Kaweah Commonwealth - Three Rivers

News and Information of KAWEAH COUNTRY - Three Rivers,

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Lemon Cove and Woodlake

Visitor Information:
Three Rivers
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Real Estate
Local History
Travel Information
Weekly News and Features
Weekly Weather
Calendar of Events
Property Rentals
Columns/ Opinions
Readers Poll
Newspaper Archives

Live Web Cam of
Sequoia National Park,
the High Sierra,
and Three Rivers, California


Kaweah Kam

AddThis Feed Button



In the News - Friday, July 22, 2011



Lion Fire will impact

southern Sierra summer


  Just when it appeared that smoke in Three Rivers was diminishing from the Redwood Canyon prescribed fire — ignited July 10 in Kings Canyon National Park — the Lion Fire in the Little Kern drainage is growing steadily and is likely to produce smoke for the next several months. As of Thursday, July 21, the backcountry blaze had charred more than 5,200 acres.
   The area impacted by the fire is currently located south of Sequoia National Park so this lightning-caused fire is being monitored by a Sequoia National Forest management team. Forest officials met earlier in the week with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in an attempt to come up with a strategy for dealing with smoke impacts.
   Smoke is currently being contained on the northwest perimeter by the higher mountains near Farewell Gap in Mineral King. Areas most impacted by the smoke so far have been around Independence on the east side of the Sierra, Kernville in the foothills east of Bakersfield, and the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County west of the fire.
   A public meeting has been planned for Tuesday night (July 26) in Kernville to address the impacts of the Lion Fire on that community’s hopes for a summer tourist season. Deb Schweizer, fire education specialist for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, was assigned Wednesday, July 20, to help out with public information duties on the Lion Fire.
   Schweizer said Three Rivers will experience some smoky conditions but it will be minimal relative to what Kernville and communities on the east side are getting.
  “We were planning to proceed with the Huckleberry burn in Giant Forest but those plans will be put on hold for now,” Schweizer said.
   According to a statement issued by Denise Alonzo, Sequoia National Forest spokesperson, the smoke impacts are likely to last for awhile, and how severe they become will depend upon the weather and prevailing winds. The fire is burning in an area that has not experienced a major blaze in the past 90 years, Alonzo said.
   In a March 2011 report issued by Region 5 of the U.S. Forest Service, lightning-caused fires like this one, if managed correctly, will lessen the possibility of a major forest fire.
  “Those aspects of fire that are unfavorable, such as smoke, can be outweighed by future benefits that can be obtained by using a fire such as the Lion Fire for ecological benefit,” said Priscilla Summers, Western Divide District Ranger.
   Backcountry travelers will experience the most immediate impacts of the fire that will be allowed to continue its climb up the Kern Canyon. Trail closures are in effect in and around the Lion Fire in the Golden Trout Wilderness.
   The Golden Trout Wilderness is home to one of the best native trout fisheries in the U.S. Those planning a trip are asked to call the Western Divide Ranger District at 539-2607  before obtaining a wilderness permit.
   Trail closures and fire information can be found on a nationwide fire information website at http://inciweb.org/ or by calling the Forest Service information lines at Kernville, (760) 379-5646, ext. 515, or in Springville, 539-2607, ext. 214.

Arrests imminent in 3R burglary

  The wheels of justice turn slowly but when substantial evidence is collected from the scene, often the culprits can be prosecuted. Evidently, that’s what is happening in connection with at least one of three burglaries that occurred during Memorial Day weekend.
   On Wednesday, the Commonwealth learned that Tulare County detectives were en route to Tracy to arrest a man and a woman who are suspects in a burglary that occurred May 30 at an Oakridge Drive residence.
   In that heist, it was reported that household goods including appliances and several pricey rugs worth more than $21,000 were stolen. Although investigators have not released details as to which items, some of the stolen property has already been recovered.
   In a separate burglary that occurred that same weekend, checks and cash were stolen from a Three Rivers office building. A break came in that investigation when a man tried to cash one of the stolen checks at a Woodlake business.
   Information has not been officially released by investigators whether the two burglaries are related. Anyone with information in either of these cases or any crime should call the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department toll free at 1-800-808-0488.

