In the News - Friday, May 28,
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
uncertain for Kaweah Post Office
Nunes backs constituents
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has not notified
the public of their intentions regarding the operations
of the Kaweah Post Office. As of Tuesday, May
25, the box holders of Kaweah had not been notified.
It is as if it’s business as usual.
On Friday, May 21, Congressman Devin
Nunes (R-District 21) flew in from Washington, D.C.,
to attend to the matter of the historic post office.
A meeting had been arranged with the operations manager
of the Santa Clarita Division of the USPS at the congressman’s
A call was received by Rep. Nunes’s
office an hour before the appointed meeting to say
that the USPS representative could not attend due
to scheduling conflicts.
Andrew House, communications director
for Congressman Nunes, spoke to the Commonwealth on
Monday, May 24. He asserted that he is still “hopeful
of a positive answer before the Friday closure”
and that Rep. Nunes “is ready to move forward
with options to keep the Post Office operational.”
“We recognize that this is a historic
site and that there are other factors present,”
he continued. “We are asking the USPS to keep
it from being closed. There would be [at minimum]
drop-off delivery and the postal boxes would be picked
up and delivered.”
For many Kaweah residents, that is not
enough. Purchasing stamps, mailing packages, and other
services will be missed by the patrons.
“It’s not quite enough for people
who need the post office here,” said Marie Aguilar,
a Kaweah resident. “My husband is disabled;
I can’t leave him long enough to go to the Three
Rivers Post Office.”
Linda Childers, a local resident who canvassed Kaweah
for the 2010 Census, feels that a sense of community
would be lost.
“We use this window for every postal-related
activity,” she said. “This is the
community center of Kaweah. It has history. We want
to continue the historic tradition.”
Postmistress Sandy Norris has seen reactions
from TV news crews to local residents who are surprised
at the lack of communication from USPS officials.
An elderly woman from Clovis came in recently, Sandy
said, and with tears in her eyes, held out three one-dollar
bills saying that she had heard of the closing.
“I’m so sad [about the closing]
and I want to contribute this to keep it open,”
Sandy informed the visitor that she wasn’t
in a position to accept such funds. The USPS does
not allow for concerned citizens to balance the budget
of their local post office through well-intentioned
Scores of folks who stopped by this week
are all wondering the same thing: What can be done
to save the historic post office?
The agency that makes the final decision
is the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). They are
an independent regulatory agency created by the Postal
Reorganization Act of 1970. That was when the Post
Office Department was disbanded and renamed the United
States Postal Service.
The USPS is defined as an independent
agency of the United States government. It has, however,
an exclusive monopoly of mail delivery within the
The USPS website for the Office of Strategic
Planning currently lists an “action plan”
released in March 2010. It “calls for legislative
and regulatory changes that allow greater business
The citizens of Kaweah are calling for
common sense. The Kaweah Post Office was built by
neighbors for $15 in 1910. Many of their descendents
still use it today.
Andrew House emphasizes the importance
of community involvement. Although the USPS is independent
of direct Congressional authority, he has made it
very clear that Rep. Nunes can exert pressure and
“We understand that this is a very important
component of the community,” he said. “This
is not necessarily the end of the debate.”
House also encouraged petitions, letters, and emails
as effective means by which citizens can affect change.
“Congressman Nunes is willing to go to
the mat for his constituents,” House stated.
“But saving Kaweah Post Office is not going
to be easy.”
House concluded by saying that “as
long as the community is united behind him, the congressman
will continue to fight for the Kaweah Post Office
in Washington, D.C.”
King Road open to Silver City
In the local mountains, after the biggest snowpack
in 12 years, it’s been a challenge to get everything
open for the busy Memorial Day weekend. At least a
minimum amount of facilities will be open, and those
who do venture to the nearby mountains will be in
for a rare high country experience.
The Mineral King Road will be open and
clear to Silver City. Atwell Mill Campground will
be open with only a few sites still snow covered.
Cold Springs Campground remains snow covered and will
not have any sites open until at least June 5.
Silver City Store and Restaurant is not
expected to be open until June 14.
There are limited cabin accommodations
available at Silver City. Visitors are encouraged
to call ahead (561-3223) for the latest information
Those who do want to visit the Mineral
King valley are encouraged to park at Silver City
and then hike the 2.7 miles to the valley. As of this
week, some four to five-foot snow drifts remain along
the road in the vicinity of Faculty Flat; the valley
is mostly snow free at the lower elevations and on
the south-facing slopes.
