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In the News - Friday, December 2, 2011



Winter weather:

Long-range forecast for Three Rivers

  The 2011 hurricane season officially ended Wednesday, Nov. 30, having produced a total of 19 tropical storms. Seven became hurricanes, matching the level predicted by NOAA researchers for another “active” season.
   The trend toward active seasons has continued every year since 1995. The 19 tropical storms represent the third highest total (tied with 1887, 1995, and 2010); weather records have been kept officially since 1851. The rise in the number of tropical storms is related to changing atmospheric conditions. Another contributing factor to the recording of more storms is the use of satellite technology. Previously, a short-lived tropical storm that formed in early September off the coast of Nova Scotia would have gone undetected without those high-tech eyes in the sky.
   The lone hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland was Irene, the first since Hurricane Ike hit southeast Texas in 2008. Irene was also the most significant storm to hit the Northeast since 1991.
  “Irene broke the hurricane amnesia that can develop when so much time elapses between landfalling storms,” said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “This season was a reminder that storms can hit any part of our coast and that all regions need to be prepared each and every season.”
   Local residents and visitors suffer a different amnesia in Kaweah Country. When much of the rest of the nation shivers in frigid winter weather, folks in these parts become complacent by the lack of any severe storms or even windy conditions. Could a major storm like Irene occur in Tulare County that could cause deadly and destructive flooding?
   The answer is you bet and in fact, several times in the 20th century, major storms hit the county, though the widespread damage of 1918, 1937, 1955, 1966, and 1969 wasn’t even close to the huge losses suffered by all that population crowded together on the East Coast.
   So what’s in store this season for the southern Sierra and the foothills and Valley regions?   Forecasters are calling for the current La Nina (cool and dry) to continue at least until the end of January. Most computer models are showing only slightly above the norm for precipitation and high temperatures for the southern tier of the Lower 48 throughout November to January.
   Some computer models are showing a warming in the equatorial Pacific, which could signal a return to El Nino conditions. A dramatic shift from La Nina to El Nino is unusual but not unprecedented. If it does occur, California could get an entire season’s precipitation in one month or two. Throw in a warm rain on a huge snowpack and the entire region has a recipe for disaster.
   These cataclysmic events have occurred before such as the 1955 flood that struck Three Rivers on December 23-24.
   An evacuation plan, a disaster preparedness kit, extra water, batteries, and a generator should be more than conversation. The time to be prepared is now.

