In the News - Friday, May 7, 2010
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
percentage of Sierra snow
Remember the year 2010. It might never
happen again in a lifetime or two but how sweet it
is… if you like hundreds of thousands of acre
feet of water cascading nearly everywhere in the nearby
And if you like seeing snowmelt rushing through Three
Rivers now, just wait until the first extended run
of warm temperatures. The current flirtation with
2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on the Middle Fork
will seem like a drop in the bucket.
The recent snow survey totals —
191 percent of the May 1 normal — confirmed
what those who have recently visited the High Sierra
already suspected. The snowpack that is holding on
the north-facing slopes of the upper elevations is
The readings for the entire Kaweah drainage
are the highest above the norm anywhere in the Sierra
Nevada region and the highest since 1998 when they
were 248 percent.
No, it doesn’t mean we have the
most snow. But it does mean we have the most snow
relative to what we usually have and the most snow
on any May 1 in the past 12 seasons.
Those cold April snow events ensured
that the local pack would linger awhile longer so
even though the snow in Giant Forest is melting rapidly,
the biggest volume of water content is still up there
at places like Panther Meadow, Hockett Meadows, and
As of Thursday, May 6, Farewell Gap (9,500
feet) in Mineral King still had 85 inches on the ground
and more than 41 inches of water content. With the
onset of cooler weather this weekend that snow is
liable to hold even longer.
Here are some May 1 numbers for other
basins: Kern River, 144 percent; Kings River, 145
percent; San Joaquin, 159 percent; and Truckee, north
of Tahoe, 120 percent. In areas north of the San Joaquin
drainage, the numbers trend downward.
The way things are going this year, expect
the unexpected. Unprecedented floods, lingering
snow in the West; in terms of refreshing a parched
California, El Nino is best.
off at 3R forum
Town hall meetings have become a popular
way to get to know candidates for every office in
the land. Voters can meet the candidates in person,
ask questions, and see how each appears in front of
an audience. See
Tough times loom
Budget woes are never pleasant but meeting
the challenges they pose are a priority in these difficult
economic times. Tuesday’s (May 4) joint board
meeting with the Three Rivers Union School District
and Woodlake High School was an excellent
opportunity to observe these elected officials working
together to find common ground.
Before budget items, there were some
questions by the elementary trustees on the job Three
Rivers is doing to prepare students to enter high
Woodlake’s superintendent Tim Hire
deferred to Nicole Glentzer, WHS principal.
is always some transition for all students to make
in the freshman year,” Glentzer said. “The
students who come down to Woodlake for summer school
before that first semester seem to make the transition
Glentzer also said that Three Rivers
students typically are among the top achievers, but
“…they are also some of our most promising
underachievers.” She cited one student WHO received
an award for exemplary standardized test scores but
was ranked 115th in his class.
Tim Hire gave an update on how the Woodlake
district was using Measure C funds. There are now
new baseball/softball fields so varsity and junior
varsity teams can play simultaneously, and the six
aging portable classrooms will be replaced at the
end of the current school year.
Hire also said the remodeling of the
Performing Arts Building is next on the agenda. The
more costly site improvements like the stadium, all-weather
track, and new tennis courts are on hold until key
matching grants can be secured.
can’t move forward with these improvements until
we resolve some significant drainage issues on the
site,” Hire said.
The Woodlake board has already made the
decision to cut frosh boys’ and girls’
basketball, eliminate three teaching positions, and
cut some extracurriculum activities.
teacher cuts we made were related to Agriculture,
English, and at the continuation school,” Hire
said. “There will be no significant loss in
the classes we can offer our students.”
One other change will come in journalism,
Hire said. That class will be combined with yearbook
Hire said he is hopeful that the WHS
newspaper, The Tiger Times, will be able to publish
next year. Another cut that will save the district
money is a cap on health care spending.
been proactive in saving money and upping our reserve
from four to six percent,” Hire said. “As
long as things turn around soon we will be fine.”
For the shrinking district of Three Rivers
Union to remain an independent district, some more
creative measures will be needed.
To help balance the elementary school
budget, Sue Sherwood, superintendent/principal will
also be teaching sixth-graders next fall.
In addition, the board is preparing to vote on a special
assessment that would ensure that the two districts
— TRUS and WHS — can continue to operate
The alternative, Sherwood said, is to
consolidate with the Woodlake district. She is confident
that independence is what the Three Rivers community
wants and that voters will support the measure at
Rodeo worth the drive
by Brian Rothhammer
Beverly Hills may be known for its exclusive Rodeo
Drive (they insist it’s pronounced ro-DAY-o),
but this weekend, the drive is to Woodlake for the
57th annual Woodlake Lions PRCA Rodeo.
As Tarah Rowland articulates, “I
love the western hospitality of the Woodlake Rodeo…
it’s family oriented.”
