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Cigarette butts and melted candle found on Pismo Preserve trails fuels fire concerns

The Land Conservancy
A volunteer at the Pismo Preserve found a fully melted candle along the trail

From a melted candle to cigarette butts, the Pismo Preserve staff say they have found some concerning trash on the trails this week in an area that’s a fire risk.

The Pismo Preserve is one of the most popular trails in San Luis Obispo county, logging about 200,000 tourists a year.

Trail runner Christina Carroll is one of them.

“I come out here once a week," Carroll said. "Sometimes two to three times a week.”

Carroll said sometimes she’ll come across trash like dog poop bags and masks, but she was shocked to see the Land Conservancy's post this week about finding a melted candle and several cigarette butts within brush area.

“Who goes on a trail and smokes a cigarette at the same time?" Carroll said. "I just thought that was just gross and weird”

For the Land Conservancy, it’s more than just gross. Their main concern is the fire risk these cigarette butts pose, and the fact that animals can accidentally eat them.

Jaime Creath with the Land Conservancy said they want to remind hikers they should not be smoking anywhere on the property.

“We find cigarettes all the time," Creath said. "One spark can cause a catastrophic wildfire, so we want to make sure that we don’t have any of that risk on our property.”

Creath said the Land Conservancy works hard to try to keep the risk of wildfires from sparking.

She reminds people how close the 2020 Avila Fire, which charred more than 400 acres, got to the Pismo Preserve.

“Fortunately with quick action by Cal Fire, we were able to get a dozer line up the property and it didn’t quite reach our property,” Creath said.

Creath said with the area being in a high risk fire zone, if anyone sees any suspicious activity on the trails — including any use of open flame — they should contact the Land Conservancy at 805-544-9096.

“If there is an emergency, if they see something that is really urgent, we encourage people to call 911,” Creath said.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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