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In the News - Friday, October 9, 2009

All stories written by John or

Sarah Elliott unless otherwise noted


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Town meeting highlights

parks, county updates

   The monthly Three Rivers Town Hall meeting returned last Monday, Oct. 5, to the Three Rivers Memorial Building after a three month hiatus. There were updates and news on several topics of interest.
Deb Schweizer, fire education specialist for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, opened the forum by introducing Jeff Bradybaugh, the interim superintendent for the local national parks. Bradybaugh, a career resource management specialist, is filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Craig Axtell and comes to Ash Mountain from Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.
   Relative to fire, Deb announced that the Azalea prescribed burn near Grant Grove had been completed. Best-case scenario, she said, is that fire managers are looking to complete another eight projects before the end of fire season.

  “It’s unlikely that everything will line up to complete all the projects,” Deb said. “Next on the agenda is the Ella burn, a 70-acre parcel near Grant Grove, where the NPS hopes to begin ignitions as soon as this Sunday [Oct. 11], and the Quarry burn near the Sherman Tree in Giant Forest.”
   The 45-acre burn near the Sherman Tree will not necessitate any closures, Deb said. The largest projects still out there is the 1,200-acre Mosquito/Fowler burns in the Mineral King area.
   Those combined burns are planned for a few days before an approaching storm. Ignitions in the steep terrain below the Tar Gap Trail, Deb said, will be done by helicopter.
   Dan Blackwell, parks’ chief of maintenance, announced that the next few summer seasons will be busy ones for road construction in Sequoia. A series of upcoming projects are a part of a $100 million backlog in deferred maintenance.
   The current paving work on the Generals Highway near Halstead Meadow has been hampered recently by the cold weather. The completion of that contract, scheduled for October 23, might have to be extended.
   Blackwell also said that the next stretch of the Generals Highway beyond Amphitheater Point that’s on tap for 2010 will require one-hour closures similar to what has been experienced in the past. That’s the steepest and most difficult portion with lots of retaining walls that might even require some night work, he said.
   Supervisor Allen Ishida followed the NPS presenters with updates on several topics and issues from a county perspective. In terms of the budget, he said, Tulare County is actually better off than most counties.
   To date, 200 workers have lost their jobs out of a total workforce of 4,200. Other shortages have been made up by furloughs and pay cuts, he said.

  “In January, we’ll have the projections for the remainder of the fiscal year and that situation could change,” Ishida said.
   Ishida also said that county supervisors are at odds with the eight incorporated cities as to where development should occur. The cities want all the growth but the county, he said, has a responsibility to serve areas like Lindcove and other rural hamlets that need some development to ensure their survival.
   The key to the water problem is dirt needs to be moved on water storage and a peripheral canal simultaneously, Ishida said.

  “If we lose our water on the east side of the Valley,” Ishida said, “we’ll be in the same situation as the west side with fallow fields and more unemployment.”
   Tom Sparks, chairman of the Tulare County Association of Government’s (TCAG) rail preservation committee, provided an update as to the agency’s efforts to preserve a 30-mile section of railroad from Lindsay to Jovista. Sparks said rail preservation makes sense because it creates jobs and gets hundreds of diesel trucks off local roadways.
   The Town Hall meetings are sponsored by the Three Rivers Village Foundation and are scheduled for the first Monday of the month. To suggest a topic for an upcoming agenda call Lee Goldstein, 561-3204.

Interim parks boss

strong on resource protection

   When Jon Jarvis, the former head of the Pacific West Region was nominated to become the director of the National Park Service by President Obama, it set in motion a musical chairs of sorts among the superintendent positions of the biggest and most prestigious national parks. Added to the speculation of who might succeed Jarvis, who was sworn in Friday, Oct. 2, as the agency’s 18th director, are the usual retirements and suddenly there are vacancies in key posts throughout the western region.
   For these contingencies, the NPS regional office in San Francisco maintains a list of qualified individuals who might be willing to move on short notice to take an interim appointment.
   That list is essentially how Jeff Bradybaugh became the interim superintendent at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. His first day at his new Ash Mountain office was Monday, Oct. 5, and will help ensure a smooth transition until the next superintendent is named.
   Craig Axtell, the former superintendent of Sequoia-Kings Canyon, officially retired October 2. Bradybaugh said he believes that hiring a replacement will take at least three to six months.

