In the News - Friday, November
stories written by John or
Elliott unless otherwise noted
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
poison in lakes
Public input requested for
Ecosystem Restoration Project’
further information on the
Ecosystem Restoration Project
where to send comments,
to the NPS planning website at:
concerns, and suggestions
to the project’s goals
due Saturday, Nov. 21.
For the couple dozen of folks who attended the National
Park Service public information meeting at the Three
Rivers Arts Center on Thursday, Nov. 5, Danny Boiano,
aquatic ecologist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
Parks, did a creditable job of framing the local parks’
latest ecosystem restoration project. He said the
scope and amount of restoration that is being proposed
is part of the mandate that he and his colleagues
interpret to be in keeping with the mission of the
But as Harold Werner, the parks’
wildlife ecologist, knows, the interpretation of that
mission can change over time and so does the public
perception of how park scientists should spend tax
dollars. Werner, chief wildlife ecologist, has been
researching and looking after the critters and their
habitat in Sequoia-Kings Canyon for more than 30 years.
Werner hinted that there is a touch of
irony in the fact that many years ago he actually
planted trout in some of the same lakes that are now
being proposed for trout removal. But today, Werner
said, the removal of the trout from specific high-country
lakes is a cornerstone of new policy that would help
restore aquatic ecosystems.
Werner said that some restoration is
needed in each of the major park drainages. The goal
is to restore these drainages to a 19th-century condition,
“… a time before we tampered with the
But one kind of tampering begets another,
so that’s why, according to Boiano, this project
is urgently needed. His passion currently is saving
the mountain yellow-legged frogs, an endangered species,
that he said could disappear altogether.
It’s not only the voracious appetite
of the trout that have the frogs in decline but also
a mysterious virus that is spreading throughout the
high country and decimating the two related species
of frogs that inhabit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National
In addition to being a good indicator
species as to the overall health of the ecosystem,
frogs find themselves smack dab in the middle of the
aquatic food chain. What that means for park scientists
is that if these pristine high-country lakes and streams
become out of balance, then the wilderness values
that these parks were preserved for in the first place
become even more threatened.
The restoration would also give visitors
to these out-of-the-way places an opportunity to experience
an aquatic ecosystem as it was and, according to Boiano
and Werner, is intended to be. For this project, the
parks are proposing that Boiano and his crew spend
the next several summers removing the fish populations
from between 30 and 85 lakes of the 560 that have
been identified in the study area that contain fish.
The effects of the removal would be studied
as a part of the 30-year restoration project.
The scope of how many are treated determines
how the Park Service actually eradicates the trout
and what impacts doing so would have on streams, other
wildlife, and humans. Boiano explained that the best-case
scenario is to treat the largest number of lakes and
streams with the chemical rotenone.
Rotenone is an herbicide that is obtained
by making a chemical compound from derris and cube
root. It has been used for centuries as a way to procure
fish for food.
Boiano said that public agencies have
used the chemical treatment for decades and that it
is safe and has minimal impact on the environment.
Nancy Hendricks, parks environmental specialist and
facilitator for the Three Rivers meeting, said she
has eaten fish killed by rotenone and didn’t
notice any ill effects.
In 1988, Lake Kaweah used rotenone to
kill a predator species of white bass.
“Rotenone kills all the fish by depriving them
of oxygen,” said Phil Deffenbaugh, general manager
of Lake Kaweah. “It was the only way we had
available to effectively treat such a large area.”
Deffenbaugh said that the use of rotenone
was safe and effective for his project. Since the
lake was purged, a species of Florida largemouth bass
was introduced that now have become prized as trophy
game fish at Lake Kaweah.
But the jury is still out on whether
the treatments would have the same effects on the
more pristine snowmelt-fed lakes and streams of the
Sequoia and Kings Canyon backcountry.
Other eradication methods being proposed
as a part of the project include gill-netting and
electrical shock (electrofishers). Once the fish are
killed, they are buried on-site to return nutrients
back into the aquatic resource system.
When park officials first began to scope
the restoration project they realized there would
be potential impacts and a level of controversy associated
with the proposal. So those factors became the impetus
to elevate the evaluation of impacts from an environmental
assessment (EA) in 2007 to the present environmental
impact statement (EIS) in 2009.
