top of page

Projects Underway

There are amazing long term projects in the works in the  Arroyo Seco Community.  Arroyo Seco Fire Station updates, Arroyo Seco Road Improvement, Updates on Arroyo Seco Land Slides, the future of Miller’s Resort,  and the conservation projects by Ventana Wilderness Society, Los Padres National Forest and the Big Sur Land Trust.

1.  Augment the Fire & EMT Services at the Arroyo Seco Fire Station.

It is important that all ASCA members be aware that, for some time now, the Arroyo Seco Fire station is unstaffed.  The facility has a fire truck, but no one to drive it. If you live in Arroyo Seco, and your home catches fire, you probably wouldn’t enjoy waiting the expected 45, or more, minutes for the Fire Truck from Pine Canyon Fire Station to arrive. 


ASCA has made their number 1 goal for 2024 to obtain staffing for our fire station.


The Mission of the South Monterey County Fire Protection District (SoMoCo: ) is to provide fire and emergency services to the residents of their district, which includes the surrounding area of Greenfield, Arroyo Seco, King City, Pine Canyon, Lockwood, San Ardo, San Lucas, Bradley, Parkfield and the residences in the surrounding areas, of those population centers (see below).  Consequently, ASCA officers will be attending and participating in the next meeting of the Board of Directors of SoMoCo, which takes place on January 19, 2023, at the Pine Canyon Fire Station, and will report back on our plan to staff the station. A significant part of the problem, not surprisingly, is money. 

2. Develop and Execute strategy to improve the Arroyo Seco Road. 

1.  More rapid repair of the potholes

2.  Trimming the grass and brush on both sides of the road as soon as the rains stop

3.  Discouraging the littering of trash along the road and removal of the trash that occurs.

4.  Commissioning a noteworthy, attractive sculpted sign, appropriately located, to alert drivers

      they are entering Arroyo Seco Region.

3.  Replacing Millers


Our initial thoughts are as follows:

  1. A friendly, quality, family-run restaurant/grocery store willing to locate and operate in Arroyo Seco as a replacement for Millers is what is needed.

  2. Utilize the ASCA website’s presentation of the area to serve as an introduction to the beauty of the region accompanied by an aggressive outreach by ASCA officers to identify potential businesses and individuals that possess the required skill set, personality, financing and motivation to open and operate this restaurant/grocery store in Arroyo Seco.

  3. Assist the selected individual or business in obtaining the necessary County, State and City approvals to operate in Arroyo Seco by throwing the full support of the ASCA behind their efforts and seeking the support of Supervisor Chris Lopez.

  4. Agree to hold as many ASCA functions as possible at their facility throughout the year.

3. Repairing the Abbott Lakes
The Story:


The Monterey County portion of Los Padres National Forest has experienced two catastrophic wildfires in the past 30 years, and fuel buildup in unburned portions of the forest and nearby watershed poses a palpable risk of another big one any day.


The Marble Cone fire in the Big Sur River watershed torched 178,000 acres in 1977.  It remains the biggest wildfire in California history.  The Soberanes fire, which burned from July into October last year burned 132,127 acres across the watersheds of the Big Sur, Little Sur, Carmel and Arroyo Seco rivers and at a cost of $230 million was the most expensive in state history.


But despite the size of those epic fires, much of the county ‘s mountainous interior and hillsides are covered thick with dry chaparral and remain a source of constant worry for folks concerned about preparedness for fire suppression.


During the Marble Cone fire, firefighters were able to draw water from the Abbott Lakes on the forest’s edge in the Arroyo Seco canyon. Together, the upper and lower lakes cover seven surface acres and were able to supply hundreds of acre feet of water for fire suppression, swimming, and fishing.  Their beauty when properly filled is illustrated by this photo taken 40 years ago.

The geological record indicates that the Abbott Lakes were once in the Arroyo Seco river’s main stem, but long ago, seismic upheavals lifted them above the stream bed.  And although the lakes were expanded significantly by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Depression, a1893 photograph shows members of the Abbott family ice skating on their namesake lake.  

“The CCC’s purpose was to put people to work and it had a lot of hands to do the digging’’ said Joan Brandorff, who was the U.S. Forest Service’s heritage and archaeological expert in the area for  40 years.   Gilbert Handley, a long time Arroyo Seco resident familiar with the lakes and a frequent, energetic advocate for their resuscitation, said that the CCC workers, using drag lines, practically re-built them, along with the stonework on the lower lake outfall and shoreline.

Photo 3:  Abbott Lake, June 2017


Photo 1: Abbott Lake in 1975

Photo 2: Abbott Lake in Winter of 1893

CCC workers installed a pipeline that once brought fresh water from Rocky Creek – a tributary of the river that enters near Government Camp – to Abbott Lakes.  That pipeline, clearly shown on a photo posted near the lower lake, was taken down during the Marble Cone firefight, reportedly because it posed a hazard to helicopters.  But none of the local firefighters believe that was accurate and no one from the Forest Service owns up to responsibility for its disappearance.


Abbott Lakes were significant water source employed in fighting the Marble Cone fire, said Handley, who was both a firefighter and bulldozer driver at the time.  “They took it right down to the mud.’’


Because of the prolonged drought that preceded the Soberanes fire, Abbott Lakes had dried up and were of no use as a water source in fighting the fire, according to Pete Harris, fire boss for the U.S. Forest Service’s King City district.  

Harris also said that the Forest Service would not need water from the lakes to suppress fire in populated areas of the Arroyo Seco canyon.  The current water sourcing strategy for fighting fires calls for either using water from the river itself (although the large size of present day fire-fighting helicopters make that a risky undertaking in the narrow river canyons) or trucking some from borings made in the area just beyond the Greenfield bridge, where the river goes underground into the so-called Arroyo Seco Cone.


Except for rainfall and a sulphur spring in the upper lake, Abbott Lakes have received no fresh water for more than 20 years.  The Fairbanks Morse electric pump purchased and installed in the 1950s by the Southern Monterey County Sportsmen’s Association currently reposes at Salinas Valley Pump.  It has been dismantled and apparently needs a new shaft and impeller.  The Association has yet to decide how – or whether -- to pay the bill, now estimated at more than $5,000 to repair it.   If the answer is yes and the river water starts moving up from the pumphouse to the lake via conveyances already in place, pumping will be limited to Dec. 15 to March 31, the season of high river flows.


Restoring the pipeline connection, should the occasion arise, figures to be a complex proposition, in part because a dozen state, federal and local agencies, including the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service all have interests in Abbott Lakes.   The Arroyo Seco’s fragile steelhead run and endangered species like the two-striped garter snake and the southern Pacific pond turtle are also considerations.


Despite these multiple agency complications, in 2015, the U.S. Forest Service launched the Abbott Lakes Restoration Project, which aimed to “re-fill the lower and larger lake to provide a year-round available water for use in emergency wildfire situations.  It proposed to increase the lake’s storage capacity by removing tules and other vegetation taking up lake space by mowing and hand cutting. The project is still a bird in the bush.  Lower Lake is a forest of tules and a mosquito breeding ground.

District ranger Tim Short acknowledged in an interview that a separate item for funding the proposed restoration improvements at Abbott Lakes is not included in his agency’s current budget.


Whether the Abbott Lakes will be returned to their original beauty and utility is unlikely without the US Forest Service stepping up to repair the pipeline that once brought fresh water from Rocky Creek that they took down during the marble cone firefight and the repair of the pump installed many years ago by the Southern Monterey County Sportsman Association. 

bottom of page