GBU Mountain News XLVII February 15, 2014 .pdf

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GBU Mountain News

GBU Mountain News

February 15 - XLVII

independent - unbiased – professional
February 15, 2014 - XLVII

With the Drought
come the Fires!
By Gunnar J Kuepper

California is experiencing its worst drought since recordkeeping began in the mid 19th century. The lack of water
has devastating consequences for the vegetation, grass,

scrubs, and trees alike. Usually around this time in the
year, in mid-February, the hills are covered with lush
green grass, water is running along the streams, and there


GBU Mountain News
February 15 - XLVII

used to be a lot of moisture in the soil. Instead of green
grass, the land is brown with trees and other vegetation
continuously drying out. Dead or dry plants equal highly
flammable fuel.
Wild Fires are a natural phenomenon and sweep through
grasslands and forests on a regular basis, clearing out
debris and dead foliage, revitalizing vegetation and soil.
But the frequency and the magnitudes of those fires are
accelerating; in the 1980s, wildfires burned an average of
2.98 million acres every year. Between 2003 and 2012,
an average of 7.26 million acres burned per year.
Scientists state that parts of the West are experiencing the
driest 15-year period in 1,200 years. Take Humboldt
County in Northern California for example. With an
average of more than 100 inches of rain the County is
one of the wettest places in California. In comparison,
the average annual precipitation in Kern County is 11.8
inches, in California it is 23 inches, and throughout the
U.S. it comes to 38.7 inches. .Nevertheless, in January of
2014, a forest fire in Humboldt County, the so called Red
Fire, burned nearly 350 acres.
Subsequently, fire season in Kern County will not start as
usual in May, according to Fire Chief Brian Marshall,
fire-season is now all year around. Particularly in the
Frazier Mountain Communities the risk of major
wildland, or more correct forest fires, is not only extreme
but imminent. In recent years this region has seen
numerous wild fires starting near the Interstate 5, and
subsequently threatening homes and ranches in Digier
Canyon, next to Lebec Oaks Road, and along other
hillside areas. Only the quick and comprehensive
response of highly dedicated fire crews from Kern
County and the U.S. Forest Services, as well as from Los
Angeles County Fire Dept. to the south, saved people’s
homes and livelihoods.
On May 15, 2013 the Grand Fire started next to Frazier
Mountain Park Road, halfway between Lebec and Frazier
Park. The fast moving blaze required the immediate
evacuation of the Frazier Mountain High School (FMHS)
about two miles away and missed the school buildings
and facilities literally by a few yards. Nevertheless the
fire, moving south into unpopulated areas consumed
more than 4,500 acres of the beautiful forest covering
Frazier Mountain.
A few days later, on May 30, 2013, the Powerhouse Fire
started in the San Francisquito Canyon in the Western
Antelope Valley. The communities of Lake Hughes,
Elizabeth Lake, and Green Valley had to be evacuated.
The furious blaze, driven by strong winds generated by
the fire itself, rushed with a devastating power

unstoppable through the canyons and hillsides. Within
days 30,000 acres and about 50 structures including at
least 24 homes were burned to the ground.

In the midst of the rainy season, in February of 2014, we
have not seen enough rain or snow to allow for a strong
and health forest. The probability of devastating forest
fires along the Frazier Mountain Communities, including
the isolated hamlet of Pine Mountain Club, has increased
multiple times. At greatest risk, aside from utility lines
and other infrastructure are those homes located on steep
slopes in narrow canyons and surrounded by large trees.

Proper brush clearance made all the difference for this
beautiful home on top of a hill near Lake Hughes during
the 2013 Powerhouse Fire

Those “at risk” conditions apply to some areas in Lebec,
Frazier Park, and Lake of the Woods, but primarily to
Pine Mountain Club, located 14 miles west of Frazier
Park. About 2,500 people live in this private community
ranging in elevation from 4,900 to 6,500 feet. Hundreds
of houses are situated along more or less steep slopes or
on top of hills. Those homes, for example on St Bernard


GBU Mountain News
February 15 - XLVII

Drive or Nadelhorn, enjoy magnificent views, but are an
open invitation for any uphill moving forest fire.