  “There’s an evaluation process of how the park has changed that has to occur when there’s a vacancy at a high-level park like Sequoia,” said Bradybaugh. “The new superintendent has to have just the right mix of skills.”
   Bradybaugh, whose NPS career has included assignments at Theodore Roosevelt (N.D.), Mammoth Cave (Ky.), and Zion (Utah) national parks prior to Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (Ariz.), jumped at the chance to work at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks.
   Drawing from a background in resource management, Bradybaugh said he sees lots of challenges that are similar to previous parks where he worked. At Mammoth Cave National Park he also dealt with illegal pot growers but on a smaller scale.

  “These were individuals, not cartels, who were actually operating outside of the park boundaries,” Bradybaugh said. “We also partnered with the local farmers to provide incentives to use better tillage, crop rotation, and animal waste disposal practices.”
   The protection of Mammoth Cave, Bradybaugh said, presented similar challenges like Crystal Cave in Sequoia. It was discovered this summer that Crystal Cave, as well as a huge underground network of nearby caves, are being threatened by upstream pot growers on Yucca Creek. Bradybaugh said he is looking forward to touring these sites and getting involved in the management of local cave resources.
   Bradybaugh’s academic work at New Mexico State University, where he earned an M.S. in wildlife biology, focused on pronghorn antelope. At Roosevelt National Park, his first NPS job in 1982, he said he helped manage large herds of elk and bison in a prairie badlands environment that averaged 3,000 feet in elevation.

  “Coming to Sequoia is a unique opportunity to build experience and be exposed to different ways of doing business,” Bradybaugh said. “I’m excited to serve here as an interim until a new superintendent is appointed.”

Measure C dollars go to work

   Breaking ground Tuesday morning, Oct. 13, on junior-varsity baseball and softball fields at Woodlake High School were Bill Lewis, city administrator, City of Woodlake; Frances Ortiz, vice mayor, City of Woodlake; Raul Gonzales, mayor, City of Woodlake; Brent Cushenbery, assistant superintendent, Woodlake Public Schools; David East, assistant superintendent, Woodlake Public Schools; Tim Hire, superintendent, Woodlake Public Schools; Nicole Glentzer, principal, Woodlake High School; Steve Tindle, Micham Construction (contractor); Sandra Flores, chief financial officer, Woodlake Public Schools; and Richard Rochin, board member, WHS. The Woodlake High School District’s Measure C $4.5 million bond — which will ultimately add classrooms, restrooms, and improve athletic and performing arts facilities on the campus — was passed by voters in February 2008.

Climber airlifted from Whitney zone

   Climbing any of the several routes on Mount Whitney is an extreme adrenaline rush. Looking down the 14,505-foot peak from the shear north face is an unforgettable experience.
   But for two men who attempted the climb on Friday, Oct. 2, the rush and the experience quickly became a nightmare. That’s because one of the climbers was struck by a basketball-sized rock that banged his shoulder, causing severe compression on his scapula and vertebrae.
   Though details are sketchy as to what happened next, the duo was able to get a cell signal and call 911. According to Adrienne Freeman, public information officer at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, the call came into the dispatcher in the early evening so it was too late to dispatch a helicopter for an immediate rescue.
   Undaunted, the apparently experienced climbers knew exactly what to do until help arrived. They spent most of the night down-climbing and set up a makeshift camp east of Iceberg Lake near an open flat where they were clearly visible.
   At first light, a park rescue helicopter was dispatched. After landing nearby, the injured victim was transported via helicopter to a nearby hospital where he was treated for severe trauma to the shoulder and back but otherwise glad to have survived a brush with death.

Fun in the sun on the Poker Run

By Brian Rothhammer

   Autumn in the Sierra Nevada. A fine sunny day, a cool breeze, a gently curving mountain road.
   What could be better? How about all of that and a gathering of friends both old and new for a day of fun, games, music, and great food.
   Add to that the shared appreciation of some of the finest examples of rolling art and sculpture that ever graced the pavement that ambles through the Sierra foothills community of Badger and you have found yourself at the first annual Sisters Mountain House Poker and Fun Run.
   On Saturday, Oct. 3, at 10:30 a.m., the mighty rumble of V-Twins mixed with the high revving notes of café racers in a symphony of orchestrated power as 69 riders took to the road. There was a harmony of purpose as well.
   Not only was this a day of fellowship among riders from diverse backgrounds, but it was also a benefit for a good cause. All were here to enjoy the day and to raise money for the Sierra Elementary School. More than $500 was collected.

