this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
park fires contained
Local fire officials remained
cautiously optimistic that a spate of
stubborn wildfires that began with lightning
strikes way back in July might not only
be contained, but with rain in the weekend
forecast, may be doused for good. At least
three separate blazes were still cause
for concern as of Thursday, Oct. 2, but
according to Deb Schweizer, NPS fire information
officer, the fires are all contained and
remain in patrol status.
The Hidden Fire, which cost
more than $8 million to suppress, was
declared 100-percent contained earlier
this week. The interagency team that was
entrenched at Horse Creek Campground and
fighting the stubborn blaze broke camp
on September 24 and returned to Southern
At its 10-day peak of operations,
the Hidden Fire involved more than 781
firefighters. The North Fork blaze that
was started by a lightning strike on Wednesday,
Sept. 10, burned 3,700 acres and blanketed
Three Rivers in smoke during most mornings
over the past few weeks.
Firefighters ignited burnouts
below the Generals Highway in the Little
Baldy area to ensure that they could stop
the blaze from spreading north. Those
operations closed the Generals Highway
intermittently, but eventually had the
According to Schweizer, no
backfires were ignited in giant sequoia
groves as was proposed in one scenario
to protect park resources. The only Big
Trees to experience fire activity from
the Hidden Fire are located in the remote
As an additional precaution,
the Crystal Cave Road was closed and,
as a result, the cave itself has been
closed for the season. The popular park
attraction usually remains open for tours
through late October.
The interagency strike team
is now awaiting their October muster that
traditionally occurs when the Santa Ana
winds, on the heels of the first major
cold front of the season, fan the flames
of Southern California wildfires.
That scenario could occur
as early as this weekend as once again
conditions in the Southland are tinder
dry and volatile. The northern and central
portions of the state are hoping to reap
the benefits of a round of Pacific storms
that are expected to bring some badly
needed moisture to much of the region.
That precipitation should
also help to douse the Tehipite Fire that
has charred 11,085 acres of wilderness
terrain in the Kings River drainage. More
than 4,000 acres of that interagency fire
is located within the boundaries of Kings
Canyon National Park.
Along with the Hidden Fire,
the Tehipite Fire in Kings Canyon National
Park has been the source of some nagging
summer smoke throughout the parks and
in some foothills communities. It was
also started by lightning and has been
burning since early July.
A lightning storm on Monday,
Sept. 29, ignited another small blaze
near Castle Rocks in the Middle Fork but
firefighters got the jump on that one
immediately. It was contained while still
less than an acre in size.
“This was an unusual summer for
lightning activity and with all the fires
in the parks this season we wanted to
be sure that the Castle Fire wouldn’t
become another big incident,” Schweizer
This week’s fire was
in an area that burned during the Castle
Fire of 1996. That fire was managed as
a prescribed burn and caused some hazardous
smoke. The fallout from the incident became
a benchmark in fire history and played
a major role in determining some of the
parameters of the local parks’ current
fire management policy.
Boat ramp in at
Workers building the launch
facilities at Slick Rock Recreation Area
are expected today to complete the pouring
of the concrete for the new boat ramp.
According to Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah
general manager, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers project is on schedule and within
the $1.5 million budget.
The first lane of the ramp
was poured Tuesday.
“Everything is rolling along just
fine,” said Deffenbaugh. “The
project is actually going better than
Deffenbaugh said it was critical
to get the lower portions in and done
just in case there’s an early season
storm that causes a sudden rise in the
lake’s level. Next on the agenda
will be the finish work on the parking
areas and a new restrooms building.
“Weather permitting, I don’t
see any reason why we won’t be done
before Thanksgiving,” Deffenbaugh
Deffenbaugh also said that
he’s not aware of any fee policy
changes in 2009 relative to the use of
the new facilities. The plan is to charge
$4 per carload to park.
The newly-revamped Slick
Rock Recreation Area will be open daily
from dawn till dusk and accommodate a
live-in host. Frequent users may purchase
a seasonal pass for $30.
