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of KAWEAH COUNTRY —
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
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In the News - Friday, FEBRUARY 4, 2005


Rockslide closes

Generals Highway
Road reopened after blasting

   In a normal winter like this one, when storms bring heavy rain and snow to Sequoia National Park, it is not uncommon for some rocks and mud to come down on the Generals Highway.
   Last Friday (January 28), it happened again, when at about 7 p.m. one-half mile above the Foothills Visitor Center, a large boulder slid onto the roadway, blocking both lanes. Fortunately, no one was in the path of the large slide consisting mostly of a single granite boulder measuring 12 feet across by eight feet wide and seven feet high.
   The slide caused some anxious moments for one carload of visitors and then on Saturday had hundreds of day-users abruptly changing their plans.

  “When we came upon the boulder on the dark stretch of road, we thought we had taken a wrong turn,” said Mike Chittenden, who with four other business associates was returning from a brief sightseeing trip to Giant Forest on Friday.
   Chittenden’s group, from the Washington, D.C., suburbs, was on a sightseeing mission that day to see the Sherman Tree and the Giant Forest. After notifying the park dispatcher about the slide, they found themselves stranded on the up-canyon side of the rock along with Ron Borum, local UPS driver, and Jerry Hagen, an assistant manager at Wuksachi who lives in Three Rivers.

  “We were pressed for time so that’s why we were returning after dark,” Chittenden said. “I guess it was fortunate that we had another vehicle parked in Three Rivers because there was no way we were going to get around that boulder.”
   At first light on Saturday, the Park Service road crew came out to assess the situation. There was no heavy equipment available that could budge the boulder that weighed several tons. Tyler Johnson, an NPS trail crew foreman, calculated how much explosive would be needed and then the demolition crew spent most of the day drilling the boulder to set the charges.
   At 3:30 p.m., all was ready and the boulder was blasted into rubble. By 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, the road was reopened and traffic could again proceed up and down the Generals Highway.

Snow news is good news
Above-average results received

at local survey stations

   Earlier this week, the California Department of Water Resources released its official February 1 snow survey data for the Sierra Nevada range. As expected, the news for the southern region was all good.
   Based on data from four collection stations, the Kaweah drainage already contains 109 percent of its normal snow pack for April 1. The current totals are 178 percent of a typical February 1.
   That’s great news for Southern California Edison hydrologists who use the data from Farewell Gap (above Mineral King, the Mineral King valley, and two stations in Giant Forest to predict how much hydroelectric power might be generated from the three power stations in Three Rivers. Hydroelectric power supplies about one-fourth of California’s electricity that is especially critical in the warm weather months when millions of air conditioners are cranking out the kilowatts.
   Both of the neighboring basins — Kings River to the north and Tule River to the south — are running ahead of the Kaweah. The Tule River station at Quaking Aspen (7,000 feet elevation) is already at 172 percent of the April 1 norm. Kings River stations are running only slightly ahead of Kaweah at 116 percent of April 1.
   In the Kern River drainage, U.S. Forest Service personnel conducted the snow surveys. There were nine survey locales ranging in elevation from 11,500 at Bighorn Plateau to 8,500 feet at Little Whitney Meadow that yielded totals.
   The basin average relative to the April 1 norm was 134 percent. The numbers for February 1 were 220 percent above normal.
Statewide, the February 1 totals revealed that the central region of the Sierra has already received some impressive snow averaging more than 30 percent in water content. Way up north in areas like the Shasta-Trinity area, the numbers are running closer to the April 1 norm and at some locations slightly below (88 percent.)
   Southern California received some unprecedented amounts of rain and snow in the early January storms. Reservoirs are near capacity but unfortunately most of the precipitation is runoff that makes its way back to the Pacific Ocean via flood control channels.
   The consecutive string of cold nights, especially in the higher elevations, is making certain that the snow pack will not be going anywhere in the immediate future. Across the entire Sierra Nevada range, the snow pack is averaging 143 percent above the seasonal norm. About one-third of California’s irrigation and drinking water comes from snowmelt in these mountains.
   In the Three Rivers environs, some recording locations have already measured more than 15 inches of precipitation for the season. All that rainfall prior to February 1 is a dramatic change from the last five years that barely averaged 15 inches of precipitation for the entire season.
   On Wednesday, Lodgepole rangers reported 66 inches of snow at 6,700 feet. Conditions in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks remain excellent for a winter recreation. The Generals Highway is clear and open between the parks at least until the next round of storms.