In Giant Forest, the Crescent Meadow/Moro
Rock Road opened Thursday, May 27, to accommodate
the park shuttles. Throughout the holiday weekend,
vehicle access to Crescent Meadow and Moro Rock will
be limited to those visitors who are disabled or have
Road construction on the Generals Highway
in Sequoia National Park will be suspended for the
weekend. Flagmen will be stationed at the signal light
areas on each end of the construction zone to ensure
delays are minimal.
In nearby Giant Sequoia National Monument,
the Big Meadows Road remains snow covered and is not
open to vehicles. The Generals Highway between the
parks and in the monument is open but subject to closure
if new snow accumulates.
Drivers headed to the mountains should
be sure their vehicles are equipped with chains and
be prepared for winter driving conditions.
For the latest road conditions in the Sierra, call
1-800-427-ROAD or log onto www.recreation.gov.
Shuttle launches fourth season
The Visalia-to-Giant Forest and intra-park shuttle
began 2010 operations Thursday, May 27, just in time
for the Memorial Day weekend, the first of three busy
three-day holiday weekends of the local tourist season.
In Sequoia National Park, the summer-long
shuttle service is estimated to eliminate 50,000 car
Several changes are being implemented
this year. Three hybrid-electric shuttles have been
added to the fleet. Inside the park, a new route will
transport visitors back and forth between Wuksachi
and Dorst Campground, once the Dorst area opens in
On the three holiday weekends, private
vehicles will be limited on the Moro Rock and Crystal
Cave roads. Only the disabled and those with wilderness
permits will be allowed to drive vehicles into the
area during peak visitor periods.
Also, new outside the park are stops
at La Quinta Inn in Visalia and the Red Barn at the
Exeter turnoff (Hwy. 65) on Highway 198. The shuttles
will continue to stop at Comfort Inn and the Memorial
Building in Three Rivers.
According to Tony Moreno, president of
the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce, drivers
will be able to stop for up to 10 minutes at businesses
in Three Rivers.
“If a passenger wants to stop at Reimer’s
or Village Market the driver will be permitted to
do so,” Moreno said.
Potentially, this could help generate
additional revenue for local businesses. It does not
fully address making the shuttles more user-friendly
for Three Rivers residents and visitors who are staying
in other locations besides Comfort Inn.
The shuttles will operate in Sequoia
National Park daily through September 20 between 9
a.m. and 6 p.m. Visitors who ride the shuttle to Moro
Rock/Crescent Meadow should carry water because drinking
water is not available along the route.
vandals ID'd, Hells Angels arrested
At least three local teens
were questioned earlier this week by Deputy Albert
Brockman as to their part in recent vandalism that
occurred at the Three Rivers Memorial Building and
the Community Presbyterian Church. According to sheriff’s
reports, the latest incidents occurred Thursday, May
The Juvenile Crimes Division of the District
Attorney’s office is preparing charges against
the trio. The names of the individuals have not been
released because the youths are all 14 years of age.
In the incident at the Three Rivers Memorial
Building, the youths broke into a storage area and
made off with an undetermined amount of beverages
that were being stored for an upcoming event. At the
nearby church, the youths then are alleged to have
gained entry to the basement that is used for a children’s
It is not known what if anything was
taken in the church break-in. The law-enforcement
report described the damage as consisting of a mess
that had been made of the premises.
Several chapters of the Hells Angels
converged on Three Rivers during the weekend of May
21 through 23. The majority of the members stayed
at Western Holiday Lodge and Comfort Inn.
Dozens of law officers under the auspices
of the Tulare County’s Gang Suppression Unit
were on hand to keep a watchful eye on every move
the Angels made throughout the weekend. Lemon Hill
at Lake Kaweah was transformed into a police command
post and, according to a local Sheriff’s
Department deputy, there were no major incidents.
Eleven individuals were taken into custody
including two Hell’s Angels and
one Three Rivers resident. One of the motorcycle gang
members from Littleton, Colo., and one from Cheyenne,
Wyo., were arrested Saturday at the Village Market
on weapons charges and their motorcycles towed.
On a more positive note, the visit of
the Hell’s Angels fueled a busy weekend for
local innkeepers, restaurants, and merchants. It was
the first “no vacancy” weekend of the
2010 season when most local lodging properties were
Natural History Association
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Parks evolve, so does SNHA
from humble beginnings as a small retail and publishing
organization to an essential funding and visitor education
arm of the local parks, the role and function of the
Sequoia Natural History Association has changed significantly
over the course of its 70-year history. As the nonprofit
cooperating association partner for Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks, Devils Postpile National Monument,
and Lake Kaweah, SNHA’s history highlights the
critical and ever-changing role park partners play
in assisting the National Park Service (NPS) to accomplish
its mission of protecting park resources while providing
for visitor education and enjoyment of the parks.
