this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
lots of snow
Even if the higher elevations
of Kaweah Country don’t get another
flake of snow for the rest of the season,
the pack that is already piled up has
ensured an above normal runoff for the
Kaweah drainage. With a few more storms
— and according to the long-range
forecast that’s entirely possible
— the Kaweah River and its downstream
users could be in for a whopper of a water
All that good news is between
the lines of the countless water statistics
released March 1 by the California Department
of Water Resources (DWR). Overall, the
statewide percentage of water content
for the Sierra region is 118 percent,
but the drainages farthest south have
the best news of all.
The most recent electronic
sensors data show the northern Sierra
water equivalents at 122 percent; the
central Sierra at 118 percent; and the
southern Sierra at 130 percent. One year
ago, those same readings were 69 percent
for the northern Sierra, 64 percent in
the central, and 52 percent in the southern
The Kaweah drainage is included
in the southern Sierra numbers and was
recently measured at 146 percent of the
March 1 normal. That currently translates
to 130 percent of the April 1 total, traditionally
the fourth and final survey of the season.
The April “normal”
measurements are based upon the norm of
a half-century of readings compiled between
1951 and 2000.
In the Giant Forest, where
readings are taken by park rangers in
Round Meadow, the current depth of 64.4
inches is the most March 1 snow since
2004 (72 inches). The most snow recorded
for the date since 1935 is the 140 inches
that was on the ground in the El Nino
year of 1969.
In the past week, with the
Generals Highway dry and open between
the parks, a multitude of travelers have
been able to not only see the snow but
easily access some of its best late-season
conditions. Big Meadows (7,500 feet),
seven miles southeast of the Highway 180
junction near Grant Grove, has its best
spring backcountry skiing since 1998.
Montecito-Sequoia, a Nordic
ski resort in Sequoia National Forest
just across the Generals Highway from
Big Meadows, is reporting excellent groomed
track and expects to continue their skiing
program at least until early April. They
also feature snowboarding, telemark skiing,
and lots of snowplay opportunities for
kids of all ages.
Tulare man drowns
In Kaweah Country during
a big water year, there is bound to be
tragedy. Most often, a local drowning
occurs when an unsuspecting victim enters
the Kaweah River either by design or accident.
But the chilly Lake Kaweah
water can claim victims, too. That’s
what happened Saturday, March 1, just
before 4:30 p.m. after a fishing party
had launched earlier that afternoon from
the Kaweah Marina. From reports of witnesses
at the scene, the troubling incident began
when the small boat that trio was using
to fish 100 yards from shore began to
take on water.
In a matter of moments, the
14-foot boat was filled and the three
fishermen were in the lake swimming for
shore and calling for help. Two of the
men, Daniel Silva and Christopher Dick,
both of Visalia, managed to make it back
Daniel Silva’s uncle,
William Silva, 46, was not so fortunate.
He was having difficulty swimming in the
Lake Kaweah water, which a park ranger
later reported to be a frigid 40 degrees.
Michelle Sylvester, a bystander
on the shore nearby, heard the cries for
help and was one of two persons who entered
the water in an attempt to rescue the
struggling swimmers. When she reached
Daniel Silva he pointed to his uncle who
was already face down in the water.
Sylvester was able to reach
the elder Silva and tried to flip him
over while she pulled him toward shore.
The cold water soon overcame Sylvester
and she began to struggle and call for
The woman’s fiancé,
Eddie Silva, no relation to the victim,
was also in the water in a vain attempt
to pull the man to shore. The last thing
he remembers was holding the man’s
leg and then finally letting go to try
to catch his own breath and keep from
going under in the cold water.
Eddie Silva later said the
water was so cold he became breathless
but will never forget the feeling he experienced
when he was unable to locate the sinking
victim. He said there are no words that
could describe the feeling when he realized
the victim was gone.
A dive team recovered Silva’s
body several hours later submerged in
25 feet of water. None of the men were
wearing life jackets, but there were reportedly
personal flotation devices onboard as
required by California law.