Three presumed dead in Yosemite

  The search continued on Thursday, July 21, for a trio of visitors who were swept over Vernal Fall in Yosemite National Park on Tuesday, July 19, at 1:30 p.m. There were several witnesses in the area, all gathered at the scenic viewpoint along the popular Mist Trail.
   According to reports from witnesses, Hormiz David, a 22-year-old male, of Modesto, Ninos Yacoub, a 27-year-old male from Turlock, and Ramina Badal, a 21-year-old female from Turlock, all entered the swiftly flowing river approximately 25 feet from the precipice of Vernal Falls.
   Hikers in the area reportedly warned the trio about the danger but apparently they were looking for a vantage point from which to take photographs. Two of the trio slipped into the chilly current, then the other in their party attempted to grab one of the struggling victims.
   All three were swept over the 317-foot Vernal Fall, which is running at an unseasonably high level. The steep terrain below the falls and the swift-moving water make search efforts dangerous, so the bodies of the victims may not be found until water levels drop. It is unlikely, however, that anyone can survive the impact of being swept over the falls.
   Flows over Vernal Fall, and Nevada Fall upriver, can vary tremendously from a record low of only four cubic feet per second in late, dry summers, to several thousand cubic feet per second during major floods. It’s these waterfalls and Yosemite’s many others that have lured many nature lovers with their beauty. But those drawn to the water have made the deadly mistake of failing to comprehend the power of this free-falling water.
   Since the creation of Yosemite in 1890, nearly 60 people have been accidentally swept to their deaths over one of a dozen waterfalls in the park. The earliest recorded death by waterfall occurred in 1913.
   This incident makes six water-related deaths in Yosemite National Park in 2011. On Thursday, a search-and-rescue team continued to comb the banks of the Merced River below the falls looking for any signs of the recent victims.

Deadline extended for wilderness comments

  Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced last week that the comment period for furnishing input on the Wilderness Stewardship Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been extended until August 31, 2011. That gives interested users and advocacy groups an extra month to assist the National Park Service in the management of the future use of the hundreds of thousands of acres of land designated wilderness in the local national parks.
   After the environmental impact statement is produced by NPS staff, all comments are made available for public review. These comments are often incorporated into the guiding principles of the specific management plan.
   There are some key issues in the plan with action alternatives being developed for recently designated wilderness areas like the John Krebs Wilderness in Mineral King where the NPS expects the new plan to generate lots of interest. Last Saturday, July 16, a workshop seeking input for the new plan was conducted by park officials in the Mineral King area.
   For more information about Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, or to comment on the wilderness plan, call 565-3131 or log onto www.nps.gov/seki. Comments may also be mailed by addressing them to the attention of Superintendent Karen F. Taylor-Goodrich.

Gov. Brown ignites
fire fee legislation

  Give the California Legislature at least some credit for trying. In the midst of one brutal fiscal crisis, Governor Jerry Brown and some key Democrats are attempting to raise some $200 million annually by requiring residents in the foothills and mountains to ante up for fire protection.
   The proposed bill would require each homeowner in the foothills and mountains regions of California to pay a minimum of $150 annually for fire protection. A similar bill was tabled three years ago when local officials and developers rallied around the battle cry: “No new taxes.”
   Brown said recently that cash-poor California can no longer afford not to generate the additional revenue. There are some 846,000 homeowners, including those who live in Three Rivers, who would be affected by the new fees.
   This month, Brown directed Cal Fire to study how the state manages and pays for fires in the wildland interface zones. A spokesperson for the governor said that the levy will “ensure that landowners in these areas that receive a disproportionate benefit from Cal Fire’s services pay an appropriate portion of the state’s wildland firefighting costs.”
   The opposition to the new tax is expected to be formidable, especially in a community like Three Rivers that currently receives overlapping (Tulare County and Cal Fire) coverage. But legislative analysts cite spiraling budgets for Cal Fire, which in the last decade have tripled to $1.2 billion annually, as compelling evidence that more funds are needed.
   As budgets have increased so has residential construction in wildland zones to the tune of 189,000 more homes from 2003 to 2007. Most lawmakers agree that a fee would be a step in the right direction but it is far from solving the whole problem.
   As taxpayer groups prepare to challenge the new tax in court, some homeowners, especially those who already pay a local assessment, are angry. A recent poll indicated that the majority of Californians do not favor any new taxes whatsoever, at least until the economy shows substantial improvement.

