season 2004 heats up
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
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 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
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: www.-kaweahcommonwealth.com.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
historic... the odd...
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
“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.
not interested in selling any of the works of Blair,” Kaulfuss
said. “To me, they have whole lot of sentimental value.”
invites all to
a 'Blast' at
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
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
Gates open at 6 p.m., and the first 200 patriotic patrons
receive a free flag.