August 5, 2009

HPWREN collaborated with NPS on an installation in the Santa Monica Mountains

By Evan Locke, National Park Service, Southern California Research Learning Center

Introduction by Susan Teel, Director, Southern California Research Learning Center, National Park Service

HPWREN assisted the National Park Service at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in planning and installing a wireless connection and web camera in the Santa Monica Mountains. The camera will monitor fires which typically begin inland and race towards the ocean in Malibu. Images and video from this camera will provide data for input to a fire behavior model currently under development. The web camera will be accessible by the public at the HPWREN ( http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/cameras) and SCRLC ( http://researchlearningcenter.org/webcams) web pages thus serving as an educational tool to communicate the importance of fire ecology to ecosystems in southern California. The wireless link will allow the Interpretation and Education division to conduct Live Interactive Virtual Exploration (LIVE) programs and distance education activities from Paramount Ranch.

Early Wednesday morning, June 24, 2009 HPWREN's Jim Hale met with Southern California Research Learning Center (SCRLC) Field Programs Coordinator Evan Locke, and San Diego State University and SCRLC interns Kelly Lion and Sarina Cassaro at Western Town in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA). The goal for the next couple of days was to set up Internet connectivity to Castro Crest and install a web camera. The group surveyed the Paramount Ranch site and decided on a place to install wireless radios to connect Castro Crest and the Longhorn building. They then drove up to the Castro peak antenna field and finalized an installation plan. Later that afternoon, the team investigated the options for installing a 900 MHz connection from the Longhorn to Western Town to support a future web camera.

Sarina Cassaro, Jim Hale, Kelly Lion, and Evan Locke at Paramount Ranch.

San Diego State University and NPS Intern Kelly Lion installs the web camera at Castro Crest.

On Thursday June 25, 2009 Jim, Evan, Kelly, and Sarina prepared the equipment and temporarily installed a tripod at the south west corner of the Longhorn. Because the building is a contributing element to the historic Paramount Ranch landscape we could not permanently affix equipment to the structure at this time.

The group then drove to the Castro Crest to begin installation of the equipment. Evan, Sarina, and Kelly constructed a new bracket for the equipment. Evan secured the stand to the concrete floor inside the building adjacent to the tower, while the rest of the group assembled the radio and the cables to provide connectivity. Kelly put on the harness and climbed fifteen feet up the tower to install the radio and web camera. Kelly attached the radio and then worked with Jim to adjust the radio and provide internet connectivity. Once internet connectivity was established the group returned to Paramount Ranch and adjusted the radio to improve the internet connection to the Castro tower.

The Castro Peak web camera will be used by Fire Managers at SMMNRA to observe fires and collect fire behavior data. The staff and superintendent at SMMNRA have expressed excitement about the new web camera and are discussing ideas for additional web cameras.

Main HPWREN web site (includes information for acknowledgments/disclaimers and feedback/contact)