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 23, 2007

Spring showers

mean lots of flowers

   Just when you thought it was time to start weed-whacking those gorgeous stands of fiddleneck, last Tuesday’s storm dumped more than enough precipitation in the foothills to keep the wildflowers blooming and the next round right on track. Lake Kaweah measured in with 1.40 inches of rainfall for the 24-hour period ending Wednesday.
   Some of that runoff reached the basin at a rate of more than 1,020 cubic feet per second during a peak period when it was raining heaviest during the recent storm. Elevation in the basin has been climbing steadily at a rate of more than a foot per day.
   On Thursday morning, Lake Kaweah was continuing its gradual climb and had reached storage of 42,419 acre-feet. The elevation for the water level was at 627 feet above mean sea level.
That’s a far cry from the 715 feet at capacity, but when to fill or not will certainly be an interesting challenge for dam-tenders in the next two months.

  “The latest computer models show that we will reach about 145,000 acre-feet or the approximate fill level of the old basin,” said Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah’s general manager. “If those predictions are correct, we will have the No. 2 boat ramp for the entire season.”
   But that season, especially for whitewater rafters, is expected to be very different from each of the last dozen or so since commercial rafting began on the Kaweah River.

  “I’ve never seen a season quite like this one,” said Frank Root, owner of Kaweah Whitewater Adventures. “If we don’t get anymore snow, I’m tempted not to renew my insurance and just throw in the towel on this year.”
   In Sequoia National Park, on Thursday, March 22, rangers were reporting 35 inches of snow on the ground at 6,700 feet. The recent storm dumped 1.17 inches of rainfall making for slushy conditions in the Giant Forest environs.
   Closer to Three Rivers most rain gauges were checking in with slightly less than an inch from the recent storm. That brought the season total to 9.45 inches in Three Rivers at an elevation of 1,000 feet.
   That total might be disconcerting to agribusiness, but it is a far cry from record drought years. The next chance for significant precipitation in Kaweah Country is Monday, and if the most recent trends continue, the chance of showers will bring more precipitation than was expected.

Sequoia shuttle to begin

   After several years of planning, Sequoia National Park has a shuttle system and a new lease that is certain to affect the life and future of one of America’s great parks. On Wednesday, after Leo Guillory, Chief of Procurement for the Pacific West Region, signed on the dotted line while visiting Yosemite, the historic agreement became official.
   This agreement creates a three-year partnership between Sequoia National Park and the City of Visalia.

  “Our job is to deal with the Giant Forest portion of the shuttle while Visalia will operate and own all the equipment,” said Fred Picavet, Sequoia’s contracting officer. “We [SNP] need to do something to make this park more enjoyable for millions of visitors and we think the shuttle will help us do that.”
   But, of course, Picavet said, there are a lot of details to be worked out. The two-part, 29-page agreement that was signed this week contains mostly the logistics on how the deal will work.
   Superintendent Craig Axtell signed on behalf of Sequoia-Kings Canyon while City Manager Steve Salomon inked the deal for Visalia. The document actually contains two parts: a cooperative agreement between the partners and a task agreement spelling out who does what and where.
   In effect, the shuttle will operate two different routes. The lower “Gateway” route will transport visitors from downtown Visalia through Three Rivers and the park entrance at Ash Mountain on up the Generals Highway to rendezvous with another intersecting upper route at the parking area for the Giant Forest Museum.
   The “Internal” route, to be operated under the auspices of the NPS, will be a continuous loop. The main portion of this route will transport park visitors between Wuksachi-Lodgepole, the General Sherman Tree upper and lower staging areas, and then return to the Giant Forest Museum.
   From the museum’s parking area, riders may board another shuttle to Crescent Meadow and Moro Rock or return to Three Rivers/Visalia. Initially, the plan calls for a total of eight buses of two different sizes, 23 feet to 35 feet in length, that would transport visitors to various locales within the park portion of the routes.

  “The plan during peak periods is to run a continuous loop so Giant Forest visitors could expect to wait only about 15 minutes for the next shuttle,” Picavet said.
   The agreement calls for the city to own the entire shuttle system but lease the service and equipment to the NPS for the Giant Forest routes.

  “We’re not certain how this all will work,” Picavet said, “but the beauty of this agreement is that there is a lot of room for flexibility.”
   For Visalia’s part, the park shuttle is a new venture and throughout the first season, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, there will be lots of tweaking and fine-tuning.

  “We are definitely planning stops and drop-offs at hotels in Three Rivers but are still working out the details,” said Leslie Caviglia, Visalia’s assistant city manager. “Currently, we are looking at a roundtrip ticket of $10 or $15 that would include park admission.”
   Caviglia said it is important that the ticketing be user-friendly and efficient so the drivers don’t have to handle money.
   Visalia and Park Service officials are planning to attend an upcoming Three Rivers Town Meeting to unveil plans for the new shuttle service once all the details have been ironed out. The meeting date, time, and location will be announced in the next few weeks.

