In the News -
Friday, MARCH 7, 2008
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
There’s lots of snow
Even if the higher elevations of Kaweah Country don’t
get another flake of snow for the rest of the season, the pack that is
already piled up has ensured an above normal runoff for the Kaweah drainage.
With a few more storms — and according to the long-range forecast
that’s entirely possible — the Kaweah River and its downstream
users could be in for a whopper of a water year.
All that good news is between the lines of the countless
water statistics released March 1 by the California Department of Water
Resources (DWR). Overall, the statewide percentage of water content for
the Sierra region is 118 percent, but the drainages farthest south have
the best news of all.
The most recent electronic sensors data show the northern
Sierra water equivalents at 122 percent; the central Sierra at 118 percent;
and the southern Sierra at 130 percent. One year ago, those same readings
were 69 percent for the northern Sierra, 64 percent in the central, and
52 percent in the southern Sierra.
The Kaweah drainage is included in the southern Sierra numbers
and was recently measured at 146 percent of the March 1 normal. That currently
translates to 130 percent of the April 1 total, traditionally the fourth
and final survey of the season.
The April “normal” measurements are based upon
the norm of a half-century of readings compiled between 1951 and 2000.
In the Giant Forest, where readings are taken by park rangers
in Round Meadow, the current depth of 64.4 inches is the most March 1
snow since 2004 (72 inches). The most snow recorded for the date since
1935 is the 140 inches that was on the ground in the El Nino year of 1969.
In the past week, with the Generals Highway dry and open
between the parks, a multitude of travelers have been able to not only
see the snow but easily access some of its best late-season conditions.
Big Meadows (7,500 feet), seven miles southeast of the Highway 180 junction
near Grant Grove, has its best spring backcountry skiing since 1998.
Montecito-Sequoia, a Nordic ski resort in Sequoia National
Forest just across the Generals Highway from Big Meadows, is reporting
excellent groomed track and expects to continue their skiing program at
least until early April. They also feature snowboarding, telemark skiing,
and lots of snowplay opportunities for kids of all ages.
Visalia man drowns
In Kaweah Country during a big water year, there is bound
to be tragedy. Most often, a local drowning occurs when an unsuspecting
victim enters the Kaweah River either by design or accident.
But the chilly Lake Kaweah water can claim victims, too.
That’s what happened Saturday, March 1, just before 4:30 p.m. after
a fishing party had launched earlier that afternoon from the Kaweah Marina.
From reports of witnesses at the scene, the troubling incident began when
the small boat that a trio of Visalia residents were using to fish 100
yards from shore began to take on water.
In a matter of moments, the 14-foot boat was filled and the
three fishermen were in the lake swimming for shore and calling for help.
Two of the men, Daniel Silva, and Christopher Dick, managed to make it
back to shore.
Daniel Silva’s uncle, William Silva, 46, was not so
fortunate. He was having difficulty swimming in the Lake Kaweah water,
which a park ranger later reported to be a frigid 40 degrees.
Michelle Sylvester, a bystander on the shore nearby, heard
the cries for help and was one of two persons who entered the water in
an attempt to rescue the struggling swimmers. When she reached Daniel
Silva he pointed to his uncle who was already face down in the water.
Sylvester was able to reach the elder Silva and tried to
flip him over while she pulled him toward shore. The cold water soon overcame
Sylvester and she began to struggle and call for help.
The woman’s fiancé, Eddie Silva, no relation
to the victim, was also in the water in a vain attempt to pull the man
to shore. The last thing he remembers was holding the man’s leg
and then finally letting go to try to catch his own breath and keep from
going under in the cold water.
Eddie Silva later said the water was so cold he became breathless
but will never forget the feeling he experienced when he was unable to
locate the sinking victim. He said there are no words that could describe
the feeling when he realized the victim was gone.
A dive team recovered Silva’s body several hours later
submerged in 25 feet of water. Reportedly, none of the men were wearing
life jackets and the boat was not equipped with any flotation devices.
Car vs. rock: Rock wins
It’s difficult to say how many lives have been saved,
but the wider shoulder that was drilled through solid granite in several
places for widening a one-mile stretch of Highway 198 for the Three Rivers
bike lane has undoubtedly made a difference. The wider margin for error
along the shoulder has made Sierra Drive a little safer and on more than
one occasion and has meant the difference between a near miss and a horrific
Last Sunday’s mishap that occurred in the S-curve section
of Sierra Drive below Pumpkin Hollow, where a narrow shoulder does not
have room for a bike lane, is a good case in point that wider is better.
From the earliest days of travel in the upper canyon, the steep canyon
walls in this section of roadway have been witness to an untold number
of tragic accidents.
On the afternoon of Sunday, March 2, a youthful resident
of Lemon Cove was driving to work when she lost control in this shady
area bordered on one side by a solid rock outcrop and the other by a concrete
barrier. Apparently her 2004 Mustang crashed into the jagged granite wall
and absorbed a glancing blow, coming to a stop partially on the shoulder
and in the eastbound lane of traffic.
Dazed, but lucky to be alive, the driver drove 200 feet farther
up- canyon where she pulled off the road. The bumper of the vehicle became
dislodged during the crash and remained at the point of impact.
