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In the News -
Friday, MAY 5, 2006
SEQUOIA AND KINGS
life… and disappearance
A classic High Sierra tale of intrigue
by Sarah Elliott
In the high country of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks, there are 16 backcountry ranger stations. Each year, when the snow
melts until it falls again in autumn, park rangers staff these far-flung
|The Last Season
By Eric Blehm
335 pages, hardcover
They are a self-sufficient,
sturdy, adventurous lot, these backcountry rangers. Some have been returning
for their June-through-October shift for more than 30 years with little
accolade and none of the workers’ benefits afforded to the “permanent”
Each summer, the rangers patrol an 80-square-mile area of
rugged terrain and assist backcountry travelers by giving directions,
searching for lost hikers, treating injuries, demonstrating proper food
storage, and even evacuating those not lucky enough to make it out alive.
They protect the natural resources by educating hikers, picking up trash,
performing surveys from frogs to flowers, and restoring wilderness campsites.
And, according to a compelling new book, The
Last Season, by Eric Blehm (HarperCollins, April 2006),
there was one backcountry ranger who was a legend in his own time. But
on July 21, 1996, legendary turned to mystery as veteran ranger James
Randall “Randy” Morgenson, 54, disappeared without a trace.
Working for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for 28
seasons at the time of his disappearance, Randy was the senior backcountry
ranger among an elite crew. Except for the three years that he spent with
the Peace Corps in Asia during the late 1960s, he had worked for the parks
since 1965 and been stationed at more than half of the remote High Sierra
Author Eric Blehm’s meticulous research pieces together
the search-and-rescue efforts and describes events in Randy’s life
— from his childhood in Yosemite National Park to adulthood and
a troubled marriage — that brought him to that fateful day in the
summer of 1996 when he tacked a note on the door of his Bench Lake wood-and-canvas
station: “Ranger on patrol for 3-4 days…”
“I would say I
accumulated nearly 100 hours of interviews with rangers, family, and friends
of Randy’s while researching the book,” said the author.
He also revealed that he exchanged more than 5,000 emails
with rangers, reviewed 23 Sequoia-Kings Canyon incident reports, scoured
many peak registers in search of Randy’s words, and read 70 years
worth of diaries and logbooks kept by Randy and his father.
“I read 17 of Randy’s
favorite books that influenced his life, including the last three that
he read before he disappeared,” he continued.
Also during his eight years of research, Eric spent at least
50 days in the High Sierra backcountry, hiking an estimated 300 miles,
about two-thirds of which was off-trail and cross-country – “Randy
Country,” as it is known.
Those who recall the story when it was unfolding (“Backcountry
ranger missing,” The Kaweah Commonwealth, August 2, 1996),
and again when it made headlines in 2001 (“In the line of duty,”
The Kaweah Commonwealth, July 20, 2001) may think they know the
ending. But that’s only part of the story.
The reader is immersed into the biographical account on varying
levels, initially being spellbound by the mystery of the missing man and
then rewarded by getting up close and personal with Randy Morgenson, a
complex individual whose devotion to Earth’s wild places is passionate
– some would say fanatical -- and contagious. Sierraphiles will
realize that if they never took a walk in nature with this devoted mountain
man they are the lesser for it.
The book details the search that began 48 hours after Randy
last checked in by radio on Saturday, July 20, when another backcountry
ranger hiked to Randy’s Bench Lake post to perform a “welfare
check.” Nearly 100 people were involved in this search for one of
their own, as were eight specialized dog teams and five helicopters.
Also described in detail are some personal issues in Randy’s
life that leaves the reader wondering, did Randy intend to disappear?
Kaweah Country readers will recognize many of the names of Park Service
personnel who crossed paths with Randy over the years or were involved
in the search. This book belongs in every Three Rivers resident’s
collection and should be required reading for all who visit the Sierra
The book is a fair account of events, but not without controversy
as several Park Service shortcomings are revealed, such as resource protection,
the care and handling of longtime seasonal employees, communications failures,
substandard equipment, and issues that may have compromised Randy’s
“This story is
critical of the search and of the NPS in certain places,” said Eric.
