 200 residents flooded into the Modjeska Fire Station last month to learn more about the impending El Nino threat. This weather event has the potential to saturate the canyons and move lots of earth, according to emergency preparedness expert Alexander Tardy, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who gave a deluge of information about the nature, causes and possible consequences of this phenomenon. El Nino is indicated by warm ocean water, which causes the jet stream to focus northern storms on California. Indicators are warm, humid and rainy summers. Experts predict that El Nino will bring a longer and rainier winter, with most storms hitting January-April. He said that, “because of places like Silverado Canyon,” the National Weather Service in Rancho Bernardo is staffed 24/7.

El Nino vs. the blob
Enter the “blob.” Sounding like a bad B-movie, this unrelated weather event, named by University of Washington meteorologist Nicholas Bond in late 2013, is an area of warm ocean water that started off the coast of Alaska, and is now close to 1,000 miles wide. This blob has been working with its high-pressure ridge sidekick to devour prospective rainstorms, and has the potential to either increase El Nino’s downpours, or diminish them to a series of trickles. We need 150 percent of our normal rain to end the drought, but possible torrential rains would be too much, too fast, and debris from dry and burned areas would clog the waterways and cause major flooding. The good thing is that we should have a cooler summer, if we survive all of this chaos.

OC Public Works is installing cameras in “hot spots” like the Silverado burn areas to keep an eye out for possible problems. They are also changing the grate on the drain near the seasonal “Modjeska Lake” to allow debris to flow through it instead of clogging it up. They will not clean up debris on private property, and do not recommend that you move it to public roads. 

To prevent problems, residents are being asked to clear debris from their property and shore up hillsides. You can also remove trees that are dead, or that “you think are dead,” with no problems, according to the county. OC Public Works has put trash bins for yard and creek debris at Black Star and Modjeska. Please do not place household junk into these bins. Contact Ray Sanchez, OC Public Works at (714) 955-0200 to report creek blockage and storm-related problems.