In the News -
Friday, march 10, 2006
Winter storm brings
and high water...
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
Elsah Cort of Three Rivers founded the Studio Tour in 1992,
at first to satisfy her own curiosity about where and how Three Rivers
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
Badgley— Handcrafted furniture
Jana Botkin— Graphite and pencil drawings, including area
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
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
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
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
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
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: