case of West Nile virus
a bird confirmed
It has taken five years
since first appearing in New York to reach the West Coast, but West
Nile virus has arrived — in California, in the Central Valley
and, now, in Three Rivers — and can no longer be ignored.
On Wednesday, July 14, when a Cherokee Oaks resident decided
to collect a deceased Western scrub jay and notify public health officials,
it turned out to be a fortuitous find.
Within a week, state Department of Health officials confirmed
what they already suspected. The dreaded West Nile virus is spreading
throughout California and is already in Three Rivers.
Bill Clark, a retired research biologist from Three Rivers,
admitted that he doesn’t know very much about the virus, but is
familiar with the wild critters around Three Rivers, including the Western
to even find a dead bird in the first place with all the critters around
looking for a meal,” Clark said. “The fact that it was a
scrub jay means that the virus is in a local bird and not a migrating
West Nile virus is thought to be spreading rapidly across
the U.S. by migrating bird populations. The Three Rivers find suggests
the virus is already here and there may be more birds infected.
Clark said the local jay’s nesting season is just
about over, so if a dead jay is found, it will probably be under an
oak tree or a large bush.
not a species that would nest in heavy brush,” Clark said.
The disease is most dangerous for horses. About 30 percent
of cases prove fatal.
People with horses should have their animals vaccinated.
The vaccine is 90 to 95 percent effective.
This week, after health officials confirmed that the Three
Rivers bird had tested positive for WNV, Earl McKee, owner of the Bar-O
Ranch and the largest horse breeder in Three Rivers, gave some of his
stock another round of vaccinations.
“In the past,
we have had to deal with encephalitis and other horse ailments,”
McKee said. “With this West Nile virus, we will have to take the
necessary precautions and wait and see if it is effective.”
McKee said the shot process involves two inoculations that
must be administered 30 days apart. He also said the shots can be very
expensive and time consuming for ranches like the Bar-O that own large
numbers of horses.
“Our stock is
currently healthy and even if they did acquire the virus, most horses
recover from the infection and to my knowledge very few have ever been
put down because of West Nile virus,” McKee said.
State officials estimate that even with all the WNV publicity,
about 35 percent of California’s one million horses remain unvaccinated.
So far in 2004, 30 horses have been diagnosed with WVN in Southern California.
Eleven died or were euthanized.
While no human cases of WNV have been confirmed as acquired
in Tulare County, infection in birds and mosquitoes often precedes the
discovery of WNV in residents. Birds vulnerable to WNV include ravens,
crows, jays, sparrows, finches, magpies, doves, and raptors.
WNV is a disease transmitted to humans, birds, horses,
and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.
But even in areas where the virus is circulating, very
few mosquitoes are infected with the virus.
The risk of serious illness from WNV is low (about 1 in
150 persons who become infected with the virus will become severely
ill). In most healthy individuals, WNV infection produces no symptoms.
Others may experience mild, flu-like symptoms such as headache,
fever, fatigue, or muscle ache. In some people, these symptoms could
last several weeks.
Severe and potentially fatal WNV encephalitis (inflammation
of the brain) may occur among the elderly (those over 60 years of age
are at greatest risk), the young, or those with compromised immune systems.
If any of these symptoms appear, contact a healthcare provider
immediately. West Nile virus cannot be transmitted from person to person,
horse to horse or, most likely, from bird to human, but wearing gloves
is recommended if handling a dead bird.
Due to the high volume of reports to the hotline, the state
Health Department says they are unable to respond to every one. Officials
say a dead bird that has been reported but was not picked up by 5 p.m.
on the day of the report should be safely disposed in the trash.
Report a bird that has been dead for less than 24 hours
by calling the WNV hotline, maintained by the state Department of Health
Services, at 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473).
Rick Fraser and Sarah Elliott contributed to this story.
birds within 24 hours by calling the WNV hotline (1-877-968-2473).
—Stay indoors when mosquito activity is high, usually
during dawn and dusk.
—Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants if you must be
outdoors during this time and apply repellent onto the clothing.
—Use mosquito repellent containing DEET. Apply repellent
sparingly and always follow label directions (children under
five years of age should not use DEET).
—Remove any standing water from your property (this is
where mosquitoes lay their eggs), including bird baths and flower
pots, or treat it with a larvicidal product.
—Stock permanent ponds with mosquito-eating fish.
—Make sure that screens are tight and fit well into windows
—Check vacant property for standing water, report abandoned
swimming pools, and encourage others to keep their yards free
of standing water.
Three Rivers teen
A 16-year-old Three Rivers
girl required emergency medical attention after she was struck by a
diver while swimming in the main fork of the Kaweah River near the Potwisha
Campground in Sequoia National Park. The incident occurred on Monday,
July 26, about 5:30 p.m.
The victim, an experienced river swimmer, was at the locale
with a companion when she descended a water chute and was swimming underwater
toward shore. A 20-year-old Visalia man, who was not known to the victim,
dived into the water from a rock outcrop that is 15 feet or more above
the water’s surface and on the opposite side of the river. He
struck the girl directly on her back with his head.