Two local districts on November ballot

  Three seats on the Three Rivers Community Services District board will be on the Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, ballot as will three seats of varying terms on the Three Rivers Memorial District board.

Three Rivers
Community Services District

   The local CSD oversees local water quality and provides septic system inspections. The local government agency is administered by a general manager (Cindy Howell), who reports to a five-member board.
   Up for re-election are David Mills, current president, who has been on the board since 2008; Vince Andrus, a board member since 1999; and Dennis Mills, who has served since 2003. CSD board members serve a four-year term.
   David will run for reelection, Dennis said that after two terms he will not be throwing his hat into the ring. Vince, who has been on the board for three terms, has not announced his plans.

Three Rivers
Memorial District

   There are three available seats on the five-member Memorial District board that currently only has three members — David Sherwood, Marge Ewen, and Frank Capalare.
   Two must be filled by veterans, a two-year term and a four-year term, and there are no incumbents for either. Marge Ewen’s seat — a non-veteran, four-year term — is open for challengers; the incumbent has filed to run for reelection.
   The Memorial District board oversees the local Veterans Memorial Building and its activities. Throughout each year, the building hosts events for the Three Rivers community and can accommodate 300 guests.
   Eligible nonprofit groups, service organizations, churches, schools, and governmental agencies use the building. And each April it serves as two out of the three Jazzaffair venues.
   Two employees include a caretaker, Jeff Taylor, who maintains the grounds and the interior of the building. A building manager, Nancy Brunson, handles bookkeeping and reservations.
   Anyone who is 18 years of age or older and a registered voter is eligible to run for office. Candidates’ papers are currently available at the Tulare County Registrar of Voters, Elections Division, 5951 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia. A declaration of candidacy must be received by the Registrar on or before Friday, Aug. 12.

Naming names: 3R board members

This is the first in a summer series that will list those serving on boards of directors of the more than one dozen community service organizations.Here are the officers for 2011-2012:

The officers are:
President— Tony Moreno
Vice President— Bruce Keller
Secretary-— Peter Sodhy
Treasurer— Chris Schlossin
Directors— David Learned, Ed Lafferty, Leah Catherine Launey
   Peter Sodhy and Leah Catherine Launey are husband and wife. The SFCC examined this issue and came up with the following conclusion, as stated in a recent release:
  “The Chamber welcomed Leah Catherine Launey back to the board of directors after a hiatus of several months. Leah sat out the early months of this year while the Chamber board resolved the issue of directors serving with close relatives (Leah’s husband was elected to the new board of directors). With the issue resolved, Leah was voted back to the board of directors at the May meeting.”
Website: www.threerivers.com

   The Arts Alliance is a nonprofit organization supporting the arts in Three Rivers. The club provides college scholarships to local graduating high school seniors and, each May, organizes the popular and long-running Redbud Arts and Crafts Festival.
The officers are:
President— Elsah Cort
Vice President— Joanne Fansett
Secretary— Judy Smith
Treasurer— Ken Elias
Jesse Belman, Lori Isley, Chris Schlossin
Website: www.artsthreerivers.org

   Preserving jazz and organizing the 39th annual Jazzaffair for 2011-2012 will be:
President— Rusty Crain
Vice President— Stoney Savage
Secretary— Sandy Owen
Treasurer— Joanne George
Historian— Stan Huddleston
Members-at-Large— Gaynor McKee, Darla Castro
Website: www.highsierrajazzband.com

Woodlake Car Show in the rearview mirror

By Brian Rothhammer

  In the July 22 print edition: Photos of Car Show winners and more...

