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 10, 2006

Winter storm brings

hail and high water...

and lightning... thunder...

rain... snow... wind...

rainbows... fog...

   So what could possibly be next? Frigid air aloft will keep Central California shivering in another blast of winter awhile longer.
   Don’t be too surprised if snow falls right here in Three Rivers at 1,000 feet. The best chance for that to happen is sometime on Friday evening or Saturday morning.
   More conservative meteorologists, who make a living trying to predict the weather, say Kaweah Country snow levels will remain constant throughout the weekend at 2,500 feet. On Wednesday, March 8, the snow pack at the stake at Lodgepole in Sequoia National Park measured more than five feet with prospects for more over each of the next several days.
   Low temperatures have been consistently in the single digits in the Lodgepole microclimate so don’t look for that snow to melt anytime soon. A canyonscape with cold downslope winds always allows winter to linger a little longer in this wonderland.
   What’s fueling this late-winter surge that never even started until March? Climatologists are blaming it on La Nina, the less intense stepsister of El Nino. In a La Nina season, Southern California is generally drier but Northern California and the Northwest can expect above normal precipitation.
   That leaves Kaweah Country either in the weather or out and sometimes literally on the edge. When that happens and the leading edge of cold air collides with a warmer mass, the results can be very volatile with lots of thunder and some unbelievable rainbows.
   Thus far this season, as of March 8, gauges at Ash Mountain have collected more than 20 inches of rainfall. Collections in Three Rivers can vary on the lower end by as much as six inches but are rapidly approaching the 30-year norm of 20 inches as well.

Clean sweep: Parks remove

pot-garden paraphernalia

   It doesn’t take an ecologist to know that if pot growers hack out a five-acre garden from an East Fork landscape in Sequoia National Park, there’s going to be environmental damage. But it does take an ecologist — in this case, Athena Demetry from Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks —to realize just how extensive the damage is and spearhead the massive effort to restore a national park landscape.
   On Wednesday, March 1, local Park Service officials announced the completion of a month-long cooperative project to restore to natural conditions an intensively used pot-growing complex in the Lake Canyon area northwest of the Mineral King Road. Rangers conducted raids in the area in 2002 and the parks are just now getting around to cleaning up the mess.

  “It’s amazing to realize all the weight that these individuals carried as they hiked into these remote garden sites,” Demetry said. “We not only worked within the actual five-acre garden site but our crews also removed irrigation hose and trash from a network of trails within a footprint of 182 acres.”
   Demetry said an important part of the job is physically mapping the extent of the impact.

  “When the rangers first go into a garden they focus on the eradication and doing the job safely,” Demetry said. “Once we get in there, we begin to realize how much more is really there and the extent of these complexes.”
   With the assistance of the California Conservation Corps, the California Army National Guard, and the California Air National Guard, parks’ personnel removed 4,650 pounds of garbage in 157 bags. The trash included 5.3 miles of irrigation hose, 300 small propane canisters as well as one five-pound cylinder.
   Each load was airlifted in a sling under a helicopter.
  Crews cleaned and backfilled six garbage pits and recovered enough empty fertilizer bags to hold more than 5,000 pounds of additives used to stimulate the illicit plants. There were also several empty gallon containers of pesticides and rodent poison.

  “What this amount of trash indicates is that this complex was a multi-year operation,” said Alexandra Picavet, the parks’ information officer. “We also found a buried .22 caliber rifle at the site.”
   Picavet said this Lake Canyon plot was one of the most elaborate of the complexes that have been discovered to date within park boundaries. It even employed a booby trap consisting of a rifle rigged to fire at a food-storage box.
   Large-scale marijuana cultivation in Sequoia National Park first came to the attention of park law officers in 1999 and since then has increased dramatically. In the last five years, NPS law-enforcement teams have eradicated more than 113,000 plants.
   While a great deal of restoration has been accomplished at park locales the past two seasons, the cleanup must be done during the off-season — November to February — the only months when armed growers are believed to be not present on these remote public lands. In addition to the hazards posed by the growers, the terrain is even more difficult in the summer as temperatures soar and the near-vertical slopes become tinder dry and rattlesnake infested.
   Demetry said the recently completed restoration operated on a $25,000 budget (not including the participation of the National Guard units). Next season, the parks are planning to restore some more gardens that were eradicated in the South Fork section of Sequoia National Park.
   Rangers are requesting fee money be allocated for restoration work planned for next season.

