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 25, 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 (559-561-3627) and complete one, some, or all of the categories. The 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!


Horse Creek Fire burns 75 acres


  Last Sunday, June 20, at 5:20 p.m., California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) fire crews responded to a blaze of mysterious origin that was burning south of Lake Kaweah. Shortly after 9 p.m., the fire was declared under control.
   The Horse Creek Fire was one of several in the last two weeks that were intentionally set in the Woodlake and Dry Creek areas. An arrest was made in one of the incidents, but investigators believe that more than one arsonist may be involved.

GMP 101

Parks' management plan

highlights 'Issues,

Concerns, and Problems'




  This is the second in a series to furnish background on the Draft General Management Plan [GMP] and Comprehensive River Management Plan / Environmental Impact Statement for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, which is presented in two volumes. The goal of these articles is that the public becomes informed and involved in the planning process.
The first installment, published June 4, stated that if there are controversial elements to be treated in the plan, they would be contained in the Summary, which is in Volume 1, p. iii, in the section entitled “Issues, Concerns, and Problems.”
   The six items outlined in this section present some degree of “problem” to park managers and are, therefore, addressed in the draft document and understood to be the most important issues to be treated by the final plan.

  —Lack of a Comprehensive River Management Plan: The plan addresses the Middle and South forks of the Kings River and the North Fork of the Kern River.
Because of the overall importance of rivers to the parks and its eco-system, it is obvious that a separate planning document is needed along the lines of a Wilderness Plan or a Fire Management Plan. Due to lack of adequate funding, not all aspects of the park management can be treated separately.
   Park planners, in the context of the draft GMP, state that boundaries must be established for river corridors and each segment classified. For rivers that are eligible for wild and scenic designation, no actions may be taken that might affect the values that qualify a river for inclusion in the system.

  —An Outdated Master Plan: The 1971 Master Plan “does not meet the requirements” of a GMP and “it was developed without public involvement.” Over the years, it has become obvious that a GMP is overdue and must be created with public involvement.

  —Management of Cultural Resources: This area is, without a doubt, the greatest challenge of the management plan. The draft states: “While the NPS strives to preserve and protect cultural resources whenever possible, funding and staffing are insufficient to preserve and protect all cultural resources in the parks.”
   This is the most glaring failure of parks management since the 1971 Master Plan directed that historic structures, districts, and landscapes be identified. It’s in direct opposition of the National Park Service’s mission that a national park can’t properly care for its historical sites.

  —Unresolved Issues for Specific Developed Areas: An example of a concern that shouldn’t even be an issue. The GMP will supersede the previous Master Plan, so “unresolved issues” should then be resolved.

  —Special Use Permits on Public Land in Mineral King: The draft fails to mention that this community was not only responsible for preserving the historic cabins, but historically, they recognized and helped preserve the natural values that lend national park quality to the area.
   Is there actually an alternative that would suggest removing a living historic community? Surprisingly, yes.

  —The Changing Context of the Parks in the Regional Ecosystem: Here’s an example of where the plan contains broad, sweeping, generalized statements. Look for more specifics when it comes to cultural resources and Mineral King.
                                                 * * *
   In the next installment, we will walk through the five alternatives, of which one will ultimately be selected in theory by the public. How the public communicates to the Park Service about the alternatives in regard to all the “issues, concerns, and problems” inherent in the draft General Management Plan, then seeing the Park Service implement those comments will, in reality, be the greatest management challenge of them all.

Rest stop funding

approved... again


  On Monday, June 21, at the regular meeting of the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG), the Three Rivers rest stop project cleared another formidable hurdle. TCAG board members approved a staff recommendation that a portion of federal Transportation Enhancement Activities (TEA) funds earmarked for Tulare County be used for buying the property and construction of the site’s facilities.
  According to Marcia Vierra, a Tulare County civil engineer, the action of the board is an official “call” for money.

