Writing the Three Rivers story: Closing out 2020

Writing the Three Rivers
Three Rivers. August 19, 2020.

What a year, huh? And I’ll assume you answered, “Hell yeah” or some other such colorful language, because 2020 deserves nothing less.

COVID-19. Civil rights uprisings. Police brutality. A contentious presidential election. And, locally, the cherry on top of this stunningly unsavory sundae was the SQF Complex fire and its residual evacuation statuses, ash storms, apocalyptic smoke-filled skies, and closures of local businesses, the park, and other areas that defined an already challenging summer. Writing the Three Rivers

This past year was unprecedented in Three Rivers. Public lands closures. School closures. Small business closures. Longer-than-ever-before lines at the local food pantry. And to mask or not to mask as the underlying, and sometimes public, debate, science be damned. Writing the Three Rivers

This depressing list doesn’t even include the climate crisis, which could be the final test for humanity. August, September, and October all broke heat records as the hottest months ever known. As a nation, we’ve proved we can’t even fight a pandemic, let alone work together on behalf of the entire planet.

My sadness is profound for the state of the world, inside the pandemic phenomenon and out. The division between us is deep and wide and fractured.Writing the Three Rivers

I never saw it coming but the summer wildfires motivated me to write again.

But back to our little bubble… Currently in Sequoia National Park, there is no food available anywhere, no ski or snowshoe rentals, campgrounds are closed, and so is the lodging. Wuksachi Lodge had been hoping to reopen in December but has now pushed the opening date back to February 12, 2021. Kings Canyon lodging hopes to open April 2, 2021; Grant Grove Market is in operation.

There are some little bright spots amid the bad news of 2020. I won’t bore you here with mine except for this tidbit. For over a year since I was released from the shackles of The Kaweah Commonwealth print newspaper, I had no interest, no desire to write. The passion was gone. I have always loved writing, but I was traumatized from 26 years of relentless weekly deadlines. Writing the Three Rivers

I never saw it coming but the summer wildfires motivated me to put pen to paper again or, more truthfully, fingers to keyboard. This was exactly why we took the news online, to provide up-to-date reporting when the community needs it most. I was glued to all things fire and dedicated to informing Three Rivers as to what was happening. If we had still been publishing a weekly print newspaper, we would have been worthless in getting the latest information out to people. To reiterate, THIS WAS EXACTLY WHY WE TOOK THE NEWS ONLINE!

From August 20 to November 12, I wrote or prepared/posted 53 articles about the local fires; John wrote several more. From the first, “Lightning causes several small fires in Southern Sierra,” to the last, “Castle Fire settles in for a long winter’s nap,” I followed the Castle Fire and others from the first spark to full-out conflagration to dousing by the first snow of the season on November 8. I enjoyed having the purpose and responsibility of letting readers know the status of the fire(s) and ensuring all questions were answered and information disseminated. Writing the Three Rivers

As noted above, I wasn’t as prolific in my writing as in the previous quarter century, but here are a few other articles I enjoyed creating and sharing in 2020:

1. Bears

I am beyond dedicated to coexisting with bears and other wildlife in Three Rivers. It’s up to the humans, however, to create this happy partnership so continuing education will be ongoing.

Bears in the news

How to coexist in bear habitat

What the bear experts say


2. COVID-19

Duh. Scroll back through the archives. There are dozens and dozens of coronavirus articles but the most clicked on involved the openings and closings of the local national parks.


3. Water

The annual blaring of the megaphone about the dangers lurking in the Kaweah River. Because people die in the river nearly every year, it needs to be said over and over again.


4. History

The history of why things are called what they’re called in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This series coincided with the removal of Confederate monuments that began in earnest with the outcry following the murder by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis.




5. Art

Paying tribute to the South Fork’s Mount Dennison as the Castle Fire crested the summit and began burning toward the Kaweah watershed.


6. Destruction

Dillonwood destroyed. The giant sequoia grove decimated, historic structures up in flames.


7. COVID Chronicles

This is a favorite feature of 2020, the brainchild of award-winning photographer Terry Pratt of Three Rivers. What an incredible catalogue of Three Rivers during the 2020 pandemic. And a generous gift to the community.

LIFE UNDER LOCKDOWN: Photographer documents Three Rivers during COVID-19 pandemic

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