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, JULY 2, 2004



There will be no July 9 issue of The Kaweah Commonwealth. The next issue will be published Friday, July 16.





Fire season 2004 heats up


  HOSPITAL FIRE— On Sunday, June 27, at about 2:30 p.m., an SUV caught fire while on the switchback section of the Generals Highway a few miles above Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park. The fire quickly spread to nearby dry grass and brush, which threatened to burn immediately upslope toward Moro Rock.
   A family of four from La Mesa in Southern California on a camping trip was about nine miles inside the park when their 2002 Ford Expedition caught fire. The driver said there were “several loud pops” in the engine area before flames spread to the inside the vehicle.
   The husband and wife and two children, ages seven and nine, escaped without injury, but did not have time to retrieve their belongings, most of which were destroyed. The fire is believed to have been caused by transmission fluid leaking onto the engine.
   The Generals Highway was closed while crews fought the blaze. The fire was contained in less than three hours and burned about three acres.
   CRAG FIRE—A lightning fire in a remote area of the South Sierra Wilderness in Sequoia National Forest burned 871 acres. The fire began Thursday, June 24, and was contained June 28.
More than 500 firefighters and support personnel were assigned to the Crag Fire. The cost to extinguish the blaze is estimated at $1.1 million.
   THARPS FIRE—On Monday, June 28, Sequoia National Park fire crews ignited 50 acres of the Tharps Prescribed Fire in the Giant Forest area. This final segment of three includes 257 acres in the heart of Giant Forest.
As a result of the project, much of the Trail of the Sequoias loop will be closed. The Congress Trail and all park roads will remain open.
The smoke from the fire can be seen from Three Rivers, directly above Moro Rock. It can also be viewed via Kaweah Kam on this newspaper’s website at:
   BUENA VISTA FIRE—On Friday, June 25, crews completed ignitions on this planned fire in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. Crews will continue to monitor the area as the fire burns within the segment.
   GRANITE FIRE—A lightning-caused fire was discovered Tuesday, June 29, in the Kaweah River’s upper Middle Fork canyon in Sequoia National Park. Located at about 6,800 feet near River Valley, the fire was about one acre in size when discovered. Due its location near backcountry trails and directly below the Bearpaw High Sierra Camp, firefighters are on scene and working to suppress the blaze.

Mountain lion lurks

in Cherokee Oaks


  A Cherokee Oaks resident reported that he has had several sightings of a mountain lion in the neighborhood, with the most recent sighting being within the past week. If this isn't enough to cause people to be on alert, the following story should heighten the senses...
   On Saturday, June 26, a 27-year-old female from Santa Monica was attacked by a mountain lion in the Johnsondale Bridge area of Giant Sequoia National Monument in southern Tulare County. The woman was hiking with three male companions on the west side of the Kern River on a rocky, narrow trail when she backtracked to look for a pair of sunglasses when the cougar pounced.
   Her companions were able to thwart the attack by throwing rocks and stabbing the cougar in the shoulder with a knife.
   A California Department of Fish and Game warden and a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer subsequently shot and killed the lion. A necropsy has revealed that the cougar was male, about two years old, and in poor physical condition.
   Officials are calling the attack a rare incident and said the animal exhibited "bizarre behavior."
   The animal weighed 58 pounds, substantially less than the normal weight of about 100 pounds for a two-year-old male mountain lion. A rabies test was negative and the animal's stomach was practically empty, containing one small rodent bone.
   The victim lost an eye and received several lacerations. She underwent surgery Sunday at UCLA Medical Center.


Local SCE plant

recognized for a

half-century of



  The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-National Weather Service recently presented Southern California Edison employees at Kaweah Powerhouse No. 1 with a 50-year Institutional Award for the company’s longtime participation in the Cooperative Weather Observer Program. For the past 50 years, the Three Rivers hydroelectric plant — which began operation this week in 1899 — has manned a weather station and documented the meteorological observations.
   The Cooperative Weather Observer Program is an extensive network of volunteer weather observers throughout the U.S. who collect information such as temperature, precipitation, soil temperature, evaporation, wind movement, agricultural data, snowfall, river stages, lake levels, and atmospheric phenomena. More than 12,000 individuals, businesses, and agencies participate by submitting weather findings.
   The NWS supplies the equipment, and the observers collect the data and submit it to the local National Weather Service office (Hanford), where it is then forwarded to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., and permanently archived.
   To show its appreciation for the volunteer efforts, the NWS presents awards annually to exceptional weather-watchers. The Institutional Award, received this year by SCE in Three Rivers, recognizes the commitment of businesses and corporate groups in 25-year increments only.

Teen falls from

North Fork cliff


A teenager sustained serious injuries after slipping off a steep embankment and falling into the North Fork of the Kaweah River. The accident occurred on Sunday, June 27, about 6:30 p.m., at Cherry Falls Recreation Area, nine miles up North Fork Drive.
   Numerous emergency personnel cooperated in the rescue effort that required pulling the male victim from the water, then ascending a steep hillside. He was then taken by helicopter to University Medical Center in Fresno.

