The Dock Boss

This video was made by a Norwegian company to raise an awareness around the dangers of intoxication and while operating a boat…some of us are better than others at pulling your boat into a dock so I got a kick out of this!

Back Flow Testing your Big Bear Lake Fire Sprinkler System

I’ve had some clients recently ask about “back flow testing” for their newer constructions in Big Bear Lake.  Below is some information from the Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power which I hope will be useful.   This test needs to be done annually.  I would recommend contacting either Bob with A Plumbing at 909-585-5203, or Rick Williamson from Running Springs at 909-867-3684.  Both are on the approved contractor’s list at the DWP and can test your system.

Backflow (Cross-Connection) Prevention

In water supply systems, water is normally maintained at a pressure to enable water to flow from the tap, shower etc. When water system pressure drops or declines, contamination may be drawn into the system.

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Where Can Cross-Connections Occur?

Cross-connections can occur at many points throughout a distribution system and a community’s plumbing infrastructure. Cross-connections can be identified by looking for physical interconnections between a customer’s plumbing and the water system. Some specific examples are:

  • Lawn chemicals backflowing (backsiphoning) through a garden hose into the distribution system.
  • Backsiphonage of “blue water” from a toilet into a building’s water supply.
  • Carbonated water from a restaurant’s soda dispenser entering a water system due to backpressure.
  • Backsiphonage of chemicals from industrial buildings into distribution system mains. Backflow of boiler corrosion control chemicals into an office building’s water supply.


What Technologies are Available to Control Cross-Connections and Prevent Backflow?
The type of backflow that is most likely to occur in your system (either from backpressure or backsiphonage) and the related health effects will determine which backflow prevention technology is best for your water system. The available technologies are described briefly below. Backflow prevention devices can protect your health and are mandatory to safeguard public health.

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Another Article on Big Bear in the LA Times

Photo taken by Rosemary McClure
Photo taken by Rosemary McClure

Saw this quick little write up in the “Weekend Escape” of the LA Times this past weekend.  Written by Rosemary McClure.

Chill Out at Big Bear Lake

When the air-conditioning unit in my home goes on vacation every summer — it breaks down annually during the hottest days of the year — I hit the road in search of a place where I can chill with my two sweltering pups. This year’s respite was less than 100 miles from Los Angeles: Big Bear Lake. This (usually) snow-fed reservoir, surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest, offered trails to hike, a dog-friendly boat tour and, best of all, temperatures so cool I was forced to wear a jacket at night. The tab: This year’s forced three-day home retreat took place at the end of July and cost less than $350, including $141 per night at Big Bear Chateau.

The bed

Big Bear has plenty of dog-friendly cabins and other accommodations. (For a list, call [800] 424-4232 or go to Also ask about the $25 free gas deal.) I wanted to stay near the Big Bear Alpine Zoo in Moonridge, so I tried a nicely landscaped lodge in the area, the Best Western Big Bear Chateau, where beds of flowers brightened the grounds and the words “free breakfast” beckoned (42200 Moonridge Road, Big Bear Lake; [909] 866-6666, The hotel is more faux Versailles than faux Alps, but I appreciated the pool and my dogs, Darby and Piper, liked the grassy grounds.

The meal

It’s not hard to find dog-friendly patios in this pup-loving town. One, in fact, is about a block from the hotel. Grizzly’s Bear Belly Deli & Cafe [42530 Moonridge Road, Big Bear Lake; (909) 585-4266] seems to be everyone’s favorite lunch stop, with sandwiches piled high with pastrami and other meats. My favorite meal, though, was at Evergreen Restaurant, overlooking the lake (40771 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake; [909] 878-5588, The menu features an interesting mix of entrees, such as beef Wellington and black tiger shrimp. One of my faves was the artistically presented roasted tomato bisque.

The find

Big Bear Lake is still blue and beautiful, more than two miles wide at one point, even though the drought has reduced its size. What better way to explore it than aboard Miss Liberty, a 64-foot-long paddle-wheel boat that allows well-mannered dogs (439 Pine Knot Ave.; [909] 866-8129, We cruised the lake for 90 minutes while the captain recounted the lake’s history and clued us in on the celebrities who have homes along the shoreline. No damage was evident from the Lake fire, which earlier this summer burned more than 30,000 acres in the wilderness 22 miles southeast of Big Bear.

The lesson learned

At the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, I found that the community’s effort to expand the 21/2-acre facility may pay off soon. Curator Bob Cisneros said the animal rehab center is about to go to bid for the construction of a 7-acre zoo nearby. I visited some of my favorite pals: three grizzlies; Hucklebeary, the three-legged black bear (the center thinks it was hit by a car); a pack of white wolves and the newest addition, two snow leopards. The zoo, a rescue and rehabilitation center, returns 80% of the animals rescued to the wild annually. “Those that can’t be returned end up here as our ambassadors,” Cisneros said (43285 Goldmine Drive, Big Bear Lake; [909] 584-1299,

How Close is the Lake Fire to Big Bear Lake?