Water tops agenda
monthly town meeting
There is no more pressing issue than
water resources and how best to ensure the delivery
of the precious commodity. So it figured when there
was a slate of speakers to talk water there would
be a packed house at the Town Hall meeting of Monday,
The regular first Monday gathering at
the Three Rivers Memorial Building was an opportunity
for volunteers from three local water districts to
compare services and see some of the big picture where
local water use relates to the goals of the Kaweah
Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD).
The KDWCD maintains a guiding influence
over the use and quality of all the water in the Kaweah
and St. Johns watersheds below McKay’s Point,
two miles below Lake Kaweah. Every drop of Kaweah
River water used in Three Rivers potentially affects
downstream users who are within the Kaweah Delta’s
340,000-acre conservation district.
Rex Black, speaking on behalf of the
Alta Acres Water District, said the subdivision was
established in 1947 and its delivery facilities are
aging and in need of upgrades. The water does not
meet the current standards of the Safe Drinking Water
Act so the district applied for and received a $500,000
An additional $2 million loan was secured
to complete the necessary improvements. Each of the
district’s 75 users is being assessed $21,000
per parcel to pay for the loan.
Lew Nelson, who oversees the South Kaweah
district in Cherokee Oaks, said his district is the
largest of three in that area and delivers water to
130 connections. The water is drawn for three wells,
two of which have had problems recently.
The district, Nelson said, charges a
flat rate that averages $10 per month for most users.
There are conservation incentives but if more is used
charges on a monthly bill can escalate to more than
Kevin Skeen, president of the North Kaweah
Water Company and the Silver City water district,
said his Three Rivers district serves 30 hook-ups
along Kaweah River Drive. North Kaweah has metering,
conservation incentives, and charges a flat rate quarterly
Skeen voiced a concern that the district
must utilize all volunteers yet the state licensing
requirements are not appropriate when they require
small districts to have certified operators in “reservoir
“I’d like to see some more sensible licensing
for small companies,” Skeen said.
Mark Larsen, general manager of KDWCD,
gave a brief overview on what the district does and
their relationship with their stakeholders. He said
he thought that among the topics a Three Rivers audience
might be interested to hear about was the proposed
development of the Yokohl Ranch.
Larsen said that although the ranch lies
outside the boundaries of the KDWCD, his agency stepped
forward to express its concerns to the developers.
“We asked a number of questions like, where
will they get the water? And how do we manage the
sewerage?” Larsen said.”
The district, Larsen said, also has concerns
about flood control. The ranch land is primarily a
network of dry creeks that can become flash floods
during rain events.
Adding further complexity to the Yokohl
project’s quest for water is the fact, Larsen
said, that the area has inadequate groundwater.
“They [Yokohl Ranch] must import surface water
from somewhere,” Larsen said.
Larsen also said that one of the downstream
users of Kaweah River water is the Corcoran Irrigation
Company, which is an affiliate of the Boswell Company,
parent company of Yokohl Ranch. Potentially, they
could gain access to additional Kaweah River water
by transfers with other stakeholders and increasing
storage capacity during years of peak runoff.
If the company is to gain public support
for the Yokohl project, they must demonstrate that
they can secure enough surface water and show a net
gain relative to Tulare County water resources, Larsen
The next Town Hall meeting is scheduled
for Monday, Dec. 7. The guest speaker is Lindsay Mann,
chief executive officer of Kaweah Health Care District.
The little engine that could…
needed for upgrade
By Brian Rothhammer
Engine 14 is tired. The once proud and
new light fire engine formerly assigned to Three Rivers
has been rotated to Tulare, as its decades-old chassis
has become a cause for concern. A replacement engine,
temporarily assigned as “Patrol 14,” has
been sent from Tulare in exchange.
“It’s closer to the [repair] shop,”
said John Hanggi of Three Rivers Volunteer Firefighters
in reference to the need for ongoing maintenance of
the old unit.
Firefighters need reliable equipment
in addition to their dedication and skill to provide
rapid response to emergencies in the communities that
they serve. Even the replacement engine is showing
signs of age.
Perhaps more importantly, it is a two-wheel drive
unit whereas the former Engine 14 is a four-wheel
“In the wintertime, that could limit our capabilities.
