====================

Mike Jarske, Battalion Chief
CAL FIRE, Coastside Operations
1191 Main St., Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 (650) 245-1711, FAX (650) 726-5213

Dear CAL FIRE,

The clerk at Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District recently sent me an email with a list of burns that have been conducted at the District Preserves, and lists the agencies financially responsible for any damages caused by those burns.

I also received an example of the typical Burn Permit to Enter, which outlines in Clause 7, Insurance---that your agency is supposed to have insurance to cover:
"... not less than $5,000,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and $1,000,000 per occurrence for property damage.

According to the District, your agency is responsible for any property damage for the following burns:

Preserve Date Year Acres Lead Agency
Russian Ridge August, 1998 80 CAL FIRE
Russian Ridge July, 1999 145 CAL FIRE
Russian Ridge October, 2002 65 CAL FIRE
Russian Ridge July, 2007 120 CAL FIRE
Russian Ridge July, 2009 144 CAL FIRE

Unfortunately, the cumulative fire damages to the native wildflowers and native bunchgrass habitats on the 100± acres at the north end of the Russian Ridge preserve alone, total $10 million dollars, or about $10,000 per acre to mitigate the fire damages.

$10,000 per acre is the estimated costs to replant the wildflower and native bunchgrass habitats, to get them back to pre-burn levels of coverage, and to eradicate the weeds that have been spread by the fires.

Some of the weeds spread by the fires at Russian Ridge, have been wild oats, Harding grass, yellow star thistle and the Italian thistle, and you can see details at http://www.ecoseeds.com/invent.html.

Since the entire Russian Ridge preserve total mitigation costs may exceed $20 million dollars, does CAL FIRE have sufficient insurance to cover the measurable native buncgrass and wildflower resource damages that have occurred so far?

STIPULATIONS. An agreement made between parties, to see which issues are actually still in contentions, to come to an agreement about certain facts and issues.
Can your agency stipulate to the following:

1.) Stipulate that native wildflower fields and native bunchgrass habitats are considered by the State Department of Fish and Game, as among the rarest and most endangered plant communities in California, in terms of the tiny percentage of existing relicts in 2010, compared to their state-wide coverage in pre-European times?

2.) Stipulate that all of the burns conducted by your agency, were done without an EIR under CEQA, and that a pre-burn checklist is not a substitute for an EIR?

3.) Stipulate that your agency agreed in conducting each burn, to cover all potential property damages caused by the burn?

4.) Stipulate that any long term or measurable cumulative damages to the native bunchgrass habitat and wildflower fields, constitute property damages?

5.) Stipulate that your agency is liable for the mitigation costs, to bring back each of the Preserves that you burned to their pre-burn wildflower and native grass percentage of cover, and to bear the cost of eradicating the weeds that have grown in after the fires?

6.) Stipulate that if it is determined that $20+ million in damages to the resources has occurred at the Russian Ridge preserve from the numerous burns, that sum could be covered by CALFIRE?

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely, Craig Dremann (650) 325-7333
Box 609, Redwood City, CA 94064
====================================

Matt Brown, Fire Captain
Santa Clara County Fire Dept. (408) 829-3484

Dear Santa Clara County Fire,

The clerk at Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District recently sent me an email with a list of burns that have been conducted at the District Preserves, and lists the agencies financially responsible for any damages caused by those burns.

I also received an example of the typical Burn Permit to Enter, which outlines in Clause 7, Insurance---that your agency is supposed to have insurance to cover: "... not less than $5,000,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and $1,000,000 per occurrence for property damage.

According to the District, your agency is responsible for property damage for the following burns:

Preserve Date Year Acres Lead Agency

Rancho de Guadalupe June, 1997 9 Santa Clara County Fire
Rancho de Guadalupe June, 1999 9 Santa Clara County Fire
Rancho de Guadalupe June, 2003 9 Santa Clara County Fire
Rancho de Guadalupe July, 2004 9 Santa Clara County Fire
Rancho de Guadalupe June, 2009 30 Santa Clara County Fire
Rancho de Guadalupe June, 2010 30 Santa Clara County Fire

Unfortunately, the cumulative fire damages to the native wildflowers and native bunchgrass habitats, from the burns conducted by CALFIRE on the 100± acres at the north end of the Russian Ridge preserve alone, total $10 million dollars, or about $10,000 per acre to mitigate the fire damages.

$10,000 per acre is the estimated costs to replant the wildflower and native bunchgrass habitats, to get them back to pre-burn levels of coverage, and to eradicate the weeds that have been spread by the fires.

Using the burns conducted by CALFIRE as an example, some of the weeds spread by the fires on the Russian Ridge preserve have been wild oats, Harding grass, yellow star thistle and the Italian thistle, and you can see details at http://www.ecoseeds.com/invent.html.

Therefore, the mitigation costs to the Rancho de Guadalupe preserve may be only $300,000-$400,000, which could be covered by your insurance?

STIPULATIONS. An agreement made between parties, to see which issues are actually still in contentions, to come to an agreement about certain facts and issues.

Can your agency stipulate to the following:
1.) Stipulate that native wildflower fields and native bunchgrass habitats are considered by the State Department of Fish and Game, as among the rarest and most endnagered plant communities in California, in terms of the tiny percentage of existing relicts in 2010, compared to their state-wide coverage in pre-European times?

2.) Stipulate that all of the burns conducted by your agency, were done without an EIR under CEQA, and that any pre-burn checklist is not a substitute for an EIR?

3.) Stipulate that your agency agreed in conducting each burn, to cover all potential property damages caused by the burn?

4.) Stipulate that any long term or measurable cumulative damages to the native bunchgrass habitat and wildflower fields, constitute property damages?

