News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam


In the News - Friday, march 3, 2006

North Fork

home burglarized

   When nobody is home in Three Rivers, an outlying property can appear especially inviting to a thief. Last week, that evidently was the case at the remote Elliott Ranch, five miles up North Fork Drive.
   Kyle Loveall, the longtime caretaker of the cattle ranch, told sheriff’s deputies that sometime during the early evening of Thursday, Feb. 23, a thief or thieves entered the residence and removed a jewelry box. The box contained earrings, rings, necklaces, and other miscellaneous items with an estimated value of more than $3,000.
   It was not the first time that deputies have been called to respond to a crime at the Elliott Ranch. On July 3, 2005, thieves stole a 2002 Mustang parked at the ranch that belonged to the Lovealls.
   Thanks to the quick-thinking of some North Fork neighbors who witnessed the theft, two suspects were apprehended during that incident at the North Fork Bridge and the Mustang was later recovered at the Three Rivers Golf Course.
   The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating the most recent heist of the jewelry. Anyone with information in this case or about any criminal activity should call the Sheriff’s Department dispatcher, 733-6211.

Down to the wire

   A large oak tree was snapped off near the Mineral King Road turnoff on Highway 198 during high winds on Tuesday morning, Feb. 28. Powerlines were stressed out, and at least one pole farther up the line was broken at its base.

  The recent frontal system brought high winds but a lot less than the predicted totals for rain and snow. The cooler air mass means that the conditions are in place for the storm track to take another shot at Central California with the best chance for significant rain and snow coming on Monday.

Sequoia lawman retires

   Bob Wilson, a sinewy 56-year-old law enforcement specialist at Sequoia National Park, hardly looks the part of a retiree. But as of today (Friday, March 3), his mandatory retirement (for law enforcement officers it’s age 57) will be official after working nearly 33 years in government service; 29 of those wearing many National Park Service hats.
   All that’s left for Ranger Bob to do is to show up Saturday evening at his retirement fete being held at the Orange Blossom Restaurant at Merryman Station. There his NPS colleagues and friends will tout a career that has been witness to many institutional changes and spanned the continental U.S. from Crater Lake, Ore., to the Everglades in south Florida.
   Along the way, there were many stops and milestones for a ranger with what his Sequoia Park chief ranger J. D. Swed calls the “full complement” of ranger skills. Bob Wilson arrived at Sequoia National Park in 1997 already experienced in fire protection, both the structural and wildland types; having worked technical rock rescues and as a boat ranger; an expert Nordic and alpine skier; with many search-and-rescues; and as a park medic having saved numerous lives.
   That’s quite a resumé for a kid raised in Sandusky, Ohio, who started his career in the late-1960s by serving a tour of duty as a demolitions expert with the Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War.

  “When I got out of the Navy in 1972 for the next year I traveled around the country and realized that I liked my time spent in the national parks best of all,” Bob said. “I guess that’s when I decided that I might like to work for the Park Service.”
   In 1972, he also met his wife-to-be Sharon in San Diego. The couple married in La Mesa in 1974.
   Next, they landed at the University of California at Davis.

  “I wanted to do something related to the national parks so that became environmental planning and management,” Bob said. “My wife may have preferred a smaller school but we both got degrees at UC Davis.”
   Bob said his extracurricular time was spent in the Rugby Club playing some of the best teams in the country. He received his degree in 1976; Sharon graduated in 1978.
   In 1976, Bob worked his first NPS season as an entrance station ranger and within a few months was transferred to the backcountry.

  “At Crater Lake, I was part of the management team on the first prescribed natural fires that were allowed to burn in that park,” Bob said. “I think I wrote a total of three tickets in three seasons at Crater Lake.”
   Bob said he remembers the days when, in most parks, rangers were not permitted to wear their firearms in plain sight during daytime hours.

  “Rangers had a very different image in those days,” he said.
   After the 1976 Congressional authority bill, the wearing of firearms became less discreet systemwide. In 1984, specific training and equipment regulations accelerated the evolution to the more familiar park ranger of the modern era.
   From Crater Lake, Bob moved on to Everglades National Park where he received his first law-enforcement commission.

  “In the early 1980s, I didn’t see much future for promotion in fire, so I moved more toward law enforcement,” Bob said.
   Ironically, Bob recalled, that’s when fire management became really “huge.” But, in retrospect, he has no regrets having worked for the past two decades in law enforcement.