After wandering around at the scene for a few minutes, some
passing motorists and curious neighbors came to help the dazed driver
who was shaken but not seriously injured. A local tow truck operator was
called to assist in removing the vehicle that was leaking fluids and no
No official accident report was taken by the California Highway
Patrol as a result of the accident. According to Officer Chris Wright
of the Visalia CHP, the law does not require that an accident report be
made when the driver does not sustain injuries or damage property other
than their own.
called to this scene numerous times over the years for accidents caused
by black ice, excessive speed, or a driver that just wasn’t paying
attention,” said the tow truck driver. “I’m not an accident
investigator by profession but the sand that’s put on the roadway
for traction on the icy spots could have been a factor in this one.”
Slick Rock environmental assessment
for public review
In what could be the final hurdle before construction, Phil
Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah park manager, announced this week that a draft
Environmental Assessment (EA) is now available for public review. The
review period will end Wednesday, March 19, for the document that evaluates
the construction of an access road, parking lot, and boat launching ramp
that proposes expanding the existing facilities at the Slick Rock Recreation
Following a lengthy planning process that began in 2000 when
a Cal Boating grant was approved in concept for Lake Kaweah, the construction
phase appears ready to get the green light from federal officials. The
possible consequences of the scope of work described in the draft EA were
evaluated with consideration given to environmental, economic, social,
and engineering feasibility. Findings of the study, which were coordinated
with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State Historic Preservation
Officer, indicate that the project would not result in significant impacts
to the environment or any cultural resources.
The project became a priority to provide alternative launch
facilities while other areas of the lake are inundated by high water resulting
from the 2004 expansion of the lake basin.
“We have a contractor
standing by so we can proceed as soon as the final Environmental Assessment
is done,” said Matt Murphy, park ranger. “In a best-case scenario,
we could get construction completed before the high water that is expected
Comments received on the draft document will be incorporated
into the final document as appropriate. Written comments may be sent to
the attention of Phil Deffenbaugh at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
Lake Kaweah, P.O. Box 44270, Lemon Cove, CA 93247-4270. For more information
or to request a copy of the draft EA, please contact Phil Deffenbaugh
597-2301 or email: email@example.com.
Enticing the barn owl
at Lake Kaweah
It’s kind of like the old lady who swallowed the cat
to catch the bird to catch the spider to catch the fly… In a new
twist on an old song, bushes were planted that the gopher ate, so the
owl is needed to catch the gopher that eats the plant that the beetle
needs. But then predators of the barn owl moved in, so a new verse has
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers volunteer
John Waleryszak and the Mountain Home fire crew replaced four of the existing
barn owl boxes at the elderberry mitigation site with new, more owl-friendly
boxes. The new boxes are acclaimed to be more suited to barn owls.
The eight previous boxes were installed by Larry Baker, USACE
park ranger, and volunteers during the 2003 Public Lands Day event. The
eight owl boxes were installed on the 7.19 acres of mitigation land below
This area was set aside to mitigate for loss of habitat for
the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle. The beetle is a threatened species
and as a result of raising Lake Kaweah, some elderberry plants, the sole
source of food for the beetle, had to be relocated.
In addition to the transplants, many new elderberries and
other species were planted at this site. The number of trees planted was
based on a formula set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
With the transplanting and planting of new trees, it attracted
the ever-present pocket gopher. Many of the new plants were killed as
a result of the gophers eating the tree roots.
Barn owls prey on rodents. If they are nesting nearby, a
barn owl can significantly reduce the pocket gopher population.
An orchard grower once observed a nesting barn owl catching
16 mice, three pocket gophers, one rat, and one squirrel in a period of
25 minutes to feed its young in an artificial nesting box. This method
of rodent control seemed to be the perfect solution to natural predation.
The newly-installed owl boxes have a smaller hole than the
boxes installed in 2003. It is believed that the smaller 3¾-inch-by-4-inch
oval hole will prevent the great-horned owl, the main predator of the
barn owl, from entering the box. The older boxes had a six-inch hole.
Moreover, the newer boxes have the hole elevated toward the
top of the box which is supposed to deter predators such as raccoons from
reaching in. A routed climbing ladder is installed so the young owls can
climb to the hole when it is time to leave the nest.
Bruce Norton, field manager for Sunsweet Corporation, recruited
a shop class from the Central Valley to build the nest boxes. Bruce stated
that some boxes were installed in an orchard on a Wednesday and a barn
owl was occupying one of the boxes the following day.
The nesting season for barn owls in the Central California
region is from February to May, with peak hatches in April. It is too
early to tell if the new boxes will attract the barn owl. However, previous
testimony from growers in the valley has proven that it will be a success.
Submitted by Larry Baker, Lake Kaweah park ranger.
Local Chamber plans
and garden show
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce will host the first
ever Three Rivers Home and Country Living Expo on Saturday, March 15,
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Three Rivers Memorial Building. More than
25 local business vendors will be on hand to discuss a variety of home
and garden options with attendees. In addition, a special guest lecture
series will run concurrently throughout the day.