  “Restoring the South Fork gardens will be very challenging because the terrain is even more difficult,” Demetry said. “The only access to these sites is by helicopter or hiking steep slopes.”

County land use:
Where do we

grow from here?

   Trying to reach a consensus on where the San Joaquin Valley is headed in the next generation is no easy task. There is little doubt that agriculture will remain the foundation of the region’s economy, but what will be the effects of a rapidly growing population?
   On Monday, March 6, to answer questions like these, the Tulare County Farm Bureau hosted what it plans to be an annual or biannual forum to bring the stakeholders to the negotiating table that will help shape Tulare County’s future.
   Among the more than 200 who gathered at the Visalia Holiday Inn to listen to a panel of experts open this dialogue were farmers, planners, builders, public officials, pro-growth, slow-growth, no-growth, and other advocates — all who hope to stay informed and have a say in the process.
   The first speaker, Richard Cummings, a researcher for the Great Valley Center in Modesto tried to quantify just what kind of growth the Central Valley might expect. He said currently the 19 counties that make up the region from Redding to Bakersfield have a population of 6.3 million and that number has been doubling every 30 years.
   By 2050, the region should expect to grow to 130 percent of its current population and be home to 13 million.
   There are three factors fueling this growth, Cummings said, with the most important one right now being the demand for housing. This is based on the fact that the average home price in the Valley ($363,000) is half of what the same house costs in the Bay Area ($750,000). Factor in rapid immigration to the area and a natural increase from a population that is predominantly under 19 and the forces are in place for some explosive growth.
   TOURISM AND INDUSTRY— Carol Whiteside, founder and president of the Great Valley Center, explained the purpose of this think-tank organization. Being formerly an Assistant Secretary of Resources under Gov. Pete Wilson, she was a capable substitute for Mike Chrisman, current Secretary of Resources, who was unable to attend this event.

  “This Valley is one of seven places on Earth that has both production potential and dynamic tourism,” Whiteside said.
   Those economic ingredients are fueling growth that has to go somewhere. One scenario, Whiteside said, is to locate all new development outside the area between Interstate 5 and Highway 99. That area could remain, she said, as California’s “fertile crescent.”
   Whiteside said the Great Valley Center has been working with UC Davis researchers to assess the value of agricultural tracts, urban areas, foothills, and the mountains in an effort to see where the development might occur.

  “What we found is that it all has value for a variety of reasons,” Whiteside said. “So where do we put the development? What is critical right now is that all of you participate in this decision-making process.”
   IT’S THE WATER— Lloyd Fryer and Bruce George followed Whiteside’s presentation with a look at the water resources of Kern and Tulare counties, respectively. Both presented very different perspectives.
   Fryer, the principal water resources planner with the Kern County Water Agency, said the county treats water like “money in the bank” and depends upon agreements to furnish water to other entities in Southern California.

  “What this has allowed us to do is develop the storage and recharge facilities to bank excess water in wet years so we can draw upon these supplies in dry years,” Fryer said.
   But Bruce George, general manager of the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District in Tulare County, said a more cautious approach is on his agency’s agenda.

  “If you look under each city, what you find is an inverted cone or upside down saucer that is the result of overdraft of the groundwater resources,” George said. “If Tulare County is going to support more urban growth, it’s going to have to get the water from somewhere.”
   URBAN FARMING— Jim Sullins, the director of the UC Cooperative Extension Service in Tulare County, said there are many tracts where soils have been improved, and the collective loss in the last 10 years of acres devoted to agriculture has been negligible. What is growing, he said, is the amount of farming literally on the edge of cities and towns.

  “The structure of local agricultural overall is healthy and is growing,” Sullins said. “Unfor-tunately, some of the best crop lands are being lost to urbanization. There will always be more people but never more land.”
   JOB GROWTH VS. HOUSING— Alan Nevin, chief economist with the California Building Association, said outside of California, 70 percent of Americans have realized the dream of home ownership.
   Statewide in California, statewide the number is 56 percent and in the Valley that number is slightly higher at 61 percent, Nevin stated.

