1995 ~ March 2005
the past decade,
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In the News -
Friday, MAY 27, 2005
Only in the May 27 print edition:
Dream Adventures, Epic Journeys, Classic trips, Heavenly Escapes,
Favorite Getaways, Memorable Vacations, Wondrous Wanderings
A unique photo gallery of much that Kaweah Country has to offer.
Reaching new heights…
Earlier this week, it happened. Lake Kaweah surpassed its
former storage record of nearly 150,000 acre-feet. Now the lake will go
even higher, and by Memorial Day, there will be water in places where
there were never known to be places.
That’s because the recent run of 90-degree temperatures
is finally doing the inevitable — bringing down a substantial part
of the biggest snowpack since 1998.
On Wednesday, the average inflow from all tributaries into
Lake Kaweah was more than 4,400 cubic feet per second (cfs). More than
3,000 cfs of that flow is being measured in the Middle Fork alone (in
the vicinity of the Chevron station just above the North Fork Bridge).
That average, or mean, inflow means that after midnight until
at least 3 a.m., flows in the Middle Fork are at more than 5,000 cfs.
It takes approximately eight hours for late-afternoon snowmelt to travel
the distance from the high country to Three Rivers. That’s why the
river, which is loud in the daylight hours, is downright thunderous in
the predawn hours.
All that river-flow data is collected hourly by Lake Kaweah
officials and then integrated into computer models that tell dam-tenders
just how much water to release and how much to retain. On Wednesday, the
release averaged more than 3,000 cfs, creating some impressive whitewater
below the dam and ensuring that the newly-enlarged basin fills gradually.
Lake Kaweah crews spent the week monitoring various recreation
areas that are now submerged while putting up warning signs and barriers
“The biggest change
in the basin that most people will notice right off is that water is really
spreading southward, especially along new shoreline in the Horse Creek
area and east of Slick Rock,” said one worker. “There’s
lots of debris in the water so boaters need to be extra careful in these
There are also plenty of critters making for higher ground,
including several rattlesnakes sighted in the vicinity of the recently-closed
Horse Creek Campground. It’s not uncommon for boaters and swimmers
to encounter a flooded-out snake treading water, especially early in the
“The peak holiday
periods will be a challenge accommodating everyone who wants to use the
limited facilities, but plans are in the works to build new facilities
to remedy those situations,” said Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah’s
Parking will be at a premium this weekend at Lake Kaweah.
After the Lemon Hill spaces fill, boaters may park in turnouts near the
closed Kaweah Recreation Area (“boat ramp no. 2”) and then
get picked up by boat at the submerged ramp area.
There is also a limited amount of parking at Horse Creek
Road, Slick Rock, and near the new dike at the Best Western. Parking is
not allowed along the shoulders of the highway or anywhere posted “no
forward to a great Memorial Day weekend even though parking will be a
challenge,” said Denise Robertson, park ranger. “We have to
work together so everyone can enjoy all the new Lake Kaweah has to offer.”
Going with the flow…
River rafters in
The warmer weather is not only turning lots of snowmelt into
ice-cold Kaweah River water, but it’s making the river flows so
unpredictable that whitewater rafters have had to rethink their trip plans
for the upcoming weekend, traditionally one of the busiest of the local
season. During periods of cooler temperatures in the morning, especially
right after sunrise, the flows are dropping to slightly below 3,000 cfs
and actually make for ideal rafting conditions.
“For the time being,
while the river is so high, we won’t be launching at the Gateway,
but rather we’ll put-in at the condos [just downriver] or at the
Hideaway even farther down,” said Jalene Vincent, who works as a
guide with Kaweah White Water Adventures. “It makes for a little
different trip from what we have been doing so far this season, but it’s
still loaded with plenty of challenging rapids.”
In fact, some afternoon trips — which is when the flow
revs up each day — are reserved for strong, experienced paddlers
only. And conditions can change without much notice, so those with an
advance reservation should be flexible but ready to rock and roll.
Remember: Whitewater rafting is not advised unless accompanied
by a professional guide.