Tarah should know. Not only has she attended
the Woodlake event yearly since she was a babe in
arms, she arrives this year as the 2010 Woodlake Lions
The Queen and her court will ride in
the Western Week Parade on Saturday, May 8. If you’ve
never been to one of these parades, you’re missing
a unique event. From the trick ropers to the school
bands, the dancers to the vaqueros with their high-stepping
steeds, it’s a delight of sound, color, and
Grand Marshal Paul Gomez will start the
parade at 10 a.m. on Valencia Drive. Gomez, who has
dedicated his life to community service said, “It
is an honor… a duty I shall perform with pride.”
After the parade, it’s time for
rodeo at what the Lions refer to as “America’s
Most Beautiful Rodeo Grounds.”
The venue is just north of town on Avenue
398, but if you happen to miss the signs posted everywhere,
watch for skydiver Kent Lane. At 3:30 p.m. Saturday
and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Lane will leap out of an
aircraft flying overhead, unfurling a giant American
flag so that the rodeo faithful can follow Old Glory
in a spectacular descent to a precise landing at the
center of the arena.
Saturday honors military—
For active duty or reserve members of the U.S. Armed
Forces, present your current military ID for entry
to the Rodeo at no charge.
our way of saying thank you,” said John Whittall,
a longtime Woodlake Lion who lives in Three Rivers.
Pre-rodeo events start at 9:30 a.m. with
the slack, which are timed events with prizes and
all for the overflow of competitors who didn’t
fit within the PRCA schedule. At 11 a.m. the first
helping of the Rodeo’s amazing chow is featured
with authentic western deep-pit barbecue served at
the BBQ Barn.
Then it’s onto the main events
of bull riding, bronc riding, barrel racing, and team
roping. Renowned rodeo clown Brian Potter will thrill
the crowd with his zany stunts, and there’s
even mutton bustin’ for the youngsters.
As if all that food and fun isn’t
plenty, those 21 and over might want to save some
energy for the traditional Rodeo Dance on the 2,400-square-foot
dance floor that starts at 6 p.m. with live music
Wear pink on Sunday—
Along with being Mother’s Day, Sunday will be
“Tough Enough to Wear Pink” day at the
Woodlake Rodeo. Competitors, male and female, will
wear pink to support breast cancer awareness as well
as to raise money for the cause. The Woodlake Lions
will also donate $1,000 to the Sequoia Regional Cancer
Tarah Rowland, this year’s reigning
royalty, refers to rodeo as “America’s
only homegrown sport.”
people represent the traits of honesty, ambition,
and integrity,” she said “They’re
well respected folks. The men and women in the arena
are recognized for doing what they love to do best.”
Tarah first competed for Woodlake Rodeo
Queen in 2009 and was chosen 1st Princess (runner-
up). She said she appreciates her relationship with
the Woodlake Lions and looks forward to another year
of community service.
A graduate of Golden West High School
of Visalia, she currently attends Reedley College
where she studies Animal Science. Upon graduation,
she intends to transfer to Montana State University
where she will major in Equine Science.
Tarah’s career ambition includes
breeding and training horses. Currently, she is training
her mare to show with the Valley Cow Horse Association.
She also intends to run for Miss Clovis Rodeo next
year as another step on the road to Miss Rodeo America.
Sunday, I will be riding in appreciation of all the
things my mom has done for me to get me where I am
today,” Tarah said. “She taught me to
ride and taught me many life lessons. As a child,
I scared her to pieces with my ‘need for speed,’
so I’m sure she will really appreciate my queen
salute running full blast!”
This weekend bring your mom, dad, the
kids, and all your friends for some rodeo action,
and some homegrown, down-home Woodlake hospitality.
There is no such thing as a free lunch
The new Subway restaurant in Woodlake,
along with all area Subways, will host a free customer-appreciation
breakfast on Tuesday, May 11, from 7 to 10 a.m. The
promotion includes a free Breakfast Melt Sandwich
and an eight-ounce cup of Seattle’s Best coffee.
There is no purchase necessary to take
advantage of this offer. The only thing customers
will be required to do is select what type of breakfast
sandwich they want to experience: Egg and Cheese,
Black Forest Ham and Cheese, Western and Cheese, Steak
and Cheese, or Bacon and Cheese.
All are served on an English muffin with
an egg (or egg white) omelet, American cheese, and
a choice of vegetables. The Western and Cheese melt
is under 200 calories and contains just 4 grams of
Cody Goswick, owner of Woodlake’s Subway, as
well as Subways in Visalia, Farmersville, and Goshen,
invites everyone to stop by and enjoy this free promotion
Subway in Woodlake is located just off
Valencia Blvd. on Antelope Street.
100 feet of clearance required
Prior to 2005, only 30 feet of clearance
around homes and other buildings were required by
state fire officials. But these days, it’s 100
feet, which ensures a greater defense in the event
of a fire as well as firefighter safety.
With the amount of rain that was received
in the region this past winter and spring, the weeds
and grasses are prolific — thick and tall. Fire
season has not yet been declared, which gives local
property owners additional time to maintain the required
clearance, which annually should include knocking
down all grasses, removing and treating invasive thistle,
and thinning trees and trimming branches up to six
feet off the ground and any that are overhanging the
Cal Fire will begin their annual inspection tour soon.