Both swimmers complained of severe pain. A 911 call from
a cell phone reached a California Highway Patrol dispatcher, who then
transferred the call to a Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks dispatcher.
Due to the remote location of the accident site, the responding
rangers determined that the most efficient way to extract the injured
parties would be via “short-haul” rescue. For less than
two months, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks helicopter personnel
have been certified to do short-haul rescues, and this is the second
time the operation was deemed necessary.
A short-haul rescue involves a crewmember being lowered
from a hovering helicopter to an injured or trapped person below. Once
hooked to a harness, both the victim and crewmember are carried a short
distance to safety.
Both of the swimmers were stabilized and separately airlifted
to the Generals Highway, accompanied by park medic Dave Walton, and
transferred to the Three Rivers Ambulance.
The victims were then transported to Kaweah Delta Hospital
in Visalia. The Three Rivers girl, although initially complaining of
no feeling in her legs, was treated and released.
The short-haul operation drastically reduced the amount
of time it otherwise would have taken to carry out the victims to the
waiting ambulance. Instead of taking more than two hours to complete
the operation, the victims reached the ambulance in about 15 minutes.
The park’s first operational short-haul occurred
June 10, when crewmembers rescued a female field botanist who injured
her leg in a remote area of Kings Canyon National Park, just one day
after all the requirements necessary to implement this type of technical
rescue were completed.
A memorial service
will be held Saturday, July 31, 2 p.m., at Three Rivers Memorial Building
for Onist Doss of Exeter.
Onist died Thursday, July 15, 2004, at the age of 76.
He was born May 4, 1924, in Arkansas to John and Dorothy (Parks) Doss.
He is survived by his wife, Vivian; two granddaughters;
two great-granddaughters; three sisters; and several nieces and nephews.
historic... the odd...
history of citrus
LEMON COVE— Although
Kaweah Country residents may pass by them everyday with hardly a glance,
area visitors stop, photograph, and even pick the oranges.
As a rule, oranges grow best the farther away from the
ocean they are. Thus, the Central Valley is prime citrus country.
The trees do not need particularly rich soil, In fact,
some of the best groves are on land that would not support any other
Citrus requires relatively little water. The trees go best
when the ground is weed-free and plowed at regular intervals.
A grove that is from 10 to 15 years old yields the most
plentiful crop. The trees are planted in long rows and are carefully
tended to prevent scale and, in the winter, freezing.
The trees are regularly trimmed to prevent too rapid of
growth. The are allowed to reach a height of 20 to 25 feet.
When the hills of Kaweah Country turn brown in the summer,
the citrus trees — oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes —
are a pleasant contrast that lend an oasis of green that even the scorching
summer sun cannot diminish.
Spanish missionaries introduced the first oranges to California
during the late 18th century, but it wasn’t until a century later
that citrus fruits became an important part of the state’s economy.
Oranges were first grown commercially in the 1870s near
Riverside in Southern California. Citrus made its way to Tulare County
as early as the 1850s, but was first grown commercially in the 1880s.
With the advent of electricity in the San Joaquin Valley
came irrigation and water wells and pumps. This marked an economic change
of great proportion in Tulare County as dry-farming of wheat and other
grains made way for citrus, stone fruits, alfalfa, and small dairies.
Citrus was first planted in Three Rivers in 1878, when
Alfred Everton planted 200 orange trees. One year earlier, J.W.C. Pogue,
the founder of Lemon Cove (see Roadside Attractions, July 23, 2004,
“Pogue Hotel: The Founding of Lemon Cove”), planted oranges
and lemons on Dry Creek, north of Lemon Cove.
When Pogue relocated his family to what is now Lemon Cove,
he transplanted his orange and lemon trees and planted additional citrus,
including lime trees. But it was the lemon trees that thrived and Lemon
Cove became renowned for its ideal climate for this fruit, which was
considered a luxury.
In 1907, coinciding with nationwide advertising campaigns
for California citrus, orange and lemon groves were planted in the newly
created community of Elderwood, north of Woodlake. The Woodlake area
soon became well-known for their fruit of unusual sweetness.
There are two main varieties of oranges grown that allow
the fruit to be consumed year-round. Navel oranges are available from
November to May; Valencias are known as the “summer orange.”
Navels are seedless and are distinguished by the button
formation opposite the stem. Valencias are smaller, have some seeds,
and thicker skin.
Citrus trees bloom in the spring. The small, white, star-shaped
flowers have a sweet aroma. When the breeze is just right, the scent
of orange blossoms from the Valley floor can be smelled in Three Rivers
during peak bloom.
Citrus is currently grown on about 112,000 acres in Tulare
County. In 2002, oranges saw returns of over $530 million, making it
the second largest grossing commodity in the county (milk is number
King to Kings Canyon
BY SARAH ELLIOTT
This is a continuing series
about a family backpacking trip in the Sierra during July 2003. Previous
installments may be read on the HIKING page on this website.
— DAY SIX —
Thursday, July 24, 8 miles— At 7 a.m,
there was blue sky to the north, our direction of travel for the day.