3R offered

Sequoia Nevada
Conservancy grants

   When the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) brought their road show to town Monday, March 19, an attentive Three Rivers turnout came away feeling that this just might be the start of some good relations.
   And like any good relationship, there will be mutual benefits. Three Rivers has some obvious needs, and the SNC has some dollars that they can dole out to willing partners like Three Rivers.
   So why not grants for Three Rivers projects? In nearly every qualifying program of the newly formed state agency, there is something that could be used as a conduit for various local projects.
   Qualifying projects might address one or more of several program areas: Tourism and recreation; physical, cultural, archaeological, historical, and living resources; working landscapes; natural disaster risks; water and air quality; and regional economy.

  “We need to demonstrate there is a real need for these resources in the Sierra regions,” said Allen Ishida, a SNC board member representing the Tulare County region. “I think Three Rivers has several projects that could be successful within the guidelines of these programs.”
   But first, according to Bob Kingman, SNC program manager, the board must formally adopt guidelines at its May meeting in Susanville. These guidelines will spell out how the grant programs will work and then a two-tiered budget must be approved as part of California’s 2007-08 budget.
   Kingman opened the Three Rivers gathering, this being the 10th workshop in a series of 23, by saying that Three Rivers was by far the best turnout to date.

  “Our guidelines are very broad and there are lots of ways for the conservancy to help,” Kingman said. “Our goal is to give out money where it is needed most.”
   It’s still not clear how much money will be made available. At the very least, the SNC has been allocated $17 million annually over three years that is earmarked from funding generated by Proposition 84.
   The Prop. 84 funding is stipulated for activities directly related to water quality, and that can certainly come into play on a number of Kaweah watershed projects, Kingman said. But the SNC also has an operational budget that can be used to furnish technical assistance, matching grants, and partner with other organizations in economic development and other types of resource preservation.

  “Our goal is to use conservancy dollars to leverage other grants,” Ishida said.
   SNC monies would be made available in increments of $50,000 to $1 million and also in what Kingman called “strategic opportunity grants” with no dollar limits. The first grant cycle could begin as early as July 2007, if and when the California budget is approved.
   Tom Sparks, who represents two potential grant partners — the Community Services District and the Three Rivers Village Foundation — said he would assist the local weed abatement task force to get SNC money initially.

  “As soon as possible, we need to bring all the local partners to the table to formulate a vision for Three Rivers and its town center concept,” Sparks said. “If we phase the project in realistic increments, we could get the grants to do the engineering, acquire the land, and build the facilities.”
   But Sparks admits that any undertaking of this scope will not happen in six months or even 16 months.

  “If we can get the endorsement of our legislators and show some actual progress as we proceed then I think in three to five years, we could see some real success,” Sparks said.
   Other potential players were in attendance in Three Rivers, including Johanna Lombard, who represents Sequoia Riverlands Trust and the local chamber of commerce.

  “We have some real needs in Three Rivers and obviously some worthwhile ideas,” Lombard commented. “I think what the Conservancy wants to see is how many partners will come together around a single project.”

What’s it really worth?

Find out this weekend

   A local senior was in for a huge surprise at a previous Three Rivers Historical Museum Appraisal Fair. The local man brought in a large blanket.
   Just like the best of an episode of PBS television’s “Antiques Roadshow,” the man learned within minutes that his blanket was worth about $36,000.
   When asked how he stored this valuable possession, he answered, “It is thrown on the back of my couch and the cat sleeps on it.”
   Another man once brought in a bowl. The appraiser immediately called a colleague at the Chinese Embassy in San Francisco. To the bowl owner’s surprise, the appraisers determined the piece’s worth to be upwards of six figures.
   The antique appraisal fair this weekend is an annual fundraiser for the Three Rivers Historical Museum. The cost to prospective treasure-owners to have an item evaluated by certified appraisers is $15 per item.
   Everyone can relate to the statement, “I have this thing and I don’t know what it is.”

Time to gear up

for youth baseball season

   A signup session will be held next week for youth baseball/teeball, organized and sponsored by the Three Rivers School Recreation Committee. Boys and girls in first through sixth grades are eligible to participate.
   Meet on the lower field at Three Rivers School on Tuesday, March 27, at 6 p.m. The registration fee is $25 per player, which includes a T-shirt and ball cap.
   The league will consist of two coed age brackets: first through third-graders and fourth through sixth-graders. The season will run from April through May. Days of play will be Tuesdays, 6-7 p.m., and Saturdays, 9-10:30 a.m. with the first game being played Tuesday, April 10 (dates and times subject to change).
   Information: 561-4014 or 561-3363.