  “We’re surprised…we’re very happy to hear about it,” said Michael MacDonald of the unexpected windfall. Michael is the teacher of the rural school, which has a total of 20 students and is part of the Cutler-Orosi School District.
   When asked if it is a one-room schoolhouse, Michael replied,

  “Actually, we have two rooms (in addition to the kitchen, library and office).”
   Community spirit runs strong in these mountains. Penny Gelhaus bought the Mountain House (along with her sister Sherry) from Jerry Mullins who, with wife Shirley, had owned it for 29 years prior.

  “I just do this for fun,” said Penny, who is a full time ER nurse at St. Agnes Hospital in Fresno.

  “It is fun,” added manager Michel Buchannan. Along with the fun is plenty of hard work, and with the dedicated crew they run the old roadhouse like a well-oiled machine. Michel is quick to give credit to “the girls” — Jade, Laura, Amy, Amanda and Haley.

  “They all call me Mom, ” she said.
   Other friends and neighbors pitched in as well for this event, notably Bob Beasley, who worked his magic on the grill preparing Mountain Burgers. They smelled mighty good; in fact, Sisters is becoming well known for all of their great food.
   Prizes were awarded for high and low poker hands, first in, best bike, best dressed, and some games that were a bit risqué. The frozen t-shirt contest was good, clean fun. Live music was provided by Code Blue of Three Rivers.
   After a day with a bunch of fun-lovin’ bikers, driving home isn’t always the best idea. Not to worry, a delightfully peaceful place to rest and recover is close at hand.
   Seven Circles Retreat is just perfect. Just up the road from Sisters, Laura Horst keeps an immaculately clean and restful oasis for the wary traveler. Did I mention quiet? The rates are reasonable and breakfast with coffee is included.
   If you’ve made other overnight arrangements, stop back by the Sisters Mountain House in the morning (afternoon?). To find Sisters Mountain House from Three Rivers, just take Hwy. 198 to Lemon Cove, then right on Hwy. 216 for just over a half-mile. Turn right on Dry Creek Drive, a wonderful road for the motorcyclist or driving enthusiast, and follow it for 17 miles. It’s easy to find, and once there you’ll be back for more.

A TREW-ly great weekend

by Mona Fox Selph

   The 2009 Three Rivers Environmental Weekend (October 2-3) was a great success thanks to the continuing tireless efforts of many dozens of caring members of the community. The weather was beautiful, and many came out to enjoy the two days and learn what each of us can do for the earth and all of the life forms dependent on a healthy planet.
   Day One— Saturday at the Arts Center was well attended and appreciated.
   The morning saw Annie Esperanza again bring the technical equipment to make presentations possible.
   Brian Rippey presented information on the most up-to-date state and county-approved wastewater treatment for homes and businesses, a topic of great importance to any community dependent on septic tanks and drainage fields while also dependent on clean drinking water from wells.
   A second interesting presentation was given by beekeeper Max Eggman. Much as we love the honey we get from bees, they are of much greater importance for the pollination of agricultural crops. Since 2006, there has been a dramatic decline in bee health with the total collapse of many colonies. Eggman explained what research indicates may be the main causes and what the scientists, beekeepers, and the USDA are trying to do to improve bee health. The Eggmans also brought their special comb honey for sampling and for sale.
   In the afternoon, sponsored by the CNPS, came a highlight of the day as John Muir Laws, Bay Area artist, scientist, and author of the Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada, gave a wonderful and animated presentation on the interconnectedness of plants, insects, birds, parasites, larger animals, and the entire ecosystem. Every day it seems, scientists are making new discoveries about the intricately connected web of life around us.
   Lori Werner, who was raised in Three Rivers and is now a spotted owl researcher, set up an educational display of the food web of the owl, species-identifying photos, undigested bones of their prey, an owl house, and recordings of the calls of various species.
   The Sequoia Natural History Association brought useful and educational books on a variety of topics for sale.
   The California Native Plant Society had native plants for sale outside, and books, posters, and cards inside. Tulare County Citizens for Responsible Growth distributed information to attendees.
Family Farm Fresh set up a beautiful display of the food that community farmers produce and that FFF can deliver fresh to your doorstep. Scott Barkers’s books on Yokohl Valley history were a popular addition.
   Outside, Bill Becker solar cooked, and Three Rivers Mercantile showed off green products available right here in Three Rivers.
Mike Cannarozzi had a display to show the difference light-colored or white roofs can make in our hot summers.