Grand Fire approaching the FMHS on May 15, 2013

Most of the houses in Pine Mountain Club (PMC) are
surrounded by vegetation, mainly large trees that provide
desired shade. All that foliage contains less moisture due
to the ongoing drought.
As seen in the 2013 Powerhouse Fire: once a fire in the
rugged terrains of Mount Pinos or the San Emigdio
Mountains has reached a certain size and ferocity, the
blaze will generate its own winds and will become
basically unstoppable. That particular stretch has been
identified as having significant potential for catastrophic
wildfire by Cal Fire and Kern County. The area has no
recorded fire history for the last 95 years.
The Kern County Wildland Fire Management Plan from
2009 describes the Frazier Mountain area as “sparsely
populated with the exceptions of the pockets created by

efforts, but the sheer volume of material has made for
slow progress.”
In addition, the only evacuation route for PMC residents
and area visitors is Mil Potrero Highway. This east-west
thoroughfare is a winding mountain road with two rather
narrow, but paved lanes. The road crawls along the
mountains and ridges and is fully exposed to brush and
trees. From PMC it will take seven miles to the east
before open and safe areas can be reached in Cuddy
Valley, and about 20 miles to the west before open space
is reached at Highway 166/33. If flames , or even thick
smoke, engulf the only way in or out, evacuation may
become next to impossible.
The crews from Kern County Fire Station 58 located in
PMC, as well as the fire engines from the Los Padres
National Forest are quick to respond once a fire has been
reported. Those firefighters have proven over and over
again their tremendous capabilities to contain a fire in its
early stages or at least keep the flames away from homes.
But when dry and dense vegetation, topography with
limited access, and weather conditions favor the build-up
of a large forest fire, there is not much even an army of
firefighters can do.

Conflagration with flames 80 ft. and higher were going on
for miles along Lake Hughes Road on June 1, 2013

Surrounded by dry vegetation, this house in a canyon near
Lebec may not make it through a major fire

Lebec, Frazier Park, Lake of the Woods, Pinon Pines,
and Pine Mountain Club.” In Pine Mountain Club “the
fuel loading is heavy predominantly live oak, sage, and
pine. Kern County Fire and Los Padre Forest personnel
and the Property Owners Association have made great

The Kern County Fire Department (KCFD) has already
changed their response plans and procedures. As of
January 30, 2014 the fire department response to any
vegetation fire is equal to the full Alarm Wildland
Response usually seen in the hot and dry Fire season.
Aside from local fire stations with engine crews of three
or four, Kern County Fire has two initial attack crews
with 10 personnel each and one interagency hotshot crew
specialized for wild fires. The initial attack crews 81 &
82 are located at Camp 8 in Tehachapi. The Hotshot crew


GBU Mountain News
February 15 - XLVII

7 (Rio Bravo Hotshots) is located at Lake Isabella and is
the first and only nationally recognized local government
Interagency Hotshow Crew. They travel all over the U.S.
to assist other fire suppression agencies.
KCFD maintains six Bulldozers with a 12 ft. wide blade
to remove fuel from an advancing fire and to create fire
breaks. Those dozers can operate in extremely steep and
rugged terrain.
Despite highly dedicated and well equipped fire crews on
the ground and in the air, the current drought increases
the risk of catastrophic forest fires exponentially. Green
plants normally have a moisture content of 125% - 200%
or more. During a severe and prolonged drought, the
moisture content of live, woody plants can drop below
100%. This is very harmful to trees and it contributes to
extreme conditions for forest fires. Water-stressed trees

are also more vulnerable to insect and disease pests when
compared to a healthy tree. Stressed pine trees, for
example, may be attacked by pine bark beetles. These
insects fly to a weakened or stressed pine tree and attack
the wood. Once the needles on a pine tree turn red, the
tree is dead. Hardwood or broadleaved trees such as
oaks, maples, hickories, etc., will not be attacked by pine
bark beetles, but drought will take its severe toll on these
trees, too. Dead and dry wood is simply perfect fuel for
any wildland/forest fire.
Measurements of the moisture in the trees and brush in
parts of Kern County show that the vegetation at this
time of year has become as dry as it would normally be
seen during a hot summer month.
To be continued…


GBU Mountain News
February 15 - XLVII

Monthly TIPS for making your house defendable from

When preparing your home for the upcoming fire season here are some tips to be sure that your
house has the best possible chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s never too early to start and this
guide will help keep you and your property on task to help its survivability in the event of a

Remember to use mechanical equipment before 10:00 am when it is cooler and
more humid, this reduces the chance of a spark igniting a vegetation fire.

Make your home is properly marked with a visible address.
Develop a home fire safety plan in the event of a wildfire.
Make an emergency kit for evacuations.
Sign up for Ready-Kern.
Be sure to check out, in the education tab to
learn about defensible space.
6. Plan your evacuation route out of the area in the event of an emergency.

