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Posted on October 5 at 7:46 a.m.
If the USFS takes the springs there is no guarantee anyone will get public access to the springs nor steelhead habitat. The USFS is eerily quiet upon the matter.
It is very important to know today the USFS intent on the springs in regards to releasing the 50% of water especially in light that taxpayer dollars were spent this summer to protect the resident steelhead population when that could have been provided at no taxpayer expense.
The USFS and the Land Trust both offers pluses and minuses in how might they steward the land. There might be other options beyond the polarity of federal agency or the land trust.
There are unaddressed concerns within the community and these springs remain realized or not the most culturally, historically, and environmentally significant springs and land in our community:
1) Concerns within the community why the Chumash were not offered the culturally significant springs and land.
2) Concerns that the city with it's front country parks such as Rattlesnake Canyon and Gould Park which borders Montecito Hot Springs. Why was the city not offered the springs and land which is the last of Santa Barbara's mineral waters heritage and legacy?
3) Concerns that the county with it's front country park such as Toro Canyon and the adjoining Gould Park were not offered the historic Hot Springs.
4) Concerns the State with parks such as Gaviota Hot Springs State Park & Painted Cave State Park were not offered the historic Hot Springs.
All of these entities are perhaps just as budget plagued as the USFS.
We know we would enjoy community discussion and it is not too much to ask. We know that the community deserves transparency on behalf of the Land Trust and the USFS.
Proposed Town Halls:
A gifted and neutral facilitator to moderate the whole set of meetings to elicit and draw us out as a community and help to articulate developing consensus.
1) The stories of Monteciito Hot Springs. Two presentations: the story as known by the Chumash; the story as known by the Pearl Chase. Open Mic: your stories of the springs.2) A panel discussion followed by questions and general discussion by participants.3) A design charrette to brainstorm the future of the springs.
This town hall would not be pre-determined by vested interest but would be inclusive of all the stakeholders.
The actual stakeholders regarding Montecito Hot Springs:1) The Barbarano Chumash Council2) The Hot Springs Road Neighbor Association3) The Montecito Association4) Montecito Creek Water Company and Montecito Water District5) Montecito Fire Protection District And Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.6) USFS7) City of Santa Barbara and County of Santa Barbara8) Friends of Montecito Hot Springs9) The Pearl Chase Society and other historical organizations10) Other local environmental and watershed organizations
Woody JacksonFaceBook: Montecito Hot Springswww.montecitohotsprings.org
On Hot Springs Plan Remains Stalled
Posted on October 4 at 2:48 p.m.
Multi-use of the USFS sounds great on paper, this is not always the case on the ground.
1) LT for SBC original plan was to allow the prior owner to retain 50% of the water rights. No water was to be released for stream flow for steelhead nor the public.
2) The Montecito Water District asked the question of why did the USFS choose to want to change their subsurface (and unused) water rights yet was satisfied with no alteration of the surface water rights enjoyed by Montecito Creek Water Company. Did that water company become spoiled by the excessive taking of the water just to avoid the issue of management of the springs by whomever holds title to the land?
3) Bruce Emmens of the USFS said that duties of management of the springs would primarily fall upon Montecito Creek Water Company and the recent new pipework and signs tend to enforce exactly what the long term goal is.
4) Both the USFS and LT for SBC could have provided advance notification to revert to the 1897 water rights. Thus far neither organization has chosen to be forthright or transparent upon the matter.
5) The near singular donor remains adamant that no one ever be allowed to touch the springs again. So the entire community remains penalized when the majority would not be the cause of real concern.
6) The question needs to be asked of Montecito Creek Water Company that if they have enjoyed 50% of the water by permissive use why did they not voluntarily release that water on the day the springs closed escrow? And will they be prepared to release that water when the springs are conveyed to the USFS?
I suggest that there are significant and worthy points of discussion and that should be addressed now rather then years from now in the land management planning process.
The main point that many rational people would agree with is the USFS and Land Trust for Santa Barbara County should resolve the water issue entirely so that there is no ambiguity that on day one of recievership the USFS will be stewarding the land for watershed restoration and downstream steelhead habitat.
This statement of delay from the Land Trust should concern the community: "Releasing mineral spring water could provide environmental benefits to the creek environment. However, this is not a decision that can be made lightly. It will require a careful assessment of the legal, environmental, and public health and safety implications. The Land Trust believes that the Forest Service, as the intended long-term manager of this land, is the appropriate agency to decide how the 50% of the spring water that may become available upon 180 days' notice may be put to beneficial public use." (http://www.edhat.com/site/tidbit.cfm?...)
I suggest let the Land Trust for SBC and the USFS be transparent from here on.
Posted on October 4 at 1:44 p.m.
I want to clarify that I am not pro-development. Nor am I out to be a critic.
Primarily I support community discussion which has been inhibited which I see as a dangerous proposition and that will eventually backfire as a catastrophic conflagration.
I do believe the springs should be embraced and the community come together to resolve issues such as safety and elimination of fire danger. That suggested management is not too difficult in the end and I can provide plenty of current examples.
I have three years of research into the springs, and most of my life I have either been involved with hot springs on federal land managed by volunteer non-profits, and hot springs on private land.
I like the good old days when the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County took pride in the establishment or establishing land trusts and mentoring others in conservation based land trusts.
My research indicates that there were no fires credited or blamed upon the facilities and caretakers.
The water will be eventually released for the issue of watershed restoration and steelhead downstream. The springs simply will have to be managed at that point to fulfill the USFS mandate of multi-use.
I suggest it is better to keep local control of these culturally, historically, and environmentally significant springs.
Land Trust for Santa Barbara County could choose to provide the attention and devotion to Montecito Hot Springs as they did for Arroyo Hondo and Sedgwick Preserve.
Land Trust for Santa Barbara County shall hand the matchbook to the USFS and the USFS shall hand the matches to create the next Tea Fire. The locked pipes of the last 50 years is a failed experiment.
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