July-August 2004 Roadrunner Newsletter, Kern-Kaweah Sierrra Club
The Roadrunner Bimonthly Publication of the Kern-Kaweah Chapter of the Sierra Club — July/August 2004 REGISTER, REGISTER, REGISTER to vote Consider absentee ballots to assure your voice is heard! All elections are important, but this election of 2004 is VERY important. Please be sure that you areready to exercise your vote, and then vote when the time comes. First. are you registered? are you sure you are registered? Call your county’s election office to doublecheck if you have some feeling you may not be. (The telephone numbers are below.) Second. If you are not registered, call 1.800.345.VOTE, and a state registration form will be mailed toyou. You also can register online. Just write in the words Voter Registration plus your County’s name, andyou will be on your way. Also, you may well be able to find forms at the post office, your local library andthe DMV. Fill in the registration form and return as soon as possible. You should receive a notice by mail that youare registered to vote. If you do not receive the notice within three weeks of mailing, call your CountyElections office, and ask if you are registered. In California, the deadline to register to vote for an election is 15 days before each local and statewideelection day, so please register early! Third. Absentee Ballots—they are wonderful to use. After you have registered you can call your electionoffice and request RIGHT NOW that you want to receive an absentee ballot. They will keep your name andsend the ballot out when it is in its final form, with all candidates’ names, initiatives, etc. Why use the absentee ballot? If you vote by absentee ballot there is no chance of losing your votebecause an unexpected emergency occurred or an opportunity to travel to Antarctica came up to keep youfrom going to the polls. And just think—no standing in line waiting to vote. Fourth. When your ballot arrives, fill it out as soon as possible. Be sure to follow all directionscarefully, including signing it! Then just pop it in the mail. It must be received on or before election day inorder to have your vote counted. After that, all you have to do is sit back and relax and listen to the returnson election night, knowing that you have done your part. Fifth. If you are not using an absentee ballot, be sure to check as to the location of your polling place,and then be sure to VOTE.Here are the numbers of your county election departments:Kern Cty Elections Office - 1115 Truxtun - Bakersfield, CA 93301 - 661.868.3590 - 661.868.3768 Fax Hours 8:00 am - 5:00 pm E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.co.kern.ca.us/elections/Kings Cty Clerk-Recorder - Government Center -1400 West Lacey Boulevard - Hanford, CA 93230 559.582.3211 EXT. 4401 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.countyofkings.comTulare County Registrar of Voters - 221 South Mooney Blvd., Suite G28 - Visalia, CA 93291-4596 559.733.6275 - Fax 559.737.4498 - Web: http://www.tularecoauditor.org/electionsKaweah Group Sponsors Wildflower Hike at SCICON Diane JetterThe following is a description of a Sierra Club hike at SCICON led by Rick Mitchell Saturday morning at 9:00, April 24th.Members of the Sierra Club, along with visitors from the Central Coast, hiked along one of the many inviting trails at thescience camp that is familiar to many 6th graders in the Tulare County area. The Sierra Club, as one of its nature outings,had invited Rick to lead their walk. We couldnt have picked a more perfect morning for a wildflower hunt with SCICONdirector, Rick Mitchell. There were wildflowers everywhere! The hike began in a field of tallyellow and blue beauties which were immediately identified by Rick as members of the lily
2 THE ROADRUNNERfamily, wild hyacinth (blue dicks), yellow star of Bethlehem (also pretty face) and ithurielspears, probably named for mythical guardian angels. As we moved along the trail, we next sawtwo members of the forget-me-not family: fiddleneck and popcorn flowers. Every one of oursenses was alerted as we walked—we felt a pleasant and cool breeze, the morning light filteredthrough the trees, Bear Creek rippled along the path, and the scent of wild roses occasionallywafted through the air. You know those uncomfortable corkscrews that get in your socks and drive you crazy?They come from a surprisingly sweet little plant growing low to the ground called fillaree, orstork’s bill. As we passed a large patch of non-native blackberry bushes, we came to severalfields of yellow medea, mixed with the incredibly interesting fairy lanterns, also from the lilyfamily, that seem to prefer shaded areas and are able to self-pollinate. Also very much inabundance were the blue fiesta flower, with sticky leaves that several of us chose to wear asnatural