7. Harden your house by using fire resistant products & Cover all vents with metal screening to
prevent embers from getting in the attic.
8. Limb all trees 6’ from the ground.
9. Install spark arrestors around chimneys and vent pipes
10. Clear all rain gutters of dead leaves and pine needles.
11. Clear all over hanging limbs from around chimneys.


Remove all dead and down branches on the property.
Remove any excessive slash and brush piles on the property.
Clear 10ft around all LPG and Propane tanks.
Clear all dead leaves and pine needles from roof tops.
Plant fire resistant and water wise plants around your home.
If firewood is within 30ft of a structure be sure it is covered with a non-combustible housing.

18. Make sure your water tank is accessible to emergency responders.
19. Be sure to remove dead leaves and pine needles a minimum of 30ft. around structures.
20. cut all grass to 100’ of your structure.
21. Keep all vegetation around structures adequately watered.
Provided by the Kern County Fire Department


GBU Mountain News
February 15 - XLVII







With the drought come the fires by Gunnar J
Monthly Tips for making your house defendable
from Wildfires by Kern County Fire Department
News from the El Tejon Unified School District
Frazier Mountain High School
o FMHS Competes in Regional Science Bowl by
Tamara Trost
o Sports
El Tejon School
o Principal Rosalie Jimenez Report
Frazier Park School
o Frazier Park’s Finest for Feb 6, 2014 by Michelle
o Principal Keri St Jeor’s Report
Gorman School
All Things Local
o Frazier Mountain Boys & Girls Club receives a
$5,000 Award from Southern California Edison
o Fee-Free Presidents Day Weekend for Visitors to
Los Padres National Forest
o Upcoming Pine Mountain Amateuer Radio Club
Law Enforcement Corner
o Kern County Sheriff’s Office – Frazier Park
o Incidents Feb 3 - 10
o Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department
o California Highway Patrol
o Class: Age Well – Drive Smart
Animals Matter
Our Library
o Calendar
Incidents & Accidents in our Region
o Homicides, Fires, Arrests, Traffic Accidents
throughout Kern County
Arts – Music – Theatre
Business Affairs
o High School Seniors can win scholarships of
$2,000, $1,000 and $750
Nature, Science & Technology
o Frazier Park Weather Forecast
o 2013: the fourth warmest year on record since
Kern County
o Board of Supervisors Meetings





Upcoming Events
Safety & Disaster Preparedness
o Confirmed Flu Deaths in State Reach 243 by
California Department of Public Health
o Número de Muertes Confirmadas por Influenza
en el Estado Llega a 243 por Departamento de
Salud Pública de California
o Kern County Flu Updates by Kern County Public
o Six P’s for immediate evacuation
Where to Go – What to Do
Legislative Affairs
o Senator Fuller Statement on Central Valley
Visits by Governor and President
o USDA Launches Effort to Assist California
Producers Affected by Drought by US
Department of Agriculture (USDA)
o Salas Responds to President’s Visit to the
Central Valley
Where to Go – What to Do
o State’s Problems Caused By Disconnect
Between Voters And Elected Officials by
Assemblywoman Shannon Grove
Business Directory
Job Offers


GBU Mountain News is now on
and see what’s happening in the
Frazier Mountain Communities


GBU Mountain News
February 15 - XLVII

News from the
School District
The August 22, 2013 School Board meeting can be viewed at
The September 12, 2013 School Board meeting can be viewed at
The September 26, 2013 School Board meeting can be viewed at
The October 9, 2013 School Board meeting can be viewed at
The October 23, 2013 School Board meeting can be viewed at
The December 12, 2013 School Board meeting can be viewed at
The January 9, 2014 School Board meeting can be viewed at
Photos from thev 2013 FMHS Homecoming can be seen on Facebook at

School (FMHS)

Blue Team with Frazier Park School Principal and father
Keri St. Jeor and Science Coach Tamara Trost. Front Row
from Left to Right: Charity David, Katie Waterhouse,
Nick Egertson, Roby Worster and Taco St. Jeor


FMHS Competes in Regional Science
by Tamara Trost, Science Coach
On Saturday February 8, 2014, ten Frazier Mountain
High School students in two teams competed against
some of the biggest and brightest schools in Kern County
and almost made it into the finals. The Blue Team led by
Nick Egertson and his teammates Roby Worster, Taco St.
Jeor, Charity David and Katie Waterhouse missed
competing in the finals by a single point. The Red Team
led by William Schultz III and his teammates Sami Bever,
Laura Jennings, Lily Hallmark, and Kevin Chavis also
played extremely well, winning two matches and coming
extremely close in several others. Both teams sported the
amazing T-Shirt logos designed by Roby Worster and
Lilly Hallmark. With this experience in hand, we are
looking forward to competing again next year. It is
amazing that a school with only 300 students can
compete and win against schools with as many as 3000
students. This proves the students at Frazier Mountain
High School are an amazing and talented group. I was
proud to be their coach and have them succeed against
such fierce competition.