  “The [TCAG] board approved that $221,000 be used for the purchase of the property and another $402,000 be authorized for construction of the rest stop facilities,” Vierra said.
   Vierra, who formerly worked on the project as a consultant to the Three Rivers Historical Society, said the plans are all set and the project is ready to go. The archaeological work, which was a stumbling block during a previous funding cycle, was recently assigned a “categorical exclusion,” Vierra said.
   The reason for the exclusion, Vierra said, was that a “shovel test program” was conducted by a Caltrans archaeologist with no significant findings. The site, located adjacent to the Three Rivers Museum property, is believed to contain the ruins of the old Bahwell house and store from the 1870s.

  “Most of the site will be an asphalt parking lot so the project should preserve any artifacts that might be buried on the property,” Vierra said.
   If there is anything discouraging about this week’s development is that Janine Chilcott of the Three Rivers Historical Society and her coalition of supporters have heard similar promises of county funding in the past. Of course, to get the $623,000, there are strings attached. The Three Rivers Historical Society must be able to raise a “declared match” of $39,000 for the acquisition and $52,000 for construction.
   But don’t count on having a new rest stop in Three Rivers anytime soon. The acquisition funding was approved for the 2005-2006 cycle; the construction money for 2006-2007.
   If Tulare County is fortunate enough to even have TEA money in 2007, that timing will be just fine with rest stop advocates, many of whom have been working on the project for more than a decade.

New 'Village Foundation'

seeks members

Public invited to

attend reception


  This Sunday, when the fledgling Three Rivers Village Foundation hosts a kick-off reception at St. Anthony Retreat, the affair marks a beginning in the idea of a town center for Three Rivers. Planners drafting the Three Rivers Community Plan most recently identified the need for a town center near the commercial core of Three Rivers.

  “Right now, what we have is a dream,” said Tom Sparks, spokesperson for the host committee. “In this kick-off event, the idea is to present the foundation concept and to form a non-profit organization.”
   Sparks, a retired energy consultant and longtime resident of Tulare County, said he has been looking into grants for small communities like Three Rivers and there are dollars available for worthwhile projects.

  “As a result of Proposition 40, more than $1.2 billion has already been granted to California communities to improve parks,” Sparks said. “Because we [Three Rivers] are currently without a community park, we could qualify for a $500,000 grant.”
   Although the Proposition 40 funds are currently “on hold,” Sparks said, the State is expected to release the remaining money in the near future.

  “The first effort of the group would be directed toward community center opportunities,” Spark said. “We are aware of what has happened at some North Fork Drive parks in the past, but these new facilities would be well-positioned and beneficial to the community.”
   Sparks said that prior to this initial gathering, the host committee sent out invitations to people who were thought to have interest in getting involved.

  “More than 50 have already paid the $25 to become charter members and attend Sunday,” Sparks said. “If someone didn’t get an invitation, all are welcome to become involved in this new foundation.”
   Sunday’s event will begin at 3 p.m. and will include refreshments. To attend, call Tom Sparks at 561-0406.


Park plans prescribed fires

  On Wednesday, June 23, NPS fire crews planned to begin ignitions on the 148-acre Grant G Prescribed Fire in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. But a test ignition that “exhibited unwanted fire behavior” caused fire managers to make the decision to postpone the burn.
   Instead, park fire crews will turn their attention to another project, the Buena Vista Prescribed Fire. This 133-acre project is located four miles southeast of Grant Grove along the Generals Highway.
   Yesterday and today (Thursday and Friday, June 24 and 25), firefighters will use hand-held drip torches to ignite the fire. The fire, which is located between 7,200 and 7,600 feet elevation and encompasses Buena Vista Peak, will cause the closure of the Buena Vista Trail until further notice.
   No park roads will be closed, but there may be temporary traffic delays along the Generals Highway between Ten-Mile Road and Big Meadows Road.
   In addition to the Grant G and Buena Vista burns, other prescribed fires planned during the remainder of 2004 include: in Kings Canyon National Park, Lewis Creek, a 1,000-acre fire near Cedar Grove planned for the fall; and, in Sequoia, Tharps, 257 acres this summer near Crescent Meadow; Cabin Meadow, 441 acres this summer near Dorst Campground; and Highbridge, 1,517 acres planned for the fall in the Mineral King area.