ornaments on our t-shirts. We learned that native bumblebees like to visit and pollinate the Chinese lanterns/houses/pagodas (snapdragon family)—attracted mysteriously by their color and light. A black lizardslithered up an oak tree as we passed. Soon we crossed the Soda Springs Bridge, which hadbeen washed away and sturdily rebuilt by four members of the Navy Seabees about four yearsago. Nestled under and behind grasses and shrubs were occasional Indian pinks, Rick pointedout a large packrat nest in one of the trees, A little farther on, we saw the delicate lace pod(mustard family). As we rounded a corner, we noticed the horns of a small cow. We hesitated amoment, until Rick assured us it was “friendly.” When it wandered off, we decided it musthave been meditating on the last blossom of a wild rose that overlooked the river. An inter-esting pink flower was identified as the twining snake lily, climbing its way up a rosebud tree. Rick led us to a high spot where we had a bird’s eye view of two very large buckeye trees,just ready to burst into bloom. At Dead Man’s Falls, we sat under a tree and were entertainedby Rick’s stories of cows and coyotes who slipped on the slick, angled granite face and fell totheir gruesome deaths below. Patches of fur caught on the barbed wire fence at the top andbleached bones on the lower ground made his stories pretty convincing. Two ravens, irritatedby our presence, flew from their nest just above our heads and were close enough that wecould hear the flapping of their wings. As we neared the end of the hike, we admired a beautiful wildflower display case that hadbeen designed and built by a SCICON staff member, and we were able to test our memories bytrying to identify the flowers that were picked and tagged so far this spring. All of us agreedthat this morning had been a special gift, not only for our own experience, but in knowing thatchildren throughout the County have the good fortune to be able to learn about the intricaciesof nature in a lovely and peaceful setting such as this. This sign was displayed at the visitor’s center, a perfectly apt way to summarize the day: Whenever we try to pick anything out by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. John Muir
THE ROADRUNNER 3From the Chair Here are a few questions for you: 1. How many Sierra Club members voted in the last National election? 2. How did the Kern-Kaweah Chapter do in the last Sierra Club election? 3. How many legal challenges has Kern-Kaweah attempted since April of 2003? 4. Why do you need to participate in our local “house parties?” 5. Did they cut and remove the dying non-Sequoia trees in The Trail of 100 Giants? Answer no. 1. This was a surprise to me when I first heard it. Only 60% of all 700,000members voted in 2000. We hope to change that figure in November 2004. You can register“on-line” or pick up a form at the Post Office. Perhaps we all need to help folks understand theresponsibility of voting. Answer no. 2. The highest Chapter participation in the past National Sierra Club was ourown K-K, another fact that surprised me. We may be small, one of the 10 smallest chapters inthe nation, but we are involved. Thanks to all of you who participated. Answer no. 3. Since April, 2003 Gordon Nipp has led us in appeals of land use decisions inBakersfield City areas. There are eight that were settled out of court and one more in the appealprocess. The result is mitigation money for air clean-up. Answer no. 4. What I refer to as “house parties” are informal gatherings in members’ homesduring the summer. This is part of “Engaging Our Members,” and we will invite some of youwho usually don’t come out for our activities to visit in a home in your neighborhood. Some of you are familiar with the book “Bowling Alone.” In the Sierra Club we are tryingto get back to the fast fading art of communication and will be discussing environmental topicsimportant to us all. Answer no. 5. No, the dead trees are still there. Our Sequoia activists have all made a to-doabout the need to leave snags and logs on the forest floor. The health of many creaturesdepends on downed wood, and that affects the food chain and water run-off. Nature does notclean up the forest and we don’t want to do that either. On another note, I just returned from the last National Sierra Club Board meeting in May andhave picked up lots of tidbits about the Club. Also, Ara Marderosian and I attended theCalifornia Convention this week. At the Convention we elect a board that directs our statelobbying office in Sacramento. We learned lots of interesting data on bills moving through tothe Governor. Please do check your Roadrunner for upcoming trips for your summer enjoy-ment and join us at our Group meetings in your community. Lorraine Unger Visalia: UNNECESSARY SPRAWL CONTINUES TO