Handweavers descend

on Central Valley

   Every other year for 52 years, the Conference of Southern California Handweavers has been held in, where else?, Southern California. But this year, for the first time, the conference is being held in a more northern location — Visalia.
   There are a lot of excited weavers in Three Rivers and throughout Tulare County, many of whom have worked very hard to make this event a success.
   The local guild — Handweavers of the Valley — is hosting the biennial conference and is one of four guilds planning the event. The other guilds are Santa Barbara Fiber Arts, Central Coast Weavers, and Ventura Handweavers and Spinners.
   Sharon Warren of Three Rivers created a wool tapestry that bears the logo, “Wildflowers of the Sierra,” of the 2007 conference.

  “It was a group decision to hold the conference in Visalia because of the excellent facilities at the Convention Center, and we wanted to show off our area and the beautiful wildflowers this time of year,” said Nikki Crain of Three Rivers, a Handweavers of the Valley member. “We are really excited to be hosting here in the Central Valley, where we are so accessible to both Southern and Northern California.”
   All week long, weavers have been getting their fill at the pre-conference workshops, fashion show, and more. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, it’s the public’s turn to see what all the excitement is about.
   Don’t miss this chance to attend, because in 2009, the conference moves south again to Riverside.
   For more information, call Nikki Crain, 561-4048.


Relax with Thai Yoga Therapy

by Brenda Proudfoot

   Imagine a yoga practice where you don't have to do anything except relax. Whether or not you have ever done yoga, Thai Yoga Therapy can be just what it says: therapeutic.
   Relatively new to this country, Thai Yoga Therapy is far from new. Like yoga and with yoga, it has been evolving for several thousand years.
   In the Thai language it is called nuad borarn, which means ancient or sacred massage.
   Though often called Thai Massage, this technique is different from what we usually think of as massage. Thai Yoga Therapy is done on a comfortable mat on the floor, fully clothed.
   It combines rhythmic palming and thumbing of sen lines or meridians in the legs, back, and arms with assisted yoga stretching and relaxation. It aids in releasing stress and tension, increases vitality and wellbeing, and deepens the connection between mind, body, and spirit.
   Flexibility is irrelevant to receiving a session. Like yoga, it can be adapted to almost any body.
   During the session, the receiver and the practitioner develop a feeling of working together to bring about healing and wellbeing. When finished, one's body feels open and alive.
   I have completed two nine-day trainings at the White Lotus Foundation (north of Santa Barbara) and 120 hours of additional study and practice. I am now offering Thai Yoga Massage in Three Rivers.
   For more information, call me at 786-6068 or 561-1017, or visit my web page at:

Redbud Festival:

A retrospective

   The Redbud Festival is just around the corner. Once again, the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers will host the artists and craftspeople gathering at the Lions Arena on Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13.
   Many from the Valley floor make the trek to Three Rivers to see the spring colors. Add an art festival to the mix and the trip is more than worth it.
   I had many questions about the Redbud Festival and in the process of answering them I have uncovered many layers. The entire history wouldn’t fit in one article, so I promise more to come before the Redbud Festival convenes in May.
   I begin with Carol Rookstool, a longtime member of the Arts Alliance and the California Gourd Society, because she gave me a history lesson and inspired me, although the history goes back long before Carol’s involvement.
   The attractions for Carol to the Redbud Festival were two: Lidabelle Wylie and Lorraine Young. They were instrumental in the Redbud Festival taking place each year in the mid-1990s.
   Artists themselves, Lidabelle and Lorraine had “pioneer souls,” said Carol. They were “capable women from families who appreciated the land and who valued using resources at hand.”
   Cleo White is credited with naming the Redbud Festival. She was president of the Redbud Garden Club in the early 1970s. Flowering redbuds paint the hillsides of Three Rivers pink each spring, and she felt the name appropriate.
   The Arts Alliance was started in 1987. Cathy Hunt (now known as Elsah Cort), Ginny Reagan, David Weaver, Gary Cort, and others promoted and hosted the Redbud Festival. As leadership changed, both Lidabelle and Lorraine had an abiding faith in the importance of the Arts Alliance and wanted to make sure it continued.
   They felt that the Arts Alliance could be a vehicle of inspiration for artists and passed this dream on to Carol.
   Lidabelle’s health was failing by the time Carol appeared on the scene so Lorraine pulled Carol in and the two of them became close friends. There were workshops where artists learned new techniques, inspiring new ideas, which produced more art, with the Redbud Festival as the venue to show and sell the results.
   Mike Perez did a bookmaking class at the Three Rivers Arts Center.

  “It was the best class I ever had,” said Carol.
   Jean Ray Laury, quilt artist and writer, did a fabrics workshop. Lois Rainwater taught a basket-weaving class at the Naturedome. Bullene Vineyards hosted another day of basket-weaving where the artists cut grapevines to make their baskets.