  “The Valley is the only region in California where we could ever hope to reach the national average in home ownership,” Nevin concluded. “To do this we need to build more units that are not detached like the duplex, triplex, and townhomes with smaller yards.”
   GENERAL PLAN GUIDANCE— Steve Worthley, chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, spoke about the timing and importance of finishing the county’s General Management Plan by year’s end.

  “We’ve always farmed on the edge of towns and cities here in Tulare County, and I don’t see that it will change,” Worthley said. “I want to stop the loss of local control because we don’t need anyone to tell us who we are and where we are going.”
   Bruce Race, a Berkeley-based planner who also has worked on the county’s general plan, is currently redeveloping Visalia’s east downtown.

  “We need to grow inward,” Race said. “Every small town or big city has opportunities for re-investment and to build healthy communities.”
   There was some discussion following the presentations. A Realtor commented he didn’t hear anything that changed his way of thinking. A farmer said if we all don’t figure a way for more folks to make a living off the land, preservation of ag lands will be a moot point.

  “At least we are talking and there is dialogue between the various land-use interest groups,” said Brad Caudill, executive director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau.

Art from

(and inspired by)

the source

   In Three Rivers, where the artists are part of the community’s identity, the Three Rivers Artists’ Biennial Studio Tour is an eagerly anticipated event. Rolling around only once every two years, the tour offers a great experience for anyone interested in viewing artwork at the source: the artist’s own studio.
   Whether a resident or out-of-town guest, it’s an opportunity to spend a weekend exploring the nooks and crannies of Three Rivers while meeting directly with local artisans and often seeing and buying work not accessible in gallery settings.
   Artists’ Studio Tour patrons will see the working spaces of both established and emerging artists, from garages to spare bedrooms and an underground workshop to custom-built outbuildings. The works range from abstract to representational, realistic to expressionist and traditional to cutting edge, in all media and sizes.
   Best of all, the viewing experience is relaxed, informal and, if tickets are purchased before this Sunday, only $10 for the weekend and a dozen-and-half studios.
   In addition to the talented, hospitable artists, visitors should take advantage of all Three Rivers has to offer, including its galleries and gift shops, historical museum, candy store, restaurants, and the spectacular natural landscape, from the newly-emerging wildflowers to rushing river.
   This year’s Artists’ Studio Tour 7 will take place Saturday and Sunday, March 25 and 26. The 18 private art studios will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
   The tour’s information center is the Whitewater Contemporary Arts and Crafts gallery in the center of town. The gallery will be open at 9 a.m. so there’s plenty of time to retrieve badges, guidebooks, and maps.
   Elsah Cort of Three Rivers founded the Studio Tour in 1992, at first to satisfy her own curiosity about where and how Three Rivers artists create.
   Tickets for Studio Tour 7 are $10 if purchased before Sunday, March 12. After that, the price for the two-day affair will be $20.
Call 561-3697 or stop by the Whitewater gallery to purchase tickets (Visa/MasterCard accepted).


Rick Badgley— Handcrafted furniture
Jana Botkin— Graphite and pencil drawings, including area landmarks
Lynne Bunt— Gourd-geous art
Carole Clum— Clay and metal sculpture
Elsah Cort— Collage-with-poetry
greeting cards, watercolor mandalas
Nikki Crain— Handweaving with guest Jeanette Barton, knitting
Jim Entz— Acrylic sculptural
Adrian Green— Stone sculptor for more than 50 years
Anne Haxton— Sculptural lighting
Nancy Jonnum— Functional
stoneware, clay sculpture
Shirley Keller— Writing, collage
Armin Pfadisch— Wood-turned bowls and jewelry
Marn Reich— Clay sculpture
Mona Selph— Pastel, watercolor, oil, and acrylic paintings
George Smith— Functional
stoneware, salt-glazed pottery
Nadi Spencer— Watercolor, acrylic, and mural paintings
Tina St. John— Handcrafted
jewelry utilizing semiprecious stones, pearls, sterling silver,
and precious metal clay
Martha Widmann— Oil and acrylic paintings, graphic art