After more than 50 years,

PTA dissolves

'Eagle Pride Committee'

plans October carnival


  The times, they are a-changing.
   Founded in 1947 by friends Mary McDowall, Three Rivers School superintendent/principal, and Muriel Barton, Three Rivers School parent, the Three Rivers PTA has been an annual source of funding for the school from bats, balls, and books to cell phones and computers.
   In recent years, however, interest and support in the local governance of the group has waned. Citing a lack of volunteers to take on the leadership positions, the current PTA board made the decision to disassociate Three Rivers School from the National and State PTAs at the end of the 2003-2004 school year.
   Membership in the local PTA was previously available for $5 per person. By purchasing an annual membership, the donor was supporting all levels of PTA — the largest volunteer child advocacy organization in the world. A portion of the dues went to the District, State, and National levels of the PTA organization, providing for child advocacy programs, legislative lobbying and monitoring, and administrative costs, as well as reduced-rate liability insurance for local chapters. What was left over from the dues benefited Three Rivers PTA and, in turn, Three Rivers School.
   Since 1951, the Three Rivers chapter has participated in the National PTA’s Founders Day celebration, which honors those who started the PTA in 1897. Locally, a Three Rivers resident is recognized each year as a part of this tribute, and more than 60 names grace this growing list.
   In the place of the Three Rivers PTA, the former board of directors, as well as some recent PTA members, have formed the “Eagle Pride Committee.” This organization will ensure that the PTA’s major fundraiser — which is also the longest-running annual event in the history of Three Rivers — the Halloween Carnival, continues to be held.

  “We are hoping to make [the Carnival] bigger and better and more of a community event versus a school event,” explained Mo Basham, a TRUS parent.
   Organizers of the Eagle Pride Committee will submit a proposal to the Three Rivers Union School Foundation to become an arm of that TRUS-support group. Consideration of this request will occur at the Foundation’s next board meeting.
   In the meantime, the Eagle Pride Committee will meet on the first and third Wednesday of each month through October at the Pizza Factory to plan for the 2004 carnival. Those who would like to assist in the planning of the carnival are invited to attend the next meeting, which is scheduled for July 7 at 7 p.m.


TRUS eighth-graders

hit the streets

of San Francisco




For the better part of a half-century, Three Rivers School eighth-graders have earned the funds necessary to take a year-end class trip. The major contributors to, and supporters of, this annual effort are Three Rivers residents.

  With the hindsight of a chaperone who has participated in the three-day sojourn to San Francisco twice, as well as having participated in the trip as an eighth-grade student, I know that this trip is both fun and educational, as well as a personal-growth experience for these young teens. The bonding ritual is priceless as well — students with students; parents with parents; students with chaperones; and parents with teacher. The kids will always consider this trip one of their favorite memories, made poignant because mere days after returning, they graduate from TRUS and their school days in Three Rivers come to an end.

