In the News - Friday, FEBRUARY
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
“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
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
“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
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
Public garden demonstrates
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
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.
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
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
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,
—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.
on rooflines or decks should be pruned back.
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
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.
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)
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
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
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
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.
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.