Below is a map from ESRI showing how far away the “Lake Fire” is from Big Bear.  As you can see, it is on the south side of Highway 38 and is currently not a threat to Big Bear.  Yesterday, firefighters made excellent progress in creating a fire break adjacent to Highway 38 in Barton Flats.  As of this morning, the fire has burned 15,000 acres and is 10% contained.  There are over 1300 firefighters working the fire.  Highway 38 is closed for an unknown duration, but Highways 18/330 and 18 are open.

For ongoing information on the fire, visit the link below.  The information is updated morning and evening.

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If You Have Colorado Spruce Trees on Your Property in Big Bear…You Should Read This!

Blue Spruce
Blue Spruce

I received a note this past week from Marty Murie, owner of Nativescapes and certified arborist that I wanted to share….

Alert:  Insect Damaging Spruce Trees on the Rise in Big Bear

I have been seeing a lot of Colorado Spruce trees infected with Green Spruce Aphids (Elatobium abietnum) this Spring.  The population explosion can be attributed to the mild winters we’ve had the last few years.  Spruce trees are one of the most prized ornamental trees planted in Big Bear appreciated for their shape, density, color and ability to adapt to our climate.

Symptoms:  The aphid typically attacks interior needles which turn yellow.  You may notice a shiny wet look on the needles referred to as “honeydew”.  Most damage occurs on the lower portion of the tree but severe infestations can work their way to the top of the tree.  The affected needles detach and drop early so you may notice an unusual amount of dead needles under your tree.

Life Cycle:  The aphids actively feed in the Spring and Fall.  Quite often the damage is done by early Summer and the adult population declines before a homeowner notices there is a problem.  Trees that have been infected in the past will likely get infected again during the next cycle unless treated.  Severe infestations can defoliate the tree leaving only the new years growth on the tips of the branches.  It can take up to 5 years of growth for a tree to recover to its full density and appearance.

Control:  Spraying the tree with an appropriate insecticide will get rid of the current population.  Trees should be checked during the next cycle to insure they are free of aphids.  Remember your plant biology; photosynthesis takes place in the needles which provides energy to support all functions of your tree.  Less needles means less energy available.  To off set the reduction of functioning needles we are recommending soil injections with a mixture of a mild fertilizer, micronutrients and microbial cultures to provide all elements necessary to promote a healthy recovery.

If you notice any of these symptoms on your Spruce trees I would recommend contacting Marty’s office immediately to discuss treatment options at 909-878-0050.

Trout Derbies on Hiatus

Madison fishing

Trout Derbies on Hiatus

Written by Kathie Portie of the Big Bear Grizzly

Big Bear’s spring outdoor sports calendar was lightened considerably this past week. Two of the Valley’s largest trout tournaments—the May Trout Classic and Fishin’ for 50K—will not take place in 2015.

The Jim Hall Memorial May Trout Classic is the oldest and most successful of the two tournaments, having enjoyed 32 years of existence. The 2015 tourney was slated for May 16-17 until event organizers decided to pull the plug, at least for this year.

In a letter from event organizers, Jason Hall explained the factors that led to the decision. “… we find ourselves in litigation over an incident that occurred in the 2013 May Trout Classic,” Hall wrote. “Our current insurance company, Scottsdale, has still not made a decision as to whether or not they will defend us. They have allowed many deadlines to pass to respond to the court, and we have had to retain our own attorney at the expense of the Trout Classic. This may eventually deplete our startup funds irreparably.”

Hall went on to say that they have been unable to secure new insurance at an affordable price in time for the 2015 event. “The mission of the May Trout Classic has been to maintain Big Bear Lake as a premier trout fishery by planting trophy sized fish each year,” Hall wrote. “We are making every effort to resume this event for 2016.”

“This is not a goodbye, but just so long for a while,” Hall concluded.

According to the Big Bear Events Resource Office, the May Trout Classic contributed between $85,000 and $100,000 to the local economy in 2012 and 2013. According to Rick Bates, Events Resource Office director, Fishin’ for 50K primarily attracted visiting anglers who contributed an estimated $210,000 into the local economy in 2014.

Fishin’ for 50K was scheduled for early June, sponsored by the Big Bear Visitor’s Bureau, formerly known as the Big Bear Lake Resort Association. According to Visitors Bureau spokesman Dan McKernan, the organization is heavily involved with the Amgen Tour of California Big Bear Time Trial in May and the Outdoor Writers Association of California Conference in June. Adding the trout derby responsibilities was proving difficult to manage. But it’s not the only reason the trout derby is going on hiatus, McKernan said.

“We need to take a rest,” McKernan said. “We’re going to freshen it up for 2016. We want to give a fresh new look and new focus for next year.” The plan is to bring it back in 2016, he said.

Local marinas are expected to feel the pinch. Bait, gear, licenses and boat rentals are items visiting anglers often purchase from the local marinas. Leo McCarthy, manager of Pine Knot Landing, said the bulk of his business comes during the boating season rather than from fishing tournaments, but could see that it would affect others such as Big Bear Marina. Attempts to contact other marinas by The Grizzly were unsuccessful as most offices are closed until April.

Anglers may feel the pinch as well. The Big Bear Municipal Water District depends on tournament entry fees to help with fish plants. MWD General Manager Mike Stephenson said it’s probably too late to get anything organized to replace the two lost tourneys for the spring. When asked if the MWD could perhaps host a tourney, Stephenson said it’s something he hopes the MWD board will consider, or at least discuss the options.

Several other tournaments are still on the 2015 calendar including Aaron’s Bass Tournament, the Carp RoundUp and the TroutfesT.

“We still have the October TroutfesT holding on,” Stephenson said.“They are working on their paperwork right now.”

Getting a Loan for your Lakefront Property in Big Bear? Make sure you’re prepared for possible delays


Below is an informative article I recently read from the LA Times regarding a tweak in Fannie Mae’s appraisal process which they will be implementing over the next couple of weeks.  Critics claim that adding an additional step to the appraisal process will; a) lead to more expensive appraisals; and b) favor lower valued comparables which will complicate the process and make it harder for an appraiser to justify the value.  It might not seem like a big deal but with low inventory and fewer sales along the lake it could pose a problem if you plan on getting a loan for your lakefront purchase.  As always, the key is being informed and being proactive with your lender.

New Fannie Mae Program Could Bust Deals, Appraisers Say

Could a controversial new program set for launch nationwide this month by giant mortgage investor Fannie Mae lead to slower and costlier home sale closings and more disputes over prices between sellers and buyers — busting deals when the appraised value comes in below what the parties agreed to in the contract?

Fannie Mae doesn’t think so, but many appraisers are worried that the new program might mess up the marketplace. Here’s a quick overview of the issue and what it could mean to you as a seller or buyer:

Starting Jan. 26, Fannie Mae plans to offer mortgage lenders access to proprietary home valuation databases that they can use to assess the accuracy of and risks posed by the reports submitted by appraisers. The Fannie data will flag possible errors in the appraiser’s work before the lender commits to fund the loan, score the appraisal for overall risk of inaccuracy and may provide as many as 20 alternative “comps” — properties in the area that have sold recently and are roughly comparable to the house the lender is considering approving for financing but were not used by the appraiser.

Lenders can then forward Fannie’s alternative comps and risk scores to the appraiser or the management company that hired the appraiser requesting explanations and changes to the appraisal.

Professional appraisers rely on comps as key indicators for value. If houses “A” and “B” in the neighborhood sold within the last three months for $250,000 and are similar in size and features to the house under consideration by the lender, the appraisal should come in close to that number, absent any dramatic recent marketplace changes.

But if the appraiser values the house at the contract price of $300,000 agreed by the seller and buyer, the valuation may be judged too high. Excessive valuations create the risk of future losses to lenders and investors if the borrower defaults and the house goes to foreclosure.

On its face, the new Fannie program appears unassailable. Lenders and investors have an inherent right to be sure the appraisals they use for their funding decisions are accurate. If Fannie has developed a high-tech tool to help lenders spot risky appraisals upfront, where’s the problem?

Start with delays to closings and higher costs.

Appraisers say if they have to justify piecemeal why they chose the comps for their valuation rather than those selected by Fannie’s computers, it will add days — a week or more in extreme cases — to closing times. Meanwhile, sellers and buyers who had planned on dates for moving may suddenly find themselves knocked off track because the appraisal report was flagged. Realtors’ commission payouts also will be delayed.

Mike Turner, an appraiser in Northridge, told me it will be “an utter waste of time” if he has to explain point by point why he didn’t use the comps supplied by Fannie.

Pat Turner, an appraiser in Richmond, Va., and no relation to Mike, told me appraisers will have to raise their fees to compensate for the additional time.

“You think I’m going to do this for free?” he asked. “Hell no!” He predicted that his per-job fee could jump $150 to $200 or more simply because of Fannie’s new program — all paid for by consumers at settlement.

Another problem: Fannie Mae won’t give appraisers access to the “black box” databases it uses to produce risk-rating scores. A national petition sponsored by the Illinois Coalition of Appraisal Professionals is now circulating, demanding transparency.

Critics such as Mike Turner charge that Fannie’s data will not be able to recognize differences between adjacent neighborhoods — a key factor in valuations — because it is based on census tract groupings, which may include mixes of lower-priced and higher-priced homes from different neighborhoods. He believes that the risk-rating system inevitably will be biased toward lower-priced comparables — something he says appraisers “will figure out quickly” — and will therefore reward appraisers who choose less costly properties for their comps.

“Lower-risk comps will tend to kill deals,” he predicts, forcing sellers and buyers into needless disputes when appraisals come in below the agreed contract price.

Fannie says appraisers’ concerns are overblown and that if widespread problems arise it will make adjustments.

Andrew Wilson, a Fannie spokesman, denied that the system will be biased to the downside.

“It’s going to flag mistakes,” he said, “and frankly everybody should want that.”