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In the News - Friday, October 11, 2013



DAY 11


Government shutdown drags on


Closures continue, visitor season on hold


  There was a rally at the Ash Mountain entrance station to Sequoia National Park on Friday, Oct. 4, organized and led by Dennis Villavicencio, owner of the Buckeye Tree Lodge and Sequoia Village Inn in Three Rivers, and attended by dozens of angry business owners, local residents, and visitors (all photos on this page are of that rally). On the same day, dozens of protesters assembled at the Tioga Road entrance to Yosemite, calling their protest “Occupy Yosemite.”
    After Monday’s Town Hall meeting in Three Rivers, a letter writing campaign was initiated by Glenn McIntyre of The Gateway Restaurant and Lodge to appeal to California’s delegation of U.S. senators and congressional representatives to demand an end to the budget standoff.
    Yet still the partial government shutdown, now in its second week, drags on.
    The consensus among local business people in Three Rivers was expressed by J Hossain, owner of Western Holiday Lodge in Three Rivers.
    “After such a good summer season suddenly our October reservations are all cancellations,” Hossain said. “Now we must tell our guests, many who have planned to come here for years, that the park is closed and we don’t know when it will reopen.”
    Assemblyman Jim Patterson (23rd District) was in Three Rivers on Saturday, Oct. 5, to see for himself the effects of the closure of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks on the community. On Monday, Oct. 7, he sent letters to Governor Jerry Brown, President Barack Obama, and Senators Feinstein and Boxer, requesting support of House Joint Resolution 70 to reopen the national parks.
   Tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 12) at 10 a.m., a meeting will be held at The Gateway Restaurant to discuss options and action for local business owners during the shutdown.
      “We really don’t know what the long-term effects of the shutdown will be but what is certain is that right now our businesses are bleeding money,” said Villavicencio. “Who will compensate us for our devastating losses? Keeping Sequoia Park closed is absolutely unacceptable.”

Government closure is focus of town meeting

Gang awareness also addressed

   Last Monday’s regular monthly Town Hall meeting featured a number of updates, none more important than the ongoing shutdown of local national parks. Woody Smeck, furloughed superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, expressed his sentiments regarding the closure.
    Smeck explained that the shutdown is all about the lack of budget authority and includes all 401 of the units administered by the National Park Service.
    “I deeply the regret the closure and its effect on this community and the surrounding communities,” Smeck said. “The pain is not being distributed equally.”
    There are things that everyone can do, Smeck said, like getting engaged in the political process and contacting California’s senators and local members of Congress. He concluded his remarks by saying that staff is already planning to double their efforts to promote the parks and bring more visitors.
    Dana Dierkes, public information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, said she is one of the 63 park employees still working; 284 are on furlough.
    Approximately 4,000 visitors normally enter the local parks daily in October.
    Lt. Mark Gist, head of the Tulare County Sheriff’s anti-gang violence unit, gave a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate what the department is doing to combat street gangs and gain intelligence on more than 6,000 known gang members in Tulare County. He urged everyone to become more aware of suspicious persons and take notice of attire, tattoos, and graffiti.
    “Use extreme caution when you see a suspected gang member,” Gist said. “Chances are if you are looking at them they are looking at you.”
    Gist explained that there lots of challenges when he and his seven deputies are trying to keep tabs on more than 6,000 gang members. The majority of the gang members in Tulare County are Nortenos, violent gang members who are associated organized Mexican crime syndicates. 
    Scott Doyle, Three Rivers resident deputy, said that gang members are still visiting Three Rivers but currently they are not committing crimes.
The next town meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 4.


National Park Service
Sequoia Natural History Association
Delaware North Company
Kings Canyon Park Services

   To receive updates about the shutdown, contact Dana Dierkes, public information officer, at 565-3131 (office), 679-2866 (cell), or dana_dierkes@nps.gov (email). Include name, phone number, and email address.
     Updates are expected to include: frequently asked questions and other information about the furlough of federal employees, updates on park operations and incidents during the shutdown, and efforts to work with visitors who find the parks closed and neighboring communities affected by the shutdown.