By Aug. 2, 1996, the search for Randy was scaled back with
friends, family, coworkers, and investigators perplexed as to the ranger’s
fate. Then, on Sunday, July 15, 2001, five years after the last communication
with Randy, the first clue was found…
The Last Season
is available at visitor centers throughout Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks, online from the Sequoia Natural History Association, and
at major booksellers nationwide.
On the trail of Randy Morgenson
by Eric Blehm, author of The Last Season
A tiny one-room cabin sits high in the mountains in Kings Canyon National
Park, 25 miles from the nearest road. It’s not a sturdy structure
by any means — a Sierra winter, for example, would flatten it.
|The Last Season
By Eric Blehm
335 pages, hardcover
October its canvas roof is disassembled and the coming storms fill the
wooden-walled structure with snow. Eventually, it’s erased from
the landscape as if it were never there.
Come June, a helicopter sets down nearby and a person emerges
with a backpack and haphazard collection of brown cardboard boxes. Stacked
up among snow patches and newly sprouting meadow grass, they resemble
the supplies of a small expedition.
The helicopter lifts off, leaving a backcountry ranger alone
to drag supplies to the skeleton of a building protruding from a snowdrift.
Whatever snow hasn’t melted is shoveled aside, and the roof is reassembled
Soon enough, the higher mountain passes will become passable,
and the ranger’s job — to protect the people from the park,
and the park from the people — will begin.
A stone’s throw from the outpost’s rough-hewn
door is a lake with transparent turquoise water that darkens in intervals
to blackness in the center. At ground level, it’s stunning, like
something you’d see rimming a deserted South Pacific atoll. This
is but one of a collection of high-mountain puddles left over from the
last ice age. These, in particular, are known as the Rae Lakes and, despite
an utter lack of humanity eight months out of the year, they are one of
the most notoriously crowded summer destinations in this desolate corner
of Kings Canyon.
Nothing but hiking boots and animal hooves are allowed on
the hallowed ground, and even those are regulated. Aircraft aren’t
permitted to fly at low altitude here (though they occasionally crash)
and helicopters are prohibited from touching down except during emergency
evacuations, search-and-rescue operations, and the once or twice yearly
supply drop for the ranger who will be responsible for roughly 80 square
miles of raw wilderness, including 20 miles (in each direction from the
cabin’s front door) of the well-traveled John Muir Trail.
The southernmost entrance to this high valley is guarded
by Glen Pass, a short, steep climb that greets northbound hikers on the
John Muir Trail with 12,000 feet of cardiovascular double-time. From the
pass, the lakes are incongruous blue shapes in the distance, amoebas encircled
by green meadow grass that fades into the dull-gray granite landscape
dominating the High Sierra.
It was raining, and despite the trail’s nickname —
the “John Muir Highway” — I hadn’t seen another
human being in two days. A few weeks earlier, two friends who (along with
myself) had committed themselves to the trail, backed out.
Now, I was alone and thinking about bears while sucking on
a cherry Jolly Rancher — the third, and last, of my daily ration.
It’s rough country, and the JMT is considered the most difficult
section of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs between the Mexico and
During the descent to the Rae Lakes in Kings Canyon National
Parks, my hiking stick kept me upright on three separate occasions as
slippery rocks befuddle my “no-slip” Vibram soles. At around
10,000 feet, scraggly pines appear, and as the air thickens with lower
altitude, so do the tree trunks. The ground levels off just in time to
give my shaky legs a break.
Back down in bear country, I start whistling the theme from
The Bridge on the River Kwai, and every few yards I smack my stick against
a rock or boulder to further announce my presence. I cross a stream and
continue on the far side of the lake. It’s late afternoon. I’m
wet, hungry, and like many through-hikers on the JMT, I zone out of the
surroundings and fixate on my boots. No time to smell the roses; it’ll
be dark soon.