  It was a perfect day with great weather for the 13TH ANNUAL WOODLAKE CUSTOM CAR AND BIKE SHOW on Saturday, July 16. Held at Woodlake City Park and sponsored by the Woodlake Valley Chamber of Commerce, there were cars with style and people with smiles, custom bikes, and lots to like as folks from the Sierra foothills, the Central Valley, and beyond gathered to show ‘n’ shine.
   Hosted by the Woodlake Chamber of Commerce since 1999, the show gets better with age. This year, 92 trophies were awarded among 30 classes of judging and five special awards.
   Ramona Norby of Tulare won Best of Show with her immaculate 1934 Chevrolet Cabriolet.
   With close to 200 rolling works of art and engineering of diverse styles and tastes on display there was plenty to look at. There were even Elvis sightings as Jeremy “Elvis” Pearce entertained while people partied like it was 1956.
   After judging was complete and the winners announced, participants congratulated each other and rolled out of the park in a parade of sculptured steel and glistening chrome to the symphony of their own finely tuned engines.

National park apps coming

to a Smartphone near you

  The library of national park applications for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices is growing. The Yellowstone app is the most recent release.
   There are previously released apps for Yosemite, Zion, Great Smoky Mountains, Cuyahoga Valley, and Grand Canyon national parks, and Cape Cod National Seashore.
Due out by the end of this month are apps for Rocky Mountain and Olympic national parks. Grand Teton is due in August.
   These multimedia apps serve as guidebooks for those who have the devices with them anyway. For instance, the Yellowstone app provides sunset and sunrise times for the most memorable scenic overlooks, including Artist’s Point and the Lamar Valley.
   All the park apps will help visitors plan hikes, review safety information, and provide information on hundreds of points of interest. A complete list of facilities is also provided on each app, including locations of restrooms and picnic areas in each specific park.
   Custom-made, GPS-enabled maps are included that show every hiking trail in each park.
Kerry Gallivan, founder and president of Chimani, produces the apps. He explains that the apps also work without the need for a cell phone or data connection, which aren’t available anyway in the most remote reaches of many national parks, and are specifically designed for the mobile app platform.
   And as Three Rivers residents know intimately, the “Safety” icon on the apps could save a life. Click this button and users have thorough information about medical services, falls and what to do, water safety, hypothermia, heat exhaustion, and more.
   Regarding the Yellowstone app, he said, “Whether you are simply trying to find the closest restroom, reading more about Puff ‘n’ Stuff Geyser, or taking the audio tour of The Grand Loop Road [with over 60 minutes of professionally narrated material], you’ll always be able to enjoy the full experience of the app.”
   It hasn’t been announced when a Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks app is due out, but it can’t be far behind.
   Chimani’s national park apps may be downloaded from Apple’s iTunes App Store for the iPhone version while the Android version may be obtained from the Android Marketplace (keyword: “chimani”). Both versions sell for the regular price of $9.99.