WILDLIFE: ON THE MOVE
of the brave bear
by Greg Sweet
Shortly after midnight on Thursday, April
29, as Mauriene Landry of the Log House Lodge was
passing into slumber, she was roused by a ruckus outside.
Her fearless guard dog, a 10-pound silky terrier named
Tula, was immediately on the job.
This being one of the first warm nights
of spring, Mauriene had left the windows open. She
followed the noise and the dog to the kitchen to find
a bear looking through the window screen, eyeing the
bowl of apples on the dining table. Tula competently
chased the bear from the windows so that they could
be safely closed and latched.
I hadn’t been half asleep, I would have thought
to grab my camera,” said Mauriene. “But
the flash would only have captured the interior of
the house, and I wasn’t about to go outside.”
The bear had retreated to the hillside
behind the house, so she went back to the bedroom
to have a second look. Much to her surprise, she found
not one, but four faces looking back at her. Four
young bears were sitting amongst the prickly pear
cactus behind the lodge.
bears don’t bother me,” said Mauriene.
“In fact, wildlife is one of the things I enjoy
about living in Three Rivers. But four at a time is
She estimated the age of all four to
be about two years.
you see a mother with her cubs, but bears are normally
solitary animals,” she said. “Considering
their age and number, I wondered if they had developed
a sort of gang, or pack, mentality.”
The next morning revealed much bear scat
behind the cactus garden and an upended garbage can.
To Mauriene’s knowledge, none of the neighbors’
garbage had been disturbed.
It is rare to see four bears together,
let alone four of the same age. According to several
black bear sources, females will sometimes stay with
their siblings until she breeds for the first time.
Males may stick together until they are
old enough to compete with more mature individuals
for territory and mating prospects.
There may be some concern about the proximity
of the Log House to Three Rivers Union School. A school
representative said that while bears are occasional
visitors to the school dumpster, there have been no
reports of marauding adolescent bears.
our only battle is with rattlesnakes,” a TRUS
A bird’s-eye view
by Pam Beck
How many humans are given the opportunity
to repeatedly view the inside of a huge raven’s
nest from above the nest?
How long does it take raven eggs to hatch?
How long before fledgling ravens leave the nest?
These and multiple other questions have
crossed my mind ever since March 14 when first sighting
this special nest and the mama sitting in it. Thanks
to Google, all and more of my curiosities about these
Corvus corax passerines have resulted in
multitude conversations and story sharing. I now understand
why ornithologists with trusty binoculars in hand
go out on a limb, literally.
Taking the dogs Kona and Mika off the
beaten path allows them to romp freely while giving
me and all daily dog-walkers much-needed cardiovascular
workouts and the opportunity to enjoy ceaseless wonders
of the natural habitat that Three Rivers so preciously
Did you notice the great horned owl nest
with three babies in the sycamore downriver at Dinely
Bridge? And, oh, the bounty of colorful wildflowers,
the hermit bobcats, and beware of rattlesnakes...
yes, we did already come across one.
Since ravens are such fiercely protective
birds, they normally strategically build their nests
in high, unreachable places. The five individuals
I know of who have viewed this raven haven consider
themselves profoundly fortunate.
Research has since informed me that ravens
lay from two to eight eggs, the incubation period
lasts from 18 to 20 days and, after hatching, the
youngsters leave the nest in 20 to 45 days. That adds
up to 38 to 65 days that the nest will be inhabited.
It’s now been about 54 days. While the beaks
of these five fledglings are getting huge and look
very sharp, they still have a bit of filling in to
do on the top parts of their scraggly wings.
Raven is a Greek word meaning “croaker,”
surely a play on words. However, many native tribes
believe the association these birds have with death
has given them mysterious powers as messengers from
Any day now, I will visit and they’ll
Will they go all at once? Or one at a
time? Will they hang around the nest for a while?
Or go their separate ways?
Kaweah Country: It’s
RATTLESNAKES are on the move this time
of year. While nights are still chilly, they stay
close to their rocky dens, but as the weather warms
they will travel farther afield. Rattlers do not look
for a confrontation with humans, but will strike if
disturbed, so always be on the defensive when outdoors
in snake country.
RIVER dangers abound in Three Rivers
and Sequoia National Park. Lives of unsuspecting visitors
are claimed annually. As the daytime temperatures
rise, the Kaweah River will look very inviting. But,
remember, it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The water is swift with undertows and, once in, if
being banged against the boulders doesn’t kill
you, the icy-cold water will.
Stay away from the riverbanks too, because
the water-polished rocks are as slippery as ice. People
have drowned even though they never had any intention
of going in the water.
TICKS are a nuisance this time of year.
If hiking in the foothills, be sure to wear light-colored
clothing (so you can see the dark-brown pests that
are about the size of a sesame seed. After coming
in from the outdoors, check your entire body to make
sure that a tick didn’t hitch a ride. Ticks
want to burrow into the skin and live off the blood
of a mammal. They can carry Lyme disease, which can
affect the nervous system, joints, skin, and heart.
Contact your doctor if you think you may be at risk
for Lyme disease.