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 30, 2004


The Best of Kaweah Country

2004 readers' poll results -- to be published online (see Readers' Poll page) on Monday, August 16.


News and features from the Friday, August 13, print edition will be published online on Monday, August 16, delayed slightly due to the webmaster's vacation schedule.


First case of West Nile virus

in a bird confirmed

in Three Rivers




  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 scrub jay.

  “It’s rare 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 species.”
   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.

  “They’re 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.




—Report dead 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 and doors.
—Check vacant property for standing water, report abandoned swimming pools, and encourage others to keep their yards free of standing water.


Three Rivers teen

short-hauled after

swimming mishap


   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.

Onist Doss

1928 ~ 2004

  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.


The historic... the odd...

the eye-catching...

the unbelievable



The 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 crop.
   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 one).




Mineral King to Kings Canyon



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 storms.
   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 and grand.

   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 fence.
   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.

                                                                —THE PASS
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 storm.
   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, and stools.
   Being less intimate with the storm that was now being diverted by mere shingles, we actually began appreciating it more.
   To be continued...


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