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In the News - Friday, May 25, 2012

This week's front page



Only in the May 25 print edition:

Kaweah Country Visitor Guide – Spring/Summer 2012



Commercial stock use approved

for local parks wilderness


  Thanks to a flurry of activity on several fronts, pack stations and several other commercial outfitters can operate business as usual in the wilderness areas of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. A National Park Service spokesperson said on Thursday, May 24, that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will begin to issue commercial permits immediately.

  Commercial operators like Cedar Grove and Horse Corral pack stations and Bearpaw High Sierra Camp were on hold until an agreement was reached following a federal court hearing on Wednesday, May 23, in San Francisco. The judge’s oral order issued Wednesday stated that interim commercial use may be permitted but may not exceed 80 percent of the 2007 use levels.   

  On Thursday morning, NPS officials met at Ash Mountain to determine how to expedite the permits and meet the other terms of the 11th hour agreement. Karen Taylor-Goodrich, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, had requested that the local parks be able to issue the commercial permits until the pending lawsuit was resolved.

  The attempt to block commercial horse packing stems from a 2009 lawsuit filed by the High Sierra Hikers Association. The lawsuit alleges that the NPS did not adequately address the impact of stock use in wilderness areas in the General Management Plan for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, completed in 2007.

  Park planners had maintained that wilderness issues and quotas will be specifically addressed in a Wilderness Stewardship Plan that is in process. To ensure that permits could be issued while the court was deliberating, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Visalia) introduced a bill on April 27 that made commercial permits mandatory for two years.

  That bill was approved by a voice vote and sent to the Senate the same day. On May 17, after some across the aisle deliberations, the bill was approved with some changes from the original Nunes bill.

  To complete the legislative wrangling, the House passed the Senate’s version that made the permits mandatory for four years instead of two and directed park planners to finish the Wilderness Stewardship Plan. The bill is presently awaiting President Obama’s signature, which is expected before the next legislative recess.

  Legislative analysts reported that if the permits were not granted at least 20 businesses and dozens of jobs would be in jeopardy. Several of the outfitters have permit paperwork in process so their approval should only be a formality.                   

  “We are pleased that the court has allowed the NPS to issue use authorizations immediately for commercial pack stock in the wilderness,” said Taylor-Goodrich, park superintendent.


Memorial highway dedicated


  Last week, a memorial sign was installed on the shoulder of the westbound lane of Highway 198 near Mehrten Drive to honor the memories of Detectives Monty L. Conley and Detective Joe R. Landin. The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department officers were killed August 5, 1985, in Pixley when a vehicle ran a stop sign at 85 mph and crashed into their patrol vehicle while they were investigating a narcotics case.

  The driver of the speeding vehicle survived the crash and was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and served five years in prison.

  Both Conley and Landin were former Woodlake police officers, residents of Woodlake, graduates of Woodlake High School, and were married with young children. On Tuesday, May 8,  a memorial service was held for the two fallen officers at the Woodlake Memorial Building.

   Sgt. Chris Douglass, a spokesperson for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, said the idea for the highway memorial was proposed by the family members of Conley and Landin.   Because a state highway was involved, there was a lengthy process that began when    Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare) introduced a resolution for the road dedication that was endorsed by the State Assembly in July 2011.

  The new highway sign was unveiled at the May 8 gathering in Woodlake.

Detective Conley’s only son, Matthew, and Detective Landin’s sons, Joe and Chris, have continued their father’s legacies. All currently serve as Tulare County Sheriff’s Department deputies.


Memorial Day (photo caption)


This sign on Highway 198 near Mehrten Drive and another near Spruce Road honor two fallen officers of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, Detective Monty L. Conley (1952-1985) and Detective Joe R. Landin (1950-1985), Woodlake High School alumni.


Primary Election 2012:  Deadlines,

districts, and the ‘Open Primary Initiative’


  California is a non-player in presidential primary races. By the time the June election rolls around, the Democratic and Republican candidates are pretty much a lock. But the Republican ballot will still give voters a choice between Mitt Romney, the presumed nominee, and Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Buddy Roemer, and Fred Karger.

