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In the News - Friday, April 19, 2013




BLM upgrades Salt Creek trail

North Fork management plan nears completion

  For the hundreds of users (bikers, hikers, equestrians, dog walkers, runners) who frequent the Salt Creek network of trails and road to Case Mountain, there is no better time than spring. Wildflowers are in peak bloom and the cooler days are ideal to enjoy the scenic foothills terrain from 1,500 feet elevation at the Skyline trailhead to more than 4,600 feet at Cinnamon Gap.
   In effort to improve and maintain access, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has had a road crew on the Salt Creek road portion of the area this past week doing brush work.
  “That machine that you see working its way up the Salt Creek road this week is a masticator,” said Steve Larson, BLM park manager, stationed at the Bakersfield regional field office. “The crew is peeling back the brush along both shoulders of the seven-mile road.”
Larson said next week the crew will use a road grader to smooth out the ruts and fill in areas that have sloughed away after this past season’s rainfall. Those ruts can be dangerous, especially to mountain bikers cruising at top speed downhill.
   The BLM is also looking at getting the traffic to the popular recreation area off of Skyline Drive. The proposed access would be where the Salt Creek Road enters the area east of the ponds near the old Craig Ranch house.
    Larson said the BLM is currently working with the Sequoia Riverlands Trust and officials from the Save the Redwoods League in the Bay Area to acquire more land from Craig heirs in the vicinity of the Salt Creek Road access. That access is beyond a locked gate and it is currently unlawful for the public to enter across private property.
    “We have also been talking with St. Anthony Retreat as to how we could develop parking and an alternate access to the area,” Larson said. “They are interested in partnering with us to furnish access from their youth camp.”
    The management dilemma, Larson said, is that if the parking and access is improved to the Salt Creek Area, it might attract the same undesirables that plague the North Fork BLM recreation sites.
    Those areas had to be closed in 2007 because they became the hangout for Central Valley gangs and a criminal element. The current resource management plan for the North Fork sites (Paradise, Advance, and Cherry Falls) is awaiting an opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and it will be finalized by late summer, Larson said.
    The preferred alternative of the new plan is to continue with the North Fork closures. Larson said this policy is due in part to the fact that it was discovered recently that most of the property that the BLM had been managing as Paradise was actually on private property.
    Larson said that at recreation sites near small communities like Three Rivers often the best policy to continue a low-key use.
  “If we can establish a partnership with some of the local users that’s how we can be successful in the management of these popular recreational sites,” Larson said.
    For questions or concerns about the BLM sites, contact Steve Larson at (661) 391-6099.

Preschool to open soon in Three Rivers

By Holly Gallo

  Parents of young children in Three Rivers will soon have the opportunity to send them to a licensed preschool as Heidi Schumacher and Erin Leedy prepare to have their River Kids Cooperative Preschool licensed by the state.
    The two have been running River Kids Cooperative Preschool license-exempt in the Community Presbyterian Church’s basement since last summer.
    “The church has been incredibly generous,” Erin said.
    Being license-exempt has made the project highly restrictive, however. The number of children allowed in the program is limited and parent-teachers could not be paid, for example.
    Though still running under those criteria, they are currently awaiting teacher and director certificates before starting the licensing process, which will finally allow them to take on new students and hire teachers.
    More parents are hearing about the preschool, but they cannot take on new students until the process is finalized.
  “It’s been a little frustrating,” Erin said.
    The license will allow the facility to accommodate children between the ages of 30 months and 5 years full time, meaning children could attend half or full day preschool several days a week. It is hoped that the licensed preschool will begin in August.
    The process has been greatly assisted due to a $15,000 grant from First 5 Tulare County, which has been “very helpful and wonderful,” Erin said, in getting the preschool on its feet.    

   The grant is restrictive, as no funds may be used to pay for teachers or operating expenses, but River Kids has certainly benefited from First Five’s help.
    River Kids will be running a Spanish language camp this summer, taught by Maria and Marela Reynoso, for children from 3 years old to second grade. It will be comprised of two two-week classes, July 8 through 19 and July 22 through August 2.
    The website will be up and running soon, and Erin plans to have an open house that will allow interested parents to learn more information about enrolling their children.

   History of 3R preschools— It’s been more than a decade since there has been a licensed preschool in Three Rivers. Bearable Childcare was a short-lived venture that opened in the facility built specifically as a daycare center behind Valley Oak Credit Union. Following its closure, a Porterville woman attempted to reopen the facility, but the licensing procedure was never completed.
    In the 1980s through 1996, Sierra Preschool operated out of the basement of Community Presbyterian Church, which is where the new River Kids preschool will be held.