Modifying the trip itinerary

What to do. Where to go.

   Three Rivers is a unique community as it is bordered on all sides of its far-flung boundaries by public lands, managed by the federal government. While usually that’s a positive attribute, in light of a shutdown of the U.S. government that has closed Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Lake Kaweah, it is a hindrance to those who visit and recreate here.

Where to See Giant Sequoias

   Giant sequoia groves may still be accessed in Giant Sequoia National Monument, Balch Park (a Tulare County-maintained area), and Mountain Home State Demonstration Forest (a State of California-managed property). Okay, so you miss out on the four largest giant sequoias (located within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks), but you can still visit numbers 5, 6, and 7, each via a picturesque drive and an easy hike. (Please note that all these areas are accessed via dirt road and may not be accessible to all vehicles. Also, do not attempt to drive on these roads after heavy rain or snowfall.) In addition to the three giant sequoias described below, there are many other spectacular trees in the same vicinities to see.
     Big Tree No. 5: The Stagg Tree (Alder Creek Grove). The Stagg Tree is located off Highway 190 east of Springville. To reach the Stagg Tree, drive east on State Highway 190 for 2.5 miles beyond Camp Nelson. Turn left on Redwood Drive (County Route M216) at the subdivision of Alpine Village and continue about 6 miles to the cabin community of Sequoia Crest. When Redwood Drive turns sharply left to become Alder Drive, drive straight ahead on the unpaved road for less than a half-mile to the locked gate. From here, it’s less than a one-mile walk to the tree. Continue beyond the gate along a dirt road. Stay on this road as it passes through an old logging camp with its unmistakable twin towers of giant sequoias until reaching a short trail that is identified by a handmade sign pointing the way to the tree, which is a short walk downhill. This tree is on private property, although the owners have granted permission for visitors to access the Stagg Tree.
     Big Tree No. 6: Boole Tree (Converse Basin Grove). The Boole Tree is in Giant Sequoia National Monument. Enter the Kings Canyon National Park entrance via Highway 180 (no stopping, not even for a photograph, while on national park land) and turn left (north) when the highway forks. Continue for just over 5 miles to Forest Service Road 13S55. Take this dirt road, staying right at all forks to road’s end. Take the trail for three-quarters of a mile to the Boole Tree. This tree is one of only about 60 that remain after this grove was logged between 1892 and 1918. There are other interesting trees (and stumps) in this area known as Converse Basin. It is an interesting contrast to the groves that received protection from logging because they were placed within the boundaries of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
     Big Tree No. 7: Genesis Tree (Mountain Home Grove). There are two ways to reach this tree from Three Rivers or drive it as a loop. From Highway 190 in Springville, continue north through the town to the intersection at the “White Barn.” Turn left onto Balch Park Road, then in about 4 miles, turn right on Bear Creek Road. Continue just over 10 miles until you see the Mountain Home forest headquarters. About a mile-and-a-half beyond here, turn right on the dirt road. At the first fork, stay right; at the second fork, stay right. The Genesis Tree is reached via a short, uphill trail near road’s end. There are several other interesting trees to visit in this grove. Upon returning to Bear Creek Road, turn right to continue to the Balch Park campgrounds and picnic areas. Continue in this direction to reach Balch Park Road. Turn right to return to Highway 198 and Three Rivers via Balch Park and Yokohl Valley roads. To return via the Springville route, turn left upon your return to Bear Creek Road and retrace your route.

