News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

In the News - Friday, DECEMBER 1, 2006


It’s cold...

   That arctic chill that has nighttime temperatures currently dipping to the freezing mark will slightly moderate over the weekend but keep those logs and blankets handy. It will remain mostly clear and that means that the little bit of heat generated by sunshine will dissipate quickly into the night sky.
   How cold is it? It was cold enough to have Valley citrus farmers on all-night alert again last night as temperatures dipped into the upper 20s in some low-lying areas, especially in the Tulare County districts west of Visalia. Some areas around Porterville and Earlimart tied or set all-time record lows Thursday morning (Nov. 30).
   In Three Rivers, some damage was reported to ornamentals, potted plants, and citrus, especially lemons and Valencia oranges that are near or at optimal sweetness. The vistas were stellar in the mornings with some moderate particulates filtering into the Kaweah canyon by mid-afternoon.
   Elsewhere in California, it was a picture of contrasts. In the southeast corner of the state, daytime highs reached into the 70s. The lowest readings were recorded in Bodie State Park where temperatures hovered around zero.
   Think it’s cold here? After a record rainfall in October, nearly two feet of snow fell across much of Washington in three days this past week. The typical forecast for Seattle this month has been rain mixed with sleet, snow, and subfreezing highs.
   Snow and cold have been the predominant pattern for the nation’s midsection while New Yorkers bask in shirtsleeve weather. Arizona has been plagued by dust storms while Southern California continues on extreme fire alert as Santa Ana winds have been gusting daily.
   In Kaweah Country, daytime highs in the 50s are 10 degrees below the seasonal normal. The last major cold snap for early December occurred in 1990 when thousands of dead orange trees had to be uprooted and replanted throughout the Kern-Tulare districts.

The ultimate guide book:
Sequoia-Kings Canyon
release general plan

   After nine years of planning and preparation, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have released the Final General Management Plan. The 600-page document contains a rivers’ management strategy and a detailed environmental impact statement and speaks volumes on the management principles and techniques that will guide park planners for at least the next two decades.
   The new GMP replaces a previous plan that had been in place since 1971. And although there have been many changes in the local parks since that time, among the constants that have remained are some of the principal attractions of the Sierra Nevada region.
   The unique resources — which include Kings Canyon, the deepest river canyon in America; Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states; and the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world — form the cornerstone of the management and protection policy as outlined in the landmark plan.
   The purpose of the plan, according to its summary, “…is to establish a vision for what these national parks should be, including desired future conditions for natural and cultural resources, as well as for visitor experiences.”
   But it is always difficult to predict and plan for the future. The ground rules governing the plan’s process actually changed during the years the document was being prepared. The most dramatic change occurred relative to the Mineral King cabins when owners were afforded protection and allowed continued special use under 2004 legislation sponsored by Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Visalia).
   The public law was made possible, Nunes said, because the cabins had been listed in 2003 on The National Register of Historic Places as part of the Mineral King Road Cultural Landscape District.
   Park planners revised the alternatives for the Mineral King area and also for the hydroelectric facilities (dams) that were allowed to continue to operate. The questions relating to the Mineral King cabins generated the majority of the more than 400 written comments incorporated into the EIS portion of the document.
   These comments were superseded by the passage of the law directing the National Park Service to preserve the permit process.
More than 100 comments were also received related to stock use that reflected some varying opinions. These ranged from stock use as traditional and should be preserved to a minority that claimed it is not sustainable and should be eliminated.
   In the last few years, the local parks have come under criticism because of pack station closures at Wolverton and Mineral King. One operator said recently that excessive regulations and rising costs are threatening to make the packing concession obsolete in national parks.
   A newly formed Mineral King advocacy committee is studying the feasibility of subsidizing some type of pack station operation for that area. According to the group’s leadership, the proposed facilities would interpret the history of packing in the Sierra region and provide day rides, food drops, and other pack station services.
   The EIS also had to be revised to contain new management prescriptions that deal with illegal cultivation of marijuana and the potential start-up of a new shuttle that would run from Visalia. That service, along with a Giant Forest shuttle, is scheduled to begin operating in 2007.
   In the context portion of the plan, findings of the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project (SNEP) were used to identify “stressors” to create policy to further protect park resources and promote the health of the ecosystem.
   The SNEP identified the following as key to be considered: loss of pre-Euro-American fire regimes; introduced species; air pollution; habitat fragmentation; and rapid anthropogenic climate change. While the parks’ plan acknowledged that these factors couldn’t be controlled by any one governmental agency, they should be overriding considerations in any policy decisions relative to resource management.
   The comprehensive plan is presented in three volumes and, in addition to the purpose and need statement and the EIS material, also contains river management plans for portions of the Kings and Kern rivers that have been designated as wild and scenic rivers.
   The plan is available in several formats. Go to and click on “Management” in the left menu, which will take you to a page that has a hyperlink to the “Final General Management Plan.”
   A CD containing all three volumes is also available as are hard copies. Call (559) 565-3101.

