News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam


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In the News - Friday, JULY 6, 2007

Camper dies in Sequoia

  Christine Cooper, 38, of Brea collapsed Monday, July 2, at her Sequoia National Park campsite in Dorst Campground. The Southern California woman was being transported by ambulance to rendezvous with a helicopter when she died en route.
   Park dispatch received an emergency call that the woman was unresponsive at about 3:30 p.m. Several persons at the campground initiated CPR until park rangers arrived to continue attempts to revive the woman.
   The body was released to the Tulare County’s Coroner’s Office for a determination in the case. The cause of death is suspected to be complications related to a known heart problem.

Lemon Cove Fire

Station officially open

   When the Lemon Cove Fire Station closed in 2005 due to budget cuts there were lots of irate residents who let Supervisor Allen Ishida know just how they felt about the county’s latest cost-cutting measure. Taking the heat personally, Supervisor Ishida responded to dozens of letters, emails, and some unpleasant phone calls.
   But throughout the two-year process of the changeover from Cal Fire to a Tulare County Fire Department, Ishida promised that the service at the Lemon Cove Fire Station would eventually be restored.
   On Sunday, July 1, Ishida made good on that promise as Station No. 13’s garage doors were opened once again, this time to mark the official start of a new era in local fire protection. To celebrate the historic day, more than 200 Lemon Cove community members came out Sunday afternoon to the reopened fire station to show their appreciation to county officials and meet some of Tulare County’s new firefighters.
   They were treated to some refreshments and brief speeches which summed up how all the parties involved were feeling on this special day.

  “We’ve had a lot of community events here in the past but none bigger than and certainly not as important as this one,” said Phyllis Mehrten, a longtime area resident and organizer of Sunday’s celebration. “It was great to see all the support for our fire department and its firefighters.”
   Supervisor Ishida had personally invited all those folks who had contacted his office to complain about the closure. He said he took great pleasure in seeing everyone at the reopening ceremony.
   He also cautioned that the County’s new fire department will experience some growing pains but that the Supervisors really had no choice but to terminate its 70-year contractual relationship with the California Department of Forestry’s (now Cal Fire) fire department.
   Even though there will additional start-up costs like the new engine for Lemon Cove and training for dozens of personnel, the long term savings will be substantial, Ishida said.
  Inquiries and non-emergency calls may be directed to the Tulare County Fire Department’s Farmersville Headquarters and dispatch center by calling (559) 747-8233.

Chimney Rock reopened

to the public

   The Chimney Rock area, located in Giant Sequoia National Monument, has now reopened to the public.
   The area was closed April 17 to protect a traditional nesting site for peregrine falcons.
   According to Jeff Cordes, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service, one peregrine falcon used the area this spring, but no nesting occurred near Chimney Rock this season.
   Chimney Rock, located between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, is a popular climbing destination. This area and Moro Rock are closed to climbing during the peregrine falcon nesting season.

Air District joins

state in lawsuit

   Lawsuits are rarely the optimal way to settle a dispute but in this case it’s a necessary evil and may be the only way. That’s because unless vehicle emissions are reduced, there can never be attainment of the impending clean-air standards that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated for California.
   There are several underlying developments outlined in a June 26 letter from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District addressed to the EPA, headquartered in Washington, D.C. The two-page letter informs the agency of the air district’s intent to join the State of California’s lawsuit seeking to set its own vehicle emissions standards.
   First, vehicle emissions account for more than half of ozone-forming components. The lawsuit, initiated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, seeks a waiver of federal preemption for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions regulations for passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles beginning with the 2009 model year. Under the Federal Clean Air Act, California has the right to set its own vehicle emission standards, which other states then have the right to adopt as their own, after receiving a waiver from the EPA.
   Some auto industry analysts believe the lower standards are impossible to comply with by 2009 without devastating financial impacts. California officials cite similar regulations of the 1980s and 1990s mandating efficient energy consumption for refrigerators. Gov. Schwarzenegger says the clock is ticking and we can’t afford to wait when it comes to regulating vehicle emissions.
   Second, the air district and the State of California believe that the rationale that climate change related to greenhouse gases is occurring is compelling and convincing. The Valley depends heavily on agriculture and has developed all its practices based on the weather patterns of the past. Large fluctuations in these patterns could be devastating to the region’s economy.