  “I guess what I enjoyed the most about my NPS career was the ability to move to different parts of the country,” Bob said.
   Along with his wife, who has worked as an interpretive ranger at most of the same parks where Bob has worked — Everglades, Shenandoah, and Delaware Water Gap — the couple home-birthed and home-schooled four sons. The oldest three of the four sons, ages 18 to 26, have already worked seasonally at Sequoia.
   Bob was instrumental in getting a handle on the marijuana problem at Sequoia National Park that came to his attention in 1999 and, by 2002, had really exploded. On Jan. 19, with three of his Sequoia colleagues, Bob was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C.

  “We succeeded in forcing some of the growers out of the parks but the Park Service will need to remain vigilant to stay on top of the situation,” Bob said.
   As for his looming retirement, Bob says he plans to visit his dad in Ohio, then hike the 211-mile John Muir Trail from Yosemite to Sequoia. The Wilsons will then sell their home in the Exeter area and relocate to Bend, Ore.

  “We like it up in Oregon and think we can find plenty of things to do there to keep us busy,” said Bob.

Sierra Nevada Conservancy

grants available
Environment, economy are

priorities of new state agency

   When county Supervisor Allen Ishida returned from last Thursday’s board meeting of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in Sacramento, he could hardly wait to announce some very exciting news.

  “Here is a source of potential grants to improve the economic status of Sierra Nevada communities like Three Rivers and Springville, and there is $27 million in funding available in the current cycle,” said Ishida. “This is an immediate opportunity for a project like a community visitor center that could also function as a Three Rivers stop on the new shuttle planned from Visalia to Sequoia National Park.”
   Supervisor Ishida is one of 16 board members of the new conservancy that was established in September 2004 by legislation signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. Ishida will represent a four-county southern area for 2006-2007 that in addition to Tulare County also includes Kern, Madera, and Fresno counties.

  “A perfect balance has been struck with the establishment of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy between resource conservation and economic benefit,” said Mike Chrisman, Conservancy chairman and Secretary for Resources. “People living within the borders of the Sierra Nevada will be able to protect the environment in which they live while influencing the prosperous future of their communities. The tremendous gain for those within the region and beyond is immeasurable.”
   The Sierra Nevada Conservancy, which is administered by the state Resources Agency, has established a funding source for community improvements and economic sustainability across 25 million acres from the Oregon border to Kern County. As California’s largest state conservancy, the agency will provide grants to local governments, tribal organizations, and non-profits for the development of recreational amenities, economic growth, resource conservation, and environmental protection.
   The conservancy recently named Jim Branham as its executive officer. Last night, Branham was in Lake Isabella to conduct a conservancy workshop. The purpose of that meeting was to explain criteria for grant projects and what the conservancy can and cannot do.
   An upcoming workshop is being planned for Visalia in the near future, Ishida said. A sense of urgency is critical for Tulare County to secure some funding in the 2006-07 cycle.
   The conservancy will begin to receive and review grant proposals soon.

  “What we are looking for is a grassroots idea that comes from the Three Rivers community,” Ishida said. “The county could partner with local players like the CSD or a chamber of commerce and we parlay a cost-sharing formula into a grant proposal.”
   The timing to present a local project couldn’t be better. On Monday, Mike Chrisman, who has deep roots in Tulare County, will keynote the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s Land Use Forum in Visalia.
   Chrisman, a Tulare County rancher and former regional manager for Southern California Edison, is well aware of the needs of Tulare County and Three Rivers. The newly organized conservancy will review and make project recommendations, but it is Secretary Chrisman who has the final say on who gets the awards.
   The Sierra Nevada Conservancy is comprised of 22 counties, 20 incorporated cities, and 212 communities. The foothills community of Auburn was selected last month as the home for the new agency’s headquarters.
   For more information about the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, visit:

Chamber of Commerce

revived in Three Rivers

   After a hiatus of more than 30 years, a local chamber of commerce has been formed that will represent the business interests of Three Rivers. The new Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce will replace the Three Rivers-Lemon Cove Business Association and provide a broader scope for Kaweah Country businesses and the residents and visitors to whom they cater, as well as provide a credible voice on behalf of the region in governmental issues and with other organizations and the public.
   The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce has been established to represent the gateway communities of Three Rivers and Lemon Cove, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and other interested communities nearby. The new chamber was created through a grant from the Bank of the Sierra with support from the Three Rivers-Lemon Cove Business Association and the Three Rivers Village Foundation.
   Current memberships in the Business Association, which expire in June, will be automatically rolled over to a Chamber membership. The next notice of dues will reflect the new organization, and businesses that renew will do so with the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce.
   Membership is open to all businesses, organizations, associates, individuals, and families. Dues are currently the sole fundraising vehicle of the Chamber and will be used to forward marketing efforts that promote area tourism.
Current projects include:

  —Securing a Chamber office in Three Rivers with visitor information available.

  —Attendance at travel shows, including, but not limited to, the Los Angeles Travel Show 2007, the largest of its kind on the West Coast and attracts thousands of travel agents and the general vacation-planning public.

  —Expanded distribution of a soon-to-be-published tourism brochure.
   The “tourism brochure” will be produced with financial support provided by the County of Tulare, thanks to the efforts of District One supervisor Allen Ishida, and local business members. It is planned that 25,000 copies be printed and distributed to the four California Welcome Centers, airports throughout the state, through mailings to potential Kaweah Country visitors, and at the new Visalia Chamber of Commerce’s visitor center.
   The newly formed Chamber will be marketed worldwide via the website, which is scheduled to be redesigned. The ultimate goal of all Chamber marketing efforts is to lure visitors to Three Rivers and Lemon Cove or to convince those who are planning a trip to the local national parks to stop in these gateway communities.
   Currently, a Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce membership is available for businesses, organizations, individuals, families, and associates (out-of-area interests). Annual dues start at $25, and there will be a sliding fee structure for a business membership based on the number of employees.
   Donations are also being accepted for next year’s L.A. travel show — for $20, a business’s brochure will be distributed; $75 includes a banner. A large booth will be shared with Sequoia-Kings Canyon representatives and the Visalia Chamber of Commerce.
   For membership or other information, contact Mark Tilchen, president, 565-3759.

Eagle Booster Club

announces annual honoree

   Each year since 1951, a local resident who demonstrates extraordinary qualities and commitment toward Three Rivers School and its students has been honored by the community. The tradition began with the Three Rivers PTA and, since last year, has been continued by the school’s Eagle Booster Club.
   Throughout the past half-century or so, nearly 70 Three Rivers residents, as well as the local Lions Club, have been honored. Formerly called the Honorary Service Award, today the recognition is known as the Volunteer of the Year award.
   The name has changed, but the honor is still the same: Recognizing outstanding community service toward the betterment of the lives of children in Three Rivers.
   This year, the EBC has selected Dyann Graber to be the recipient of the award.

  “In so many ways, Dyann is exceptional,” said Melanie Keeley, who is assisting in the organization of the awards ceremony and the preceding dinner. “Her involvement in this community and especially at the school is outstanding. She is a person who dives into projects and accomplishes so much.”
   Dyann was instrumental in the founding of the Eagle Booster Club, the parent-support and fundraising group that took the place of the PTA. She was on the founding board, serving as the group’s charter president.
   Dyann also worked to revise the school’s quarterly awards ceremony. The assembly continues to recognize the academic achievement and outstanding citizenship of students, but also now includes a pep rally that consists of a visit by the school’s Eagle mascot, games, prizes, and inspirational messages.
   Also, when the TRUS arts program was threatened, Dyann, an artist who put her craft on hold to raise a family, invited local artisans to visit the campus and share their talents. As a result, the Visiting Artists program was founded, an all-volunteer creative arts program that hosts local artists on a rotating basis who teach creative technique, art history and appreciation, and have also provided campus improvements via murals and more.
   Dyann can also be found on the school’s athletic fields, coaching various sports. This year, Dyann assisted first-year coach Manuel Garcia in training the soccer team.

  “To the teachers and administrators at Three Rivers Union School, Dyann magically seems to appear and contribute when she is needed the most,” said Melanie. “Those actions are most valued and appreciated by the staff.”
   Dyann has lived in Three Rivers since 1990. She and her husband, Sid, have two sons, Cyrus, a TRUS seventh-grader, and Ezra, a TRUS fifth-grader.
   The Volunteer of the Year award will be presented at a ceremony on Thursday, March 9, beginning at 6:30 p.m., in the McDowall Auditorium at Three Rivers School. Entertainment and exhibits will be provided by TRUS students.
   The event, as always, is free and open to the public.