In the 1920s, a movement started within
the NPS to establish cooperating associations: a partnership
between NPS naturalists and private citizens to form
nonprofit organizations that support park programs
and serve park visitors in ways not available through
federal funding. In 1936, the Department of Interior
noted in its annual report that cooperating associations
are “helpful organization[s] able to finance
and promote the education and research programs in
a park in ways not open to a Government operation.”
While nationally the idea of park cooperating
associations took shape, 20 years passed before Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks established one of
In 1939, the NPS promoted Colonel John
White — the parks’ first superintendent
— to its regional and national offices for several
years. Eivind Scoyen was appointed on January 1 of
that year as the second superintendent for the local
parks. Seven months later, the parks hired their second
chief naturalist, Frank Oberhansley.
arrived in the parks because new tools and ideas being
used in other national parks came in association with
new personnel,” said Bill Tweed of Three Rivers,
longtime park historian. “Up until then, the
parks had a management team that had been running
things a certain way. Both a new superintendent and
new chief naturalist arrived in 1939, and by the following
spring a new cooperating association was established
in the parks.”
Today SNHA is one of 65 cooperating associations
partnering with the NPS and is known for enriching
the experiences of visitors and promoting public awareness
of the significance of national parks through educational
programs, publications, and financial support. The
organization established in 1940 was a nonprofit run
by NPS staff focused on selling maps and publications.
During its first year of operation, revenue
totaled $539; in 1946, SNHA published its first book,
Crystal Cave. For two decades, SNHA operated quietly
as a retail and publishing organization.
didn’t really know about SNHA during that time,”
said Jim Barton of Three Rivers, former SNHA board
member (1988-2008), who worked as a summer ranger
in the parks during SNHA’s early years.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the
role and function of SNHA changed significantly in
response to decreased federal funding for visitor
services and education programs in the parks. The
NPS transferred the Pear Lake Ski Hut and Crystal
Cave tour operations to SNHA.
In addition, the organization established
its field seminar program with six courses and a membership
program with 200 supporters, who received the newly
created Seedlings membership newsletter. SNHA provided
financial support for projects such as the Walter
Fry Nature Center in Lodgepole and the formation of
the nonprofit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Foundation (today called the Sequoia Parks Foundation).
In 1987, SNHA hired its first executive
director, John Palmer. Palmer had previously worked
as chief interpreter for the parks and as part of
his NPS duties had served as the SNHA executive secretary
since 1969. Under Palmer’s leadership, SNHA
started its annual membership meeting and picnic,
opened an office building at Ash Mountain, reached
$500,000 in annual revenue, and grew to 600 members.
SNHA continued to expand its operations
and services into the 1990s. Tyler Conrad became the
organization’s second executive director, and
SNHA’s programs now included renting bear-resistant
food canisters, hiring the first visitor center employee,
and expanding both space for books in visitor centers
and the number of retail items sold to 700. By 1993,
SNHA had contributed $1 million in support to Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks since its founding
To be continued...
Sequoia National Park and General Grant National
1916 National Park Service
1923 Yosemite Museum Association,
first NPS cooperating association, established
1940 SNHA established; membership
= 0, revenue = $539. Kings Canyon National
Park established; Crystal Cave opens for public
1942-45 SNHA operations on
hold due to war
1946 SNHA publishes first
book: Crystal Cave
1963–1965 SNHA expands
sales outlets to new Grant Grove and Lodgepole
1969 NPS Chief Park Interpreter
John Palmer assumes the role of SNHA executive
1973 First SNHA employee,
Denelle Stroh, hired as business manager
1979 SNHA assists NPS with
Pear Lake Ski Hut operation
1982 SNHA takes over operation
of Crystal Cave from NPS
1983 SNHA establishes field
seminar program; starts membership program
with 200 members; revenue = $250,000; aid
to NPS = $29,000; total aid since 1940 = $214,000
1987 John Palmer becomes
first executive director
1988 SNHA opens office building
at Ash Mountain; members = 550; revenue =
$507,000; aid to NPS = $53,000; total aid
since 1940 = $453,000
1992 Tyler Conrad joins SNHA
as second executive director; members = 850;
revenue = $681,000; aid to NPS = $193,000;
total aid since 1940 = $979,000
1996 Mark Tilchen selected
as SNHA’s third executive director;
visitor center staff = 3; members = 1000;
revenue = $751,000; aid to NPS = $117,000;
total aid since 1940 = $1.3 million
1998 SNHA takes over full
operation of the Pear Lake Ski Hut from NPS;
hires first employee for Devils Postpile
2000 Visitor center staff
= 10; members = 1,500; revenue = $1.1 million;
aid to NPS = $251,000; total aid since 1940
= $2.1 million
2001 Sequoia Field Institute
created with John Lockhart as first education
2002 Beetle Rock Education
Center and Giant Forest Museum park store
2003 SNHA expands to Lake
Kaweah and opens Sierra Nature Store in Visalia
2004 Sierra Nature Store
2005 SNHA creates marketing
department with Dayna Higgins as director;
Retta Niday becomes business manager; visitor
center staff = 19; members = 2,800; revenue
= $1.7 million; aid to NPS = $1 million; total
aid since 1940 = $4.5 million
2006 Savannah Boiano becomes
second Sequoia Field Institute education director
2010 Crystal Cave operations
100-percent solar powered; SNHA aid to NPS
surpasses a cumulative total of $10 million
that time again!