Ishida plans Town Meeting
TKC to present

Newsmaker of the Year award

   On Monday, Feb. 21, newly-elected District 1 supervisor Allen Ishida will conduct his first Three Rivers Town Meeting. The Monday evening meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the McDowall Auditorium at Three Rivers School.
   Ishida promised during his campaign that he would continue the Town Meeting tradition in Three Rivers that was started by his predecessor, Supervisor Bill Sanders. Supervisor Sanders started the monthly meetings in 1995 after the dissolution of the Municipal Advisory Council (MAC), so local residents could continue to have access to county government.
   Topics on Ishida’s agenda for Three Rivers is the proposed Memorial District election, fire protection, community master plan, and ways to promote tourism.

  “I’m looking forward to meeting more of the Three Rivers community at the meeting,” Ishida said. “Anyone with a question or who would like to discuss a county matter should attend.”

IN THE NEWS
   The Kaweah Commonwealth will also use the occasion to present its third annual Newsmaker of the Year award for 2004. Past recipients have been Glenn McIntyre (2002) and Petit Pinson (2003).
   New this year, the Commonwealth will present the “Golden Pen Award” to a writer who offered the most thought-provoking letter to the editor in 2004.
   For more information about the meeting, call Allen Ishida, 733-6271, or The Kaweah Commonwealth, 561-3627.

V-Day performance

assists women worldwide

  “The true intention of The Vagina Monologues is to raise awareness,” said Valerie Slitor, director of the production that will be performed at the College of the Sequoias theatre in Visalia this Saturday (Feb. 5).
   And Holocaust survivor and author Eli Wiesel wrote that “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
   The Vagina Monologues tells stories from the mouths of women. Some stories are funny, some beautiful, and some so painful that it would be easier to turn a deaf ear and continue neglecting them.
   But we can’t. Once aware, it becomes a responsibility to respond and help.
   The Vagina Monologues are made available to college students for benefit performances like COS through the nonprofit V-Day organization. In 2004, there were more than 2,000 V-Day benefits around the world.
   In the past seven years, V-Day has raised over $25 million for charities and anti-violence groups around the globe.
   Every year, money raised by the benefits is donated to a V-Day-recognized charity. A portion of each benefit’s proceeds goes to this spotlight charity.
   This year, the V-Day spotlight is “The Women of Iraq: Under Siege.” The women of Iraq face rape and abduction by organized gangs.
   The fear of entering the work force and sending daughters to school is so great that most women do not even make the attempt. Those victimized remain silent, afraid of being killed for bringing shame on their family’s honor. They are forced to live under veils, under the threat of acid burns.
   Something must be done. Iraqi women’s organizations are working to protect and establish rights there, but as with anything, everyone must all do their part to help.
   V-Day also provides for local charities. This year, the local group is donating to the Rape Crisis Services division of Tulare County Family Services.

  “The work that is done there for victims and their families is truly extraordinary,” said Valerie. “The level of compassion and awareness they show for people makes them ideal recipients.

  “There are few times in life that a human being needs someone beside them and with them on such a profound level,” she continued. “Rape Crisis Services provides understanding and a most admirable level of selfless value. We honor them.”
   V-Day. Until the violence stops.
  Article courtesy of Valerie Slitor. See Jocelyn Rosson’s “Neighbor Profile”in the February 4 print edition. For the second year, Jocelyn is the producer of the local production of The Vagina Monologues.

