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, JUNE 4, 2004



The BEST of KAWEAH COUNTRY Readers' Poll, which seeks input from readers' about their favorite places, is currently ongoing.

Call for a copy of the May 28 issue of The Kaweah Commonwealth and complete one, some, or all of the categories at 559-561-3627. Your results will appear in the August 6 edition.

     Also in the May 28 print edition is the annual VISITOR GUIDE 2004.

     If you missed this issue, you're missing out!


GMP 101

Sequoia's new planning

document scrutinized


This is the first in a series that will seek to break down the draft General Management Plan (GMP) of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks into digestible portions. All who have even an inkling of how these local parks are managed are advised to review the document, either in hard copy, CD, or online, and become involved in some aspect of the plan by providing constructive comments. Apathy is not acceptable as the importance of the final plan cannot be underestimated simply because of the vague and sweeping statements that are often included in such documents.

PART 1: At first glance, two very slick volumes containing more than 600 pages can be very intimidating. How does one get started and effectively challenge the team of professional planners in order to furnish input?
   It is best to start at the most logical place — the beginning of Volume 1. This 212-page document seeks to explain the purpose of and need for action, presents the alternatives, and contains a useful index.
   So visualize this first volume as your tool kit for understanding what it is that interests you specifically about the parks and its attempt to update its management plan. For instance, is it the natural resources, the developed areas, the visitor facilities, the cultural resources, and so forth?
   Read the title page of Volume 1 carefully. Your first and most important tool is clearly spelled out; that is, the two principals to whom your input should be addressed. Choose one or both: the Park GMP Coordinator in Three Rivers or the NPS GMP Team Leader in Denver.
   On the following page, NPS planners explain that the documents contain five alternatives that are being considered for management and use for the next 15 to 20 years or more. Important language here is “being considered,” which means some or all of the alternatives could change or be subject to editing.
   Further, the plan seeks to establish a management direction and achieve a vision for what the parks “should be.” Here’s a potential problem because the final plan can only be effective if the public truly understands what the parks “should be.”
   Park planners already assume that we all know, as they do, that certain laws have been passed that clearly spell out what the parks should be. As we plow through the issues of the plan, we will see that the law may be applied in varying degrees as it pertains to different resource types or management complexities.
   In the summary, which is right up front, convenient for those who don’t want to read all 600 pages, the document states that the plan, in addition to providing guidelines for what the parks should be, needs to address the “desired future conditions for natural and cultural resources, as well as for visitor experiences.”
   A subhead in the summary is probably the most important part of Volume 1: “Issues, Concerns, and Problems.” The reason the parks even need a management plan is that managers have identified issues that are cause for concern that, in turn, create management problems.
   If there are elements of the plan that are controversial, they will be somewhere among the six key items listed in this section. They will be discussed further in detail in the next installment.
The draft plan may be viewed online at the parks’ website:; click on “Management Docs” in the index on the right. From the management documents page, click on “Draft General Management Plan,” then from that page, click on “What’s New” to access the on-screen version.
   A CD of the two-volume plan is also available as are hard copies. Call Alexandra Picavet, parks information officer, at 565-3131, to request these versions.
  Copies are also available for viewing at the Three Rivers Library and other Valley libraries, as well as in various locations throughout Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   Comments may be submitted via email or in writing. Be sure to reference “SEKI GMP” on all correspondence and, to further ensure comments are properly tracked, clearly state the correspondence’s subject matter by topic, alternative, chapter, or page number.
   Email is considered the most efficient way to submit comments. Send emails to:
   Written comments may be mailed to:
NPS GMP Team Leader
Susan Spain
National Park Service - DSC
12795 Alameda Parkway
Denver, CO 80225-0287
   Public meetings on the general management plan will be scheduled prior to the final document. The deadline for submission of comments is Thursday, Aug. 5.


Ceremony will honor

Lake Kaweah project

When dignitaries, agency managers, and members of the public gather Monday, June 7, on Lemon Hill for the official dedication of the enlargement of Lake Kaweah, the ceremony will mark a momentous occasion.

   “For all intents, the enlargement of Lake Kaweah is a fully-functioning project,” said Mark Larsen, projects administrative manager with the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD). “All that remains to be completed is the work at the Best Western and the downstream mitigation in the Corcoran area.”
    The KDWCD is hosting Monday’s ceremony and is proud of their lead role in the two decades of cooperative effort needed to complete the project. Larsen said that the Lake Kaweah basin is now almost ready for that mythical 1,000-year flood it was designed to withstand.
    But the inability to complete the dike adjacent to the Best Western means the basin’s peak storage this season is not anywhere near capacity. It was not feasible to fill the basin anyway, according to Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah park manager, because the larger runoff anticipated earlier in the season never materialized.