East Fork grow site raided
Several Three Rivers commuters
on Monday morning, Sept. 29, reported
seeing big trucks that were part of a
county Sheriff’s Department convoy
moving up-canyon, which could only mean
one thing. Somewhere in the rugged foothills
above Three Rivers there was another marijuana
grow site about to be raided.
On Monday and Tuesday, a
task force of Sheriff’s deputies,
with the assistance of CAMP (Campaign
Against Marijuana Planting) and Bureau
of Land Management personnel, raided a
complex on Grunigen Creek about nine miles
up the Mineral King Road.
The East Fork area has been
raided annually with the biggest busts
occurring in 2002 and 2004. The recent
raid netted 2,915 plants. No arrests were
made in connection with the seizure.
One member of the Sheriff’s
tactical squad said he wasn’t surprised
to see these growers operating in the
same areas that were raided in the past.
He said some of these growers are feeling
the pinch of stepped-up enforcement in
nearby Sequoia National Park so they follow
the water sources to just outside park
boundaries in the hope that they won’t
At this time of year, it
is estimated that law officers could raid
a different site each day if they had
the available resources. That’s
why, according Supervisor Allen Ishida,
it’s critical that he and his colleagues
continue to lobby the feds for funds to
aid Tulare County in eradicating grow
sites on public lands.
October, and the arrival
of the first frost and significant rainfall,
signals the end of the local pot-growing
season. CAMP’s last day of operations
this year will be Friday, Oct. 17.
Marijuana seizures in California
continue to lead the nation. Season totals
for marijuana eradications statewide and
in Tulare County will be announced by
the end of the month.
Three Rivers Environmental
days of earth education
Cooling of the days and nights
and a few yellow leaves mean that fall
is here. This also means a busy time for
the Three Rivers Environmental Weekend
crew — the TREW Crew! On the first
Saturday of October (tomorrow), the TREW
Crew will converge at the Arts Center
for events free to the public. On Sunday,
there is a green home tour in Visalia
and Elderwood. Last year’s tour
of six Three Rivers homes was truly awesome!
On Saturday, Oct. 4, in conjunction
with the Environmental Weekend: Day One,
the California Native Plant Society will
hold their annual sale of native plants
from 9 a.m. till noon. All day until 5
p.m., TREW events will take place.
Outside there will be a solar
cooking event. All proceeds from the sale
of solar-cooking kits will go toward providing
Darfur refugees with solar cookers to
save trees and prevent violence against
women and children foraging for wood there.
Bill Becker of Three Rivers
will bring his homemade cooker and provide
his expertise. There will also be a template
for folks who would like to make a cooker
of their own.
A new addition on Saturday
will come from Visalia when Dan and Debbie
Swassing display their Xebra electric
automobile, complete with air conditioning
and solar charger (as well as a cord with
plug). They believe a closer look might
encourage some Three Rivers buyers to
reduce the carbon footprint here. The
car has a 30-mile range and a road speed
of up to 40 mph. If you haven’t
seen one up close, you should check it
Meanwhile, indoors, there
will be an exhibit of photographs of Yokohl
Valley by Shirley Keller and Georgellen
Parker of Three Rivers and Ginny Wilson
of Lindsay. If you have never explored
and experienced the beauty of Yokohl Valley,
this is your opportunity.
A presentation by James Seligman
on Yokohl Valley will explain what all
of the controversy is about. In addition,
throughout the day, there will be presentations
by several specialists from Sequoia National
Park on air quality, water quality, and
habitat affecting plant and animal life.
Numerous booths will provide
information on green-living options. Three
Rivers Mercantile will bring items and
information on everything from tankless
water heaters to the greenest options
for home and yard. Architect and former
Three Rivers resident Sharon Sheltzer
will attend, and several green builders
and retrofitters will bring products and
Sunday brings the opportunity
to visit green buildings in the valley.
Two tours are planned at a cost of $15
per person or $25 per couple. For the
first tour, leaving Three Rivers at noon,
call 561-4676 for information and reservations.
For the second tour at 1 p.m., call 561-4149.
Proceeds from the tours benefit
Tulare County Citizens for Responsible
Growth. The TREW Crew believes everyone
must do their part to educate themselves
and take actions that benefit our planet
and future generations. This two-day event
is a means to that end.