When we get adverse weather conditions up here, that
four-wheel drive can really come in handy,”
Three Rivers needs a new fire engine.
But in these tough financial times, funding is an
That issue will be addressed at the next
Three Rivers Community Services District (CSD) meeting
on December 2. There are talks in the works that if
the community of Three Rivers can provide a new cab
and chassis, Tulare County might pay to retrofit the
firefighting equipment from the old Engine 14 to the
“In the past, the money we’ve raised has
gone toward specialized equipment and training,”
Hanggi cited as an example the recent
technical rope rescue training that has been taking
place at Dinely Bridge. But buying a new fire engine
is a different level of need.
The Three Rivers Woman’s Club has
provided $5,000 toward purchase of the new engine.
The total amount needed to match the county’s
share in the project is estimated to be $30,000.
Representatives from the Tulare County
Fire Department will attend December’s CSD meeting;
public input is welcome. The agenda will be posted
Horse Camp dream becomes reality
By Brian Rothhammer
After more than a year of dedicated effort
by volunteers in concert with the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers, the horse-camping facility at Horse
Creek will soon be open to the public. The corrals,
provided at a substantial discount by Mike Rivas of
Woodlake Growers Supply, have been installed and the
finishing touches are being applied.
Over 50 participants have signed up for
a special event hosted by Ed and Valletta Lochridge
of the American Competitive Trail Horse Association
(ACTHA), scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14. A special-use
permit has been issued for the event, which will include
a judged competition over a prearranged course.
“This is a trial run prior to opening the Horse
Camp to the public,” said Barrett Frobose, park
ranger who manages recreation programs at Lake Kaweah.
Barrett has been instrumental in the
implementation of the new Horse Camp.
“If things go well, and I anticipate that they
will, the camp should be open to the public the next
weekend,” Barrett said.
Mark Anselmi of Three Rivers, who has
worked tirelessly on the project since its inception
with the High Sierra Unit of the Back Country Horsemen,
echoed Barrett’s sentiments.
“I am just so happy about the whole thing and
that we’ve come so far,” said Anselmi.
“Volunteers have worked on the project every
day this week in preparation for the ACTHA event and
the upcoming opening of the camp.”
Ranger Frobose will address Saturday’s
group at 9 a.m. to welcome the participants to the
site and gather feedback prior to the public opening.
For those who wish to make arrangements
for future horse camping at the new facility, contact
park rangers at the Lake Kaweah office: 597-2301.
Retired WHS coach honored
Who says you can’t go home? Louise
Achenbach of Woodlake did and was treated like a celebrity.
Louise, a former teacher and coach at
Woodlake High School, returned to her home state of
South Dakota in September at the invitation of Black
Hills State University in Spearfish. Louise was raised
in South Dakota within seven miles of Mount Rushmore.
Louise received two teaching degrees
from BHSU in 1969 when it was still known as Black
Hills State Teachers College.
During its annual “Swarm Week”
festivities, BHSU inducted six individuals and one
team — the 1978 baseball team — into the
2009 “Yellow Jacket Hall of Fame.” Louise
was inducted as a coach, having spent 32 years in
that capacity at Woodlake High (she was also a teacher
for nearly 40 years there).
When Louise began her coaching career
at WHS, the only league sports for girls were swimming
and tennis. She expanded the program to include volleyball,
basketball, and softball, coaching all of the above
except for swimming.
Louise’s Hall of Fame honor is
well-deserved as her volleyball teams brought home
29 championships, and she was named the league’s
Coach of the Year 17 times.
Louise retired from WHS in 2007. Previously,
she was inducted into the California State Coaches
Hall of Fame and named Woodlake High School Teacher
of the Year.
The Yellow Jacket Hall of Fame inductees
were honored at a luncheon, introduced at halftime
during the football game, and in the parade.
County H1N1 update
Tulare County and, in particular, Three Rivers.
Countywide, there have been over 90 individuals hospitalized
with H1N1 and two deaths attributed to the H1N1 influenza.
For updated H1N1 information, Tulare
County residents may call the toll-free H1N1 Information
Line at 1-800-665-1140 (English and Spanish) to receive
information on H1N1 symptoms, prevention, and vaccine.