Barack Obama is on the ballot for Democrats.

  More interesting, and perplexing, are the two dozen candidates for U.S. Senator — six Democrats, 14 Republicans, two Peace and Freedom, one American Independent, one Libertarian — that appear on everybody’s ballot. The rules have changed for this election due to the nonpartisan Open Primary Initiative that was passed decisively by California voters in the June 2010 primary election.

  Proposition 14 created a single ballot primary system whereby all voters can vote for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation. The two candidates who are the top vote-getters will advance to the November general election ballot, no matter what their party affiliation.

  The Open Primary Initiative, also known as a nonpartisan blanket primary, qualifying primary, or top-two primary, applies to the following offices: Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, State Senator, and State Assembly. It does not apply to the office of President, County Supervisor, or City Councils.

  Also new will be the districts in which Three Rivers is voting for representation: U.S. Representative, 23rd District (formerly District 21) and State Assembly, 23rd District (formerly District 34). Redistricting due to the 2010 Census resulted in these boundary adjustments.

  Kevin McCarthy (R) of Bakersfield is the incumbent for the 23rd congressional district. He has two challengers, one Republican and one with no party preference.

  The 23rd District of the State Assembly was formerly in Santa Clara County. Now that it will serve the Fresno region, it is all newcomers on the ballot, three Republicans and a Democrat.

  Allen Ishida, District 1 county supervisor (which includes Three Rivers), is running unopposed for his third term.

  Deadlines: The election will be held Tuesday, June 5, at the Three Rivers Memorial Building ( check the back of your Sample Ballot to verify polling location).

  Those who are voting by mail are encouraged by the Tulare County Elections office to mail their ballot by Tuesday, May 29. Ballots must be received by the Registrar of Voters by 8 p.m. on Election Day or they will not be counted.

  For more information on the upcoming election, go to www.tularecoelections.org.


Fire season looms


  Firefighters and all their requisite equipment descended upon Three Rivers on Wednesday, May 23, for the annual spring training and preparedness exercise, conducted by Cal Fire’s Tulare Unit and the Tulare-Kings Counties Fire Training Officers Association. The day-long event was held at Lions Arena.

  Multiple departments from Tulare and Kings counties, along with the National Park Service, participated in the exercise. Even traveling to Three Rivers was a part of the training as “strike teams” were formed, consisting of five engines and a leader, which is how units travel to a fire out of the county.

  Throughout the day, the strike teams rotated through several training modules. Subjects covered included: deployment of fire shelters (used when firefighters become surrounded by fire with no means for escape) from inside the engines and on the ground; a Wildland Urban Interface presentation (how to protect structures from an approaching wildfire while ensuring firefighter safety); hands-on WUI training; and radio communications.

  Prescribed fires— There are 10 prescribed fire projects scheduled for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for the 2012 season that begins in  spring and continues into the fall.  The total acreage upon completion of all projects, including five acres of mechanical thinning in the Mineral King area, is 3,619.

  The summer prescribed fires include two in the Giant Forest area for a total of 233 acres and a 512-acre burn in the Whitaker Forest area that will be a joint project of the National Park Service and U.C. Berkeley.

  In the fall, there are plans to burn in the Halstead Meadow area (686 acres) and Mineral King (1,485 acres).

  Several other projects are planned in the Grant Grove and Cedar Grove areas of Kings Canyon National Park.

  Currently, these are just proposed projects. Completion depends on funding and air quality and weather factors, as well as unplanned fires that could divert fire crews and resources elsewhere.

  Property clearance— In January 2005, a state law became effective that extended the defensible space clearance around homes and structures from 30 feet to 100 feet. Proper clearance to 100 feet dramatically increases the chance of a house surviving a wildfire. This defensible space also provides for firefighter safety when protecting homes during a wildland fire.

  To avoid inadvertently starting a wildfire that could easily spread rapidly due to the dry grass, all equipment with an internal combustion engine (weedeaters, chainsaws, lawnmowers) must be equipped with an approved and operable spark arrestor. Also, metal blades striking rocks can start fires.



THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
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