A year of firsts in Three Rivers

By Steve Vasquez

  As a new resident of beautiful Three Rivers, most days are filled with new things, new happenings, with first-time experiences, and with new sights, new sounds, and new tastes; all without much effort or planning. Stopping to “smell the roses” is a daily event, refreshing the spirit and helping to keep things in clear perspective.
   Could it be that good days just happen in Three Rivers; that they are the norm rather than the exception? Arguably, they do and they are.
   Nevertheless, God bless Three Rivers. Last February, after having lived for over 50 years in the Valley, “down the hill,” Three Rivers became my home. While Three Rivers is in the same county and less than 40 miles away from my hometown, it goes without saying, life is different here... very different.
   How different? Well, let me count the ways.
   First of all, life is filled with first-time experiences. Life is filled with realizations followed by adjustments made in everyday ways and means of living.
   It did not take long to realize Wal-Mart is not just down the street. And neither is Target or Home Depot or Lowes or McDonald’s or Jack, Carl, Ralph, or Papa John’s or Save Mart or Food-4-Less, and so on and so on.
   But then, does it really matter? No.
   They may not be down the street but they are down the hill. And the hill is not insurmountable or an impenetrable obstruction. It really is just part of the glorious view and makes for a pleasant drive.
   Who can deny the serenity and magnificence of a filled-to-capacity body of water such as Lake Kaweah? Now there is a first-time experience, seeing the lake gradually fill with God’s bountiful water.
   This was my first Fourth of July in Three Rivers. My wife and I and our fellow church members celebrated with an old-fashioned barbecue and picnic.
   We enjoyed hot dogs, burgers, potato salad, ice-cold soft drinks and lemonade, followed by cake and ice cream. We ate well. We laughed and we talked and gave thanks for living in a country so good and so free.
   And for the first time, I took a dip in the North Fork. What a blast! (I’m dating myself.) It was the bomb! (I’m still dating myself.) It was great!
   It brought back a flood of memories. Back home, there was a time, back in the 1960s, when the Tule River ran year round. As kids, our summer days were filled swimming there, diving from the cottonwoods, swinging from a rope, with not a care in the world.
   The only thing we cared about was who was brave enough to climb to the highest branch and dive in without belly-flopping.
   I’m told this year’s rainfall was good. So good, the Kaweah River is running stronger than in recent past years.
   Regardless, when our group walked over to it, I was taken in by the very impressive sight. It was a sight I had not seen up close in many years; the beauty and the majesty of a running river surrounded by lush green vegetation and tall green trees. That is, indeed, the beauty and the majesty of the North Fork.
   Although here, unlike back home, there is no diving from the cottonwoods. The water was maybe two feet deep in some spots; just deep enough to sit in and cool off and truly enjoy the moment. Which I did.
   Feeling the coolness of the water, watching the tranquility of the river flowing by, seeing the beauty of God’s creation, thinking about the Fourth of July and all that it means, I could only come to one conclusion:
   God is good, so is the USA, and my first Fourth of July in Three Rivers was sweet.
   Steve Vasquez is the pastor of Three Rivers Missionary Baptist Church.


The healing power of touch

By Charlene Vartanian

  This is the second in a series of articles by Charlene Vartanian, R.N., who has practiced CranioSacral Therapy for 10 years, helping people reduce pain, release stress and tension, and reclaim their active lives. She enjoys sharing CST with others while living in the healing environment of Three Rivers.