Applying for scholarships:
The student’s new part-time job

by Sally Pace

   Financial aid comes in many forms: state and federal grants, work study jobs and loans, and private and school scholarships. No matter where a student is planning on going to college, there is some type of financial aid available if they are willing to (1) look for it, and (2) jump through all the hoops.
   FEDERAL AND STATE AID-- The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA; is the basic application for state and federal financial aid. It is due by March 2 each year, but can be submitted starting January 1, 2007.
Most private and school scholarships require that students also submit the FAFSA even if they may not be financially eligible.
   WHERE TO FIND SCHOLARSHIPS-- Scholarships are divided into two categories: merit-based and need-based.
   The search for scholarships should be considered a part-time job for seniors in high school and all during college. Start your scholarship search early at
   Other places to look for scholarships are at the college you will be/are attending, through your parents’ employers, via organizations to which you and/or your parents belong, and the high school counseling office.
   At Woodlake High School, Aurora Medina, counseling office manager, posts all the scholarships that come through the office on the WHS website — — at least once a month.
   The Woodlake High School “Local Scholarships” application is available on the website and due Thursday, March 15, 2007. Most Woodlake and Three Rivers organizations use this WHS application, so students need to fill out just one application to be eligible for over 40 scholarships.
   Never pay any money for a scholarship search that you may be notified about through the mail or online. If you want to hire a private consultant to help your child find a college, choose a major, and apply for scholarships, there are some very reputable local consultants who use mostly word-of-mouth to advertise.
   Your child’s high school counselor is probably the best resource and their advice is free. Woodlake has two outstanding counselors, Carmita Pena and Melissa Garcia.
   Carmita, a WHS alumnus, has personally applied for and gotten many scholarships.
   Melissa Garcia worked as a recruiter for five years at Notre Dame de Namur College, a private college in the Bay Area, and is also a great resource.
   PLAN AHEAD-- Even the most outstanding students will usually only receive one scholarship for every 15 to 20 for which they apply. So the best advice is: apply early, write your essay early, and edit it carefully for each individual scholarship.
   In addition, ask for letters of recommendation early. You will need a letter from someone who knows you in school, extracurricular activities, in the community, and a personal family friend.
   Most teachers write over 50 letters a year, so the earlier you ask, the better the letter will be. It would be good to ask in your junior year for a letter for your portfolio and then when it comes to crunch time for scholarships the letter will get better.
   Be sure to let the person writing the letter know exactly the criteria for the scholarship that you are applying for. The more the writer knows about you and how you fit the scholarship criteria the better.
   The WHS “Portfolio Sampler” includes a sample form to use when approaching a person for a letter of recommendation.

  HOW TO BECOME SCHOLARSHIP-ELIGIBLE-- If you have a student who is just entering high school, the secrets to scholarship success are: good grades, taking rigorous academic courses, participating in extracurricular activities — especially by demonstrating a commitment to one or more activities, not a laundry list of groups — and a commitment to your community through volunteer service.
   After all this hard work, students need to be able to tell about their high school experience in a concise, interesting personal statement and back it up with letters of recommendation from credible individuals.

  GIVE THE GIFT OF EDUCATION-- If you are a parent, grandparent, or relative with a young person that you love and want to help save for college, one of the best Christmas gifts you can give is an educational-savings plan. Contact your financial advisor for the best plan for your circumstances.
Sally Pace retired in June as Woodlake High’s senior counselor and dean of students.

Art in the mountains,

inspired by nature

Two weekends remain in
First Autumn Art series

   On the heels of three weekends featuring esteemed artists from near and far, the inaugural Autumn Art Series, held at Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park, has earned acclaim from attendees and presenters alike.
   Now just two weekends remain in this year’s series and, with sessions filling fast, guestS must book now to take part in this exceptional art experience.
   The upcoming weekends will spotlight three accomplished creators as it comes to a close. This weekend (December 2 and 3) will highlight two Bay Area artists: photographer David Liittschwager and painter Suzie Rashkis will share the secrets of their crafts.

