Secretary Dirk Kempthorne visited Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on Wednesday, June 11th, to highlight all things pertaining to wildland fire - particularly preparations for the upcoming season.
Kempthorne started the afternoon by having lunch at a popular restaurant on the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, 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 and land management partners. Secretary Kempthorne viewed the scar from the 2007 Canyon Fire and examples of good defensible space from an overlook.
After taking a peek at the Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter stationed there, Kempthorne and Smeck 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 - the 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, 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 they'd like him to focus on and pass on to agency managers and partners. Several suggestions were brought forth and noted.
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.