Kaweah Country Run saw significant growth

Spring half marathon is next

on the local race calendar

Run Results: 10K Run  •  5K Walk

  The sport of running is not new to Kaweah Country. For a number of years in the 1990s and until a few years ago, David Bronzan, cross country coach at College of the Sequoias, officiated at the annual Kaweah Race.
   That five-mile out-and-back race started on Old Three Rivers Drive and followed South Fork Drive. A number of stand-out COS runners came up to run against local runners like Barry Proctor, who really gave those youngsters some stiff competition.
   A few of the other locals who ran in those races were Jim Entz, Irene Smith, Greg Dixon, Dyann Graber, Robin Castro, and Heather Wood. Heather turned in a memorable performance in one of those races at age 13.
   That annual race, held at the end of September, was an opportunity for Coach Bronzan to test his new team at the start of the fall cross-country season. He offered prizes from local merchants for the best times and a fun time, not to mention an excellent workout, was had by all of the two or three dozen runners who participated.
   Coach Bronzan still brings his runners up to train on area roads and trails. Unfortunately, the Kaweah Race ran into some scheduling conflicts so it was discontinued several years ago.
   Following the COS program’s lead, the inaugural Kaweah Country Run (10K run or 6.2 miles and 5K walk, 3.1 miles) was held Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010. That date coincided with the centennial celebration of the Kaweah Post Office and raised a couple hundred dollars for the upkeep of the historic structure.
   That first race had 26 runners and about the same number of walkers. Held in the bottomland of Lake Kaweah, it was a novel learning experience for all who participated.
   From that early experience, the date was changed to the Saturday of the long Thanksgiving weekend in the hope that some rainfall would keep the dust down on the mostly dirt roads on the course.
  “The weather couldn’t have been better for the 2011 race and the staff at Lake Kaweah had the trails in top shape,” said John Elliott, race director. “We more than doubled the number of sign-ups for this year and it looks like we will grow more in the future.”
   The growth of the local race coincides with a running, walking, and fitness movement that is sweeping the country. Running races and walks for charities are fixtures in nearly every community.
   Springville recently completed their 30th annual Apple Run that coincides each year with its highly successful Apple Festival. Each November, Fresno has its Twin Cities Marathon and Half Marathon.
   Big city affairs like the New York Marathon and Bay to Breakers (12K) in San Francisco sign-up more than 40,000 participants for a single race. The point being that every marathon, 10K, fun run, or walk for this charity or that cause started humbly.
   The Kaweah Country Run is currently in its humble beginnings and here are some plans for its future.
   First, an event committee is being formed to set up a permanent support network to efficiently stage and handle event logistics. The recently completed second Kaweah Country Run has demonstrated there is huge potential to attract out-of-area participation and that means dollars, both for local businesses and nonprofits.
   The next event in the series, in cooperation with Sole 2 Soul running store in Visalia, is the Shepherd Saddle Half Marathon scheduled tentatively for April 2012. A half marathon is 13.1 miles.
   Why a half marathon? The half marathon by far attracts the most participants among the hundreds of thousands of runners who are part of the largest and fastest growing sport on the planet.
   Securing the permit from Sequoia National Park for the Shepherd Saddle event is the key to success of the series. It will attract a whole new market of visitors who will stay in local hotels, eat in restaurants, shop in stores, buy souvenirs and art, and discover that Kaweah Country is a great place to run, walk, swim, ride a bike or horse, kayak, raft, hike, backpack, ski, snowshoe, or just work out.
   Want to become involved with the Kaweah Country Run committee? Call John Elliott, 260-2909.

Wilsonia Historic District and its properties

  RE: “NPS seeks input on historic buildings in Wilsonia,” November 25, 2011.
   When dealing with historic properties with hundreds of buildings, sometimes the actual counts can be deceiving and are only as accurate as their supporting documents. After an initial nomination was filed in 1996 that led to the Wilsonia Historic District being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, an update to the original nomination was completed in June 2011 that actually added more contributing elements, not less, as was reported last week’s issue of the Commonwealth.
   The article should have stated there are now 162 contributing structures of the 211 total within the boundaries of the district (not 139). This contextual information is important, according to Steve Stocking, a trustee of the Wilsonia Historic District Trust, so that those folks who want to furnish input on the 12 structures owned by the NPS have the most updated numbers.
   Of the 12 structures owned by the NPS under consideration for strategic planning, 11 are cabins or were formerly used as residences; one is an outbuilding. NPS officials reiterated that only the dispensation of the Park Service-owned structures are being considered at this time.
  “All 12 of the NPS structures are contributing elements of the district,” reported Dana Dierkes, public information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “The most up to date count of the entire district is 162 contributors, 49 non-contributors, and one contributing site.”
   What’s essentially changed is that now the district is considered to have greater historic significance as a landscape than as a group of historic structures. According to the official NPS determination,“the entire [Wilsonia] district is a cohesive landscape of historic properties, sites, and features.”
   Comments are due by December 22, For more information or to comment on the project, go to http://parkplanning.nps.gov/seki.