Car vs. rock: Rock wins
It’s difficult to say
how many lives have been saved, but the
wider shoulder that was drilled through
solid granite in several places for widening
a one-mile stretch of Highway 198 for
the Three Rivers bike lane has undoubtedly
made a difference. The wider margin for
error along the shoulder has made Sierra
Drive a little safer and on more than
one occasion and has meant the difference
between a near miss and a horrific accident.
Last Sunday’s mishap
that occurred in the S-curve section of
Sierra Drive below Pumpkin Hollow, where
a narrow shoulder does not have room for
a bike lane, is a good case in point that
wider is better. From the earliest days
of travel in the upper canyon, the steep
canyon walls in this section of roadway
have been witness to an untold number
of tragic accidents.
On the afternoon of Sunday,
March 2, a youthful resident of Lemon
Cove was driving to work when she lost
control in this shady area bordered on
one side by a solid rock outcrop and the
other by a concrete barrier. Apparently
her 2004 Mustang crashed into the jagged
granite wall and absorbed a glancing blow,
coming to a stop partially on the shoulder
and in the eastbound lane of traffic.
Dazed, but lucky to be alive,
the driver drove 200 feet farther up-
canyon where she pulled off the road.
The bumper of the vehicle became dislodged
during the crash and remained at the point
After wandering around at
the scene for a few minutes, some passing
motorists and curious neighbors came to
help the dazed driver who was shaken but
not seriously injured. A local tow truck
operator was called to assist in removing
the vehicle that was leaking fluids and
no longer drivable.
No official accident report
was taken by the California Highway Patrol
as a result of the accident. According
to Officer Chris Wright of the Visalia
CHP, the law does not require that an
accident report be made when the driver
does not sustain injuries or damage property
other than their own.
“I’ve been called to this
scene numerous times over the years for
accidents caused by black ice, excessive
speed, or a driver that just wasn’t
paying attention,” said the tow
truck driver. “I’m not an
accident investigator by profession but
the sand that’s put on the roadway
for traction on the icy spots could have
been a factor in this one.”
Slick Rock environmental
for public review
In what could be the final
hurdle before construction, Phil Deffenbaugh,
Lake Kaweah park manager, announced this
week that a draft Environmental Assessment
(EA) is now available for public review.
The review period will end Wednesday,
March 19, for the document that evaluates
the construction of an access road, parking
lot, and boat launching ramp that proposes
expanding the existing facilities at the
Slick Rock Recreation Area.
Following a lengthy planning
process that began in 2000 when a Cal
Boating grant was approved in concept
for Lake Kaweah, the construction phase
appears ready to get the green light from
federal officials. The possible consequences
of the scope of work described in the
draft EA were evaluated with consideration
given to environmental, economic, social,
and engineering feasibility. Findings
of the study, which were coordinated with
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
the State Historic Preservation Officer,
indicate that the project would not result
in significant impacts to the environment
or any cultural resources.
The project became a priority
to provide alternative launch facilities
while other areas of the lake are inundated
by high water resulting from the 2004
expansion of the lake basin.
“We have a contractor standing by
so we can proceed as soon as the final
Environmental Assessment is done,”
said Matt Murphy, park ranger. “In
a best-case scenario, we could get construction
completed before the high water that is
expected in May.”
Comments received on the
draft document will be incorporated into
the final document as appropriate. Written
comments may be sent to the attention
of Phil Deffenbaugh at the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers, Lake Kaweah, P.O. Box 44270,
Lemon Cove, CA 93247-4270. For more information
or to request a copy of the draft EA,
please contact Phil Deffenbaugh 597-2301
or email: email@example.com.
Enticing the barn
roost at Lake Kaweah
It’s kind of like the
old lady who swallowed the cat to catch
the bird to catch the spider to catch
the fly… In a new twist on an old
song, bushes were planted that the gopher
ate, so the owl is needed to catch the
gopher that eats the plant that the beetle
needs. But then predators of the barn
owl moved in, so a new verse has been
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers volunteer John
Waleryszak and the Mountain Home fire
crew replaced four of the existing barn
owl boxes at the elderberry mitigation
site with new, more owl-friendly boxes.