I nearly jump out of my skin at the abrupt intrusion. There,
just a few feet away under the boughs of a dripping pine, is a man wearing
the unmistakable green of a Park Service ranger.
he continued. “Saw you coming off the pass. Didn’t mean to
I follow Rae Lakes backcountry ranger Terry Gustafson down
the trail. By way of casual conversation, he managed to find out where
I am going and whom I’d seen, all without a hint of interrogation.
I’m especially impressed when he asks what kind of fish I’ve
caught without even seeing the rod and reel hidden inside my pack. Do
I smell fishy?
After directing me to the valley’s prime campsite,
Gustafson invited me to dry out in his cabin and have a cup of tea. Inside
the 10-by-10-foot square room, I realize that the “cabin”
is more a wood-sided tent, but despite the drafts, it is warm and cozy.
Spices and books lined shelves, while socks and clothing
items hung from lines strung across the ceiling like rafters. A Coleman
camp stove was hissing, simmering something in a closed pot that smelled
My less-than-discreet inhalations secured a dinner invitation,
and over five-star clam chowder and English muffins dripping with butter,
Gustafson patiently fielded my rapid-fire questions about the solitary
life he leads. Once a Scout-Observer with the 82nd Airborne Division,
he’d become a peace-loving Buddhist enraptured with the Sierra Range
Backcountry rangering lended itself perfectly to his meditation
practices. “I like the quiet,” he said.
Like many rangers, Gustafson’s modesty stops him from
detailing the lives he’s saved or the lost hikers he’s found
during his 16 years on the job. Casually, he mentioned some of the more
shocking duties he and his colleagues perform, like blowing up dead pack
mules with dynamite or physically transporting dead climbers from precarious
locations to helicopter pick-up zones.
Excitement finally entered his voice when he talked about
the number of burlap sacks he’s filled with trash left behind by
careless backpackers; and the marmot family he’s been keeping tabs
on; and the meadow he’s closed to grazing pack animals in order
to give native wildflowers — whose names I don’t recognize
— a chance at survival.
That night, alone in my tent at the campsite Gustafson had
shown me, I went to sleep secure in the fact that there’s someone
other than the bears out there.
The following morning, I woke with the sunrise and carefully
cleared any traces of my presence. The break from freeze-dried meals the
night before had rejuvenated my body, and I swung by the cabin to thank
the ranger for his kindness. I caught him just as he was leaving, pack
shouldered, ready to hit the trail himself.
He took a minute to provide me with suggestions for key campsites
and fishing lakes and told me about another ranger in McClure Meadows,
some 50 miles up the trail, whom I should visit. I jot the name “Randy
Morgenson” in my journal and put an X on my map to mark his cabin’s
A friend of mine, retired Sierra Crest subdistrict ranger
Alden Nash, had already suggested I stop in and see Morgenson, having
told me: “Taking a stroll with Randy Morgenson through the Sierra
would be like walking with John Muir himself.”
I arrived in McClure Meadows some three days later. Since
my encounter with Gustafson, I realized that I’m not really programmed
for solo hiking, and I’m looking forward to Morgenson’s company.
Alas, on his cabin’s front door is a note reading,
“Ranger on patrol, back this evening.” I loiter for a while,
then give in to my “trail pounding” schedule and continue
Maybe I’ll run into Morgenson, I think. I never do.
Years later, in the summer of 1996, I finally saw Morgenson
face-to-face, but his face was on an Overdue Hiker bulletin that was posted
at all trailheads and on telephone poles in towns adjacent the parks.
It wasn’t long after Randy had gone missing when I joined Alden
Nash in the search — albeit, not the massive search and rescue operation
being put on by the National Park Service.