  “Feel the two different roofs,” he told onlookers.
Proof positive. The roof product can mitigate some of the effects of global warming on melting glaciers.
   Outside, local artists and craftspeople set up awnings under which they displayed environmentally friendly birdhouses and feeders by Peggy Hunt, wind chimes by Judy Miller, Nikki Crain’s handwoven goods and soy candles, natural found wood sculptures by Ann Marks, and Carole Clum’s fanciful art objects made of metal scraps.
   Day Two— Two groups of attendees participated in the Green Home Tour. As part of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Home Tour, the homes were all either actively or passively solar heated and cooled.
   Some had radiant floors, an idea that goes back to the Romans. Some used efficient wood stoves as back-up heating on the coldest days. Swamp coolers were in. The owners also used many other environmentally positive ideas in their living spaces, such as the use of recycled wood and insulation in the construction.
   All the homes are on the small side and so more energy efficient. Two are historic adobes.
   Every home was beautiful to behold with touches such as door arches of driftwood and antlers, circular fish ponds with fountains, niches and architectural details in walls, the lovely play of light from windows, and views connecting the indoors to the outside gardens and nature.
   Thanks go to Three Rivers homeowners Tom and Lisa McGinnis, Hilary Dustin and Kay Woods, Bill Becker, Steven and Barbara Lahmann, and Rick Badgley and Martha Widmann.
   Mona Fox Selph of Three Rivers is an organizer of the Three Rivers Environmental Weekend.

3R artists invited

to join Studio Tour 9

   The Three Rivers Artists’ Studio Tour 9 will be held Friday through Sunday, March 19, 20, and 21, 2010. Expanding the Studio Tour from two days to three is to provide more time for guests to visit all the studios, but even though artists are encouraged to open their studios on Friday, it is not mandatory.
   Elsah Cort, Studio Tour organizer, said she hopes to add new artists and studios. Anyone who is a creative person, with residence in Three Rivers, and who has a personally designated creating space is welcome to be on the tour.
   The Studio Tour deadline for complete artist application submission is Sunday, Nov. 1. For more information, call Elsah, 561-4671, or visit: www.threeriversartstudiotour.com.

It’s Pear Lake Ski Hut lottery time

   To experience the backcountry of Sequoia National Park in the winter is a rare treat. To actually have a cabin and a woodstove is an absolute luxury.
   Forms are currently available for the public to enter into the annual lottery to stay at the Pear Lake Ski Hut (Dec. 18, 2009 to April 25, 2010). To be eligible, a reservation form and liability waiver must be turned in to Sequoia Natural History Association by Friday, Oct. 30.
   Information: 565-4222 or www.sequoiahistory.org.

Sierra Nevada license plate

campaign moves forward

   The campaign for the launch of a new environmental license plate for the Sierra Nevada has cleared a major hurdle, and the plate is now for sale. Currently, 7,500 plates must be pre-sold in one year before the DMV will issue plates.
   The new plate features a collage of mountains, streams, blue sky, and a bear. License plate proceeds will fund Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s efforts to protect and restore Sierra landscapes, which not only includes rivers and meadows, but rural communities and farms within 22 counties from the Oregon border to eastern Kern County.
   The Sierra Nevada Conservancy was created Sept. 23, 2004, by Governor Schwarzenegger when he signed bipartisan legislation drafted by former Assemblymen John Laird (D) and Tim Leslie (R).
   The cost for the special license plate ranges from $50 for an original sequential numbered plate (new six-digit number will be issued) to $98 for a conversion of an existing personalized plate or a new personalized Sierra Nevada license plate (because of the artwork on the plate, just six characters can be accommodated).
   For more information or to be one of the first to order a plate, go to: www.sierralicenseplate.org.