The new boxes are acclaimed to be more
suited to barn owls.
The eight previous boxes
were installed by Larry Baker, USACE park
ranger, and volunteers during the 2003
Public Lands Day event. The eight owl
boxes were installed on the 7.19 acres
of mitigation land below Terminus Dam.
This area was set aside to
mitigate for loss of habitat for the Valley
Elderberry Longhorn Beetle. The beetle
is a threatened species and as a result
of raising Lake Kaweah, some elderberry
plants, the sole source of food for the
beetle, had to be relocated.
In addition to the transplants,
many new elderberries and other species
were planted at this site. The number
of trees planted was based on a formula
set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
With the transplanting and
planting of new trees, it attracted the
ever-present pocket gopher. Many of the
new plants were killed as a result of
the gophers eating the tree roots.
Barn owls prey on rodents.
If they are nesting nearby, a barn owl
can significantly reduce the pocket gopher
An orchard grower once observed
a nesting barn owl catching 16 mice, three
pocket gophers, one rat, and one squirrel
in a period of 25 minutes to feed its
young in an artificial nesting box. This
method of rodent control seemed to be
the perfect solution to natural predation.
The newly-installed owl boxes
have a smaller hole than the boxes installed
in 2003. It is believed that the smaller
3¾-inch-by-4-inch oval hole will
prevent the great-horned owl, the main
predator of the barn owl, from entering
the box. The older boxes had a six-inch
Moreover, the newer boxes
have the hole elevated toward the top
of the box which is supposed to deter
predators such as raccoons from reaching
in. A routed climbing ladder is installed
so the young owls can climb to the hole
when it is time to leave the nest.
Bruce Norton, field manager
for Sunsweet Corporation, recruited a
shop class from the Central Valley to
build the nest boxes. Bruce stated that
some boxes were installed in an orchard
on a Wednesday and a barn owl was occupying
one of the boxes the following day.
The nesting season for barn
owls in the Central California region
is from February to May, with peak hatches
in April. It is too early to tell if the
new boxes will attract the barn owl. However,
previous testimony from growers in the
valley has proven that it will be a success.
Submitted by Larry Baker,
Lake Kaweah park ranger.
Local Chamber plans
and garden show
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber
of Commerce will host the first ever Three
Rivers Home and Country Living Expo on
Saturday, March 15, from 10 a.m. to 4
p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building.
More than 25 local business vendors will
be on hand to discuss a variety of home
and garden options with attendees. In
addition, a special guest lecture series
will run concurrently throughout the day.
From home construction, remodeling,
interior design, and home furnishing to
gardening, landscaping, utilities, and
financing, this show will highlight the
wide diversity of Three Rivers and area
businesses focused on the home.
“Over 25 percent
of the Chamber’s member businesses provide home and garden services
to Three Rivers and area residents,” said Johanna Kamansky, Chamber
president. “We want event attendees to realize that amazing talent,
products and services are right in their own backyard.”
The lecture series will begin at 8:30 a.m. Confirmed topics
include new building and home-related code changes for 2008, wireless
computer technology, and solar technology.
“We want to familiarize homeowners
with builders, designers, and others experienced
with the special challenges of living
in the foothills,” said Linda Drouet,
Chamber event coordinator and owner of
Drouet Design Build, a Three Rivers-based
company. “This event will provide
attendees with the opportunity to see
new ideas and meet the businesses that
provide services to their neighborhood.”
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber
of Commerce’s mission is to support
business and community growth by developing
economic programs to strengthen and expand
local business while promoting programs
of a civic, social, and cultural nature
that increase the community's functional
and aesthetic values. For more information,
3R artists to be honored
Volunteer Recognition Night
EACH YEAR SINCE 1951, Three
Rivers School has thanked its most precious
assets — its volunteers, educators,
and staff. At a ceremony next Thursday,
March 13 (see Kaweah Kalendar page for
event details), the 2008 honorees will
be recognized. Sponsored by the Eagle
Booster Club, formed in 2004 when the
PTA was dissolved, the event will spotlight
the local artists who have donated their
time and energy to provide art education
to TRUS students as well as complete collaborative
projects that beautify the campus and
instill school pride.