SPREAD. ANTIDOTE? CONTINUED ACTION BY ALERT CITIZENS. It has always been a challenge, particularly in California. There is no real state plan fordevelopment; counties and cities set up plans and then exceptions to the rules seem to be therule. Some say we must be flexible, but with what appears to be the perpetual bow to in-dividual property owners’ “rights,” the common interests are often blown away in the winds. Now Visalia is having its turn with autos. A developer wants to build a 72-acre auto mall onRte 99 on land that is zoned for agriculture. The city has a statement concerning open spaceand recreation that supposedly included this land and would not have allowed this develop-ment. A judge first upheld this. Now the judge has changed his mind, based on new argumentsconcerning map updates and need to update the general plan, thus allowing the developmentto go forward. And here is where watchdog groups come into play. Thank goodness for them. A group inVisalia, which includes several Sierra Club members, has decided to raise the money to appealthis decision to a district court and work for a second time to collect signatures to put the
4 THE ROADRUNNERquestion on the ballot. It sometimes seems endless. One wearies in attempting to protect resources that should beheld inviolate in terms of protecting and enhancing the quality of life for all. To award aprospective auto mall permission to build outside the already designated zoning for auto salesseems decidedly unfair to the auto dealers who have followed the rules. This certainly cannotbe considered a fair decision. We can’t all be out in front in every battlefield, but there are things everyone can do besidesgiving moral support. Talking to friends to sign petitions, writing letters to the newspaper, andyes, giving a dollar or more when possible to help those who find no alternative except to go tocourt. Remember that fees to file appeals can be $500 to $1000 or more. You can call Richard Garcia for further information, 559.592.9865More power to you, Mineral King Group members who are taking it upon yourselves to goever further to protect your community from further—you know the word—SPRAWL. Three Rivers Student Wins Sierra Club Scholarship The Sierra Club presents to 10 deserving high school graduates a Sierra Nevada Scholarshipeach year, a sum of $1,000 per year for four years. The scholarships are awarded to studentswho live in communities of no more than 10,000 population in the Sierra Nevada, includingstudents who commute to high schools in the Central Valley. This year, our Chapter has a recipient from Three Rivers, Woodlake High School studentDena Marie Read. The Scholarship was personally presented to Dena on May 24, 2004 duringthe Woodlake High School Awards and Scholarship Night by Kern-Kaweah Chapter volunteerHarold Wood. The scholarship certificate was accompanied by a t-shirt and gift membership inthe Sierra Club donated by Joe and Bugs Fontaine. The goal of the Sierra Club in offering these scholarships is to stimulate the thinking ofyoung people who will carry the responsibility for the future of their communities. Thescholarship encourages them to consider how to maintain sustainable and stable economies forthe small towns and rural areas of the Sierra Nevada, identifying environmental problems andsuggesting possible solutions. This year’s scholarship recipient submitted a winning essay on Air Quality in Three Rivers.In her essay, Dena remarked on the irony of a small country town in the foothills of theSequoia/ Kings Canyon National Park having some of the worst air quality in the CentralValley. She identified a variety of causes, including automobile emissions, agricultural spraying,prescribed burning, and others. She noted, “The main side effect of the bad air quality is that alarge percentage of people have asthma. There are many children and adults living in ThreeRivers that have asthma and carry an inhaler around with them; even the people who do nothave asthma suffer from the air condition.” Dena observed that even with the bad condition of the air, “gas guzzling” cars are beingcontinually produced. Dena asked, “Why aren‘t there more environmentally friendly carsbeing produced? Some of the technology is here, but it is not being used as it could be. Whydon’t we use the technology that we have and develop new and better technology to produce‘kinder cars?’ Changing tax policies to favor environmentally kind cars instead of ‘gasguzzlers’ should also be used to encourage the ownership of these cars.” We can only hope that our legislators and air quality officials will sit up and take notice thatthis new generation will demand the environmental improvements that Dena wrote about sowell!To learn more about scholarship program, see the Sierra Nevada Scholarship website.