  “[David Liittschwager] has been working with National Geographic on an extensive and exhaustive attempt to photograph and document the newly discovered cave species in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks,” said Alex Picavet, parks information officer.
   Many of these photos will be on public display for the first time. He will also exhibit some of his more known images, Alex said.
David has a series of books that feature his photographs of rare and endangered plants and animals. His work has been showcased in National Geographic and Life magazines.
   Suzie’s oil-on-canvas creations bring life to a broad range of subjects, from Alaskan glaciers to seaplanes to flowers.
   The following finale weekend (December 9 and 10), Bill Scharf talks about his work as a landscape photographer.
   Each session includes a Saturday morning presentation by the headline artists, where they will discuss their vision and influences, followed with a hands-on afternoon workshop. Guests will have an opportunity to converse with the artists at a Saturday evening reception, complete with local wines and appetizers.
   In addition, the artists will have select works on exhibit, which will also be available for purchase.
   Wuksachi Lodge welcomes Autumn Art Series guests with room rates as low as $89 per night, double occupancy.
   To make a reservation for a stay during the Autumn Art Series at Sequoia National Park, visit or call toll-free 866-826-9963.

Celebrate the season at the
world’s largest Christmas tree

   The annual Nation’s Christmas Tree Ceremony will be held Sunday, Dec. 10, 2:30 p.m., at the base of the General Grant Tree in the Grant Grove, Kings Canyon National Park.
   This will be the 81st celebration of the two honors held by the General Grant Tree. It was designated as the Nation’s Christmas Tree by President Calvin Coolidge in 1926 and established as the only living National Shrine in 1956 to honor those who gave their lives in service to their country.
   Each year during the ceremony, park rangers place a large wreath at the base of the Grant Tree to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while in military service.
   The event is hosted by the Sanger Chamber of Commerce, which provides charter-bus services from Sanger (call 875-4575). Those who attend in their private vehicles should plan to arrive early as parking near the tree is limited. When this lot is full, drivers will be directed to the overflow parking in outlying areas.
   The ceremony is held rain or shine, and visitors should be prepared for the possibility of cold, wintry conditions.
Seating is also limited, so pack the folding chairs along with the jackets, mittens, boots, and tire chains to best enjoy this merry mountain Christmas.

Toys for Tots drive

is back in town

   In 1947, Toys for Tots was founded in Los Angeles by a U.S. Marine Corps major. That year, 5,000 toys were collected and distributed to children who may not otherwise have had a Christmas.
   In 2004, more than 19 million toys were provided to 7.5 children by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. That year, Three Rivers contributed to this total as the local branch of the Valley Oak Credit Union served as an official drop-off point for the first time.
   Now, for the third year, Valley Oak Credit Union has once again partnered with Toys for Tots. Donations of new, unopened and unwrapped toys may be dropped off at the Three Rivers branch or any of the institution’s three other branches in Visalia, Tulare, and Madera.
   Monetary donations will also be accepted. And 98 cents out of every dollar goes toward the purchase of new toys.
   Over the years, many celebrities have been Toys for Tots spokespersons, including John Wayne, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. Clint Eastwood, Johnny Carson, First Ladies Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, and many more. This year, Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw are spreading the word.
   What humbly began in one city has now spread to more than 500 communities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
   For more information on donating locally, call the Valley Oak Credit Union, 561-4470.

Save box tops for TRUS

   It’s been 10 years since the Box Tops for Education program began, which provides an easy way to earn money for schools. TRUS participated for a few years, but phased out the program due to lack of a coordinator.
   Now a TRUS mom has stepped in and the program is back up and running. All Three Rivers residents are welcome to clip, save, and deliver their box tops with the above-pictured logo to the TRUS office.
   Each box top is worth 10 cents (there’s even a Box Tops Visa card). Look for and clip the logo on General Mills cereals, Pillsbury products, Yoplait yogurt products, and other brands such as Hamburger Helper, Betty Crocker, Old El Paso, Nature Valley, Ziploc, Cottonelle, Kleenex, Scott, Hefty, and more.

3R dogs strut

on the catwalk

   There’s a couple of new fashion models in town and they’re not all hung up on their looks and figures. Even after being in the limelight, they can still be seen licking, scratching, and gnawing on a good bone.
   Turbo and CD, Scotty dogs owned by Steve and Christy Wood of Three Rivers, were contacted by a top New York modeling agency — for animals — and signed on to participate in the 2006 International Vision Expo West, held in Las Vegas during October.
   The canines were led down the catwalk by two young models, ages eight and 10, who were wearing designer outfits by Juicy Couture, a high-end clothing company with two Scotties in its logo. From the runway, Turbo and CD were guided to a podium where they sat up to imitate the brand’s logo and posed for photos.

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