* * *

  We all have experienced the power of touch. It is a basic necessity of life — from newborn babes to the elderly and everybody in between.
   In the field of nursing, touch is a tool. Touch bridges gaps.
   When words are not enough — or when words are too painful — the simple act of touch conveys much. Every human being, without exception, has been affected by touch.
   Touch initiates a conversation. It’s a conversation without words and, for a skilled professional, can be as interactive and informative as a verbal exchange. This is the field of hands-on healing bodywork, using the hands as tools to affect and create positive change in the body.
   It is a therapeutic process of initiating, receiving, and giving information to the body via the hands. It is simple, age-old, and offers pain relief, stress reduction, deep relaxation, structural alignment, and ultimately renewal and healing.
   There are many different forms and names for hands-on whole body therapy. Each form has its tradition or lineage from where they come.
   Eastern civilizations of approximately 3000 BCE have the earliest known reference to therapeutic bodywork. In the western tradition, at about 800 BCE, the ancient Greek poet   Homer describes restorative massage for war heroes in The Odyssey.
   In our culture, we may see it as therapeutic massage, therapeutic bodywork, somatic bodywork, physical therapy, manual therapy, or myofascial release.
   Modern craniosacral therapy developed 40 years ago, arising from the osteopathic medical tradition of the early 1900s. Due to its gentle and noninvasive approach, and most especially because of its positive effect on the body and its functions, it was discovered and shared with a broad variety of healthcare professionals, including doctors, dentists, nurses, physical therapists, massage therapists, and many other health-related fields.
   Below are seven reasons why people often seek a hands-on practitioner:
   1. To help relieve pain from a physical injury or strain that is not healing as quickly as expected.
   2. To reduce or eliminate chronic headaches.
   3. To ease the stress and tension of daily living.
   4. When feeling a lack of balance and wanting to be more grounded and centered.
   5. When having overwhelming emotions, such as anxiety, depression, and grief, including complications associated with PTSD.
   6. To help cope with the chronic symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and other myofascial issues.
   7. To help integrate changes during difficult transitions or life crises, including loss or anticipated loss, such as with illness, divorce, death, or when moving into a new stage of life.
   In summary, the details of our human life is lived through our body. It makes good sense to become familiar with our body and its level of health and comfort. Or discomfort, as the case may be.
   As we begin to listen to our body, it will respond. Its first words may be one of pain, but as we accommodate that pain, we have an opportunity to know our body and what it needs.
   This opens the door to having more joy and freedom in our bodies and in our life. Therein lies the purpose and power of human touch as a tool for transformation, health, and happiness.
   Charlene Vartanian has worked as a nurse in emergency, home health, and hospice care. In addition to CranioSacral Therapy, she offers Esalen Massage with AromaTouch, an integrative holistic nuturing massage.