workshop scheduled

   Questions about invasive thistle? Wondering how to identify it, or what to do about it? When’s the best time to go after it? What can you do if seed heads start to form?
   If these questions or others have occurred to you, take heart. You are not alone and help is on the way.
   On Saturday, March 18, from 9 to 11 a.m., the Weed Management Group will present the first of two weed-management workshops at Three Rivers School. As luck would have it, this coincides with the annual pancake breakfast by the Three Rivers Volunteer Firefighters.
   Come for breakfast, support a worthy cause, and meet some of the neighbors who have been spearheading the local Weed Management Group.
   Some interesting people will be there to answer questions who are experts in their fields. Most importantly, a field biologist will be present with actual samples of the different thistles now growing in Three Rivers.
   Once you see them on a table, you’ll probably be able to recognize them when you see them growing in the ground. Also, if you want to identify plants that are unknown to you, uproot them, put them in a plastic bag and bring them along for identification.
   Also present will be a representative from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. She will have information about the numerous government and private agencies that are helping Three Rivers from behind the scenes, along with referral and networking leads for anyone who wants to pursue them.
   There’s more. The county Agricultural Commissioner is sending a senior staff member who will provide guidelines for the use of herbicides. Human and environmental safety will be highest on his list of priorities.
   In other weed management news, local service organizations graciously accepted invitations to hear presentations about Three Rivers’s weed control activities. David Mills spoke to the Three Rivers-Lemon Cove Business Association, Mike Payne addressed the local Lions Club, and Diana Glass spoke with the Woman’s Club.
   The presentations were well received in all three groups and have already yielded new thistle survey requests.
   Last, for the past couple of weeks, we’ve mentioned that surveys will begin this week, weather permitting. Rain slowed us down last week, but when clear weather returns, we’ll begin calling immediately to set up surveys.
   If you haven’t called the weed management hotline yet, there’s still plenty of time. The number is 561-3674.


Barbara Carter Milbradt,
Fourth generation Three Rivers

   Barbara Ann Carter Milbradt of Three Rivers died Wednesday, March 1, 2006. She was 82.
   A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday, March 11), at 10 a.m., at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers. Barbara will be laid to rest next to her husband at the Biggs-Gridley Cemetery in northern California.
   Barbara was born to Bob and Catherine Carter on Aug. 18, 1923, in Visalia. She was raised on a ranch east of Visalia in a house that was built in 1874 and is still standing today.
Barbara attended the East Lynne grammar school, a small two-room schoolhouse. She graduated from Visalia Union High School (now Redwood) and Visalia Junior College (present-day College of the Sequoias).
   In about 1880, Barbara’s paternal great-grandparents and grandparents had settled in the Three Rivers area near Cherokee Flat. Her father was born in 1889 just below where Terminus Dam is now.
   The Carters were in the cattle business and had a cabin in Silver City. In a 2004 interview with The Kaweah Commonwealth, Barbara said: “In winter, our cows grazed along the South Fork and in the summer, we took the herd to the high country. As a youngster, I rode my saddle horse all over the mountains.”
   Barbara’s grandfather owned the Kaweah Park Resort for a time. Her father was a longtime postmaster at Lemon Cove.
   In 1943, Barbara married Duane Milbradt. Following his service in the U.S. Army, Duane established a veterinary practice in Gridley, located about 50 miles north of Sacramento on Highway 99.
   Barbara assisted Duane in his practice for 49 years. In their leisurely time, the couple enjoyed traveling together throughout the world.
   Duane Milbradt, DVM, died in 1992. In the summer of 1993, when Barbara turned 70, she went hiking in the Swiss Alps.
   Upon her return to the states, she packed up and, on Oct. 19, 1993, moved “home” to Three Rivers, the fourth generation of Carters to reside here.
   Barbara was a member of the Three Rivers Community Presbyterian Church, Three Rivers Woman’s Club, Three Rivers Senior League, Sierra Traditional Jazz Club, and a charter member and former board member of the Three Rivers Historical Society. She was a familiar sight in her Cherokee Oaks neighborhood because her absolute favorite thing to do was to walk for exercise while also stopping to visit with her neighbors.
   On Barbara’s 80th birthday in 2003, coinciding with an outing to the movies to see The Italian Job, she special-ordered a custom Mini Cooper, which was shipped factory-direct from Oxford, England. Her Crown Victoria was immediately retired.
   Barbara is survived by her daughters, Patti of Simi Valley and LeeWanda of Daly City; and two grandsons, Bryon Philhour of San Francisco and Robert Salladay of Sacramento.
   Memorials in Barbara’s name may be made to: Hospice of Tulare County, 900 W. Oak St., Visalia, CA 93291
   Online condolences may be submitted to:

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