   By now, most of the chaperones and a few of the kids were beginning to get a little bleary-eyed, but this was no time to start dragging. There was a jam-packed itinerary and a full day of sightseeing still ahead.
   The bus would arrive by 8:30 a.m., so that meant that showers, breakfast, and packing had to be finished by then. Also, hostel rules stipulate that everyone is responsible for stripping the sheets off their bed.
   After all room keys were present and accounted for — or not — the bus was on its way to the Golden Gate Bridge.
   The weather was typically San Francisco with fog and drizzle as we prepared to walk halfway across the famous landmark from the north side. Coincidentally, it was 70 years before to the day that the Golden Gate Bridge opened to vehicles (it opened to pedestrians on May 27, 1934).
   On this day, as we walked to the middle of the bridge and back, we were sharing the pedestrian walkway with impatient bike-riders and, just over the guardrail, nonstop traffic (about 40 million vehicles cross the bridge annually). While gazing up at the bridge towers that rise 500 feet into the sky, it is mind-boggling to realize the amazing feat of construction; looking down more than 200 feet to the water below is dizzying.
   Back on the bus, we were transported to Pier 39 where, at about 11 a.m., the kids were let loose once again for lunch and shopping with explicit instructions to regroup in front of the Blue and Gold Fleet’s entrance by 12:45 p.m. for the next leg of this nonstop journey.
   Always amazing, the group arrived on time from their various points afar. After an orientation by a spokesman for the Alcatraz tour-boat company, we awaited the vessel that would take us and others on the 20-minute ride to the infamous island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. After another orientation by the Park Service upon arriving on the island, we climbed the hill via an old concrete roadway to the prison entrance, where we began an audio tour of the cellblocks.
   Via MP3 player and headphones, we received directions that led us through the prison. We were also provided with information on what we were seeing and heard the history of the institution through actual interviews with former guards and inmates.
   The island is a treasure trove of cultural and natural history — military, penitentiary, Indian occupation, flora and fauna — but it was the hands-on tour of the prison that left an impression. Through headphones, we listened to stories that occurred within the very corridors in which we were walking.
   It was the worst of the worst prisoners who were housed at Alcatraz — Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Robert Stroud, also known as “The Birdman of Alcatraz.” They and more than 1,500 others were considered beyond rehabilitation.
   In fact, that was the beginning of the prison’s demise. In addition to being too expensive to run, changing philosophies regarding criminals demanded that rehabilitation and reinstitution be part of the penal program and that was not an option on “The Rock,” so Alcatraz eventually was ordered to close.
We peered between bars into the cells. We did time inside a windowless solitary-confinement room. We heard stories about escapes. We saw the bullet holes that occurred during a deadly gun battle between prisoners and guards.
   After the hour-long self-guided tour, we returned via the Alcatraz ferry and again met our bus. We began the drive home with the traffic near gridlock on the Bay Bridge as we attempted to leave the City by the Bay on this Friday before Memorial Day.
   But we sat back in our plush seats, put on a DVD, and enjoyed the fact that traffic didn’t matter because we weren’t driving, something the adults appreciated much more than the kids.
   After a stop at Pea Soup Andersen’s in Santa Nella for dinner — 10 tables for 38, please — we began the last leg of our journey to Three Rivers, where we arrived home about 11 p.m., exhausted, but with memories to last a lifetime.



Darrell Feeney

1958 ~ 2004

  Darrell Richard Feeney died Wednesday, June 16, at his home in Three Rivers. He was 45.
   Darrell was born Aug. 13, 1958, in Los Angeles to Richard and Katheryn Feeney. When he was 12, the family moved to Santa Rosa, where he attended school.
   He attended culinary school and was an executive chef for many years.
   On May 18, 1995, Darrell married the former Mary Margis in Santa Rosa. The couple moved to Three Rivers a year ago.
   Darrell was preceded in death by his father, Richard, and brother William Feeney.
   In addition to his wife, Mary, of Three Rivers, Darrell is survived by two children, Tony Feeney of San Diego and Jenna Feeney of Venice; his mother, Katheryn Feeney of Idaho; brothers Mike Feeney of Santa Rosa and Tom Feeney of Idaho; sisters Carol Feeney and Shannon Feeney of Idaho.
   Private services were held.


Elaine Bowden

1940 ~ 2004

  Elaine Theveny Bowden of Three Rivers died Saturday, June 19, at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia due to vascular failure. She was 64.
   Elaine was born June 12, 1940, in Aliquippa, Penn., to Stephen and MaryAnn Fredich. She graduated from Aliquippa High School and Grace Downs Airline School in New York.
   She was a travel agent and self-employed businesswoman. She moved to Three Rivers in 1987, where she owned and operated the Three Rivers Motel and RV Park.
   In 2002, Elaine married Rick Bowden of Three Rivers.
   In addition to her husband, Rick, Elaine is survived by her son, Scott Theveny and wife Sharon; daughter Lisa Fodor and husband Chad; two grandchildren; her mother, MaryAnn Fredich; and sisters Betty Naugle and Frani Richards.
   A memorial service will be held at a date and time to be announced.

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