Sierra MapGuide offers insiders’ knowledge

Fourth and final phase of

Geotourism project is complete

  Travelers and visitors to the Sierra Nevada who are looking for local knowledge to enhance their visit can now enjoy over 1,200 suggestions from residents and Sierra insiders for everything from iconic Sierra experiences to funky cafes and off-the-beaten-path adventures.  And it all starts with the click of a mouse.
   The Sierra MapGuide web-based project, sponsored by National Geographic, the Sierra Business Council (SBC), and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), is now live and packed with attractions from the Oregon border to south of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Visitors can use the free interactive online service, which features write-ups and photos posted by local residents, as their vacation or traveler’s guide through the 400 miles of breathtaking landscapes and historic towns of the Sierra.
   More than 150 new points of interest were recently added to the MapGuide from Sierra, Yuba, Butte, Tehama, Shasta, Plumas, Lassen and Modoc counties, closing out the fourth and final phase of the project.
   The Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide highlights unique, authentic experiences recommended by local Sierra residents. It brings together the Sierra’s little known as well as famous sites, volunteer opportunities, small businesses, hiking trails, and more. Highlights range from Captain Jacks Stronghold in Lava Beds National Monument in the northernmost part of the state to Moro Rock and Mineral King in Sequoia National Park in the southernmost portions of the Sierra mountain range.
   The MapGuide not only helps travelers explore the Sierra, it links those experiences to the opportunity to have a deeper connection to the land and culture.
   From August 2009 through September 2011, locals from counties representing the Sierra Nevada nominated unique and interesting stewardship opportunities, hiking trails, art, businesses, cultural sites and more. The result is an interactive MapGuide highlighting the little known gems of the Sierra Nevada.
  “The Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide is a way to highlight more of the world-class Sierra Nevada — beyond its wonderful icons like Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, but also the lesser-known scenic places and the small mom-and-pop businesses,” said Nicole DeJonghe, SBC senior program director. “It is a way to direct visitors to local attractions that keep tourism dollars within the community.”
   The Sierra Nevada Geotourism MapGuide Project seeks to promote tourism for the 21st century, tourism that can conserve the region’s historic towns and heritage sites, restore and protect the landscape, and sustain local businesses and communities. The map achieves this objective because it is created by tapping into the knowledge of local people who live and prosper in Sierra communities.
   Because their well-being and quality of life depends greatly on tourism, this tool empowers communities to share information about a place that residents and visitors can care for.   Attractions, businesses, and events distinctive to the Sierra Nevada will be recognized, providing travelers with a richer and more complete experience spread throughout the Sierra Nevada.
   Hence, this project seeks to celebrate the Sierra Nevada as a world-class destination, while contributing to the economic health of the region by promoting sustainable tourism.
   And it’s never too late to add unique attractions to the MapGuide as nominations are continually reviewed for possible inclusion.
   Visit www.SierraNevada Geotourism.org

Holiday concert to include
Celebration and reverence

COS Chamber Singers return to 3R

By Bill Haxton

  The award-winning College of the Sequoias Chamber Singers, under acclaimed director Jeff Seaward, returns to Three Rivers on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m., in the second annual Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute’s Holiday Concert.
   Like last year, the program includes a fascinating mix of celebration and reverence, spanning disciplines as diverse as Renaissance madrigals and African American gospel, with leisurely stops in traditional liturgy and popular carols.
   Fully half of the program will be devoted to contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen, whose ethereally beautiful choral masterpieces rise like light above our era and hover in the space created for everything timeless. His music is exquisitely melodic and his harmonies are rich and deep, creating a sound that is so spacious and tranquil it has been compared to prayer.
   After hearing his music, it’s no surprise to learn that Lauridsen nurtures a profound and spiritual love of nature. Although he teaches at the USC Thornton School of Music, he spends his summers writing on a remote island off the coast of Washington, perhaps one reason his music is so thoroughly infused with gratitude and peace.
   Two of his works, Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light) and O Magnum Mysterium (O Great Mystery), are among the most frequently performed of all choral compositions, even when counted with Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Lux Aeterna won a Grammy nomination in 1998.
   Tickets are available at Chumps Video for $12. Students of any age are admitted free. Bring a child and mom and dad are admitted free, too.
   The concert will be presented at the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers.
   Bill Haxton of Three Rivers is a founder of the Three Rivers Performing Arts Institute.