   “I might be off a day or two off, but it looks like peak storage will occur this Sunday,” said Deffenbaugh. "We’re going to lose boat ramp number two for about a week and then the lake will recede from the 705-foot elevation.”
    As of last week, Lake Kaweah had eclipsed the storage of the old basin by more than 5,000 acre-feet. Deffenbaugh expects the Best Western dike to be completed by this time next year and then it will be conceivable to fill the basin to an elevation of 715 feet, adding one-third more storage than was possible in the former basin.
    Lake Kaweah personnel were relieved that all the recreational facilities were operational for the busy Memorial Day weekend.

   “Even during the time the boat ramp is under water, we’re going to try to keep the parking lot open,” Deffenbaugh said.
    A lineup of civic speakers is expected to participate in Monday’s ceremony including Congressman Devin Nunes, Congressman Cal Dooley, Assemblyman Bill Maze, and Bill Sanders, chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. Jim Costa will act as the master of ceremonies.
    The public is invited to attend Monday’s ceremony, which will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude with a fly-by.  

   For information, call Mark Larsen, 747-5601.


Homer Ranch

acquired by land trust

On Wednesday, June 2, Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) announced the acquisition of the 1,837-acre Homer Ranch. The historic Dry Creek property, located north of Lemon Cove, includes portions of Dry Creek and more of that area's unique sycamore alluvial and blue oak woodlands habitat.

The “old Homer Ranch,” as it's known among local cowboys, has been a cattle ranch for more than a century.

“The property provides a unique opportunity for SRT to maintain a working cattle ranch and our rural way of life,” said Sopac McCarthy Mulholland, executive director of SRT. “We plan to provide guided tours about the importance of agriculture and rare habitat conservation by next spring, building on the program already in place at our Kaweah Oaks Preserve.”

Following the recent acquisition of the Portland Cement Company's sand and gravel mines three miles down-canyon; the SRT now has a commitment to protect 5,000 acres of Dry Creek riparian woodlands on private and public lands.

“My wife, Stephanie, and I decided to approach SRT about buying our ranch after a visit to the Kaweah Oaks Preserve,” said Richard Homer, whose great-great-grandparents homesteaded the area in the late-19th century. “We've always thought our ranch would be a perfect place for people to enjoy the beauty of this area and experience an important part of California history.”

In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, SRT will study the intact sycamore alluvial woodland on the Homer Ranch.

“Very little is known about how sycamore woodlands naturally regenerate,” said Alex Mas, project manager for the conservancy. “Research at the Homer Ranch will help guide SRT's efforts to restore sycamores at the former Dry Creek Quarry.”

The new ownership is currently seeking a local grazer who will help to manage the special conservation values of the property. Funding for acquiring the $1.5 million preserve came from the California Resources Agency, the Packard Foundation via the Sierra Business Council, and the Barakat Foundation.



Specialist Daniel Unger, 19,

killed in Iraq

1985 ~ 2004
Daniel Paul Unger of Exeter died Tuesday, May 25, 2004, while serving as a specialist with the U.S. Army National Guard in Iraq. He was 19.
   A public service in his memory will be held today (Friday, June 4) at 9:30 a.m. at the Exeter High School football stadium with a military burial following at the Exeter Cemetery.
   Daniel was born March 21, 1985, in Mesquite, Texas, to Marc and Lynda Unger. The family moved to Exeter when Daniel was three years old.
   Daniel was home-schooled through the eighth grade and graduated from Exeter High School in June 2003. He had studied karate since the age of five and was promoted to Fourth Degree Black Belt in December 2003.
   Daniel received his license to be a minister in October 2002. He was a member of the Exeter Baptist Church and played bass in its worship band.
   Daniel, along with his father, was a frequent guest minister of Champions for Life, formerly known as Bill Glass Evangelistic Association. He participated in ministries at prisons and juvenile detention facilities through this program, touching the lives of hundreds of inmates by sharing his faith in Jesus Christ and performing his incredible karate demonstrations.
   In addition to his parents, Marc and Lynda Unger of Exeter, Daniel is survived by two brothers, two sisters, and his grandparents.
   In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Daniel Unger Memorial Fund, c/o Bank of the Sierra (account no. 464263430), 1103 W. Visalia Rd., Exeter, CA 93221.











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