In 2014 a Portola and Castle Rock Foundation initiated cleanup of a toxic and dangerous tire waste dump located inside Castle Rock State Park. This project was a cooperative effort including the State Parks, South Skyline Fire Safe Council, CalRecycle and the PCRF
Thank You Letter from South Skyline Fire Safe Council
Portola and Castle Rock Foundation;
On behalf of the South Skyline Fire Safe Council, the South Skyline Association and residents of the area I would like to extend our sincere thanks to the Portola and Castle Rock Foundation for your work in facilitating removal of the many discarded tires on the former Smead property at Castle Rock. Your work has reduced an enormous and toxic fire hazard for us!
I have prepared the attached article to be distributed to our members in the next issue of our newsletter, “Skylines.” It provides a good summary of the project and includes a few pictures, several provided by Alan Zamboanga, the CalRecycle project engineer..
Thank you, ..Eric Isacson
South Skyline Fire Safe Council
Toxic Fire Hazard Mitigated
8000 Tires removed from dump near Castle Rock
In the 1980s State Parks purchased 160 acres adjacent to Castle Rock. It turned to have been used as a dump, mainly for tires. In the 1950s a caretaker had earned a little money by charging service station owners to haul away worn out and damaged tires. He buried some of them on the property but many he simply pushed off his truck and let them roll and slide down the steep slopes of the property, coming to rest wherever they might, often in piles in ravines.
During the Castle Fire in 2008 several tires were found burning way down in Kings Creek, half a mile below Castle Rock Falls, where they had been washed by storm runoff. Partly because of the danger of tires further uphill in concentrated piles catching fire enormous resources were utilized to control the fire including four engine water bombers and fire engines from as far away as New Mexico. If it hadn’t been for these efforts the prevailing winds could have driven the fire upslope to the main concentrations of tires near Skyline Blvd. If this had happened – or if it were to have happened later – the fire would have been nearly impossible to extinguish and would have blanketed a broad area along Skyline with toxic smoke.
In 2012 the South Skyline Fire Safe Council conducted a feasibility project while clearing vegetation along the Kings Creek Truck Trail to determine what it would take to remove the tires. The project was subsequently taken over by the Portola and Castle Rock Foundation. Their efforts resulted in Calrecycle, the State agency responsible for cleaning up tire dumps, allocating $200,000 of the disposal fees we pay when purchasing new tires to clean up the dump.
The project began in September 2014 with State Parks providing general direction. Calrecycle first used San Jose Conservation Corps workers to manually drag as many tires as possible up the steep slopes and pile them where they might be reached by an excavator. A contractor then used an abandoned road cut to provide access for excavators and track mounted dump trucks to remove the piles and others partially buried.
Some 80 tons of tires were hauled to a landfill in the Altamont where they will be ground up and used for the daily cover required of landfills. In addition the contractor removed several discarded cars and car parts along with other metal debris. At the end of the project erosion control measures supervised by State Parks were taken and most of the temporary access road removed.
Unfortunately the budget did not allow all the tires to be removed. Some are still buried in ravines and trenches and a few are scattered far and wide over the steep slopes between Castle Rock and the Kings Creek Truck Trail. These buried and isolated tires are not as great a fire hazard as those that were piled on the surface and removed. But they are now on Calrecycle’s priority list and additional funding may be available in the future for removal of at least the buried tires. From a practical viewpoint it will be nearly impossible to find and remove all the scattered instances of one or a few tires.
A big Thank you to Calrecycle and the Portola and Castle Rock Foundation!
Eric Isacson, South Skyline Fire Safe Council
Oct. 17, 2014