Tulare County flunks 'air quality' test

by Carole Clum

   The American Lung Association has had to once again give Tulare County straight “F” grades for air quality in its “State of the Air 2011” report. For the 2007-2009 period covered by the report, our county ranked ninth of those most polluted by short-term particle pollution (24-hour PM 2.5), tied for second for year-round particle pollution (annual PM 2.5), and fourth for most ozone-polluted.
   Living at our elevation in the foothills doesn’t save us: in the summer, our air pollution is usually just as bad as the Valley’s. In the winter, however, when the lid of fog traps the pollutants below our elevation, we breathe cleaner air above the fog bank.
   Most in Three Rivers also benefit by living more than one-third of a mile away from a busy highway. Nevertheless, 100 percent of the residents of Tulare County are exposed to PM 2.5 annually, including all those who reside in Three Rivers.
  “PM” is particulate matter, and PM 2.5 microns and smaller is the most deadly, as these very small particles are able to pass directly from our lungs into our bloodstream. Ozone and particle pollution are the most widespread and dangerous air pollutants. Recent research is indicating, unfortunately, that air pollution’s hazards are even greater than previously known.
   Ozone, formed by chemical reactions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs, also called hydrocarbons), becomes ozone smog when in contact with heat and sunlight. This smog is very harmful to breathe, chemically attacking lung tissue and shortening lifespan.
   We are surrounded by these smog components. NOx comes from high-heat combustion (such as in power plants and motor vehicles), while VOCs are emitted by motor vehicles, gas stations, paints, and other sources.
   On sunny smoggy days, breathing ozone can immediately cause shortness of breath, chest pain when inhaling, wheezing and coughing, asthma attacks, increased susceptibility to pulmonary inflammation and respiratory infections, and increased need for medical treatment, including hospitalization for people with lung diseases. Breathing ozone for longer periods can reduce lung function and contribute to premature death.
   Particle pollution (for example, the dirty, smoky part of truck exhaust) can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and asthma attacks. It can interfere with the growth and work of the lungs. It can cause heart disease, congestive heart failure, worsened asthma and COPD, and heart attacks and strokes, and it can kill – on the very day that particle levels are high or within one to a few months afterward.
   Burning fossil fuels (as in gas or diesel-powered vehicles and equipment, factories, and power plants) and burning wood (in fireplaces, woodstoves, agricultural fields, or forests) generates much of the raw material for fine particles. Agricultural and dairy operations also contribute heavily to particle pollution in Tulare County.
   People at the greatest risk include children (air pollution is especially dangerous to them because their lungs are growing and children are so active), the elderly, people with lung disease or heart problems or sensitive airways, diabetics, truck drivers, people who work or exercise outdoors, and women over 50. Does this leave out anyone you know?
   Bad air costs us hugely, and not just in ill health, suffering, and truncated lives. Recent studies show that the annual cost of polluted air in terms of hospitalizations, emergency room visits, medical care costs, job absences (lost productivity), school absences (lost ADA), premature deaths, increased insurance rates, and other economic and health effects is over $6 billion in the San Joaquin Valley area.
   This region is tied with the L.A. basin for the worst smog and the highest health care costs. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are among the five most polluted national parks in the nation, and in the past several years have had more days exceeding the federal health standard for ozone than any other national park unit in the country.
   This poor air quality and often greatly reduced visibility negatively affect tourism, not to mention the health of the parks and their hundreds of thousands of annual visitors. This, of course, directly impacts Three Rivers.
   Economic development and business recruitment are difficult in an area plagued by unhealthy air quality. For example, Tulare County already has trouble attracting physicians because they don’t want to move their families into our air basin.
   These problems may seem overwhelming, but all of us can do something every day to help alleviate them.
   Start by driving less. Whenever possible, plan ahead to consolidate vehicle trips. Carpool if you can; it will improve your social life while reducing air-polluting Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMTs). Telecommute, walk, or ride your bike. Save money and spare the air by driving the most fuel-efficient, low-polluting vehicle available to you, and keep it well maintained. Don’t idle your vehicle when waiting to pick up or drop off passengers or waiting in line at a drive-thru or a road construction stop. Drive slowly on unpaved roads.
   On bad air days, don’t use a woodstove, pellet stove, or fireplace. Don’t burn yard waste; chip it if possible.
   Choose air-friendly products with low or no VOCs. Paint with a brush, not a sprayer.
   Remember that energy production and transmission contributes to air pollution. Be as energy efficient as you can. Turn off lights that you’re not using; install compact fluorescent energy-saving bulbs. Hang your clothes out to dry. Turn the thermostat up a bit in summer and down in winter. Check your home’s insulation. Even small actions can add up to big savings in air quality.
   It’s also important to urge businesses and the government to do their part. For example, their vehicles should be fuel-efficient and low-polluting, and their drivers should strictly limit idling their engines.
   Commercial and residential developments should be planned and developed to use resources efficiently and promote public and active transit. The Tulare County General Plan, county ordinances, and local policies should require both commercial and residential development to meet standards that promote clean air and healthy living, using resources (land, water, materials, energy) efficiently and making it easy for people to live near where they can work and play and to use active and public transit. This is cost-effective and preserves agricultural and open space lands.
   It’s up to all of us to let our elected officials know that clean air is important to us and that we’re ready to elect representatives who share our concerns. Right now, Tulare County’s General Plan, which will guide land use and development decisions throughout the county for the next 20 to 30 years, is being updated. This is the perfect time for Tulare County to adopt policies that mandate the kind of growth that will benefit our economy, our communities, and our natural resources – including our air quality.
   Where we live, air quality is, in fact, a matter of life and death. Contact Allen Ishida, county supervisor, at 636-5000 or aishida@co.tulare.ca.us to let him know that you want a strong, effective General Plan that will work to improve air quality by sharply curbing leapfrog, sprawl development; denying the development of new towns; incentivizing compact, mixed-use, and in-fill development; and facilitating active and public transit.
   To learn more, and to visit some energy-efficient homes in Three Rivers that will provide inspiration, be sure to attend the Three Rivers Environmental Weekend (TREW) Green Faire and Green Homes Tour. Save the dates: October 1 and 2, 2011.
   If we all work together on improving our air, one of these days we’ll all be breathing a little easier.
   Carole Clum is a resident of Three Rivers.

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
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
© Copyright 2003-2011 The Kaweah Commonwealth