Get the chopsticks ready

for ‘Flavors of the Orient’

   When the craving hits for Chinese food on a wintry night in Three Rivers, most of the time residents would be traveling more than 15 miles for their takeout. But in this, the Year of the Dog, folks are in luck because the Chinese food is coming to us.
   Preceding the Volunteer Recognition Night award ceremony, Three Rivers School seventh-grade parents and students will prepare and serve a dinner highlighting “Flavors of the Orient.” Entrees will include exotic lemon chicken and tasty teriyaki beef with an array of fresh stir-fried vegetables.
   To complement the meal, there will be a tea-tasting, with the opportunity to try some unusual and distinctive blends.
In addition to the dinner festivities, there will be a silent auction. Unique items have been specially selected and generously donated by Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs, Three Rivers Garden Arts Gallery, and Chump’s Videos and DVDs.
   The feast will be served from 5 to 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 9. Tickets are available for $8 and may be purchased at the TRUS office, from any seventh-grade student, or at the door.
   Proceeds from the dinner and silent auction benefit the Class of 2007’s eighth-grade trip fund. For information, call 561-4466.

SNHA announces

2006 Outdoor Seminars

   The Sequoia Field Institute, a department of the Sequoia Natural History Association (SNHA), is once again offering the public an unparalleled chance to experience Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in the capable hands of some expert instructors.
   Seminar outings will include a variety of natural history treks, birding and wildflower walks, history and geology courses, art and photography workshops, skiing and snowshoeing, wilderness expeditions, and the popular Wild Cave Tours.
   Courses will be led by Three Rivers residents and outdoor adventurers Paul Bischoff, Petit Pinson, and Stephanie Strickland. Park Service professionals who will participate include ecologists Sylvia Haultain and Nate Stephenson; Alysia Wilson, ranger; and retired naturalist Jim Warner.
   Other 2006 seminar instructors are Richard Flores, an art teacher at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia; Tom Gamache, renowned landscape photographer; John Lockhart, former SNHA education director; Nancy Muleady-Mecham, a Northern Arizona University adjunct professor of biology; and Steve Stocking, a biology and botany author and instructor at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.
   To order a catalog that has course descriptions, requirements, and fees; instructor biographies, and a calendar , visit: or call SNHA’s Sequoia Field Institute at 565-4251.

Parks seek input

for Big Stump project

   In preparation of the construction of a new entrance station in Kings Canyon National Park on Highway 180, the National Park Service is gathering public input on the project.
   The former entrance station and other facilities were closed when an adjacent giant sequoia was deemed to be a safety hazard.
   The Park Service plans to develop formal alternatives for this project and prepare an environmental assessment for public review. Questions and/or comments may be submitted in writing through April 1 to: Superintendent, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271; or emailed to: Reference “Big Stump Entrance Station” in all correspondence.

Teens injured at

Wolverton snowplay area

   Two 13-year-old girls from Sanger were injured Sunday, Feb. 26, while sledding at the Wolverton Winter Recreation Area in Sequoia National Park.
   At about 11 a.m., the girls were both knocked unconscious. They regained consciousness prior to the arrival of emergency vehicles.
One of the girls was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera. The other was taken by ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia.
   As of Wednesday, March 1, Sequoia Park officials had not received an update on the condition of the two injured girls. Alex Picavet, parks spokesperson, said that from information that was gathered from witnesses at Wolverton, it could not be determined if the girls were on the same sled or had collided with each other.
   When daytime temperatures reach melting points, as they often do this time of year, refreezing of packed, icy snow in the afternoon or at night can make sledding or skiing treacherous. Most snow-players are inexperienced and don’t wear safety headgear.
   Ski lift operators at California resorts say skiers can also face changing conditions this time of year and need to exercise caution. Skiers can catch a tip or an edge when resort crews have not had a chance to re-groom ski runs or in areas just out of bounds that are inviting especially to snowboarders.

RV destroyed

   A pile of debris was all that remained of a Prowler house-trailer that broke apart after careening into a ditch across from the Slick Rock Recreation Area on Highway 198. The Saturday, Feb. 25, accident was attributed to excessive speed. The driver was not cited in the solo accident because he was diligent about cleaning up in the aftermath.