Hells Angels visit
When more than 300 Hells Angels came roaring into Three Rivers
on Friday, May 20, for what they were calling their “South Run,”
nobody really knew what to expect. Was it going to be a weekend that would
confirm their reputation as motorcycle outlaws or are these modern-day
Hells Angels just tourists on two-wheelers?
The latter proved the more apt description for the throng
that occupied the Holiday Inn Express on Friday and Saturday nights. But
judging by all the interagency law-enforcement personnel in Three Rivers
throughout the weekend, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department was
convinced that it is better to be safe than sorry.
One officer, among the conglomerate of sheriff’s deputies,
CHP officers, NPS rangers, and FBI agents, said they had received intelligence
that the Mongols, a rival motorcycle club, might try to strike while so
many Angels were gathered in one place.
“What we heard
was that some Mongols might try a drive-by shooting targeting Angels hanging
around the lobby area of the Holiday Inn Express,” said one criminal
investigator. “It never happened and we’d like to think that
part of the reason it didn’t was because we were out in force.”
On Saturday, as many as 75 Hells Angels rode their Harley-Davidson
motorcycles into Sequoia National Park, and some members went on a ranger-guided
walk and a Crystal Cave tour. There were no law-enforcement incidents
in the park during the visit.
In Three Rivers, three Angels were arrested — two for
driving with suspended licenses and one on a warrant for parole violation.
One other subject was arrested for assault-and-battery on several Hells
In general, merchants who served the Angels said they were
polite, well-behaved, and good for business. As it turned out, the largest
single gathering of Hell Angels in Three Rivers, for the most part, proved
to be uneventful and business as usual.
At a Town Meeting, conducted by Supervisor Allen Ishida on
Thursday, May 12, discussion focused upon progress being made in several
areas. That was the good news.
The bad news, he told the gathering at St. Anthony Retreat,
is that funding earmarked for the Three Rivers Visitor Center site adjacent
to the Three Rivers Historical Museum is, for the third time, being awarded
to other projects.
But there is still hope to have some type of visitor center
at the new Slick Rock Recreation Area, Ishida said. At Slick Rock, the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would maintain the facility.
Lake Kaweah officials have stated in the past that they would welcome
a partnership with the Three Rivers community.
On another upbeat note, Supervisor Ishida said that the bill
(AB 1281) introduced by Assemblyman Bill Maze designating portions of
State Route 198 as a “scenic highway” is moving toward passage.
Map copies were distributed that showed areas to be included where the
highway is routed through mostly non-commercial sections of Three Rivers.
The stretch of highway between Cherokee Oaks and Eggers drives
would be exempt from the designation. This would be necessary, Ishida
said, because a “scenic” designation might require specific
setbacks and sign restrictions.
The upside, he said, is that Three Rivers would be eligible for certain
grants that could potentially enhance the local tourist economy and finance
want to become involved with more bureaucracy at the expense of placing
added restrictions on small businesses,” Ishida said.
On the subject of the reuse of the former county fire station
on South Fork Drive, that decision, Ishida said, is still a couple of
months down the road. The county will probably retain title and then rent
it out to community groups to pay the taxes on the property.
Relative to the Three Rivers “community plan,”
Ishida said that the availability of water is the key to any future development.
The county, he said, will undertake a study to help in making those planning
Ishida requested that if anyone has any questions or concerns
about the scenic highway designation or any county-related business, to
call him at his office, 733-6271.
1919 ~ 2005
Robert Badiali died Wednesday, May 11, 2005, at his rural
Exeter home. He was 85.
In 1919, Robert was born in Exeter to Henry and Elvira Mancini
Badiali. In 1963, Robert married the former Joan Durrant.
Robert was originally a grape grower and, in 1968, went into
the firewood business with the sales yard by his home near the junction
of Highways 198 and 65.
In addition to his wife of 42 years, Joan, Robert is survived
by his daughters, Joan Vehrs of Visalia, Lynne Batchelder of Modesto,
and Janet Bailey of Three Rivers; his sister, Mary Kirk of Anaheim; five
grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to St. Vincent DePaul Community
Center, P.O. Box 106, Farmersville, CA 93223.