Sequoia’s fire education specialist detailed to Bishop

    With all the budget uncertainty in the national parks these days, there will be lots personnel changes and fewer seasonal workers hired. More permanent, full-time employees will be assigned details ,and that can be a win-win for the employee and the agency.
    Deb Schweizer, who has served as a fire education specialist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks since 2007, will begin a 120-day detail on April 22 as a public information officer with Inyo National Forest at the Bishop headquarters.
    “It’s an opportunity for me to get experience at a position that’s similar to what I’m doing now but working in a department where there are more jobs and a chance to advance my career,” Deb said.
    For the U.S. Forest Service, the detail fills an immediate need while the agency searches for a permanent replacement. Deb is due to return to Sequoia-Kings Canyon in late July, right when the local fire season is typically heating up.
    “I am excited about the chance to work with another federal agency and better understand their mission and goals,” Deb said. “I am also looking forward to experiencing Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks from the east side.”
    Filling in for Deb while she is deployed is Krystina Webster, a sub-district interpretive ranger who has been working at Lodgepole. Trained in structure and wildland fire, Deb calls Krystina a “good fit.”
    In July, Krystina will be accepting a new position at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument on the Arizona/Mexico border.
    Speaking of fire— Fire crews at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks successfully completed ignitions on the Heliport and Valley Floor prescribed fires in the Cedar Grove area last week for a total of 33 and 95 acres. Park visitors were unaffected by any smoke-related issues as the area closed to the public until April 26, when it is opened for day use only.
The opening of campgrounds and facilities for the summer season will occur on May 22.

Campaign headquarters (photo caption)

   First-graders at Three Rivers Union School urge everyone to vote in an ongoing contest on Facebook that could garner the school a much-needed $15,000 playground grant. Ten schools were selected via a video contest to compete for five available grants. TRUS is currently ranked in the top five vote-getters but is up against some big-city schools. A Facebook account is necessary to participate; voting can only be done on a computer (not iPhone or iPad).
    Here’s how to vote: (1) Go to www.facebook.com/letsplay. (2) “Like” the page. (3) Click on “Video Contest.” (4) Hit the “Vote” icon below the Three Rivers, CA, video. (5) Vote once each day through Friday, April 26. It’s the easiest volunteer job ever!

Benefit dinner planned for 3R mom battling cancer

By Holly Gallo

   The community of Three Rivers, renowned for coming together to help neighbors in need, has the opportunity to rise up again this Sunday, April 21, at the River View Restaurant and Lounge, for a spaghetti dinner to benefit Christina Hart, a resident of Three Rivers for more than 20 years.
    Christina is a single mother of two — Ty and Taylor Hardin — and has more often than not worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. She was recently informed that she needs immediate surgery to remove the cancer plaguing her body.
    As she does not have insurance and does not qualify for government assistance, the necessary surgery cannot be performed without up-front payment.
  “It’s progressed so far that if she doesn’t have the surgery, it will kill her,” River View owner Dorletta Hildebrand said. “The community has gotten together to help people in the past, and we hope that they will come out to support this cause, too.”
    The goal of the benefit is to raise $4,500 to cover doctor and hospital expenses. Many people have already volunteered their time, according to Dorletta, and local businesses have donated items as well as cash to ensure the success of the benefit.
    Dinner will be served from 2 to 7 p.m. and will feature live music (4 to 8 p.m.), a silent auction, and raffle prizes. Tickets are $7.50 for adults; $4 for children 12 and under. Presale tickets are available at the River View.
    Cash donations are accepted as well and may be dropped off at the restaurant. No amount is too small.


Nonprofit groups defend the Antiquities Act

   Defending the President’s use of the Antiquities Act to strengthen our National Park System, the National Parks Conservation Association and Cesar Chavez Foundation expressed their support for recent designations and concern for bills that stand to weaken the law.
    Eight bills were discussed on Tuesday during a hearing at the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation. Of the eight, five call for state-specific prohibitions of the President’s use of the Antiquities Act, with more sweeping restrictions proposed in the remaining three.
  “The Chavez family, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, and the farm-worker movement are deeply concerned over legislation to limit the President’s ability to create new national monuments,” said Paul Chavez, president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “Any proposal to prohibit or restrict the President’s authority to bestow the honor of a new national park site to commemorate important American figures and movements that strengthened our democracy should be opposed.”
  “President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act has helped to measurably diversify our National Park System,” said Kristen Brengel, legislative director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “We must ensure that all Americans see their ancestors’ histories reflected in the System. When opportunities to bring superlative examples of our nation’s diverse history present themselves, such as with the Fort Monroe, Cesar Chavez, Colonel Charles Young, and Harriet Tubman national monuments; and when an overwhelming public support is shown for a designation like the First State National Monument, we need to seize, not squander them.”
    In 2009, the National Parks Second Century Commission issued a report of recommendations for the National Park Service to consider, as the agency heads toward its centennial in 2016. The Commission was chaired by Senators Howard Baker and Bennett Johnston and included a distinguished group of Americans.
    One of the report’s lead recommendations was that the National Park System needs to become more diverse, reflecting our nation’s evolving history.
  “Last October, President Obama proclaimed before 7,000 people the National Chavez Center at La Paz in Keene, California, as the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, the 398th unit of the National Park Service,” said Chavez. “Now the story of my father, Cesar Chavez, and the contributions of thousands of Latinos, immigrants, and others who joined La Causa over the decades is being shared with all of America through the National Park Service. Our country is only strengthened when the stories of farm workers and Latinos are shared with all of our fellow citizens.”
    Of the nine national monuments that President Obama has designated to date, five are managed by the National Park System: Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in California, Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio, First State National Monument in Delaware, and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland. Each of the monument designations enjoyed widespread support by community leaders and elected officials, leading up to their declaration.
    Submitted by Kati Schmidt, senior media relations manager, National Parks Conservation Association.

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