The writer in me was awoken as I learned some of Morgenson’s
back story — how he had grown up in Yosemite Valley; knew and assisted
Ansel Adams; learned to climb from the Sherpa in Nepal, was mentored as
a writer by Wallace Stegner; and most impressive was his well-known dedication
as a steward to the High Sierra wilderness. He was a legend, it seemed,
even before he’d gone missing, having saved numerous lives and found
various lost hikers. He was the veteran of the backcountry ranger ranks
— the wise man of the woods. The Obi Wan Kenobi of the High Country.
Spurred on by my own love of the High Sierra and the great
respect I’d gained for backcountry rangers as I hiked the John Muir
Trail that summer of 1993, I started taking notes. Later, I read an excerpt
from one of Morgenson’s ranger journals.
Like all backcountry rangers, his logbooks are shelved in
the National Parks archives and scattered throughout the park in the mouse-chewed
archives of ranger stations and dusty drawers or cabinets in various administrative
One particular bit of Morgenson prose reminds me of that
day in 1993 when I trudged through McClure Meadow: “One hiker limped
and wobbled up the valley in late afternoon, passing like a ghost through
the lodgepoles. Did I really see someone, or imagine it? Dreaming? The
mountains and their companions, the forest and meadows and evolving creek,
just stand here. They’re not telling.”
What I didn’t know back in ’93 was that I’d
missed the opportunity to converse with a man who would become a legend
in ranger lore, a sort of “super ranger.” Morgenson’s
writings, photography, and storytelling, his well-known run-ins with tourists
and chipmunks, illuminate a low-paid, under-appreciated government position.
These men and women are the ranger caste, people who by nature
would rather sleep on a granite slab than injure a single blade of meadow
grass. We see them at park entrance kiosks, handing out maps, or even
at the national monuments in the heart of Washington, D.C., but in our
nation’s wilderness, far from civilization, is where their true
mettle and dedication are tested.
The Last Season is the result of
eight years of following Randy’s story and getting inside of his
mind. His example was exemplary — but like any ranger. I found he
was human, with inherent flaws. As such, when he went missing, some suspected
maybe he didn’t want to be found. He had once said he’d like
to hike the entire 211-mile John Muir Trail without leaving a footprint.
Elusive? You bet. But in the end, I feel honored to shed
light on his mystery.
I asked Page Stegner, Wallace Stegner’s son, to read
the manuscript with the hope that he would allow me to use excerpts from
his father’s letters he had written to Randy. I was humbled when
Page Stegner wrote his reaction to the book, which he allowed me to print
on the back cover. The Last Season is, “the story of a wild man
of profound vision and sustaining conscience.” Stegner continued
by commenting that I had “superbly captured that soul and given
it voice; it is one we all should listen to carefully.”
I could not have asked for a better accolade, not in a sense
of stroking my ego, but most important because I felt I’d succeeded
in conveying Randy’s message to the world.
For those of you who live and play in the High Sierra, I
think you’ll find the story of Randy Morgenson’s life, and
mysterious disappearance, will take you to a wild place in your heart.
Thank you for reading. --Eric Blehm
On the rise and going with the flow
If it were an annual race how fast the recently enlarged
Lake Kaweah basin would fill, then the current season would be seven to
10 days ahead of last year. Water officials who manage the Kaweah flows
were elated after learning that the May 1 snowpack totals remained a whopping
180 to 186 percent above normal.
That’s even more incredible in light of the fact that
just two months ago, those same officials were wondering if the season’s
runoff would even fill the lake at all. As of Wednesday, May 3, the elevation
level of the basin was 691 feet and steadily rising nearly one foot per
The full-to-capacity elevation, after the enlargement of
the basin was completed in 2004, is 715 feet above mean sea level. So
in theory the lake would be at capacity, depending on release levels,
within the next three weeks, just in time for the busy Memorial Day weekend.
But with cooler temperatures in the forecast, the dramatic
rise in the storage will be slowing at least for the immediate future.
“If Mother Nature
continues to do her thing as expected we will lose our parking lots [except
Lemon Hill] right around Mother’s Day,” said Phil Deffenbaugh,
Lake Kaweah’s general manager. “We are already telling campers
to be careful where they camp because the water level is coming up fast.”