This was the weather we wanted to see after two days of intermittent
By the time we packed up and prepared to leave our timberline
camp of two days, there were thunderheads moving toward us over the
ridge to the south.
From the granite balcony that had served us well as a front porch and
eating area, we could see down-canyon to Ranger Meadow. There was a
column of smoke from a campfire rising out of the trees and horses grazing
in the meadow.
This was the first sign of humanity that we had seen since
leaving Bearpaw High Sierra Camp two days before.
After obliterating all signs of our inhabitance, we left
our campsite and began the trek down Deadman Canyon. Within a half-hour,
we arrived at Ranger Meadow.
The horses and their riders had since departed. We had this beautiful
high-country meadow completely to ourselves except for the trout in
the creek, the peregrine falcons overhead, and a coyote that was nearby,
heard but not seen.
The cañon proved to be seven or eight miles
long. It progressed upward by a series of terraces. We would ride through
a fringe of woods, or over a meadow, and then climb vigorously to the
right or left of a slide or broken fall until we had gained another
level. The cañon walls were very high, very sheer, and of nearly
unbroken stone. The glacial action had brought them to syncline near
the bottom, so that to all intents and purposes we were traveling a
smooth half-cylinder of granite in whose trough a certain amount of
fertile earth had accumulated. The scenery thus was inexpressibly bleak
—STEWART EDWARD WHITE,
THE PASS (1906)
We were traveling the opposite way of the above description
and, thus, our route was a relaxing descent. The trail parallels a creek
that runs north to join other tributaries that form the headwaters of
Roaring River, also known as the South Fork of the Kings River.
For more than a mile past Ranger Meadow, the elevation decreased only
mere feet. We became quite jovial on this stretch, chatting, laughing,
and admiring the spectacular scenery.
As we reached the end of this terrace, the trail and creek
descend to the next level on a slab of glaciated granite. Due to the
lack of a restraining bank, the creek widens and increases in velocity
as it flows over the water-polished rock.
The stream would have flowed smoothly except for some rocks,
from softball to bowling ball-sized, that were obstructing the flow.
This caused the shallow, rushing water to shoot up and over the obstructions,
giving a surreal image of fountains spraying at varying intervals.
We couldn’t resist. We, too, had to add our own rocks
to the scene, so we strategically rolled them onto the granite slab.
We watched the creek compensate by shooting water up, over, and around
the new additions.
In another half mile, we crossed from the west side of the creek to
the east. Shortly after, we came to the gravesite for which Deadman
Canyon is named.
The grave is marked by a wooden monument that says:
18— - 1887
There are varying accounts regarding the death of this
Basque sheepherder, but it is widely believed that he took ill and his
partner left to retrieve a doctor, but Alfred was dead before help arrived.
We ate lunch here, sitting in the warm sand, bags of various
munchies strewn within arm’s length of everyone. We sat facing
the grave, which is outlined by logs that may have previously been a
We discussed life here in the 1880s — herding sheep,
spending extended periods alone and without other human interaction.
In the late-19th century, sheepherders were common throughout the Sierra,
though not popular. In fact, it was sheep-grazing that was in part responsible
for the local conservation movement that began at the turn of the 20th
century, led by John Muir.
After lunch, we continued the last three miles to Scaffold
Meadows and the Roaring River Ranger Station under skies that were quickly
beginning to darken. The daily thunderstorm or two that we had endured
most every day of this journey was threatening to commence.
The trail continues to traverse within sight of the
creek, traveling intermittently through thick fir forest, aspen groves,
granite slides, and meadows.
The country was delightful. We could not understand why it was so little
known. The meadows lay fair and green, surrounded by dense thickets
of cottonwoods or quaking asps, and islanded with round bushes. The
woods were thick and tall. The travel under foot was not rough, as roughness
goes in the high mountains.
We passed a trail crew of three, laboring intensively to clear a particularly
rocky portion of trail. Trail crew is a luxury that Stewart Edward White
did not have.
We re-crossed the creek and now were walking on its west
side once again.
A clap of thunder, and then another and another in steady
repetition, warned us that a downpour was imminent. We were descending
the last terrace of this stairstep canyon and were on the final descent
to where we would make camp for the night.
About three in the afternoon we came out over Roaring River.
It was well named. The waters dashed white and turbulent far below us,
filling the forest with their voice.
We, too, arrived at Roaring River at 3 p.m. We claimed
the Stewart Edward White campsite as our own.
Immediately upon setting down our packs, the heavens opened and out
flooded the storm. We scrambled for rain jackets and pack covers, then
stood forlornly under a tree, trying unsuccessfully to avoid the drenching
It was raining too hard to even set up camp, so we had
no shelter. We watched the storm’s runoff pooling around our feet
and realized that life was now stripped to the bare basics.
Suddenly, out of the storm, a person was quickly approaching.
It was the Roaring River backcountry ranger, Alison Van Dusen, who invited
us to the covered porch of her cabin where she provided us with hot
water for tea, hot Tang for the kids, a steaming hot bag of popcorn,
Being less intimate with the storm that was now being diverted
by mere shingles, we actually began appreciating it more.
To be continued...