Central California Blood Center needs donors

  The Central California Blood Center is asking all blood donors, especially those who are O-negative, to please give during the Three Rivers Blood Drive, which will be held Thursday, Dec. 8. If this doesn’t fit the donor’s schedule, then they may give blood at donor centers in Fresno, Visalia, and Porterville in an effort to replenish the community’s blood supply as soon as possible.
   High usage, particularly of O-negative blood, is straining inventory following the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
   O-negative blood currently is at the lowest level – just 13% of needed inventory. This is the universal blood type that can be given to all patients in emergency situations.
  “Typically, we face a shortage of blood around the holidays because of increased need but the recent rain and fog have caused emergency room usage to rise even more,” reported   Dean Eller, president and CEO of the Central California Blood Center. “Therefore, we are asking new and returning donors to take an hour and help save someone’s life. It could be the most important one hour you set aside today, especially for patients in Valley hospitals. Please give.”
   See information regarding how to donate in the Three Rivers Blood Drive listing on the Kaweah Kalendar page of this webiste.
   Those who give blood at one of the donor centers will receive the Blood Center’s 2012 calendar.
   The Central California Blood Center is the sole provider of blood and blood products for the 31 hospitals in Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Kings, and Mariposa counties and must collect between 5,000 to 6,000 pints of blood a month to meet the needs of the communities in these five counties.
   The Visalia donor center is located at 1515 S. Mooney Blvd. It is open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Stay in touch with 3R

Kaweah Kam is always on

  The recently upgraded Kaweah Kam features telephoto capabilities that show the classic Three Rivers view of the Kaweah canyon, Alta Peak, and Moro Rock in more detail than ever before. Bookmark it and look in on Three Rivers with your mobile device wherever you may be — at work in a windowless cubicle, in the fog-shrouded Central Valley, spending the holidays with relatives... wherever you may find yourself saying you’d rather be in Three Rivers, it is always just a click away.
   From where the camera is mounted on Barton Mountain, Alta Peak is 17.2 miles in the distance, Moro Rock is 10.75 miles, and the snowly slopes of the Great Western Divide are 21 miles away. But due to the capabilities of the new camera, they look close enough to touch.
   Never miss a rainbow, new snowfall, or sunset again! The image is refreshed every two minutes. And the last image just before dark is saved to help you make it through the night.


A mountain tale of caution:
‘Stuff happens’

By Brian Newton

  Last month, Roy Kendall and I backpacked to Crystal Lake in Mineral King, located one mile southwest of upper Monarch Lake. The following day we climbed the unnamed peak due south of the lake.
   This peak deserves a name because it is 12,109 feet in elevation, which is higher than nine of the 13 peaks that surround the Mineral King valley. I placed a register on top 11 years ago and took the liberty of naming it Pseudo Rainbow and/or Rainbow Too because I have a topographic map that names the peak south of this one Rainbow AND this peak Rainbow.  Clearly a misprint but I think Rainbow Too (Two) is an appropriate moniker.
   Although the climb is rated class 2 (non-technical) with a few short class 3 sections, it was more challenging than I remember from the first time I summited 20 years ago. Roy decided to wait for me on the ridge about a quarter-mile shy of the high point.
   The notebook I had placed on the summit in a military ammunition can was dry and secure. Approximately 20 people recorded their observations over the previous 11 years
   To this register I had added the small 35-millimeter film-can register with rolled up paper from the margins of a notebook that I had signed 20 years previously.
   I thought it might be easier to return by descending the west side of the ridge so I started down that direction. In a couple minutes I came to some large granite blocks, the size of cars and garages.
   One section in my path contained two rather square boulders, one atop the other to create the shape of a chair. I couldn’t get around, but didn’t feel it necessary to retrace my steps, so  I sat on the side of the chair in preparation of getting down to the next level. The six-foot drop to a fairly flat rock that angled slightly to the right appeared reasonable, once I extended my hiking pole to its full length.
   I shoved off but my daypack caught against the “back” of the chair, knocking me off balance. I nearly fell downslope to my left.
   Normally not a disastrous predicament but it so happened my left foot dropped into a narrow crevice the exact width of my boot. Had all my dropped weight fallen to the left I do believe it would have snapped my trapped foot and my head would have been in line to hit sharp rocks. Then it would have gotten really ugly.
   Roy was out of earshot, so wouldn’t be able to hear the blows of my whistle. The terrain would have prevented me from even crawling forward.
   Roy would not have come searching for an hour or more and it would have taken him an additional five hours to get to a phone. I would have been stranded all night in summer clothes with temperatures in the 30s. Rescue could not have been swift because of the rugged terrain and altitude.
   This may be a rather iffy tale and although I had an extra shirt, windbreaker, and the 10 emergency essentials, I think the message is you can have all the experience and essentials for an outing but, as they say, stuff happens.
  Brian Newton is a retired teacher and avid outdoor explorer who resides in Visalia.

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
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