THE ROADRUNNER 5 Sauntering thru SummerEveryone is welcome, Sierra Club members and non-members, to join in any of the outdoor activities. Requirements: Youmust be in condition for type of hike, equipped appropriately for the activity, and prepared to sign a Sierra Club release fromliability. You must be willing to follow leader’s directions. Unprepared for the prospective hike? It will be a no-go for you.Please let the leader know ahead of time that you are intending to participate. Customary appropriate equipment includes goodhiking shoes, plenty of water, snack, sunglasses, sun tan lotion, layered clothing. Long pants recommended. It is always wiseto call before coming to a listed activitySUNDAY STROLLS. (Pine Mountain Club) Every Sunday June through August. Meet 8 AMat PMC tennis courts. VERY easy going. All in local area. 11 /2 hour in length. Call661.242.0432 for more info.TUESDAY CONDITIONING HIKES. 7 PM 4–5 miles. Corners of Highways 178 & 184.Gordon 661.872.2432 or Larry 661. 873.8107 (KK Chapter)July 13 (tue) Thirst, a compelling documentary, will be shown on PBS “Point of View” July13th. “Thirst” tells the story of communities stretching from Stockton CA to Cochabamba,Bolivia to Rajasthan, India which are resisting corporate control of their water and waterservices in order to preserve access to clean water as a human right and public trust. Produced by independent filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman, “Thirst” featuresSierra Club member Dale Stocking speaking out and walking the talk in Stockton. It alsoshows activists from around the globe confronting the corporate water privatizers in Kyoto,Japan at the Third World Water Forum. Don’t sit home alone! Invite your friends and neighbors over for a house party to view“Thirst” with you. Contact Sierra Club’s Water Privatization Task Force 202.244.0561 forcopies of the Sierra Club’s discussion guide to the film and for Sierra Club brochures on bottledwater. To view the discussion guide on line and learn more about Sierra Club’s work on waterprivatization, go to www.sierraclub.org/cac/waterJuly 17 (sat) Candlelight West (.6 mi N of Meysan Lake, on ridge between S Fork, Lone PineCreek, and Meysan Creek; 12,220 ft elevation; gain 4350 ft; 9.5 mi RT) Higher point .2 mi SWof traditional Candlelight Peak offering great views of the S Fork, Lone Pine Creek route up MtWhitney and the LeConte, Mallory, and Irvine plateau S of Mt Whitney. There is a trail 3/4 ofthe way up past Meysan Lake (possible alternate objective), and easy Class 2 the rest of theway to the peak. This is a traditional summer workout to prepare for tougher seasonal trips. Notsteep, but a relentless gain to a worthwhile altitude and great lunchspot with exceptional view.Moderate/strenuous hike due to altitude gain. Meet Sat, July 17 at 7:00 AM at the RidgecrestCinema parking lot. Call Dennis Burge at 760.375.7967 or Jim Nichols at 760.375.8161 formore info. (Owens Pk Gp.)July 18 (sun) Southern Section of CNRCC (California Nevada Regional ConservationCommittee). 9 AM Sierra Club Office, 3435 Wilshire Blvd. LA. All are welcome. Call Ives,909.624.5522 for further information.July 24 (sat) Peak to Peak Hike This is THE annual hike of the Condor Group that is veryspecial on everyone’s calendar. Walking from Mt. Pinos (nearly 9000 ft) to Cerro Noroeste (afew feet lower than Mt. Pinos) takes one over some of the most beautiful meadows andforested lands in the area. Even in this season of drought, there should be some lovely bloomsstill evident. Stops at a spring and at an overlook from Sawmill Mountain are often included inthis hike. The air is usually cool and clean, an extra treat to look forward to in midsummer. CallDale, 661.242.1076 or Ches 661. 242.0423 for more details and registration. (Condor Gp)Aug 2nd (sat) Lynne Plambeck, Chr of Santa Clarita Water Company, will talk about Water,California Style: Politics and Realities. Potluck, 6 PM, Program, 7 PM. Pine Mtn. Clubhouse(Condor Group)Aug 14 (sat) Golden Trout Lake. Altitude: 11,400 ft, 2200 feet of gain. RT. about five miles.Beautiful flowers, good views of Mt. Gould. 3 hours in length. Drive to trailhead 2 hrs. Should