Where to Access the Kaweah River
     The branches of the Kaweah River that flow through Three Rivers are mostly surrounded by private property. However, many of the local lodging facilities and private campgrounds are situated on riverfront property. If staying at any of these accommodations, the staff will be happy to guide you to the best places to fish, sun on a boulder, skip rocks, read a book, float, wade, or splash in a calm pool with the kids. Fishing supplies, including licenses, may be purchased at Three Rivers Mercantile and Kaweah General Store.
     Tranquil pools are accessible from the Edison property on Kaweah River Drive (from Highway 198, turn onto Dinely Drive, cross the bridge, and make an immediate left turn. In a quartermile, you will reach the Southern California Edison hydropower plant). Park in the designated area.
     Balch Park (see driving directions under “Genesis Tree” at right) offers fishing a ponds stocked with rainbow trout (good for children).

Where to Hike and Mountain Bike
    The Salt Creek Trail is a Bureau of Land Management property that is not affected by the government shutdown. Access this area and its several miles of dirt roads via Skyline Drive (off of State Highway 198 just east of the Three Rivers Memorial Building). Follow Skyline Drive to the top of the hill; park in the cul-de-sac and walk down the remainder of the paved road to the entry gate. Always leave gates as you found them, and respect the neighbors in the area by not parking in front of driveways, removing all litter, and not entering any private property. There are no restrooms or other facilities here.
    The Salt Creek Trail is an excellent mountain biking area. There are dirt roads and single-track. Mountain biking comes with some risks. Keep within your abilities.
    The backroads of Three Rivers offer peaceful biking routes best suited for mountain bikes because of rocks and debris on the roadways. About eight miles from Highway 198 on both North Fork and South Fork drives, the pavement gives way to dirt. The Mineral King Road from Highway 198 is a paved, yet challenging, uphill route (until you turn around and come back). BYOB (bring your own bike).

Historic Site: Kaweah Post Office
    Located on North Fork Drive three miles from Highway 198 in Three Rivers, this structure is significant because of its association with the Kaweah Co-Operative Colony. Between 1886 and the spring of 1892, the Kaweah Colony was settled along the upper North Fork of the Kaweah River. It was an epic experiment in utopian socialism that, to this day, continues to be the subject of serious study by historians, writers, and students of economics, history, and political science.
    On May 17, 1890, the Colony’s camp of Advance was granted a post office. From time to time, the building was moved to meet the needs of its patrons or to accommodate the postmaster. The present 10-foot by 12-foot structure was built in 1910. It is currently registered as State Historic Landmark No. 389. Today, the Kaweah Post Office is one of the smallest post offices in operation in the United States.

Guided Tours
    Sequoia Sightseeing Tours usually stays true to its name and tours Sequoia. But the expert guides have adapted due to the park closure and will suggest alternative tours where visitors may experience the sights that make this region so spectacular and such a hidden gem. www.sequoiatours.com.

Horseback Riding
    Trail rides are available in Three Rivers at Wood ‘N’ Horse Training Stables. www.wdnhorse.com.

    The history of the settlement of Three Rivers is a fascinating story. Learn all about it at the Three Rivers Historical Museum, located where the 17-foot-tall Paul Bunyan statue meets the highway. Open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

A preschool playground is located adjacent to the Three Rivers Library (on Eggers Drive, behind Three Rivers School). Playground equipment, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a large field are available at Three Rivers School during non-school hours (please stay away from the classroom areas, clean up after your dogs, and pack out any litter).