annual BEST of Kaweah Country
the release last summer of The National Parks: America’s
Best Idea, a documentary film by Ken Burns, people
are planning vacations that include national parks
more than ever. And hundreds of thousands of them
will be traveling through Three Rivers on their way
to one or two of the most beautiful national parks
in the system.
Keeping this in mind, it is time once
again to complete the annual BEST of Kaweah Country
readers’ poll to assist visitors and remind
residents of the must-see places that are located
in and around and nearby Three Rivers.
Completing the form is simple and fun.
It is open to anyone who has an opinion. We LOVE when
children provide their insights as well.
The deadline is June 30; the publication of the special
issue that contains the BEST results will be sometime
Thank you in advance for your participation.
—John and Sarah Elliott
here for 2010 ballot
TO MY FOOD COLUMN
and wonderfully divine
Tina St. John
My daughter Julia took me to a raw food restaurant
in Santa Monica for my birthday. I had never dined
at a raw food restaurant before, so I had no idea
what to expect.
Going on her high recommendation that
I was in for a treat, we headed out for a night of
fun and adventure. Adventure? It was just a restaurant
for goodness sake, but anything to do with food is
indeed potential for adventure in my book.
Entering Planet Raw, one immediately
gets the feel of being in the higher planes. The ceiling
is lit up with stars whispering the Milky Way.
After being seated and settling in, we
studied and discussed the menu in depth. Julia had
already eaten at Planet Raw several times with her
dad and knew of some tasty dishes. The menu looked
much like the menu at any restaurant: Appetizers,
Entrees, Salads, Desserts.
Pumpkin Tortellini, Spring Rolls, Bacon Western Double
Burger? Hmmm, this place was an ultra vegetarian restaurant.
When the waitress came to take our order
I asked her if she had any suggestions.
“Try the Turkey Dinner,” she said.
Turkey Dinner? Keep in mind this is a
raw food restaurant. Nothing is cooked and, like I
said, there’s no meat.
How would a turkey dinner be prepared,
much less taste? She assured us we wouldn’t
So we ordered the turkey dinner for two
along with a couple appetizers: Pumpkin Tortellini
with Marinara Sauce and Spring Rolls.
The Pumpkin Tortellini was amazing. The pasta is made
from very thin slices of dehydrated pumpkin with the
texture of regular pasta.
The filling consists of cashews that
have been pulverized into a thick paste with a ricotta
cheese consistency. The marinara starts with fresh
tomatoes blended into a wonderfully seasoned sauce.
The Spring Rolls have a nut base for
the wrap. Inside one finds a delightful mix of sprouts,
carrots, mint, and cucumber. Surprisingly delicious!
Then came our Turkey Dinner.
Turkey = Dehydrated portabella mushroom
with the exact consistency of real turkey. And the
flavor? Out of this world.
Mashed Potatoes = Raw cauliflower blended
to a creamy mashed potato consistency. Flavor? Beyond.
Sweet Yams = Thinly sliced persimmons
with some sort of sweet sauce. Flavor? Exceeded expectations.
Stuffing = I have no idea of the ingredients
except for the nuts, but I couldn’t get enough
of it. Flavor? Like no other.
Every morsel exceeded my expectations
and was like nothing I’ve ever tasted before.
Maybe that’s why they call it Planet Raw.
All I can say is my perception of eating
raw will never been the same.
I’ve included a raw summer salad
that serves as a complete meal.
Tina St. John writes
from her Three Rivers studio.
RAW SUMMER SALAD
Cold-pressed Bojita olives (or any good Greek olive)
Ground Raw Almonds
Slice, grate and cut all these ingredients.
You can add more to your own personal taste, such
as cucumbers, green onions, grape tomatoes, jicama,
etc , if you desire. Toss with Balsamic Dressing (recipe
1 cup balsamic
1/8 cup water
1½ cups cold-pressed olive oil
1 large garlic clove (grated)
Salt to taste