The current supplies of H1N1 vaccine
are for the high-risk groups, which include pregnant
women, household contacts and caregivers for children
younger than six months of age, healthcare and emergency
medical services personnel, all people from six months
through 24 years of age, and those from 25 through
64 years of age who have health conditions associated
with higher risk of medical complications from the
Updated information can be found at www.tularehhsa.org
(click on “Public Health”).
H1N1 vaccine clinics –
The H1N1 flu vaccine has made its way
to Tulare County. Currently, the vaccinations are
being provided free of charge to people ages six months
through 24 years and those who live with or provide
care for infants less than six months of age.
Here are the nearby vaccination clinics
that have been scheduled so far:
Saturday, Dec. 5, 10 am-2 pm:
El Diamante High School, 5100 W. Whitendale, Visalia.
Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 am-2 pm:
Golden West High School gym, 1717 N. McAuliff Rd.,
Other vaccination clinics have been scheduled
in Strathmore, Dinuba, Orosi, and Dinuba. Clinics
will also be held in Woodlake, Tulare, and Porterville,
but the dates and times have not yet been announced.
All clinic dates are subject to change
based upon the availability of the vaccine. In addition,
other at-risk groups will be eligible as more vaccine
TRUS still working on water
By Brian Rothhammer
Meeting on a Tuesday evening instead
of the usual Wednesday owing to the Veterans Day holiday,
the Three Rivers Union School District board of trustees
meeting on November 10 was business as usual. According
to Sue Sherwood, superintendent, that means that all
is well at the local K-8 school.
Accounts are balanced, student fundraising
is productive, the carnival board changeover went
smoothly, and current enrollment is 155 students.
There is still an issue with water quality,
however, but that is being addressed with the cooperation
of the Three Rivers Community Services District and
should be resolved soon. Bottled drinking water is
being used and a chlorinator will be added to the
school water system if it is deemed necessary.
Bill Ostrem, president of the Yokohl
Ranch Company, who has been a key figure in negotiations
regarding the proposed development, has moved on to
another assignment. The TRUS board is maintaining
a vigilant watch on all developments pertaining to
any future changes relevant to school district boundaries.
There is still time to turn in some Pennies
for Peace. Students will be collecting the one-cent
pieces through Friday, Nov. 20, to benefit the Central
Asia Institute and their efforts to improve the lives
of children in Pakistan and Afghanistan through better
Sue also announced that Marcia Sweet
of Tulare, former TRUS band and music teacher, was
hospitalized Saturday, Nov. 7, with a brain aneurism.
She is in a medically-induced coma in the intensive-care
unit at Fresno Community Regional Medical Center.
For more information about the local
school district or to place an item on an upcoming
agenda, call the TRUS office at 561-4466. The next
regular meeting will be Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6 p.m.,
in the TRUS library.
at Three Rivers Cemetery
When a revered institution turns 100
years old, it’s cause for a celebration. On
May 30, 2009, the Three Rivers Cemetery commemorated
its 100-year anniversary of its founding.
With that milestone celebrated, the Three
Rivers Cemetery board realized that even with its
well-maintained grounds, ongoing improvements in the
interpretation of the cemetery’s history were
Enter into this scenario Gary Whitney
and a supportive board of his fellow trustees. Whitney,
who was appointed to the cemetery board in 2007, assumed
the daunting task of trying to mark many graves that
for a number of reasons were currently unmarked.
Along the way, Whitney uncovered historical
gems about those interred and also garnered some serious
donors for projects that he had in mind. Together
with more funding, and utilizing a legion of volunteers,
Whitney has helped promote Three Rivers history and
enhanced the idyllic setting at the old cemetery.
“The history of our community is at rest in
this field,” Whitney wrote in a statement for
the May 30 centennial celebration. “Out here,
we have farmers, miners, storekeepers, doctors, teachers,
family, and friends. I am sure that they would all
be grateful that we would honor their memories by
being good stewards of their final resting place.”
The installation of these plaques commemorate
the interred by telling a little more about the history
of those who have contributed to the community life
of Three Rivers.
10 household products to avoid
This is the second installment of the
“10 household products to avoid.” Part
One, which was published October 16, warned against
(1) high fructose corn syrup, (2) chlorine bleach,
(3) insecticides, (4) hard alcohol, and (5) moth balls.