Memorial redbud grove

planted at fire station

   During a weekend last month, the family of the late Glenn R. Howell gathered at the new native plant garden at the Three Rivers Fire Station to plant 25 redbud trees around the property. In addition, the family donated funds for 75 new plants to be used in the second phase of the ongoing Redbud Garden Club project.
   Glenn Howell died in 1994 at his Three Rivers home in spite of heroic efforts by local firefighters, the first responders, to revive him. That experience deeply impressed Glenn’s young son Nathan that he vowed to become a firefighter himself.
   Today, Nathan is a firefighter working in coastal California.
   The actions of the firefighters and their kind treatment of the family throughout that emergency-medical situation prompted the Howells’ decision to honor their loved one and the firefighters by enhancing the Three Rivers Fire Station through contributions to the landscaping project.
   Two of Glenn’s sons, twins Sean and Casey Howell, currently reside in Three Rivers. They were in kindergarten when their father passed away; today they are high school seniors.
   Glenn’s parents were Three Rivers residents until recently.
   Members of the Redbud Garden Club, in conjunction with horticulturist Melanie Keeley; Stephen Green, CDF captain stationed at the Three Rivers Fire Station; and Tom Sparks, Three Rivers Village Foundation representative, were also in attendance during a brief dedication ceremony followed by a tour of the fire station’s gardens.


Mary Nunnelee
1923 ~ 2006

Mary will be missed by her family

and all those fortunate enough
to have known her.

   Mary Nunnelee, 82, a resident of Three Rivers for nearly 60 years, died Monday, Feb. 20, 2006. She was surrounded by her children and husband.
   Mary, who recently was diagnosed with cancer, also has been battling Alzheimer’s disease for the past three years. She and her husband, Grady, had relocated from their Three Rivers home just six months ago to reside with their youngest daughter in Springville.
   Mary was born October 10, 1923, in Oklahoma, one of seven children born to Joseph and Nanny Johnson. On Nov. 9, 1945, she married Grady Nunnelee in Oklahoma.
   The family moved to Three Rivers in July 1947, shortly after the birth of their first son, James “Jim” Earl Nunnelee. The couple raised their six children here.
   Mary’s lifetime goal was to be a good wife and mother and considered her greatest accomplishment to be having and raising her children. Her love of children carried over to the community when, after raising her own kids, she opened a daycare facility in her home and, in doing so, another generation of children lovingly knew her as “Grandma.”
   Mary had a deep, abiding love and faith in God that she also generously shared with the community’s children. In the early years of the Community Presbyterian Church, Mary served as a Sunday school teacher.
   She was also a talented seamstress, an excellent cook, and enjoyed gardening.
   Mary was preceded in death by her oldest son, Jim (October 1946-April 2003); one grandson; one granddaughter; and four of her siblings.
   In addition to her husband of more than 60 years, Grady; Mary is survived by her daughter-in-law, Sandra Nunnelee (Jim’s wife), of Three Rivers; five children — daughter Carol McKellar of Lindsay, son Jerry Nunnelee and wife Paula of Three Rivers, son Larry Nunnelee and wife Rebecca of Springville, daughter Cathy Hamilton and husband Robert of Springville, and son Troy Nunnelee of Three Rivers and his fiancée, Cynthia Diaz, of Lemoore — and 20 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; sister Faye Spear; brother Daniel Johnson; and dozens of nieces and nephews.
   Services were held on Sunday, Feb. 26, and Monday, Feb. 27. A private burial will be held.
   Tributes of Mary may be posted at (enter “Nunnelee” in the search section at the top right of the page). Also visit this site to view tributes and photos of Mary and her family throughout her life.
   Remembrances in Mary Nunnelee’s name will be accepted at any Bank of the Sierra branch.

Helen Campbell
1933 ~ 2006

   Helen J. Campbell, a lifetime resident of Woodlake, died Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006, from a head trauma. She was 73.
Helen was born Jan. 30, 1933, in Tulare to Sherman and Edith Peck. She graduated from Woodlake High School with the Class of 1949.
   Helen was a longtime bookkeeper and executive secretary for Andy Bronzan, formerly of Three Rivers.
   She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Clyde Campbell of Woodlake; three daughters; eight grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; her brother; two sisters; and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews.

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