Healthy eating – shhhh! (for kids)

By Tina St. John

   My oldest daughter is fairly strict with what she allows her kids to eat. She does on occasion let them have “junk” food. But only on occasion, she tells me.
   The other day her youngest child, Elijah, who’s three years old, asked her, “Mom, I’m ‘tirsty.’ Could I please have some junk?”
   Junk meaning soda. Kids say the darndest things. I figure, at least he knows it’s junk.
   So how do we teach our children to eat well? Do we tell them to eat their vegetables because it makes their eyes strong? That’s what my mother used to say.
   Do we tell them that we’ll give them candy if they eat all their dinner? Do we let them eat whatever and whenever they want? Do we set the example by eating good foods ourselves?
   How do you teach them to eat in a way that will keep them healthy when there’s so much “junk” around? Candy, chips, and soda are all things that taste good to most kids, but are destructive to every cell in a human’s body. And we all know it.
   Obviously, the best way is to never buy junk food to begin with, even though every aisle in the grocery store and every other television commercial feature the best-packaged array of gratifying substances known to man.
   With that said, most of us have introduced junk food to our children. I certainly have, and even if we haven’t, they’ve likely found it on their own.
   I was watching a documentary the other night that featured a family who live a very simple life. Unfortunately, the country they live in is under a dictatorship and deprives its people of the most basic needs like water resources to grow their food.
   The food they did have consisted of rice and wheat. No vegetables, fruits, nuts; nothing like that. It was sobering to watch because it made me think about how easy it is to take for granted that food is so readily available in this country, in this state, and even in this county.
   It got me thinking about a time in my life when I was raising my children on my own and didn’t have a lot of money, so feeding my kids adequately required some creative cooking. Don’t take this wrong. It isn’t as though I didn’t have enough food; I just wasn’t able to buy the abundance of foods that I thought were the healthiest, most nutritious, and best for them.
   I had to compromise and budget every week when doing the grocery shopping. In fact, you could say that budgeting the food bill had become an art; I mastered it out of necessity.
   In our household growing up, we didn’t eat packaged foods. We ate freshly prepared food every day.
   That’s how we were taught to eat. That’s what I knew.
   That’s how I intended to teach my children to eat. So when I entered this period in my life where things were scarce, it became a concern for me.
   I never wanted my children to feel they didn’t have enough even though I knew I could do better with so much more. But I learned to manage and get creative with what there was.
   For instance, when preparing meals for dinner, my two youngest children would usually watch me, so I would speak with a French accent like my mother and pretend it was my cooking show. I used to think that if I could at least make preparing what I did have look like a gourmet meal, then maybe they’ll think they’re eating really great and have more appreciation for what they put in their bodies; in other words, that eating isn’t something to do mindlessly, but with thought.
   My youngest daughter is involved in a program where she tutors elementary kids after school twice a week. She has the same children every time, dropped off by their parents.
   By the time of day the kids get to her, they’re hungry, so they always have something with them to eat. And, she tells me, without fail it is something from McDonalds, Burger King, or Taco Bell. She told me this after asking me what I was going to write about in my next food column.
   I saw a billboard the other day advertising Taco Bell burritos for 99 cents. I thought to myself, that can’t possibly be food; what food costs 99 cents?
   A head of lettuce alone costs $1.50. So what is it exactly that our children eat, if this is what we’re feeding them?
   We drill ourselves as parents as to what car seat is the safest, what detergent to use, who’s their teacher, is the school they go to good enough for them, who are their friends, will their first car be safe enough, who are they driving in the car with, who are they dating, and on and on we go as parents always concerned for our children’s well-being and safety.
   Do we put that much consideration each day into the food our children put into their bodies? Do we research the food to see if it’s even food?
   I really believe that children learn how to eat by what is or is not prepared in their home. Feel free to share any recipes of your own that you’ve given your kids while teaching them healthy eating habits.
   Bon Appetit!
   Tina St. John writes from her Three Rivers studio.