Here are the next five to eliminate from your life:
6. Air fresheners and fragrance
candles. Everyone likes their home to smell
clean and fresh, but synthetic fragrances that waft
through the air can negatively affect the quality
of indoor air, damage lung tissue and airways, and
irritate the eyes. Keep it real. If your house is
clean, there shouldn’t be any smell.
7. Trans fats. Trans
fat is a type of unsaturated fat that is made saturated
during a manufacturing process that adds a molecule
of hydrogen. These hydrogenated oils raise bad cholesterol
and lower good cholesterol and cause a host of cardiovascular
diseases. They are slowly being removed from commercial
recipes, but products in your home may still contain
them. Look in your refrigerator and pantry and dump
anything with hydrogenated oil on the label (stick
or tub margarine, shortening, non-dairy whipped dessert
topping, cake frosting, and non-dairy coffee creamer
are major culprits, but don’t stop there. Every
processed food from bread to cereal to peanut butter
may contain trans fats).
8. Toluene. Toluene,
a solvent found in nail polish, paints, and when petroleum-based
candles are burned can cause nervous system damage.
Naturally scented beeswax, soy, or vegetable candles
and natural alternatives to nail products are a better
9. Detergents with NPE.
Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) are chemicals that help
liquid substances such as oil and water mix. They
are found in laundry detergents, shampoos, and cleaners.
These chemicals can mimic the hormone estrogen to
cause early menstruation, low sperm counts, and poor
reproductive health. Use natural cleansers and consider
alternative cleaning tools, such as the microfiber
mops or a steam cleaner that can reduce or eliminate
the use of harsh chemicals.
10. Cigarette, pipe, and cigar
products. All tobacco products produce harmful
chemicals even after you have eliminated the smoker
from the house. When you have stopped smoking, give
your house a clean makeover, washing all fabric curtains
and upholstery and think about putting on a fresh
coat of paint (without toluene!).
1929 ~ 2009
Leland J. Shackelton of Mariposa died Saturday, Nov.
7, surrounded by his family at a Modesto hospital.
He was 80.
Lee was born May 13, 1929, in Oakland
to Fay and Freman Shackelton. He graduated from California
College of the Arts and, in 1953, married his wife,
Prior to a National Park Service career
that spanned more than three decades, Lee served in
the U.S. Army.
He was a former park ranger at Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks. He also had assignments
at Death Valley (then a national monument) and Hawaii
Volcanoes National Park, before settling in Yosemite
This is where he and Ti stayed and raised
their three children. He was Yosemite’s chief
of law enforcement from 1971 until his retirement
His son, Steve, followed in Lee’s
footsteps. He is currently chief ranger at Yosemite.
In retirement, Lee worked as a private
investigator. He was active in community-service organizations
and enjoyed writing and telling stories.
Lee is survived by his wife of 56 years,
Ti; his three children, Steve Shackelton, Mary Lee
Shackelton-Moore, and Jim Shackelton; daughters-in-law
Jane Shackelton and Monica Shackelton; son-in-law
Steve Moore; eight grandchildren; and his sister,
A rosary is scheduled for today (Friday,
Nov. 13) at 5 p.m. at Mariposa Funeral Home with viewing
from 6 to 8 p.m. On Saturday, Nov. 14, there will
be a 10 a.m. service at St. Joseph’s Catholic
Church, immediately followed by a graveside burial.
At 1 p.m., there will be a reception at Casto’s
Mount Bullion Vineyard, 6947 Hwy. 49 North, Mariposa.
1959 ~ 2009
David Lawrence Domin, a former resident
of Three Rivers, died Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009, in
Gold Beach, Ore. He was 50.
David was born February 19, 1959, in
Michigan to Alex Domin, DDS, and Shirley Domin. He
was a faux painter.
He loved to hunt and fish and be outdoors.
His nicknames were “Artifact Dave” and
“The Magnet” for his hunting skills.
He knapped arrowheads as well as hunted
for them. He had a large collection of Native American
His friends will miss his smoked trout
and barbecue skills.
Dave was preceded in death by his parents, Alex and
He is survived by his brothers, Mark
Domin and Paul Domin, DDS, both of Michigan; and his
uncle, Bill Douglas, of Gold Beach, formerly of Three
A celebration of Dave’s life was
held Sunday, Nov. 8, in Gold Beach.