Deffenbaugh said he expects the Horse Creek Campground to
be completely submerged by May 19 or 20. With Horse Creek out of commission,
at least for several weeks, there will be no overnight camping at Lake
Kaweah. That means that those who want to camp near the lake will have
to book sites in Lemon Cove or Three Rivers.
Lake Kaweah dam tenders, Deffenbaugh said, have the ebbs
and flows of Lake Kaweah down to a finite science. They use computer models
based on weather forecasts and snowpack data to calculate how much and
precisely when the precious water is released.
“The current release
of 2,500 cubic feet per second is just about what we are taking in as
temperatures begin to drop again in the higher elevations,” Deffenbaugh
said. “That water that’s being released is currently being
delivered to users and for recharging storage facilities.”
That 2,500 cfs of inflow from the Kaweah’s tributaries
translates to about 1,750 cfs on the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River in
the vicinity of the Chevron station in Three Rivers. As temperatures warm
in the afternoons, rafters will encounter ideal whitewater on the Kaweah
River in what should prove to be an exciting launch to the commercial
So again in 2006, Deffenbaugh and his U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers colleagues will get to see just how the newly enlarged basin
holds up when filled to capacity. Within a week or two, the area adjacent
to the Best Western Holiday Lodge in Three Rivers will be inundated.
Kayakers and other small craft are invited to launch from
the small parking area off Sierra Drive adjacent to the dike that was
built to protect the Best Western from the rising water. The area, for
a brief four weeks during seasons when the lake fills to capacity, will
provide some unique recreation, especially for self-propelled, non-motorized
Deffenbaugh said that a construction delay for the new facilities
at Slick Rock wasn’t necessarily a negative.
of the new boat ramp and parking areas had proceeded as planned, we’d
be under water right now,” Deffenbaugh said. “The fact that
we are 30 feet higher than normal for this time of year would have made
the project very difficult to complete.”
Deffenbaugh said he hopes to have a design of the new Slick
Rock area by month’s end.
“Right now, it
looks like we will go to construction by August,” Deffenbaugh. “The
new facilities will help us make up for some of what we lost in the enlargement
and will be a tremendous asset for Three Rivers.”
named for Jesse
He died one year ago this month at too young of an age. But
his alma mater, namely the Exeter Booster Club, is ensuring that his contributions
to the athletic programs at Exeter Union High School will be forever remembered.
Jesse Daniel Sindelar (1981-2005) was raised in Three Rivers
and graduated EUHS in 1999. In his honor, the Exeter Union High School
Memorial Athletic Award was established.
Jesse was a three-sport athlete during all four years of
his high school career.
According to the club: “Jesse was a competitor in life.
Tenacity, competitiveness, and hustle were his athletic trademarks and
legacy. He knew no fear on the field or on the courts. Jesse would be
the first to rush a quarterback or block a kick, to get to the ball that
was just out of reach or score the final basket even if he had to dribble
through a press or shoot a three-point shot over an opponent standing
a foot above him. No one ever doubted that Jesse had a passion for winning.
“Jesse was the
go-to guy, the one you could always count on both as a teammate and a
friend. His enthusiasm was infectious and he gladly shared his smile and
humor with all those around. Although Jesse’s life was short, he
lived life to the fullest.”
The award and athletic scholarship to a summer camp will
be given each year to a junior athlete who best exemplifies the above
traits. Last year, the award was presented to Vincent Pascoe.
On Tuesday, May 30, at an awards ceremony in the EUHS auditorium,
the 2006 scholarship was presented.
For those who would like to support the Jesse Sindelar Memorial
Athletic Scholarship Fund, contact the Exeter Booster Club, 505 Rocky
Hill, Exeter, CA 93221.