  “I listened to the founders of the Arts Alliance,” said Carol. “Pull artists together and inspiration follows. We even held a Clean-Out-Your-Closets Day in The Cabin parking lot.”
   Artists donated their unused stored art materials and supplies. It was a children-only sale. For a nickel, dime, or quarter, the children shopped till they dropped, under the guidance of their parents. Nothing was left at the end of the day.
   During Carol’s tenure on the Arts Alliance board, she and Lorraine compiled lists of participants in the Redbud Festival, a step into the computer age.
   Carol began her artistic career in fiber arts, taking time out to raise her children, and then finished her education with a doctorate degree.
   Carol works for the The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. She helped guide the school to where it now offers bachelor’s degrees.
   Education in the arts and apparel for the handicapped have been her specialties. Designing garments for women with mastectomies is another of her accomplishments.
   Pine needle basket-weaving is one of her many passions. Then her interests turned to gourd artistry, and she founded the California Gourd Society, which has a booth at the Redbud Festival every year. And now Carol is into the discovery of digital arts.
   In future articles, I will explore the other movers and shakers who have added their energy and ideas to the Redbud Festival.
   In the meantime, mark your calendars for May 12 and 13, when the Redbud Festival returns to the Lions Arena, Three Rivers. The Arts Alliance looks forward to hosting you.
   This article contributed by Shirley Blair Keller of Three Rivers.



Leslie Cooke
1947 ~ 2007

   Leslie Cooke of Three Rivers died Thursday, March 15, 2007, in Visalia. She would have turned 60 today.
   Leslie was born March 23, 1947, in the borough of Queens, New York. She was raised on Long Island and attended New York schools.
   Leslie moved to Three Rivers in 1998.
   Services will be private.

Gwendolyn Roberts-Cone
1981 ~ 2007

   Gwendolyn Roberts-Cone, a former Three Rivers resident, died Thursday, March 15, 2007, at the UC Davis Medical Center. She was 26.
   Gwen was born in Visalia to Steve and Donna Roberts on Jan. 15, 1981. Her father, Steve, tragically died on the day his daughter was born.
   Gwen was raised and loved by her mother, Donna, and her stepfather, Jody Hanggi, of Three Rivers. They supported her in her lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis; there is no cure for this disease.
   After graduating from Exeter High School, Gwen resided in Reno, Nev., where she pursued her dream of becoming a massage therapist.
   In 2004, when Gwen was a patient at the Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, she met and fell in love with David Cone, who was also a cystic fibrosis patient.
   On Dec. 20, 2004, Gwen became a double lung recipient. In July 2005, inspired by Gwen’s courage, David also had a lung transplant.
   David proposed to Gwen days after his surgery. The couple married in December 2006.
   Gwen experienced numerous post-transplant issues and, in January 2007, began the last fight for her life. She died peacefully last week with her husband, David, and mother Donna by her side.
   Gwen is survived by her husband of three months, David Cone, of Livermore; her mother, Donna, and husband Jeff Webb of Exeter; her father, Jody Hanggi, and wife Esther of Three Rivers; sisters Jennifer Lawrence and Cassandra Hanggi; her grandparents, Denova Stanley of Yucca Valley, Barbara Delgado of Three Rivers, Bob and Darleen Hanggi of Springville, Jack and Phyllis Roberts of Arroyo Grande, and Grace Kim Long of Sacramento; her father-in-law, Bill Cone, and wife Sonny of Livermore; and many lifelong friends.
   A private family graveside service and public memorial service were held Tuesday, March 20, in Exeter.
   Donations in remembrance of Gwen may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (

   The following are California residents killed in Iraq as announced by the governor’s office this week:
   U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Nathanial D. Windsor, 20, of Scappoose, Ore., who was stationed at Twentynine Palms, died Tuesday, March 13, while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Private First Class Alberto Garcia Jr., 23, of Bakersfield died Tuesday, March 13, as a result of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire and an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Steven M. Chavez, 20, of Hondo, N.M., who was stationed at Camp Pendleton, died Wednesday, March 14, as a result of injuries sustained from a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Specialist Stephen M. Kowalczyk, 32, of San Diego died Wednesday, March 14, as a result of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, northeast of Baghdad.
   U.S. Army Specialist Adam J. Rosema, 27, of Pasadena died Wednesday, March 14, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during recovery operations south of Baqubah, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Harry H. Timberman, 20, of Minong, Wisc., who was stationed at Twentynine Palms, died Saturday, March 17, as a result of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

—Total U.S. deaths—
Iraq area: 3,197
(as of Friday, March 16)
Afghanistan area: 309
(as of Saturday, March 10)
—Monday, March 19, 2007, marked the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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