To our friends and family of Table Mountain Star Party,
while the burn areas of Table Mountain remain closed to the public, TMSPA was granted access to the site with our Forest Service Ranger to survey the impact of the burn from the Table Mountain Complex Fire. What we found was that the fire was rather capricious. The area of the main telescope field was almost completely untouched, including the trees at the north side of the field, while other areas had moderate or major burn damage as you can see in the pictures below.
(Images: top – looking north from the intersection at the Registration Tent; bottom – trees on the west side of the road across from the corral.
Click on image for full-size view, opens in your web browser)
After in-depth discussions with our Forest Service representative, the consensus we have reached is that we will not know whether the site will even be available for use under a Special Use Permit until well into next year. Furthermore, after examining the site, the TMSPA Directors have determined that it would not be in the best interests of our attendees, the mission of the Association, and especially the recovery of Table Mountain, to hold our event there in 2013. The Directors are clear and in unanimous agreement that the Table Mountain Star Party is not defined by the location. It is the attendees – our friends and “mountain families” – and our goal to provide a top-notch star party experience to them that is our purpose.
Therefore, the Directors have determined to relocate TMSP 2013 to an alternate location. We had seen this outcome as a possibility and have acted accordingly. The search for an alternate location is already underway, and we are investigating and evaluating many different locations. We have also become aware of rumors suggesting that a site has already been selected, and we flatly refute any suggestion that such a decision has been made. We ask that you do not inflame the situation by propogating such rumors or adding to the speculation that already exists. The Directors have set a deadline in January for when the possible alternate sites will be discussed and selected by vote of the TMSPA Board of Directors.
We are facing an unknown period of uncertainty regarding the use of Table Mountain and how moving to an alternate site in 2013 will impact all of us. We believe that we have to treat the current situation on a year-to-year basis. We will continue working with the goal of returning to our site on Table Mountain as soon as we practicably can do so.
We are preparing a short online survey that will be sent out to our attendees from the past three events, as well as a survey open to the public, as a means of learning from our attendee base what aspects of attending a Star Party are of importance to them. We will use the data from the surveys to aid us in the alternate site evaluation process.
At such time that any information or announcements need to be made, they will be issued through our website, the TMSPA Weblog and our Facebook page.
We would like to thank you for your patience and continued support.
The TMSPA Board of Directors