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Bret Harte agrees to stop burning after neighbor complaints

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Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 9:38 am | Updated: 8:36 am, Mon Feb 18, 2013.

Residents living near Murphys Grade Road in Angels Camp were successful in ending debris burning on wetland fields near Bret Harte Union High School last week. The district had been burning vegetative material cleared out from an adjacent waterway. It was unable to transport the material for disposal because it was on a protected wetland where vehicles are not allowed.

Part-time county resident Katherine Decker, who has owned a home near the site since 1986, voiced her concern that smoke created by the burning has the potential to create public health issues for sensitive groups and that debris runoff is draining into and polluting a nearby waterway that feeds into Angels Creek.

“Nobody wants to take responsibility for this,” said Decker, who said she has been given the run around when trying to figure out which authority to contact with her concerns.

On Jan. 25, Bret Harte Union High School District mailed notices to residences it deemed were most affected by the burning, inviting them to a meeting.

“We will be discussing maintaining the ditch which is on private property and the ability to burn due to the fact we cannot place vehicles on the wetlands,” read the letter signed by Superintendent Michael Chimente.

Becker and other residents took affront to the term “ditch,” insisting that the waterway is a tributary being adversely affected by the district’s practices and that the former term mitigates the actual impact the burning is having on the waterway. Burn opponents sent out letters of their own encouraging neighbors to attend the meeting to voice their concerns.

“Burning the Designated Wetlands creates a real danger to our homes by creating a very real risk of fire. It doesn’t take much, a gust of wind, a stray spark, to turn a controlled burn into a blazing inferno that could easily destroy our entire neighborhood, and even threaten our lives,” read one letter.

The letters may have worked as the meeting, held last Wednesday night, resulted in success for neighborhood residents. The district agreed to cease burning as long as residents agreed to keep the waterway clear of excessive debris.

“It looks like a garbage dump out there now, but they said they’ll stop,” said Decker. “It looks like they want to be good neighbors to us, as we do to them.”

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  • CrowsNest posted at 1:41 pm on Mon, Feb 18, 2013.

    CrowsNest Posts: 6

    I am an old timer from Calaveras, my family came in the 1850's, I did grow up there. People need a voice, and not be walked all over.

  • CrowsNest posted at 1:37 pm on Mon, Feb 18, 2013.

    CrowsNest Posts: 6

    do you live in the area ?

  • CrowsNest posted at 1:35 pm on Mon, Feb 18, 2013.

    CrowsNest Posts: 6

    How long have you been in the area ?

  • CrowsNest posted at 1:34 pm on Mon, Feb 18, 2013.

    CrowsNest Posts: 6

    Thank you[smile]

  • CrowsNest posted at 1:33 pm on Mon, Feb 18, 2013.

    CrowsNest Posts: 6

    How long have you been in the area ?

  • CrowsNest posted at 9:09 am on Sat, Feb 16, 2013.

    CrowsNest Posts: 6

    To all of you that don't think I have ties to Calaveras, I have very strong ties to this community , My family came in 1850's . I am very sad when I see the beauty of this area destroyed. Everyone needs a voice.
    Thank you
    Katherine Decker

  • Cleareye posted at 4:16 pm on Wed, Feb 13, 2013.

    Cleareye Posts: 615

    You might be onto why this county is in so much financial trouble. You actually think you have all the right answers. The 'city folk' are what keeps this county on life support.

  • Cleareye posted at 4:13 pm on Wed, Feb 13, 2013.

    Cleareye Posts: 615

    double negative.

  • Coackroach posted at 6:16 am on Wed, Feb 13, 2013.

    Coackroach Posts: 56

    What I really like is the part time resident. Like I've said many time before, Don't come here and try to change us and make us live by your big city rules, this is the country not the city. if you don't like our ways then stay where you are or move back to where you came from.
    As a life long resident of Calaveras County, I'm getting so tired of these people moving here because of all the rules and so on in the cities and them wanting to get away from it. I can't blame them for that, but come on people, don't try to bring your city ways here, after all that's what you moved away from. Don't try to change us.

  • Charles Dudley Jr posted at 5:50 am on Wed, Feb 13, 2013.

    Charles Dudley Jr Posts: 1281

    BH been burning stuff there for eons. Cry more Flat Landers would you rather BH tear up that Wet Land with tractors thus causing more damage to that tiny ditch, water shed, creek or whatever you call it. Oh can we all hear the complaining then.

  • raiderdadeo posted at 12:05 am on Wed, Feb 13, 2013.

    raiderdadeo Posts: 110

    If its full of trash the ash from burning is going to be of less concern than who knows what kind of garbage is in there. People are so quick to point out what others do that affects them if they were worried about the creek they should of cleaned the garbage before picking a fight. Set an example then ask others to follow, don't just point out others doing wrong with good intentions. Did any of these people that objected offer any solutions? Maybe clear garbage then burn on days that are ideal weather conditions to affect as few as possible. I don't think the chance of this controlled burn getting out of control and burning everyone's house down isn't very likely. "knock on wood"

  • shifty posted at 2:56 pm on Tue, Feb 12, 2013.

    shifty Posts: 93

    Just like the county...listen to a part time flat lander, and run away whining...