REDUBUD FESTIVAL 2006:
Raffle will support new
Lorraine Young scholarship
The 33rd annual Redbud Festival will be presented by the
Three Rivers Arts Alliance on Saturday and Sunday (Mother’s Day),
May 13 to 14. Instead of deciding what gift to give your mother this year,
bring her to the festival and invite her to pick out her own.
Every year, a raffle is held to raise money for scholarships
for Three Rivers students that plan to pursue an arts education. This
year the scholarship fund has been renamed in the memory of Lorraine Young
Lorraine was not only a talented painter, but she was the
backbone of the Redbud Festival for many years. In planning and setting
up for this year’s festival it was clear that Lorraine is missed,
but her inspiration is felt and her influence will continue through the
students who benefit from the fund.
The raffle is the major fundraiser for the scholarship fund
and the drawing will be held Sunday, May 14, at 3 p.m.. Tickets may be
purchased throughout the festival at the Arts Alliance booth, which will
be next to the snack bar. The artists who participate in the Redbud Festival
donate the prizes.
“I consider myself
a crafter, not an artist,” said Katherine Diamant of Visalia.
That may be true, but her knitted-beaded necklaces are definitely
the work of an artist. Stained glass pieces, a perfect Mother’s
Day gift, will also be offered at her booth.
Diamant was inspired to learn stained glass from her husband.
She shows her work at the annual Yosemite Camp Curry Craft Fair and it
is displayed at the Fresno Art Museum gift shop.
Kay Gaston, also from Visalia, is a newcomer to the Redbud
Festival, but not to the arts-and-crafts world. She has been doing handwork
Thirteen years ago, she attended a cloth doll-making class.
Her teacher, “elinor peace bailey,” inspired in Gaston a whimsical
attitude toward art.
Her cloth doll art and fused dichroic glass jewelry will
be on display at the Redbud. Kay just finished a position as curator of
the Doll Exhibit within the “Best of the Valley” Quilt Show
where the Viewer’s Choice Best of Show was awarded to one of Gaston’s
Gaston’s art is available at the gift shops of the
Fresno Art Museum, Tulare Historical Society, and Main Street in Exeter.
In addition to booths filled with ceramics, photography,
weaving, woodwork, metal sculptures, drawings, paintings, jewelry, jellies
and jams, candles, and more, the Three Rivers Garden Club’s booth
will have affordable native plants that thrive in this area, like the
festival’s namesake — redbud — and cuttings from the
members’ own gardens that they have nurtured for over a year.
The Sequoia Fund’s van representing the National Park
Service will entertain children with puppets, hands-on education, and
stories from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
And as festival-goers walk around enjoying the event, musical
entertainment will be provided throughout the weekend. Food and drink
will also be available.
For more information, see the Kaweah Kalendar page on this
HISTORIC FIRE LOOKOUTS:
Fire-watch in a room with a view
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live on a
mountaintop, alone with the weather and wildlife and your own thoughts?
Romantic images of famous writers such as Jack Kerouac and Edward Abbey
come to mind.
Both were fire lookouts.
Although fewer and fewer fire lookout towers remain standing,
many still serve a vital public safety function and are staffed by a dedicated
and hardy group of people. Some lookouts have been restored as recreation
rentals allowing visitors a unique camping experience, while others have
simply been left to the elements. Regardless of their use, these lonely
towers still inspire the wonder and awe of an era gone by.
The Buck Rock Foundation, a local grass-roots non-profit
organization, is dedicated to the preservation of fire lookouts in the
Central and Southern Sierra mountains and foothills. Founders were motivated
by the neglect and abandonment of many of our local remaining lookouts
including Buck Rock (the namesake of the Foundation), Bear Mountain and
Park Ridge. Goals of the association include preserving fire lookouts
through historic restoration and maintenance, and staffing lookouts for
fire detection, interpretation and for educational purposes.
