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 23, 2005

County extinguishes CDF ties

   In its most controversial action of 2005, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday, Dec. 20, to terminate the contract with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) to provide fire protection for unincorporated areas. The decisive vote ended speculation as to whether Tulare County would create its own fire department or continue using CDF.
   The last county to end its contract with CDF for fire protection was San Bernardino in 1997. The changing here will take at least 18 months with the newly-created department expected to be in place by July 2007.
   The termination of a relationship with CDF that lasted more than 70 years became necessary when earlier this year a budget shortfall dictated personnel cuts and the closing of five regularly staffed fire stations. Those cuts reduced the number of personnel on duty in Three Rivers but meant that the Lemon Cove station had to be closed altogether.

  “One factor that motivated me to vote for the termination was the opportunity to someday restore staffing at Lemon Cove,” said Supervisor Alan Ishida. “Under the CDF plan, there was no chance for Lemon Cove to be used except by paid-call volunteers.”
   Ishida said the pros, especially the long-term savings of taxpayer dollars, would far outweigh the cons like the $1.7 million for startup costs. Three Rivers will actually fare better than it would under CDF’s current “Amador Plan.”

  “We [the county] will ensure that Three Rivers is staffed,” Ishida said. “Your local fire engine will continue to be the first responder in medical emergencies, too.”
   Once the new county fire department is organized, Ishida said, coverage of the Three Rivers area would be the shared responsibility of the county and the state.

  “The county will have to pay the state something for their services,” Ishida said. “As a result, the local fire protection should actually be improved.”
   The board believes there are other advantages of the move like new training facilities in the Valley and the creation of jobs.

  “CDF firefighters at age 50 who retire from the state and then take a Tulare County job will actually be earning more,” Ishida said. “For some of the younger CDF employees who now only work in the busy summer season, they will have the opportunity to work full time for the county.”
   One seasonal said he hates to see the end for CDF but will personally be better off.
   "I was raised here in Tulare County, my wife and I have a new baby, and we want to stay here,” said the CDF seasonal, who asked that his name not be used. “If I stay with CDF, I have to go where they send me. With the new Tulare County department, I’m in line for a full-time job right here.”
   In other county news, the annual review of the Kaweah River Management Plan that regulates whitewater rafting on the Kaweah was also on last Tuesday’s agenda of the regular board meeting. Ishida said there were no complaints in the extended and, at times, busy 2005 season.

  “Everybody seems happy with how the ordinance works,” Ishida said. “It [the regulatory ordinance] has really helped to defuse the trespassing problem.”
   This past week, just in time for holiday gifting, Ishida presented two local checks. The Three Rivers/Lemon Cove Business Association received $1,000 for tourist promotions and the Lemon Cove Woman’s Club received $500 for maintenance on the historic Pogue Hotel that also serves as their headquarters.

50 years ago: December 23, 1955
Flood ravages

Three Rivers

   NORTH FORK BRIDGE, gone. Dinely Bridge, gone. Pumpkin Hollow Bridge approach, gone. South Fork bridge on Highway 198, gone.
   HOMES WASHED AWAY. Businesses flooded. Cars destroyed.
Residents stranded. Livestock washed away. Pets lost.
   MUD IN THE STREETS. Standing water in pastures, fields, and orchards. Debris blocking roadways and piled up in yards.
   EXPLOSIONS. FIRES. Rockslides. Mudslides.
   THIS WAS WHAT Three Rivers residents endured exactly 50 years ago today, in the early-morning hours of Dec. 23, 1955. There was no Christmas in Three Rivers that year as residents were stranded, the town was cut off from outside assistance, there were no basic services, and many were left homeless.
   PRESENTS AND CHRISTMAS trees and hopes of a happy holiday washed down the river along with several houses. There were some close calls, narrow escapes, a night of harrowing rescue operations, and lots of heroic actions by townsfolk, but not a single human life was lost,
   NEXT WEEK, A special section will commemorate the Flood of ‘55.

High Sierra blooms adorn

updated wildflower book

   Arthur “Shaz” Shahzade is a well-known figure in Visalia. After all, he was a high school biology teacher for 49 years.
   In addition, he coached high school baseball for 24 years. He even has a stadium named in his honor.
   Upon his retirement, Shaz branched out, so to speak, and published Wildflowers of California (2001). Now in its third printing, the new updated version contains 32 additional flowers, most of which grow at or above 5,000 feet in elevation.

  “My first edition did a pretty good job covering the flowers on the valley floor and in the foothills,” said Shaz. “However, it was a little weak on the upper Sierra flowers. I think it is now a better book with better balance.”
   The book is dedicated to the late Sam Pusateri (1912-1995), a Three Rivers resident, biologist, author, and College of the Sequoias instructor.
   For a Three Rivers resident, owning a wildflower identification guide is as important as obtaining food and shelter. This book is available locally at Anne Lang’s Emporium, Foothills Visitor Center, Reimer’s Candies, and the Commonwealth office.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
PHONE: (559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118 E-MAIL:
Entire contents of this website © Copyright 2003-2004 by The Kaweah Commonwealth