  “These are issues [vehicle emissions and climate change] of overriding importance to the Valley in reaching clean-air standards,” said Seyed Sadredin, the District’s executive director. “We share the Governor’s sentiments in these critical issues and are fully committed to doing our part.”
   The letter to the EPA also states that despite significant progress in improving air quality in the Valley, the region faces a daunting task in meeting new standards for ozone and particulates. Since mobile source emission control is largely under the authority of state and federal agencies, Sadredin wrote, the eight-county air district strongly supports new measures that will reduce mobile source emissions.
   For air quality monitoring and more information on clean-air standards visit or call 230-6000.

Climb onboard this

year’s Smile Train

   This September, a second annual charity bike ride — this year entitiled the “Sequoia Bicycle Jamboree” — will begin and end in Three Rivers and raise funds for The Smile Train, a nonprofit organization that provides free cleft surgery to children worldwide. Participating bikers will have the opportunity to choose from three separate rides: a 35-mile mountain bike ride or a 25- or 50-mile road ride.
   The event is organized by Kevin Foster, a professional cyclist who resides in Kaweah. Besides raising money for a worthwhile cause, Kevin plans to make some history on Saturday, Sept. 15.
   First, the mountain bike ride will go up and over Shepherd’s Saddle, a familiar Three Rivers landmark between the North Fork canyon and Ash Peaks. This old fire road crosses Sequoia National Park land and is normally closed to motorized vehicles and bicycles.
   However, the Park Service has agreed to unlock the gates on the day of the event. There is a quota, however, so the first 50 cyclists to register will participate in this history-making ride.
   Second, there will be a bicycle parade through Three Rivers. This show of bikes will be an attempt to be included in the Guinness World Records book for “Longest Parade of Bicycles.”
   The previous record is 140 bicycles, set by Paul Frank Industries in Costa Mesa on Dec. 22, 2005.
   All rides will begin at 8:30 a.m. from the Jamboree headquarters at Lions Arena and will last from three to six hours. At the conclusion of the rides, a meal will be provided to all participants.
Registration is currently ongoing for the Sequoia Bicycle Jamboree. For more information and to register, go to for an application. It may be submitted online or mailed with a nonrefundable registration fee of $50.
   Riders are urged to raise at least $250 in donations for The Smile Train. The first 100 to register will receive a ball cap and T-shirt.

Park interpreters

receive special assignment

   Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have received two Ford “Transportation Interpreters” due to a unique partnership between the National Park Foundation, National Park Service, Student Conservation Association, and Ford Motor Company.
   Stefani Carlson of San Diego and Lauren Buchholz of Westminister, Colo., will spend the summer in Sequoia providing visitors with a direct connection to the park’s natural resources while emphasizing the benefits of alternative transportation within Sequoia National Park.
   They will establish this connection through a series of formal programs and informal orientation, both on the new Sequoia Shuttle buses and at various visitor destinations.
   They are two of 26 students who will work in 16 national parks across the country this summer to discuss the many alternative modes of transportation available to visitors and staff within the national parks.

  “Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are excited to be hosting these two interpreters during the first season of operation of the Sequoia Shuttle,” said Colleen Bathe, the parks’ chief interpreter. “The shuttle represents the final step in the restoration of Giant Forest, and the interpreters are assisting visitors as they use the shuttle to enhance their visits while protecting the giant sequoias, improving air quality, and protecting wildlife.”
   The two transportation interns will remain in Sequoia until mid-August, orienting visitors to the park and encouraging use of the Sequoia Shuttle. Both are volunteer members of the Student Conservation Association, a national nonprofit organization that annually places more than 2,500 high school and college students in hands-on conservation-service positions.
   The Ford Motor Company is currently working closely with the National Park Foundation and the Park Service to help develop innovative transportation and environmental solutions that enable visitors to enjoy the nearly 400 national parks without compromising the resources. The Transportation Interpreter program was developed to encourage visitors to use alternative modes of transportation, such as shuttles, trolleys, or ferries, with the ultimate goal of reducing vehicle congestion as well as noise and air pollution.