Butthe best use of fire lookouts is still the traditional
one – staffing lookouts to look for fires. Fire lookouts are by
design, the eyes and the ears of the forest. If a fire lookout is staffed,
a fire watcher can quickly spot a fire then quickly and accurately report
that fire. The faster that fire is spotted and reported, the quicker resources
like fire fighters and fire engines can respond. The quicker those resources
respond, the smaller the fire will likely be. The bottom line? A quick
report of a fire can mean the difference between a large, catastrophic
fire or a small, inconsequential one.
Would you be interested in becoming a volunteer fire lookout?
Do you love nature and solitude, have an adventurous spirit
and like the idea of providing a service to your community and public
lands? Well, if so then volunteering as a fire watcher may be for you.
The Buck Rock Foundation provides a volunteer lookout program which assists
in the staffing of three fire lookouts in the Sequoia/Kings Canyon area:
Delilah, Park Ridge and Buck Rock. Not only do these lookouts have magnificent
views of the High Sierra and giant sequoia groves, but they also look
into all of our local designated wildfire “Communities at Risk”
- Squaw Valley, Dunlap, Wonder Valley, Piedra, Hartland, Miramonte/Pinehurst,
Badger, Wilsonia, and Hume Lake. On decent air quality days, Park Ridge
can even see into the Three Rivers area and called in the first report
of the Horse Fire near Horse Creek in 2004.
Space is still available in the class of 2006 for interested
folks who would like to donate time during the upcoming fire season to
help us staff our local lookouts. The pay is lousy, the food depends on
what kind of cook you are, exercise can not be avoided and the weather
unpredictable. But, the views are incredible, the excitement is unparalleled,
and how often do you get a chance to do something this unusual and so
important? This is a unique opportunity to give back to your community
while getting away from it all. Ours is a small, devoted group of people
from all walks-of-life with a common interest in maps, weather, wilderness,
and “high” adventure.
To learn more about our program and to find out if volunteering
as a fire watcher is for you, we invite you to attend our annual Volunteer
Lookout Orientation on Saturday, May 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hume
Lake District Forest Service Office on Highway 180 in Dunlap, California.
This day is geared for new volunteers and people with a general interest
in what it might be like to work in a fire lookout. It includes a morning
session of general information and purpose, along with a front line training
video and guest speakers. The afternoon is filled with hands-on training
of the tools-of-the-trade, weather observations and basic map reading.
Volunteer opportunities exist for as many or as few days
as you are willing to give. If you think you might be interested, please
contact Kathy Ball— Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Telephone: (559)
336-9319; Or visit our website at www.buckrock.org to print and mail a
Now that the weather has turned from rain to warm and dry,
the weed-management operation is kicking into high gear. Over the past
two weeks, the Weed Management Group has surveyed nearly 40 properties.
With about 30 to go, they should be able finish this phase in 10 days
Thistle is growing rapidly and putting out seed heads. While
it appears that Italian thistle will get the tactical jump on the WMG
because of weather delays (it’s the earliest bloomer), a strategic
edge is being maintained over the milk and yellow star thistle.
Meanwhile, the spray rig (donated by Century 21) has entered
the campaign. In two days last week, six properties were treated. Four
are confirmed yellow star sites; the other two a mix of milk, Italian
Over the next four to six weeks, the spray rig will be in
the field hitting the worst of the thistle infestations, and field surveyors
will begin revisiting treated properties to evaluate the progress.
Do-it-yourself property owners have asked questions about
Transline — where to buy it, how to mix it, how to apply it.
Where to Buy: The nearest place is Fruit Growers Supply in
How to Mix It: Transline is very concentrated. At the end
of the foldout label, you’ll find the guideline for mixing garden
sprayer quantities (one-quarter ounce per gallon of water).
How to Apply It: Each gallon of mixed solution should be
sprayed so that it covers about 1,000 square feet of thistle. Stay well
away from surface water. Read the directions carefully. Wear all of the
personal protective equipment (long-sleeved shirt, long pants, waterproof
gloves, shoes and socks). Goggles should also be worn, and avoid breathing
Last and not least, we've conducted quite a few surveys whose
property owners haven't returned the Cooperator's Agreement. The WMG can't
treat your property without it. Mail it or drop it in the black mailbox
on the door at 41763 Sierra Drive.