Honorees are: Wendy McKellar,
Jerry and Nancy Jonnum, Andrew and Leslie Duncan, Dayann Graber, and Nadi
25-year 3R resident,
1943 ~ 2008
Longtime Three Rivers resident, Yugadharma “Bob”
Carreras, died in the early morning hours of Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008,
at his home. He was 64.
According to family members, he left this Earth how he wanted
— surrounded by family and listening to chanting.
“It was actually
a beautiful experience,” said his wife, Judy Carreras. She explained
how it reminded her of a birth — where you wait and wait, helping
the person to relax and focus on the task at hand. And in the end, there
Bob was a fixture in Three Rivers. In a town filled with
unique characters, his memorable personality stood out.
He always had an opinion to give, usually a friendly word
to say, and to those lucky ones, an interesting story to share.
“He talked to everyone,”
Judy said. “Sometimes he would reveal intimate family details, but
he didn’t care. He put up no fronts about who he was.”
Born Robert Leonard Carreras on May 18, 1943, in Brooklyn,
N.Y., Bob moved to Long Island at 13. As a young adult, he made his way
west, living in New Mexico as well as California.
While living in Southern California, he met the two most
influential people in his life — his future wife, Judy, and his
spiritual master A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Bob met his wife in Laguna Beach, and they married soon after
in 1972. They moved to New Mexico where they wasted no time in having
their first child, Crystal, later to be known as Yasoda.
While near Santa Fe, they were introduced to the Hare Krishna
movement by Bob’s brother Janaka. In Krishna, they found direction,
and this newfound spiritual life led them to their guru, Prabhupada.
The founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
(ISKCON), Prabhupada initiated the Carreras couple, giving them their
spiritual names — Yugadharma and Srisa.
“When we first
saw Prabhupada, we both felt like we could follow this man anywhere,”
Judy explained. “We thought, ‘Yes, we could easily follow
this man’s instructions.’ He had that powerful of a persona.
After a nine-month stint living in Costa Rica, the couple
made their way to Laguna Beach, then Culver City. Both locations contain
Hare Krishna temples.
Along the way, their second child, Amrita, was born. Then
came their son, Robert, also known as Ananda, followed a few years later
by Michael (Syam).
Throughout, Bob traveled extensively. His main destination
was India; the town of Vrindavana in particular. Vrindavana is considered
a sacred place by Vaisnavas (Hare Krishna devotees).
According to Vedic scripture, it is the place where Krishna
experienced his pastimes. All in all, Bob visited India dozens of times.
In 1983, Bob and his family moved to Three Rivers. At that
time, a Vaisnava school for children was located at the end of Dinely
Bob always worked as a salesman. Throughout his life, he
sold a variety of merchandise — jewelry, paintings, cars, pagers
and cell phones. During his later years, he co-owned Heart’s Desire,
a Three Rivers gift shop, along with Judy and eldest daughter Crystal.
“There was nothing
he couldn’t sell,” Judy said. “He even was a salesman
for Krishna. Often people would come into the store and he would be telling
complete strangers stories from Vedic texts.”
More than 100 people, both Hare Krishna friends and Three
Rivers folks, turned out on Sunday, Feb. 17, to celebrate Bob’s
life. They all ate a large vegetarian feast, chanted, told stories, and
shared memories of his life.
Bob is survived by his wife of 36 years, Srisa Carreras;
his grown children, Yasoda Perry, Amrita Sullivan, and Ananda and Syam
Carreras; two grandchildren, Anuradha and Manjari Perry; two unborn children;
his brother, Janaka; sons-in-law David Perry and Dan Sullivan; and daughter-in-law