Missing hiker found;

injured hiker rescued


On Saturday, June 26, a 34-year-old hiker who separated from his four companions failed to meet on the trail as prearranged. The Bay Area group, who were reportedly not experienced hikers, had embarked on a day hike from their backcountry camp at Lower Soldier Lake in southeastern Sequoia National Park, about seven air miles south of Mount Whitney.
   The rest of the group returned to camp and expected the solo hiker would do the same as he was carrying no backpack or provisions. When he did not return to the camp by Sunday morning, two of the party hiked out to Lone Pine and placed a call for help at about 1 p.m.
Sequoia-Kings Canyon rangers arrived and began a search of the Rock Creek area along the Pacific Crest Trail on foot and by helicopter. The missing man walked back onto the trail on his own about 7 p.m. and, after informing the search party he was safe, left the area. He remains unidentified and no debriefing took place that explains where and how he spent the night in the wilderness.
   On Sunday, June 27, a hiker on the Tokopah Falls Trail near Lodgepole in Sequoia National Park was unable to walk out on her own. Five park employees carried the 46-year-old Pennsylvania woman to a waiting ambulance.
   Normal procedure is for the park ambulance to transfer its patients to the Three Rivers Ambulance in the vicinity of Hospital Rock for transport to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia, but due to the closure of the Generals Highway as a result of the Hospital Fire, the patient was taken out the Kings Canyon park entrance and delivered to Sierra Kings Hospital in Reedley.

More campsites now

available in parks

Sunset Campground open

in time for holiday weekend


The largest of Grant Grove’s three campgrounds, Sunset, has reopened after being closed for several years. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday, July 1.
The Kings Canyon National Park campground has been the focus of two projects in recent years. Hazardous-tree removal became necessary after hundreds of trees were killed in the area during a tussock moth infestation that began in 1998.
   The 70-year-old campground also underwent a major renovation, from road repair to replacement of picnic tables and fire pits, all of which were funded by the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, a congressionally-authorized initiative that allows federal land-management agencies to retain entrance and user fees.
   Sunset Campground has 157 first-come/first-served campsites within one mile of Grant Grove Village. Fees are $18 per night.


The historic... the odd...

the eye-catching...

the unbelievable



Redwood from

Kaweah Country's past


LEMON COVE— Daily during the busy summer season, thousands of visitors and residents pass by an eclectic group of redwood carvings that line Sierra Drive just west of the Lemon Cove Fire Station. Yet few know that the alluring carved sentinels are all that remain from the once-thriving Sequoia Station.
   In 1976, Kent Kaulfuss founded Sequoia Station, one of several area redwood shops. Kaulfuss still lives on the Lemon Cove property and currently owns a wood recycling business located where Highway 198 junctions with Highway 99.
“Tourists from all over the world stop here just to snap a photo of these carvings,” said Kaulfuss. “They were done by R.L. Blair, who is the Disney artist that created Critter Country and the Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland and Disney World.”
   The works that remain at Lemon Cove in front of the former shop building date from the years 1982 to 1988, Kaulfuss said. One piece, a huge redwood bust of John Muir, was the only piece actually commissioned by Kaulfuss and is currently on display at the business property and can be seen from Highway 99.
   Kaulfuss, who lived in Badger when Sequoia Station first opened, has experienced many ups and downs of the local woodworking industry. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he said, redwood was plentiful with many fine slabs and logs coming from the Camp Nelson area above Springville.
“We always worked with dead and downed giant sequoias,” Kaulfuss explained. “The slabs were used for doors, tables, and other pieces of furniture.”
   The late Lueder Ohlwein, founder of the Jazzberry Jam Band of the 1970s, and his wife, Terri, are a part of the local connection with the Sequoia Station story, Kaulfuss said. Lueder and Terri created fine furniture and carved signs using Sequoia Station specimens, which they sold from their Three Rivers shop, “Unique Designs” (located in the present-day Sierra Shan building).
   But it is the works of Disney’s Blair that are the roadside legacy of this curious local art. Three of the Lemon Cove pieces depict powerful Native American symbols of a chief, bear, eagle, and buffalo. The animistic creations are unique and possess far greater significance than monetary value.

  “I’m really not interested in selling any of the works of Blair,” Kaulfuss said. “To me, they have whole lot of sentimental value.”

Woodlake invites all to

have a 'Blast' at

fireworks show,

summer events


For as long as anybody can remember, Woodlake has epitomized that down-home spirit of community that makes this country great. At the annual July 3rd Blast, the friendly little city proves once again that to celebrate America’s birthday, Woodlake is the place to be for food, fireworks, and sizzling summer fun.
   THE WOODLAKE KIWANIS host the event, one of many such fundraisers held throughout the year. Proceeds from the July 3rd Blast and other events are used to support youth programs, recognize outstanding businesses and citizens, beautify the city, and basically just serve the community wherever and whenever needed.
   Progress is visible throughout Woodlake as the city proceeds with the installation of sidewalks, curbs, and gutters on a number of streets, and a new bikeway/walkway along Bravo Lake and the Woodlake Pride Garden. Many park improvements are also in the works, including new restrooms at Miller-Brown Park.
   THE WOODLAKE VALLEY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (564-3559) is currently preparing for its seventh annual Custom Car and Bike Show for Saturday, July 10. Motorcycles and every kind of vehicle imaginable will be on display and cruising the streets of Woodlake. There will also be entertainment, prize giveaways, and food booths.
   The event is co-sponsored by Budweiser and the Fifty 1 Fifty Kustomz Car Club and features an oldies dance and cruise night Friday to kick off a weekend of family fun.
   The July 3rd Blast, in addition to the great fireworks show, features live music by the Spirals from Tulare. They play a little bit of everything native to Tulare County including rockin’ oldies and country music with roots in the 1960s.
   So come to Woodlake and check out what’s new, and have a blast. Tickets are $5 for adults; children ages six to 12 are $1.
   Gates open at 6 p.m., and the first 200 patriotic patrons receive a free flag.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
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