And, remember, it's not too late to call the weed hotline:
Andy Bronzan, 32-year
Three Rivers resident,
1916 ~ 2006
Lewis Bronzan died peacefully at his Visalia home Saturday, April 29,
2006. He was 89.
Andy was born Aug. 16, 1916, at home in Lathrop, Calif.,
to Niko and Ana Bronzan, Croatian immigrants. He grew up working on the
family farm and moved to Visalia in his early 20s and began his lifelong
career in the farm-machinery business.
His first job was steam-cleaning tractors in the shop at
Treanor Equipment Company (Cater-pillar), but he quickly advanced to managerial
and sales positions. During this time (December 1943), he married Mary
Ellis, his wife of 61 years.
Daughter Marsha was born shortly before Andy departed to
Alaska to serve as a heavy equipment mechanic with the U.S. Army during
World War II. After the war, he returned to Visalia and built and managed
a Treanor Equipment branch in Delano.
Son David was born during that time. In 1950, Andy and family
returned to Visalia where he purchased his first equipment dealership,
Bronzan Equipment (Ford). A second son, Marc, was born.
Sidelined by illness in 1957, the business was sold and the
family was told that Andy would never work again. Displaying his characteristic
strength and resilience (stubbornness?), in 1959 he bought Sequoia Machinery
in Visalia (John Deere) and opened an additional location in Tipton.
In 1970, Andy sold the John Deere dealership and purchased
the International Harvester dealership in Fresno and Five Points, retaining
the name Sequoia Machinery. Later, a Visalia location was added. When
the Fresno facility moved to a newly-built location on Highway 99, the
dealership became one of the first “XL” dealerships in the
nation, due to excellence of sales, service, and customer support.
In 1980, Sequoia Machinery was sold and Andy focused his
attention on Kaweah Company, a machinery finance company that he had started
in 1956. Andy continued to work until his death.
In 1968, Andy and Mary built their home in Three Rivers,
enjoying their peaceful view of both the lake and the Sierra. They lived
in Three Rivers for the next 32 years, returning to Visalia in 2002.
Andy was active in the Visalia and Three Rivers communities.
He was proud of his involvement in the building of Kaweah Delta District
Hospital and his membership on the board of directors of American National
He was a member of Visalia First Presbyterian Church, and
Three Rivers Community Presbyterian Church, the Rotary Club, the All Slavonic
American Association, and both Three Rivers and Visalia chambers of commerce.
Andy and his wife were fortunate to travel throughout the
United States and internationally, and their trips abroad seemed to always
return through Croatia. He counted 17 trips to Croatia to visit family
and always hoped to go one more time.
Andy was scrupulously honest in all his dealings, fiercely
loyal, and a devoted husband, father, and grandfather to his seven grandsons,
whom he adored and was most proud.
Andy is survived by daughter Marsha Robbins of Atascadero;
son David Bronzan and wife Donna of Visalia; seven grandsons, Kevin Robbins
of Alaska, Travis Robbins of Atascadero, Jeff Bronzan of Visalia, Brandon
Bronzan of Rohnert Park, Curtis Bronzan of Huntington Beach, Jared Bronzan
of Petaluma, and Aaron Bronzan of Palo Alto; his brother, Lou Bronzan,
and wife Mary of Brentwood; sister Kate Smalley of Stockton; sister-in-laws
Winnie Bronzan and Lorraine Bronzan of Tracy; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ellis Bronzan;
brothers Anton, Martin, and Nick; and son and daughter-in-law Marc and
Interment was Thursday, May 4, at the Three Rivers Cemetery,
followed by a memorial service at the Community Presbyterian Church.
Remembrances may be made to the Three Rivers Community Presbyterian
Church (P.O. Box 685) or the donor’s favorite charity.