Raven Festival update: Events all month

  The Raven Festival kicked off with a bang. The students at Three Rivers Union School met real ravens brought to them by Critter Creek Wildlife Station.
    The kick-off reception of the sale of Sierra Wonders was a fun party for artists and writers whose contributions to the book will provide art scholarships for students headed to college.  The art show of original art from the book delighted all who attended.
    1st Saturday in Three Rivers provided much to see and enjoy: art, music, crafts, living history, and so much more.
    At Three Rivers Library, they kicked off the beginning of a series of events that will take place throughout October. Raven-themed arts and crafts, stories, a raven puppet presented by the Sequoia Natural History Association, and more were enjoyed by the families.
    The Cort Gallery Children’s Art Show displays the works of our children. See their take on ravens in their lives.
    One of the exciting ideas the 1st Saturday in Three Rivers core group had was to see decorations all over town that reflect the Raven Theme and Halloween. Since the national parks are currently closed, we hope the businesses will check out Nadi’s Gallery and Anne Lang’s Emporium to get ideas on decorating their stores. Imagine the energy that will be generated as the word gets out about whose decorations look the most interesting, or beautiful, or scary, or just plain fun.
    Instead of Valley travelers heading to Sequoia National Park, which isn’t an option at this time, they might just stop for the day in Three Rivers to check out our places of business, as well as the beauty all around us.
    Thanks to several generous sponsors, 1st Saturday will be awarding $250 at the end of the month to the best decorated business in town. So get busy, and let’s see the creativity of our business community.
    We artists show you ours. Now it’s your turn! And good luck!
    Shirley Keller, a local artist and an organizer of the monthly 1st Saturday event, contributed this article.


Margaret Mills
1930 ~ 2013

    Margaret May Mills, a longtime resident of Lemon Cove, died Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. She was 83.
    Margaret was born January 1, 1930, at home in Lindcove to Charles and Mildred Howison. Her father passed away three years later, and her mother raised Margaret and her three siblings.
    Margaret was raised in Lindcove, then as a teenager, moved with her family to Woodlake. She graduated from Woodlake High School.
    On July 1, 1949, she married James Curtis Mills. The newlyweds settled in Lindcove, living there until Margaret’s aunt, Lillian Howison Fletcher, offered Jim a job managing her citrus ranch in Lemon Cove. Margaret and Jim moved into a house on the property.
    For the next 61 years, the couple resided in Lemon Cove. Margaret enjoyed volunteering with youth, working as a Sunday school teacher and camp counselor. She was a longtime member of the Lemon Cove Women’s Club.
    Margaret worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 24 years, retiring in 1991. During her career, she was a postmaster at the Farmersville, Ivanhoe, and Lemon Cove stations.
    Margaret was proud of her children. In her “Neighbor Profile” in 2006, she said, “Charles operates the Horse Corral Pack Station in Sequoia National Forest; David has done well in real estate in Winters, Calif.; and Brad has been successful in baseball [as of the 2013 season, he was a coach with the Cleveland Indians].”
    Margaret was preceded in death by her parents and brother Evans Howison.
    She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Jim; three sons, Charles Mills and wife Judy, David Mills and wife Nanci, and James “Brad” and wife Ronda; eight grandchildren; 12 grandchildren; several great-grandchildren; and her two sisters, Eunice Denton of Woodlake and Phoebe Ann Bergthold and husband Ernest.
    A graveside service was held at Woodlake Cemetery on Wednesday, Oct. 9.


Rosa Lasswell
1928 ~ 2013

    Rosa Adeline Lasswell of Visalia died Monday, Oct. 7, 2013. She was 85.
    A funeral service will be held Monday, Oct. 14, 11:30 a.m., at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 120 N. Hall St., Visalia.
    An obituary will be published in the October 18 issue of The Kaweah Commonwealth.


1930 ~ 2013

    Margaret Lillian Campbell, a resident of Three Rivers for more than 50 years, died at her Kaweah home on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. She was 83.
    An obituary will be published in an upcoming issue. A memorial service will be held at a later date.


Gary Jeffries
1936 – 2013

Gary Jeffries, much loved husband, father, grandfather and friend passed away peacefully Sunday, Sept. 29. Words are not enough to describe the impact he had on his family and many friends. He will be remembered by his easy smile, love of the outdoors, and unmatched dedication to making the world a better and more enjoyable place for those close to him. He will be greatly missed by wife Christie; sons Kenneth and Kevin; daughter Michelle; stepson Richie; brother Keith; and friends and family near and far.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
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