County fair catalog available

   The Tulare County Fair will be held this year from Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 12 to 16. Hundreds of competitions will take place during that time and all Tulare County residents are eligible to enter fair contests that could net them cash prizes and ribbons.
   Official entry catalogs detailing all areas of competition are now available at the fair administration office and other county locations.
   New to the fair this year will be a dog show competition. Returning will be the traditional favorites such as the quilting competitions and the delectable baked foods and confection contests.
   Two other anticipated events are the Agriculture Monstrosities competition and the Weeds, Worms and Whimsical competition, where there will be entries like the tallest weed or largest tomato worm.

  “There is definitely a category for every talent, “said Susie Godfrey, interim general manager of the Tulare County Fair. “In keeping with this year’s theme, ‘Harvesting Countywide Pride,’ we’d love to see entries from every corner of Tulare County.”
   To pick up an entry catalog, visit the fair office at 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Tulare; or call 686-4707 for a list of locations where catalogs are available.
   Entry forms are due August 24.

WHS band members take

star-spangled trip to D.C.

by Bethanie Hansen,

WHS band director

   Members of the Woodlake High School Band toured Washington, D.C., from Wednesday, June 13, to Sunday, June 17. Upon arriving in the nation’s capital, the group viewed documents at the National Archives, including the Emancipation Proclamation, the Magna Carta, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence.
   Next, they enjoyed a performance by “The President's Own,” the U.S. Marine Band. Here, WHS band members and those traveling with them joined 5,000 other participants and the Oak Ridge Boys in singing the National Anthem. This performance was a part of “The National Anthem Project,” designed to promote music in the schools and an increased awareness of the National Anthem.
   During an evening tour of the National Mall, students and chaperones saw the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam and Korean War memorials, the Roosevelt Memorial, and the World War II Memorial.
   On the second day of the tour, participants visited the Holocaust Museum and the Smithsonian’s Castle, Air and Space Museum, and Natural History Museum. Later, they toured the U.S. Capitol with representatives from Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office.
   After this tour, the group entered the House of Representatives gallery where Congress was in session. The group then walked to the Spy Museum and wrapped up an eventful day by enjoying dinner together at the Hard Rock Café.
   During the third and final full day in Washington, D.C., the band students and those traveling with them toured the White House, thanks to representatives from Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office.
   That afternoon, WHS band students joined 2,000 other music students from around the country for a performance at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., to sing the National Anthem at the beginning of the first Drum Corps International (DCI) competition of the summer. The students were accompanied by musicians from the “Commandant’s Own” U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and six other drum and bugle corps.
   As for the highlight of the trip, it was varied. A few stated that their favorite place was the Holocaust Museum because it touched them deeply. Others said they enjoyed the night monuments tour. Some said the tour of the Capitol and watching Congress in session was their favorite part. Still a few others claimed that the visit to the Naval Academy football stadium for the DCI performance was the best.
   Regardless, those who participated in the WHS band tour last month learned a great deal and will forever be changed because of their personal involvement with history and music in Washington, D.C.

   The following are California residents killed in Iraq as announced by the governor’s office last month:
   U.S. Army Specialist Alexandre A. Alexeev, 23, of Wilmington died Saturday, May 28, as a result of wounds suffered when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Abu Sayda, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Specialist Josiah W. Hollopeter, 27, of San Diego died Thursday, June 14, as a result of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by insurgents using small arms fire in Al Muqdadiyah, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Sergeant Derek T. Roberts, 24, of Gold River died Thursday, June 14, as a result of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Kirkuk, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Stephen J. Wilson, 28, stationed at Camp Pendleton, died Wednesday, June 20, as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
   U.S. Marine Sergeant Shawn P. Martin, 30, stationed at Camp Pendleton, died Wednesday, June 20, as a result of wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Private Shane M. Stinson, 23, of Fullerton, died Saturday, June 23, as a result of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by insurgents using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in Baghdad, Iraq.

—Total U.S. deaths in Iraq—
       3,588 (as of July 4)

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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