6 THE ROADRUNNERbe back to Ridgecrest before dark. 7:30 AM at the Ridgecrest Cinema parking lot. Call DennisBurge at 760.375.7967 or Jim Nichols at 760.375.8161 for more info. (Owens Peak Gp)Aug 21 (sat) To escape the Valley heat, this August outing will be a easy 4 mile coastal Hike, atMontaña De Oro State Park near Morro Bay. Bring lunch and water. To attend, call: SharonMeckenstock 559.732.8458 on or before August 19. (Mineral King Gp)Aug 23 (mon) Planning meeting for Election Activities. 7 PM At the Loves in Bakersfield. Call661.589.6245 (Kern Kaweah Chapter)Aug 28 (sat) Tecuya Timber Hike. This hike will take us up on top of the San Emigdio Rangewhich lies just south of the Central Valley. Great views, easy hike. Call Dale, 661.242.1076 orChes, 661.242.0423. (Condor Gp)Looking Far Ahead. The Fall meeting of the California Nevada Regional Conservation Com-mittee at San Luis Obispo will take place on October 2nd & 3rd, Please mark your calendarsnow. (Owens Peak Gp) NOTES FROM AROUND THE CHAPTERThe Buena Vista Group had a potluck meeting May 16 at the home of Glenn and Joann Shell-cross, and plans were made to have another potluck at Yocuts Park in late September or earlyOctober, depending on weather. We have reinstated our adopt-a-highway program and will bescheduling our highway clean-ups every other month. Please give us ideas as to indigenousplants, preferably flowering plants, that might grow along this arid stretch of highway. As longas we are out there, maybe we could find a place for plants here and thereSequoia Task Force reported that the plan for Sequoia Monument was appealed. There hasbeen no response at this writing. If the response is negative, the Sequoia Task Force and othersare planning to take the ruling to court.Condor Group has been dealing with the Kern County General Plan, a water extraction projectproposed for Gorman Hills, and the Notice of Preparation for Centennial. Centennial is thehousing project proposed for the south side of the Tejon Ranch on HWY 138. 23,000 homesare proposed for this site.Lobby Day—it is not too late to sign up!Sierra Club California will be holding another Lobby Day on August 9th with a training onAugust 8th. If you are interested in attending, contact: Marianne Batchelder at: email@example.com or Pat Veesart at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is filling up, so let usknow soon if you are interested. We are especially interested in having folks from the LosAngeles area and the San Joaquin Valley.Celebrate the Sierra Club. LECONTE MEMORIAL LODGE CENTENNIALPlease join us in Yosemite National Park for our Centennial Celebration, as we celebrate thephysical and spiritual home of the Sierra Club in Yosemite National Park, the LeConteMemorial Lodge. Just put the words LeConte Memorial Lodge in your search engine and youwill find the site. There you will find not only the information about the Fourth of Julycelebration but programs for the remaining summer period, the history of the site, and more. Ifyou visit Yosemite, you will surely want to include a visit to the Lodge.Sierra Club Election Figures: Total returns by Internet = 45,559. Total returns by mail =126,016. Total returns by fax = 41. Total returns = 171,616. Total ballots mailed = 757,058.returned = 22.67% voting participation. The strong trend downward in percentage of ourmembers who vote was dramatically reversed this election cycle. The figure this year was22.67%; 2003 was 8.71%, 2002 was 9.51%. Our election vendor thinks this election mighthave been the biggest public interest election ever. There were two and one-half times as manyvotes as there were last year. Help to get this kind of vote in November.