5.) Stipulate that your agency is liable for the mitigation costs, to bring back each of the Preserves that you burned to their pre-burn wildflower and native bunchgrass percentage of cover, and to bear the cost of eradicating the weeds that have grown in after the fires?

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely, Craig Dremann (650) 325-7333
Box 609, Redwood City, CA 94064

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Dear Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District Board,

Your clerk recently sent me an email with a list of burns that have been conducted at the District Preserves, and lists the agencies financially responsible for any damages caused by those burns.

I also received an example of the typical Burn Permit to Enter, which outlines in Clause 7, Insurance---that your agency is supposed to have insurance to cover:
"... not less than $5,000,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and $1,000,000 per occurrence for property damage.

According to the District, either CAL FIRE or Santa Clara County Fire are responsible for any property damage for the following burns:

Preserve Date Year Acres Lead Agency
Rancho de Guadalupe June, 1997 9 Santa Clara County Fire
Russian Ridge August, 1998 80 CAL FIRE
Rancho de Guadalupe June, 1999 9 Santa Clara County Fire
Russian Ridge July, 1999 145 CAL FIRE
Russian Ridge October, 2002 65 CAL FIRE
Rancho de Guadalupe June, 2003 9 Santa Clara County Fire
Rancho de Guadalupe July, 2004 9 Santa Clara County Fire
Russian Ridge July, 2007 120 CAL FIRE
Rancho de Guadalupe June, 2009 30 Santa Clara County Fire
Russian Ridge July, 2009 144 CAL FIRE
Rancho de Guadalupe June, 2010 30 Santa Clara County Fire

Unfortunately, the cumulative fire damages to the native wildflowers and native bunchgrass habitats on the 100± acres at the north end of the Russian Ridge preserve alone, total $10 million dollars, or about $10,000 per acre to mitigate the fire damages.

$10,000 per acre is the estimated costs to replant the wildflower and native bunchgrass habitats, to get them back to pre-burn levels of coverage, and to eradicate the weeds that have been spread by the fires.

Some of the weeds spread by the fires at Russian Ridge, have been wild oats, Harding grass, yellow star thistle and the Italian thistle, and you can see details at http://www.ecoseeds.com/invent.html.

Since the entire Russian Ridge preserve total mitigation costs may exceed $20 million dollars, I have sent emails to both CAL FIRE and Santa Clara County fire (and emailed copies to the District), to ask if they have sufficient insurance to cover the measurable native bunchgrass and wildflower resource damages that have occurred so far?

STIPULATIONS. An agreement made between parties, to see which issues are still in contention, to come to an agreement about certain facts and issues.

Can the District stipulate to the following:

1.) Stipulate that native wildflower fields and native bunchgrass habitats are considered by the State Department of Fish and Game, as among the rarest and most endangered plant communities in California, in terms of the tiny percentage of existing relicts in 2010, compared to their state-wide coverage in pre-European times? (e.g. Todd Keeler-Wolf, California Natural Diversity Database, 916-324-6857).

2.) Stipulate that Russian Ridge is one of northern California's best remaining example of wildflower fields and bunchgrass habitat, one of California's rarest and most endangered plant community? (e.g. The 2000 District's $300,000 report that your consultant Paul Kephart wrote about in GRASSLANDS journal in his June 2001 article, "Resource Management Demonstration at Russian Ridge Preserve.")

3.) Stipulate that all of the burns conducted on your District's preserves, were done without an EIR under CEQA, and that a pre-burn checklist is not a substitute for an EIR?

4.) Stipulate that your agency, when giving CAL FIRE and Santa Clara County permits to burn your preserves, they agreed they would cover all potential property damages caused by any burn they conducted?

5.) Stipulate that any measurable or cumulative damages to the native bunchgrass habitat and wildflower fields, constitute property damages?

6.) Stipulate that CAL FIRE or Santa Clara County fire are liable for all mitigation costs, to bring back each of the Preserves that were burned, to their pre-burn wildflower and native grass percentage of cover, and to bear the total costs of eradicating the weeds that have grown in after the fires?

7.) Stipulate that if it is determined that fire damages to the bunchgrass and wildflower fields at the two preserves totals tens of millions of dollars in damages, and either CAL FIRE or Santa Clara County fire are unwilling or unable to cover those costs, that the District is prepared and has the financial ability to cover the total mitigation costs?

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely, Craig Dremann (650) 325-7333
Box 609, Redwood City, CA 94064
===============================

Dear All,

The paragraph from last week's email about bunchgrass and wildflower field damages from the burns, I wrote:

<$10,000 per acre is the estimated costs to replant the wildflower and
native bunchgrass habitats, to get them back to pre-burn levels of
coverage, and to eradicate the weeds that have been spread by the fires.>

That is the MINIMUM cost per acre to restore the damages from the fires, if you are able to eradicate the weeds with hand-mowing like what the private land owner Michael Shaw did on his 74 acres near Santa Cruz, and with dormant native seeds in the soil, growing in rapidly to replace the weeds.

You can read in my article from the journal ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION from June 2002, about how Shaw was able to get his 74 acres, back to 85% native plant cover with about three years of intensive mowing, always making sure to cut the weeds each year before they set seed, that you can download as a PDF at http://er.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/20/2/103

However, once you start the process of mitigation of the fire damages, the costs will probably range somewhere between the lowest estimate of $10,000 per acre to a possible high of $100,000 per acre, to get those Preserves back to a pre-burn condition, in terms of wildflower and bunchgrass cover and prior to the spread of wild oats, star thistle, Harding grass and Italian thistle.

You should budget for the highest level, of $100,000 per acre.

Sincerely, Craig Dremann (650) 325-7333
Box 609, Redwood City, CA 94064

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Updated August 1, 2020