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Newspaper quotes, 1994-2011

“Below is a selection of quotes from newspaper articles. To read the entire
article or to read additional articles, please click HERE.


Problems, 1993-1997

Sun Bulletin , 1994 05 25: An enforcement agent said, “ Elephant seals are fairly lethargic. If you were dealing with harbor seals or deer or even chickens, they’d all be gone. Here, these great big animals let you walk up to them. People don’t see a problem.”

The Telegram-Tribune, June 3, 1994
: Caltrans spokesman, “ We are gravely concerned about the safety of the people who are stopping along the road. Someone might get hurt or even killed there. People are parking so that they overlap on the road. They're opening their doors into traffic, walking along the highway, and crossing the highway without looking.”

Central Coast Times, June 16, 1994: California State Park ranger, “ We put up do-not-park signs but people have kicked them over or moved them. People are getting far too close to the wild animals. It’s a total suspension of common sense.”

Sun Bulletin, July 12, 1995: People are cautioned to stay at least 100 feet away, “ Last year a man was severely bitten in the leg at Piedras Blancas. We’ve had people do some really weird things, like setting their kids up on top of the seals to get a good picture, or poking the animal with a stick to get a reaction”.

The Cambrian, April 18, 1996: A 72 year old man tried to climb over a fence and lost his balance, sliding face down a 25 foot cliff. People have been bitten, included 2 children.  A Coastal Commission deputy director was bitten, resulting in a hematoma the size of a basketball.

The Telegram –Tribune, April, 13, 1996:  A National Marine Fisheries Service biologist said, “It is an emerging problem that we don’t have an answer for yet. Someone’s going to get really seriously injured ."

San Diego Tribune, January 1998: Some people have attempted to dress seals with clothes, hats or sunglasses — an act akin to tickling a grizzly's chin with a feather.” 

The Cambrian, May 7, 1998: Feds fining harassers.

The Cambrian, June 4, 1998: Citations for harassers.


Road Alignment and Land Swap, 1995-1996
The Cambrian, Feb 16, 1995: Caltrans plans Hwy 1 relocation project in 1996. Nearly two miles of Hwy 1 may be relocated to enhance safety on the scenic highway. At the northernmost end of the project, planners hope to provide a coastal access way, parking area and cooperative management with Hearst Castle docents to allow people to view, but not endanger, a large colony of elephant seals. Both the road realignment and the elephant sea access way program would require new easements with the Hearst Corporation.

The Cambrian , March 30, 1995: Caltrans officials spoke to North Coast advisors and about 50 audience members on the planned realignment of Highway 1 near Piedras Blancas.

The Cambrian, April 4, 1995: Commissioners gave Caltrans a year to negotiate with the Hearst Corp. to locate a parking lot for tourists. The lot would keep visitors further from the seals, protecting both.

Telegram-Tribune , September 20, 1995: County supervisors unanimous approval of a Caltrans project to straighten a dangerous 1.7 mile stretch of Highway 1 didn’t satisfy all users.

Telegram-Tribune, June 21, 1995: Board OKs Hwy 1 project but Caltrans must have two access points before permit given. 

New Times, Jan. 1996:  “Don’t seal off the beach.”

New Times, Feb 8, 1996: Craig Comen said,” I will gladly give up my rights to surf at Twin Creeks as long as I know these wonders of nature have their space.”

The Cambrian, Feb 16, 1996: Hwy 1 realignment raises access issue. A local environmentalist is working with the Sierra Club to appeal a $2.7 million project to realign Highway 1.

New Times, March 28, 1996:  Arroyo Laguna showdown. Sierra Club musters forces to battle public access trade near Piedras Blancas. “This proposal is obscene. Caltrans is offering to give away a multimillion dollar piece of publicly owned, beachfront property to Hearst Corp., for free"      Roger Lyon, Hearst’s local attorney, “Hearst doesn’t necessarily want Vista Point 1, but if Hearst is to give up land at Twin Creeks for two new coastal access point, it wants something in return. If we got something back that was somewhat comparable in value, we would do it.”


The Cambrian , March 21, 1996: Land swap complicates Hwy 1 alignment. At a Coastal Commission hearing , “The user-groups were about to have a riot.” Sierra Club representative said, “If Caltrans were to succeed in giving the state beach back to Hearst, it would be the most amazing precedent of any deal the Coastal Commission has been involved in.”

The Cambrian , April 4, 1996, Coastal Commission to consider stalled Hwy 1 project.

The Cambrian, April 18, 1996: Coastal planners OK Hwy 1 project.

The Cambrian, June 13, 1996: Highway project hits a snag.