The Arts Alliance of Three
Rivers is sponsoring a Halloween Pumpkin-carving
Contest for Three Rivers residents ages
14 and older. On Saturday, Oct. 25, from
10 a.m. to noon, participants are invited
to drop off their one or two six-inch
to 24-inch carved pumpkins at the Three
Rivers Historical Society.
The pumpkins will be judged
that day at 1 p.m. Categories include
Spookiest, Most Diabolical, and Most Bewitching.
Pumpkin-carvers may choose
to donate their pumpkin to the Arts Alliance
to be sold. All proceeds will benefit
the club’s scholarship fund. Carvers
are also welcome to keep their pumpkins
by marking them “Not for Sale.”
All of the pumpkins will
be on display on Saturday, Oct. 25, from
1 to 3 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 26, through
Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pick up of pumpkins will be Tuesday, Oct.
28, from 2 to 3 p.m.
The women of St. Clair’s
Catholic Mission, in cooperation with
area churches, will host this year’s
Women’s Interfaith Luncheon, scheduled
for Tuesday, Nov. 11, noon, at St. Anthony
This year’s theme is
“Give Thanks to the Lord for He
is Good.” The guest speaker will
be Danielle Witt, St. Anthony assistant
director, who will present “Gratitude:
The Heart of Prayer.”
It will be a time of prayer,
faith sharing, fellowship, food, and fun.
Following a delicious lunch and inspiring
program, a Pick-a-Prize raffle will be
held, organized by the Presbyterian Women
with proceeds benefiting the Three Rivers
All area women are invited
to attend. The cost of the luncheon is
$15; make reservations by Wednesday, Oct.
For more information, call
Barbara Lahmann at St. Anthony Retreat,
561-4595, or Jane Dempsey, chairperson,
up at Lake Kaweah
The annual Public Lands Day,
coordinated by Valerie McKay, park ranger,
proved to be a productive day at Lake
Kaweah as 165 volunteers (in photo above)
picked up trash, painted structures at
the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center and
Horse Creek Campground, and completed
several much-needed landscaping projects.
According to Phil Deffenbaugh,
Lake Kaweah general manager, among the
tasks completed were some important work
in the 7.1-acre mitigation area that was
set aside below the dam to preserve species
endangered by the enlargement of the reservoir.
Larry Baker, who has been
a ranger at Lake Kaweah since 1986, led
one group of volunteers in the installation
of a complex of bluebird boxes in the
mitigation area. It was an exclamation
point of sorts for Ranger Larry, a resident
of Three Rivers, who retired this week
after 30 years, eight months, of federal
Larry won’t be going
anywhere anytime soon, he said. For the
immediate future, he plans to help out
as a volunteer interpreter and tour guide
at the Kaweah Oaks preserve east of Visalia.
Volunteers who participate
in the morning-long chores receive free
continental breakfast, lunch, T-shirt,
and camping for their efforts.
There were also educational
booths with partner agencies and organizations
providing information and giveaways. “Tulare
Tom, the Recycling Specialist” (photo,
right) made an appearance to promote his
favorite earth-friendly tips.
1936 ~ 2008
Gloria Ann Hill of Three
Rivers died Sunday, Sept. 21, 2008. She
Gloria was born April 29,
1936, in Waukena to Mervin and Katherine
(Turk) Barns. She enjoyed art and cooking
and was a member of the First Baptist
Church in Three Rivers.
Gloria was preceded in death
by her son Mitchell Cary Genter.
She is survived by her husband, Howard
Hill of Three Rivers; two sons, Mike Genter
and wife Kathie of Visalia and Richard
Hill and wife Denise of Chandler, Ariz.;
one daughter, Kathyanna Radcliff and husband
Rocky of Tehachapi; daughter-in-law Chris
Genter; brother Mervin Barns or Norman,
Okla.; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
On Friday, Sept. 26, a service
was held at First Baptist Church in Three
Rivers with interment at Three Rivers
Remembrances may be made
to First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 35,
Three Rivers, CA 93271. Condolences to
the family may be sent in care of firstname.lastname@example.org.