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
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.
BY JOHN ELLIOTT
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
* * *
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.
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, 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
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.
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.
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
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.
more than 50 years,
The times, they are
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
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.
BY SARAH ELLIOTT
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
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.
DAY THREE: FRIDAY, MAY 28
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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 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
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 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