THE ROADRUNNER 7 Midgebuzzings It was haircut day. I sat, as usual, in the padded swivel chair and chatted with the ladywielding the scissors, exchanging the pleasantries that enliven an otherwise hum drum routine.She keeps the radio on country music, and “Harper Valley PTA” was playing just loud enoughfor me to follow it, which was no trouble since both our brains were only modestly employedby the conversation. A slight motion caught my eye. I looked down at the floor, and there, moving laboriously inour direction, was a beetle. He seemed to be swimming more than walking because he could getvery little traction on the glazed tile, but he was making progress, apparently under the illusionthat this was the way out. What I felt in that instant was familiar. “Kathy,” I said, “don’t move your foot. There’s abeetle, and I’m going to take him outside.” The snipping stopped abruptly. I got out of thechair, picked up the beetle and walked out with him. He wrapped his legs around my finger inthe same way a June bug does, with multiple painless barbs ensuring security. “Don’t worry,little guy,” I said. “I’m going to put you down where you can get a purchase and go on withyour life.” I returned and the haircut proceeded. Kathy is a sensible person and doesn’t ruffleeasily. That’s why I like her so much, besides the fact that she’s a very good barber. That beetle, struggling in what could have been a hopeless environment, has been on mymind all week, not because of his situation, of which I’ll refrain from making a metaphor, butbecause of my response. What I felt was a kind of visceral sympathy, almost as if, for an instant,I had ceased to be myself and had become the beetle. Many times in my life something similar has happened. One of the most outstandingoccurred in a cafeteria-style restaurant years ago where a friend and I had gone for supper.Sitting at a nearby table were two men, one well dressed and the other old and obviously poor.The shabby man was almost toothless, but he ate his mashed potatoes and meatloaf with suchastonishing pleasure that I was hard put not to stare. When he had finished he looked up withshining eyes at his kindly companion and said, “Now that’s what I call a real meal!” Onceagain, I seemed to become that toothless and probably homeless man. The memory is bothpainful and beautiful. Through him I felt myself connected with all humanity, suffering andredeemed. One of the earliest of these experiences happened when I was about six and my brother wasgoing on ten. My mother had taken us to Los Angeles for our annual Christmas shopping tripat Sears and Roebuck. While Mother shopped we wandered through the Christmas crowd,heady with the promises of the season. Suddenly a little boy, clutching candy in both hands,and with his cheeks bulging, came rushing up to us. “Santa Claus will give you free candy!”he said. What a generous impulse that was, and I started to respond in kind. But my brother,always decorous, even as a child, said something curt about talking with one’s mouth full. I feltthe insult mine, as if I had become the rejected boy. What is the boundary that separates one being from another? Is there really such a boundaryat all? About that I will write next time. Ann WilliamsThis seems to be the year of plans. Kern Kaweah Chapter has been dealing with the SequoiaMonument Management Plan and the General Plan for Kern County. Now coming up is a newtwenty-year management plan for Los Padres National Forest and the three other southernCalifornia National Forests. Responses to this plan must be in by August 11th. Not quite in ourterritory but of great interest to many is the Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parksproposed plan. Issued May 7, 90 days is allowed for comments. The latter two plans can befound on the web, and comments may be submitted via email.
8 THEROADRUNNERTime-Saving InformationContact names, addresses of policy makersPresident: White House Comment Line: 202.456.1111George W. Bush’s email - email@example.comAddress - 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20500Senator Barbara Boxer e m a i l : firstname.lastname@example.org: 202.224.3553 fax: 202.956.6701 mail US Senate112 Hart Senate Office Building , Washington D.C. 20510Senator Dianne Feinstein email: email@example.com phone 202.224.3841 fax 202.228.3954 mail US Senate331 Hart Senate Office Building Washington D.C. 20510For House Reps US Capitol Switchboard - 202.224.3121.California government numbers:Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, phone: 916.445.2841 email:firstname.lastname@example.org fax: 916.445.4633 mail State ofCalifornia, State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814Calif.Legislative Switchboard (receptionist will help you IDyour Senator and Assembly member if you are unsure):916.322.9900. Kern Kaweah Ex Com:(Usually meets at the Beale Library,Bakersfield, once a month: call Chair forspecific information.)Lorraine Unger, Chair, 661.323.5569;Harry Love, Vice-chair;Ara Maderosian, Secretary.Marisa Albridge, Beverly Garcia, RichardGarcia, Mary Ann Lockhart, Gordon Nipp,Arthur Unger. (Janet Wood, Treas.)Buena Vista Grp: Glen Shellcross, Chair, 661.832.3382Condor Grp: Chester Arthur, Chair, 661.242.0423Kaweah Grp: Pam Clark, Chair, 559.781.0594Mineral King Grp: Harold Wood, Chair, 559.739.8527Owens Peak Grp: Dennis Burge, Chair,760.375. 7967 Roadrunner Contact: email@example.com Next deadline: August 5, 2004 For local alerts sign up with: firstname.lastname@example.orgYou can read the Roadrunner on the web;just go to the Sierra Club home page.