Tag Archives: Lake Kaweah




Taking the cows home
a week after weaning
snakes easily over the saddle
and down to the water
of collected dreams.

I remember yellow
Euclid trucks dumping
layers of native pasture
armored with rock
across the river in ’59,

flooding shoreline picnics
and ground squirrels targets
where the Wukchumne camped—
where Loren Fredricks
never learned to swim

afraid of the three-foot carp,
sun-dried, he had to ride upon
in a horse-drawn cart
up Dry Creek to Eshom
before he became a cowboy.

Snow stacked high
on the Kaweahs, we held
the water back when Visalia
was a town, spread the city out
with no water in the ground.

               Blond cowgirl
               on a palomino
               in the wild oats
               above black cows
               and Lake Kaweah—

taking them home
a week after weaning
snakes easily over the saddle
and down to the water
of our collected dreams.


Water, Water, Water


Greasy Cove, Lake Kaweah June 17, 2015

Greasy Cove, Lake Kaweah
June 17, 2015

Capacity: 185,000 acre feet
Irrigation water stored June 23, 2015: 50,905 acre feet
Kaweah River Flow, June 24, 2015: 546 cfs (cubic feet/second)


Roughly speaking, 25% of normal.


Weather Journal/2010-11

June 27, 2011

Greasy Cove, Lake Kaweah, 6.27.11

Lake Kaweah, behind Terminus Dam, has only 4-5 more feet to go to get to the reservoir’s high-water mark. The river peaked at about 5,600 cfs for an hour on June 16th, but for 24 hours, cumulatively, June 22nd recorded the highest flow amid four 100º days. Currently about 2,200 cfs inflow to Lake Kaweah, 2,100 cfs outflow. Dry Creek has dropped to 14 cfs, but a lot of water yet for this time of year.


Kaweah Brodiaea

Kaweah Brodiaea (Brodiaea insignis), Dry Creek, 5.8.2011

Prior to the mid-1980s, the Kaweah Brodiaea was thought to have been extinct. Larry Norris, who was conducting a Biological Assessment for the USACE surrounding the Lake Kaweah Enlargement Project, rediscovered it on the ranch. Thinking he was on USACE lands as first mapped during the initial construction phases of Terminus Dam in 1959, he contacted me to get easier access to the location so that he might assess the population of this rare wildflower, that he later determined to be 300,000 – 500,000 plants on ground we graze. Kaweah Brodiaea is now an Endangered Species, and since has been identified in the Kaweah River drainage upstream from Lake Kaweah in the vicinity of Three Rivers. The wildflower has been cussed and discussed profusely as an obstacle to any kind of development in the area.

The wildflower blooms around May 10th, a few days before the more common Elegant Brodiaea and Harvest Brodiaea, and is a paler purple, smaller than the elegans, with petals unlike a wine glass, but of helicopter blades instead. Though I’ve tried for years to photograph the Kaweah Brodiaea, this is my first sighting.*

Elegant Brodiaea (Brodiaea elegans), Dry Creek, 5.8.2011

The Brodiaeas are tough. The largest population of Kaweah Brodiaea in the world is thought to exist within our 300-acre flat that has been grazed for 150 years – and from where the imagery for one of my first cowboy poems was drawn.


It was dry in the fall of seventy-six
and the cows were calvin’ in the dust,
nothin’ to see but acres of chips,
a drought year when cowmen went bust.

Their hides were rough ‘n’ just cover’d bone
‘n’ ribs caught most of your eye,
spindly calves seemed to wander alone
as if lookin’ for a place to die.

Cows were bringin’ two-bits a pound,
a hundred bucks less than the spring,
and all you could do, was throw hay on the ground,
and pray to God it would rain.

Their toes would clack like castanets
in the cloud that’d boil ’round your truck,
the bawlin’ skeletons and weak silhouettes
would bring tears to the drought of good luck.

Reckon Ma Nature’s showed me who’s boss,
as she’ll do some time and again,
but she’s never caused me half of the loss
that politicians create with a pen.

*        *        *        *        *        *

* May 16, 2011 – I revisited the Kaweah Brodiaea to discover that they are no longer in bloom. The Elegans are just getting started. With less than 10 days of bloom, no wonder I had so much difficulty finding them.