Concert plays to packed yard

By Eddie McArthur

   Although crowd estimates are difficult, there had to be over 200 people in a private yard at the end of Dinely Drive on Saturday, Sept. 26, for Concert on the Grass 2009. With the temperature over 100 degrees, all still gathered to listen to music and poetry, watch folk dancing, and view art. Shuttle vans carried people laden with chairs and picnic coolers from the parking area to the concert site.
   Say what you will about Three Rivers residents, but it takes more than a little heat to kill the party spirit!
   The generosity of Bill and Anne Haxton provides this lovely venue for Concert on the Grass each year; and the Haxtons join husband-and-wife team Ken Elias and Sarah Shena in putting together the entire event, funded only by donations and a corps of hardworking volunteers.
   For the second year, the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers partnered with Concert on the Grass as seven local artists displayed their talents. Among these is relative newcomer to the creative scene, Karen Kimball.
   Karen creates lovely clay monoprints, a time-consuming art form with a bit of an Asian flair. Her work is unique to the Three Rivers art scene and sure to become quite well known.
   No doubt about it, adding visual arts to this previously all-performance event has added another dimension and an additional opportunity for people to view a small portion of the work of talented artists of Three Rivers.
   Entertainment began with Raymond Pitts, familiar to patrons of Monet Restaurant in Exeter as a jazz musician, playing clarinet as the crowd kept pouring in. Chairs were set up, blankets were thrown on the grass, and food and drink appeared from coolers.
   Ken Elias joined Pitts on keyboard to keep everyone entertained while viewing the art and allowing the crowd to find a place to seat themselves. Husband and wife Keith Hamm and Esther Zurcher, also known as Mankin Creek, entranced the crowd with a selection of their favorites from a Billie Holiday jazz standard to a folk song written by the pair.
   Jesse Belman, known to locals as part of Faena Brava, joined forces with cellist Pat Valentine for several wonderful pieces of music with a Spanish flair. Alternating with them were dancers Jovita Metts, Fabi Belman, and Marilou Belman with traditional Spanish and Mexican dance.
   Despite the heat, this trio of lovely ladies with their lively dance routines never gave a hint of the 40-plus pounds of fabric making up each of their costumes.
   The old-fashioned feel of this event — with folks on blankets or seated in their own chairs, not a single food vendor to be found but rather food and drink carted from home, breezes giving some slight relief from the heat, and the shade of lovely old oaks — give this event a flavor that only our little town can provide! Three Rivers residents are incredibly fortunate to have in their midst not only all this talent but also folks like the Haxtons and Ken and Sarah willing to give of themselves and their time to put together this annual event.
   Last weekend the party continued — this time it was called a pARTy — with the inaugural 1st Saturday Three Rivers event. Artist Nadi Spencer spearheaded a group of about 30 artists, musicians, venues, food and drink, storytelling and more.
   This monthly event will happen the first Saturday of every month. Artists will have works for sale, and several local retailers will offer special deals and discounts. The events are free.

Making America’s

best idea even better

   Millions of Americans tuned into watch Ken Burns’s latest PBS film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Viewers were glued to their TVs as the nation’s pre-eminent storyteller trained his lens on the national parks.
   So now what? Here are a couple of ideas from the National Park Service, the people who have been entrusted with the care of these special places by their fellow citizens since 1916:
   VISIT: The best place to enjoy a national park is in one. There are 391 units in the National Park System from which to choose. Go to Sequoia or Kings Canyon national parks or plan a trip to one across the continent. Start by visiting www.nps.gov.
   VOLUNTEER: The national parks welcome more than 170,000 volunteers every year who help with everything from clearing trails to staffing information desks. Find a place to volunteer at www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteer.htm.
   DONATE: The generosity of U.S. citizens through their tax dollars and their donations helps to sustain America’s national parks. The National Park Foundation and more than 100 friends groups raise funds for parks. Find out more at www.nps.gov/getinvolved/donate.htm.
   HELP YOUR COMMUNTIY: The National Park Service also works outside of parks, helping those committed to revitalizing their own communities create places to get outside and be active and preserve local history. See how the parks work in gateway communities at www.nps.gov/communities/index.htm.
   MAKE AMERICA’S BEST IDEA EVEN BETTER: America’s “best idea” is a challenge to live up to, not a title with which to be content. Take a look at what the National Park Service is doing today to make the idea even better at this new website: www.nps.gov/americasbestidea/

  “The Burns film is reinvigorating America’s love of their national parks,” said Jon Jarvis, who was sworn in last week as the 18th director of the National Park Service. “Please join us in caring for these special places.”

Yosemite ranger wins regional award

   Shelton Johnson, interpretive ranger at Yosemite National Park — and the only African American ranger at Yosemite — has been selected as the recipient of the 2009 Freeman Tilden Award for the Pacific West Region. He is among seven regional award winners, one of whom will be selected by a national panel to be the recipient of the national Freeman Tilden Award.
   Johnson’s original research into the Buffalo Soldiers’ history, the creation of an individual soldier to teach the broader story about race and wilderness, and his extensive collaboration with Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan on The National Parks documentary are just a few of the reasons that Johnson is deserving of the award.

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
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