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for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

  Celebrating 10 years:

March 1995 ~ March 2005

For the past decade,

The Kaweah Commonwealth

has been telling readers

things they won't read, hear,

or see anywhere else!


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…
Lake Kaweah

is full of itself

   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 where necessary.

  “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 areas.”
   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 season.

  “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 general manager.
   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 parking.”

  “We’re looking 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

for a wild ride

   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

mostly routine

   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 Angels.
   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.

Proposed visitor

center fails to

receive funding… again

   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 highway improvements.

  “We don’t 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 decisions.
   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.

Robert Badiali
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.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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