From home construction, remodeling, interior design, and
home furnishing to gardening, landscaping, utilities, and financing, this
show will highlight the wide diversity of Three Rivers and area businesses
focused on the home.
“Over 25 percent
of the Chamber’s member businesses provide home and garden services
to Three Rivers and area residents,” said Johanna Kamansky, Chamber
president. “We want event attendees to realize that amazing talent,
products and services are right in their own backyard.”
The lecture series will begin at 8:30 a.m. Confirmed topics
include new building and home-related code changes for 2008, wireless
computer technology, and solar technology.
“We want to familiarize
homeowners with builders, designers, and others experienced with the special
challenges of living in the foothills,” said Linda Drouet, Chamber
event coordinator and owner of Drouet Design Build, a Three Rivers-based
company. “This event will provide attendees with the opportunity
to see new ideas and meet the businesses that provide services to their
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce’s mission
is to support business and community growth by developing economic programs
to strengthen and expand local business while promoting programs of a
civic, social, and cultural nature that increase the community's functional
and aesthetic values. For more information, call 561-3300.
3R artists to be honored
EACH YEAR SINCE 1951, Three Rivers School has thanked its
most precious assets — its volunteers, educators, and staff. At
a ceremony next Thursday, March 13 (see Kaweah Kalendar page for event
details), the 2008 honorees will be recognized. Sponsored by the Eagle
Booster Club, formed in 2004 when the PTA was dissolved, the event will
spotlight the local artists who have donated their time and energy to
provide art education to TRUS students as well as complete collaborative
projects that beautify the campus and instill school pride.
Honorees are: Wendy McKellar,
Jerry and Nancy Jonnum, Andrew and Leslie Duncan, Dayann Graber, and Nadi
25-year 3R resident,
1943 ~ 2008
Longtime Three Rivers resident, Yugadharma “Bob”
Carreras, died in the early morning hours of Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008,
at his home. He was 64.
According to family members, he left this Earth how he wanted
— surrounded by family and listening to chanting.
“It was actually
a beautiful experience,” said his wife, Judy Carreras. She explained
how it reminded her of a birth — where you wait and wait, helping
the person to relax and focus on the task at hand. And in the end, there
Bob was a fixture in Three Rivers. In a town filled with
unique characters, his memorable personality stood out.
He always had an opinion to give, usually a friendly word
to say, and to those lucky ones, an interesting story to share.
“He talked to everyone,”
Judy said. “Sometimes he would reveal intimate family details, but
he didn’t care. He put up no fronts about who he was.”
Born Robert Leonard Carreras on May 18, 1943, in Brooklyn,
N.Y., Bob moved to Long Island at 13. As a young adult, he made his way
west, living in New Mexico as well as California.
While living in Southern California, he met the two most
influential people in his life — his future wife, Judy, and his
spiritual master A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Bob met his wife in Laguna Beach, and they married soon after
in 1972. They moved to New Mexico where they wasted no time in having
their first child, Crystal, later to be known as Yasoda.
While near Santa Fe, they were introduced to the Hare Krishna
movement by Bob’s brother Janaka. In Krishna, they found direction,
and this newfound spiritual life led them to their guru, Prabhupada.
The founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
(ISKCON), Prabhupada initiated the Carreras couple, giving them their
spiritual names — Yugadharma and Srisa.
“When we first
saw Prabhupada, we both felt like we could follow this man anywhere,”
Judy explained. “We thought, ‘Yes, we could easily follow
this man’s instructions.’ He had that powerful of a persona.
After a nine-month stint living in Costa Rica, the couple
made their way to Laguna Beach, then Culver City. Both locations contain
Hare Krishna temples.
Along the way, their second child, Amrita, was born. Then
came their son, Robert, also known as Ananda, followed a few years later
by Michael (Syam).
Throughout, Bob traveled extensively. His main destination
was India; the town of Vrindavana in particular. Vrindavana is considered
a sacred place by Vaisnavas (Hare Krishna devotees).
According to Vedic scripture, it is the place where Krishna
experienced his pastimes. All in all, Bob visited India dozens of times.
In 1983, Bob and his family moved to Three Rivers. At that
time, a Vaisnava school for children was located at the end of Dinely
Bob always worked as a salesman. Throughout his life, he
sold a variety of merchandise — jewelry, paintings, cars, pagers
and cell phones. During his later years, he co-owned Heart’s Desire,
a Three Rivers gift shop, along with Judy and eldest daughter Crystal.
“There was nothing
he couldn’t sell,” Judy said. “He even was a salesman
for Krishna. Often people would come into the store and he would be telling
complete strangers stories from Vedic texts.”
More than 100 people, both Hare Krishna friends and Three
Rivers folks, turned out on Sunday, Feb. 17, to celebrate Bob’s
life. They all ate a large vegetarian feast, chanted, told stories, and
shared memories of his life.
Bob is survived by his wife of 36 years, Srisa Carreras;
his grown children, Yasoda Perry, Amrita Sullivan, and Ananda and Syam
Carreras; two grandchildren, Anuradha and Manjari Perry; two unborn children;
his brother, Janaka; sons-in-law David Perry and Dan Sullivan; and daughter-in-law