Public garden demonstrates

fire-safe landscaping

WHO’S NEWS
By Melanie Keeley

   Residents of Three Rivers live in a fire-prone environment. What can we do to keep our land and, therefore, our homes fire-safe?
To help answer this question, a demonstration garden of fire-safe native plants is now in place at the new California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) building adjacent to Valley Oak Credit Union.
   The garden is an excellent example of cooperation among several community organizations and individuals. Together, they pooled their knowledge and resources and swiftly completed this important project.
   Under the leadership of president Lou Tidwell and its civic pride committee, the Redbud Garden Club of Three Rivers made this their project of the year.
   Other community groups aiding in planning and facilitating the project were the California Native Plant Society-Alta Peak Chapter’s president, Joan Stewart, and treasurer Janet Fanning; National Park Service forester Tom Warner and horticulturist Melanie Keeley; and CDF captains Stephen Green, Kirk Gramberg, and Alan Sherer.
   Funding for purchasing nursery plants was provided by the Redbud Garden Club, but many members provided plants from their private gardens. Stacy Young, owner of the Sierra Garden Center in Three Rivers, discounted prices for the project.
Support for materials was provided by the Three Rivers Volunteer Ambulance. CNPS provided aviary wire for gopher and deer protection, and many supplemental trees and plants were donated by the Park Service.
   On planting day, at least 35 energetic and motivated volunteers from these organizations, as well as Three Rivers volunteer firefighters, Mountain Home Conservation Camp workers, and a handful of Three Rivers School students, pitched in. All toiled to sculpt a dry riverbed, plant sheltering oaks, redbuds, California lilacs, and many other beautiful native plants.
   The fire-safe planting area was not confined to the demonstration garden itself. Work continued behind and on both sides of the buildings. Oak acorns and hardy native shrubs were planted on difficult terrain by the Mountain Home crew under the guidance of Steve and Kirk.
   Garden club members planted over 100 bush lupine seedlings on lower slopes. In total more than 400 plants found a home at the Three Rivers Fire Station.
   The garden itself is now in place and is open to the public daily without an appointment.
   Individual plant-identification tags are being prepared. Brochures for a self-guided tour, as well as informative take-home brochures detailing plants and explaining the basic fire-safety principles used in the garden, are also planned.
   As the garden matures, the plantings should provide an attractive example of a drought-tolerant, easy-care, fire-safe native garden.

Preparing your
landscape for fire season

   The first line of protection against wildfire can and should be your landscape. With thoughtful selection, placement, and especially maintenance of native vegetation, a fire can be significantly slowed or deterred.
   Having a fire-safe landscape is a responsibility that comes with living in the hot, dry foothills regions of California. Proper maintenance in mature gardens and sound planning of new plantings affects not only our properties, but those of adjacent neighbors.
   And now is the right time of year to assess the condition of your land and formulate a plan of action using the following general principles:

  —When preparing your property for the upcoming fire season, keep in mind that “manage-ment” of the existing native vegetation is the best investment of time, money, and effort.

  —Cut out dead branches and thin, twiggy growth from all shrubs and trees annually to open up each canopy and reduce burnable fuels. Raise shrub canopies to one-third of the total shrub height, removing all branches on or near the ground to discourage surface fires from igniting.

  —Overhanging branches on rooflines or decks should be pruned back.

  —Selectively remove individual shrubs, spacing each approximately 10 to 15 feet apart, while attempting to isolate and protect mature specimens. In some cases, shrubs can be reduced in height (to approximately two feet) to make them less hazardous.

  —On hillsides, if a shrub must be removed for spacing purposes, it is important to retain the root mass to bind and stabilize the soil to prevent erosion.