The Cambrian, October 3, 1996: Judge to hear Hwy 1 lawsuit .


The Cambrian, November, 1996 : Hwy project opens.


About Seals
San Diego Tribune, June 1, 1997:  Viewing tips include “Leave yourself an escape route. Keep an eye on the surf. You could be knocked down by a wave.”

Los Angeles Times, Feb. 15, 1998: Central Coast, budget for two people totaled $359.49, including 2 nights at the Cambria Pines Lodge, breakfasts, diners, lunches, gas, and tickets to Hearst Castle.

The Cambrian, Jan 14, 1999: “ Feds scoping lighthouse area for national wildlife refuge.”

The Cambrian, Feb 18, 1999: “ For decades, North Coast entrepreneurs have tried to find the way to boost business during January and February. Mother Nature and a booming economy may have done it for them— ecotourism is paying off.”   There is also an article about pups being born at Arroyo Laguna.

The Cambrian, Nov 25, 1999: State Park ranger, Gary Hughley, to split his time 50/50 between traditional ranger (paid by State Parks) and enforcement of MBNMS rules and regulations (funded by NOAA).

Docent Program
The Telegram –Tribune, April, 13, 1996:  Lee Otter, Coastal Commission staff, said he’d like to see a docent-led program similar to the one at Año Nuevo.

New Times, May 1, 1997: National Marine Fisheries Service Special Agent said , ”There are only six of us in California due to continued cutbacks by Congress. The extreme cutbacks in federal funds and staff make it nearly impossible to regulate and protect them from such abuse. Our only hope is through the use of volunteers from established volunteer organizations.”

The Cambrian, May 8, 1997:  “We need to create a docent program to ensure that trained docents keep people at a safe and proper distance. There’s a program like that at Año Nuevo which has been working well.”

San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 15, 1998
: “ The first graduating class of 30 locals went on duty on Thanksgiving. In distinctive blue windbreakers with white lettering, Bay Net volunteers can be seen on San Simeon beaches, Fridays through Mondays, 10 a.m. until dark.

The Cambrian, April 16, 1998: Friends of the Elephant Seal, to take reins from Bay Net. Bay Net will be hired to do the training again, after that, the Friends will handle the training themselves. Docents must have ‘a love for the outdoors, passion for the ocean and its wildlife and a desire to inspire environmental stewardship.

The Tribune, Dec. 19, 1998: “ Most people are astonished that these animals are here,” said Susan McDonald, who heads a group of volunteer docents whose job it is to watch over the seals and educate to crowds of people they attract. “We get people from all over the world, and they say they've never seen anything like it.” McDonald’s docents carry clickers and count the number of people they talk to. During their first year of operation, they docents talked to over 60,000 people. ”


Seals Hit by Cars
The Telegram-Tribune, Feb. 8, 1996. Motorists cautioned to watch out for seals crossing Highway 1.

The Telegram-Tribune, Dec. 27 1996: Seal hit by car.

The Cambrian, Jan. 2, 1997: Accident underscores need for elephant seal management plan.

The Cambrian, March 5, 1998: Elephant Seals and cars are colliding at increasing rate. Within the last month, three young elephant seal bulls have been hit and killed by vehicles. Traffic is just one problem for the behemoths. During Presidents’ Day weekend, people were actually putting their kids on the animal’s backs. The latter has been especially bad at Arroyo Laguna.

The Cambrian, Jan 14, 1999: “ Free-range elephant seals can be a highway hazard. Hitting a 300-pound deer is nothing compared to smacking into a 2,000-pound, 12-foot long sea mammal. To protect travelers, as well as the behemoth beast, Caltrans is installing fencing north of the Piedras Blancas lighthouse.”

 Seal Shootings
The Cambrian, April 7, 2011: Christine Heinrichs wrote, “ That May morning in 2008, Kathryn Karako, a volunteer for Friends of the Elephant Seal, arrived before 7 a.m. to count the seals. By 8:00 a.m. she was on the trail at the north end. Although she was focusing on counting, something odd caught her attention. One of the seals among the jostling youngsters wasn’t moving. She noticed something dripping down the side of another seal’s head. The seals around it were smeared with something. She got her binoculars to take a closer look.  That was when she saw the hole in the head. She raised her eyes and saw a third seal in a pool of blood. The horror of what she was seeing became real. ‘It was definitely a shock,’ she said. ‘I never thought I’d come across something like that. It’s shocking that we had that kind of violence against the seals in this area.’”

The Cambrian, April 14, 2011: Christine Heinrichs wrote, “ From the North Coast to the Central Valley, a federal investigator unravels the killing of three elephant seals .”


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