|Tuesday, Jun 17, 2008|
DOI Secretary Dirk Kempthorne visited the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on Wednesday, June 11 to highlight all things fire. He started the afternoon by having lunch at a popular restaurant on the Pacific Ocean in Malibu and then travelled to Camp 8/Las Flores Canyon. The site, a former NIKE missile site, is owned by the NPS but operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. There he was greeted by Superintendent Woody Smeck and Fire Management Officer Kathryn Kirkpatrick as well as representatives of local fire & land management partners. Kirkpatrick presented him with a SAMO Fire Management ball cap, which he wore throughout the visit. He introduced himself to everyone there, brass and firefighters alike. Secretary Kempthorne viewed the scar from the 2007 Canyon fire as well as examples of good defensible space from an overlook.
After taking a peek at the LA County FD helicopter stationed there, the Secretary and Superintendent jumped into the FMO's fire SUV and rode to Cheeseboro Canyon. A similar greeting party awaited him, augmented by representatives from the other DOI agencies with wildland fire programs: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management and the Fish & Wildlife Service. He toured the defensible space treatment behind the homes near the Cheeseboro Canyon trailhead, and then moved to a high point to see the larger picture. After announcing that DOI was well prepared for the 2008 wildfire season, the Secretary asked the assembled group what issues to which they'd like him to pay attention and to pass on to agency managers and partners. Several suggestions were brought forth and noted. There was general consensus that his style and approach was very warm, personable and genuine. He seemed to absorb and process all of the information given him.
The next day, Kirkpatrick participated in a teleconference with the national press in which the Secretary announced that the DOI has treated 10 million acres of hazardous fuels since the National Fire Plan was implemented at the beginning of FY 2001. Additionally, the story was posted on the front page of doi.gov with a photo of the visit; it's still on the front page as of 6/17. More photos are attached. A lot of time and effort was expended by numerous SAMO staff, but it was worth it: by every account the visit was a great success.