  —As the annual herbaceous vegetation dries, cut weeds and grasses close to the ground, especially those surrounding shrubby vegetation as well as ones located within 100 feet of structures. Remove excess leaf litter at the base of shrubs from time to time.

Planning new
native landscapes

   When planning a new native landscape, the species of plant selected is not nearly as important as its profile and placement.
Between shrubs and trees, which should be distanced about 15 feet apart, place low-volume, low-profile groundcovers (to two feet high) to minimize flammable annual weedy growth. However, avoid planting highly combustible trees (such as pines and junipers and the non-native eucalyptus and acacia) near structures.
   While it is true that wild plants from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains have adapted to and benefit from fire, it is important to retain these natives as much as possible. Not only do they provide essential functions such as slope stabilization, wildlife food and cover, as well as watershed protection, they endow us with a natural heritage that is truly unique to the community of Three Rivers.

Wood ‘N’ Horse

continues winning ways

   The Wood ‘N’ Horse Show Team traveled to Sacramento on Saturday, Jan. 22, to attend the California Appaloosa Show Horse Association’s annual awards banquet. Everyone on the team won a state title.
   Collectively, the show team won 25 championships, 20 reserve championships, and 13 special high-point awards.
   Erin Farnsworth of Three Rivers road “Pie” to win High Point Non-Pro English Horse and River, Non-Pro Equitation Over Fences, and Hunter in Hand Mares.
   Sue Rojcewicz of Three Rivers rode “Jimmy” to win Non-Pro Rookie of the Year, High Point Novice Non-Pro, and Novice Non-Pro Trail.
   Mary Ann Boylan of Three Rivers rode “Finny” to win Hunter in Hand Geldings, Non-Pro Barrel Racing, and Novice Non-Pro Hunt Seat Equitation.
   Cara Peterson of Visalia rode “Clapper” to win Three-Year-Old Western Pleasure.
   Steve Wood of Three Rivers rode “Alex” to win Southern Area 35-and-Over Non-Pro Western Pleasure.
   Sam Martinez of Woodlake rode “Cody” to win Reserve Champion Western Division (13 years and under).
   Caitlin Steiner of Exeter rode “Andrew” to win High Point English Horse and Rider (14 to 18 years old), Hunter Under Saddle (14 to 18), Hunter Hack (14 to 18), and Hunt Seat Equitation (14 to 18).
   Christy Wood, the team’s coach, rode “Alex” to win High Point Overall Games Horse with wins in Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, Keyhole, and Rope Race. Christy also rode “Disney” to wins in Three-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle and Junior Trail.
   Christy’s young riders did so well that she was awarded California Top Trainer for Youth Riders.

OBITUARY

Alice Mitchell
1913 ~ 2005


   Alice Louise Mitchell, an 80-year resident of the Woodlake area, died Saturday, Jan. 29, 2005. She was 91.
   A memorial service will be held today (Friday, Feb. 4), 4 p.m., at Woodlake Presbyterian Church.
   Alice was born Aug. 16, 1913, in Salvisa, Kan., to Clyde and Verna Hawkins. In 1924, she moved with her family to the Woodlake area. She graduated from Woodlake High School, Visalia Junior College (present-day College of the Sequoias), and Fresno State.
   In 1941, Alice married Frank Mitchell of Elderwood. She was a schoolteacher for nearly 30 years.
   Alice was a member of the Camellia Circle Garden Club, Woodlake Eastern Star, and Woodlake Presbyterian Church.
   Alice was preceded in death by her husband of 31 years, Frank, in 1972, and her son, Jim, in 1983.
   Alice continued to reside on her and husband Frank’s citrus ranch in Elderwood until 2004, when she moved to Visalia.
   She is survived by her daughter, Janet, and husband Stan Livingston; one granddaughter; one great-granddaughter; and her sister.
   Memorial contributions may be made to a cause close to Alice’s heart — the Calvin Crest Camp scholarship fund for youth — at Woodlake Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 627, Woodlake, CA 93286.

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