Red Team with Laura Jennings, Lilly Hallmark, Kevin
Chavis, William Schultz III, and Sami Bever (from left to

Impressions from the game on Friday (Feb 7) at FMHS


GBU Mountain News
February 15 - XLVII

El Tejon Middle School


Principal Rosalie Jimenez’ Report
On Thursday (Feb 6) Principal Rosalie Jimenez gave the
following report to the El Tejon Unified School District
Board of Trustees:
 Current enrollment – 224 students
 From the El Tejon School Single School Plan
o Page 3 – API Scores for the past 4 years
indicates the following…increase of 42 points in
2011, then a drop of 26 points in 2012, and most
recently in 2013 a drop of 98 points in our API.
It should be noted that 2013 data only reflects
7th and 8th grade. We have two sub-groups
(White and Socio-Economically Disadvantaged)
or SED; we are also seeing similar drops in
Academic Performance.
o When compared to LEA and State – Please
note…we can not be compared to other middle
schools, since we are the only middle school in
this district. El Tejon School had a greater drop
then LEA with a –37 point drop, and the state
had a –1 drop. This is a serious concern for ETS
staff and it has ignited a renewed focus on
finding out what we need to do to change this
downward trend.
o Page 4 – AYP English Language Arts (ELA)
Data indicates a loss in Proficient and Advanced
students in ELA from 53.6% to 34.4%, SED, a
sub-group from 53% to 28.9%. This is notably
lower than school wide results.
o Page 5 – AYP Mathematics Data indicates a loss
in Proficient and Advanced students from 48.1%
to 19.1%. Subgroups – White 19.7% P/A and
SED 11.3% P/A and Hispanic population,
although not significant for subgroup status,
scored 15.9% P/A. A 29% drop in P/A students
from 2012 to 2013 in Math. Math is of greatest
concern for ETS.
o Page 13 – Summary and Conclusions – AYP
results show increased percentage of students
(currently in 5th grade) 53% P/A in English
Language Arts (ELA) and 66% P/A in MATH.
Sixth grade appears to be stronger in ELA with
55% P/A. 7th and 8th grade students are
struggling in both ELA and MATH. AYP math
scores for all groups reflects a need for us to
increase our focus in math as a result of overall
lower math scores.



Page 13 – Item 7 – Data indicates a growing
Hispanic and English Language Learner
population. Hispanics make-up 33% tested and
ELL students’ make-up 11%.
Page 14 – In the conclusion section there are
several findings…including creating additional
learning opportunities to augment and fill
learning gaps for all students, and more
importantly for our SED population. Also noted
after examining content clusters data…. there is a
need to focus on WRITING SKILLS, and in
math GEOMETRY skills was an area of concern.
CHALLENGES NOTED – common core
implementation, assessment preparation, new
administration, and technologically disabled
(few, if non-existent access).

El Tejon Badgers Girls Basketball Team4
Info & photo provided by Michelle Penner
The El Tejon Badgers 5th and 6th Grade Girls Basketball
Team consisted of all players new to the sport. They
demonstrated tremendous heart throughout the season.
Their basketball skills and knowledge of the game
improved a great deal. Their perseverance and
willingness to learn throughout the season as they
competed against more skilled teams was not only
admirable, but a pleasure to experience.

Back Row, L to R: Katie Moser, Andrea Calderon, Sarah
Hon, Emily Hon, Gwen Smith
Front Row, L to R: Stori Haflich, Cesiley Shanklin, Emma
Abell, Angela Stegeman, Alex Penner


GBU Mountain News
February 15 - XLVII

Frazier Park Elementary School
Frazier Park’s Finest for Feb 6, 2014
Info & photo provided by Michelle Penner

Star Reading and Math will be very helpful in
guiding instruction as we begin using the new CCSS.
 Fire Drill – Our last fire drill was run on Wed.
 School Site Council (SSC) – Our SSC met on Wed.
Jan. 22 and it was voted on by those present to spend
the remainder on the money on getting two to three
classroom aides as a temporary position until the end
of the school year.
 Truancy Reminder – We are continuing with our
monthly truancy explanations going home. We are
also continuing with the weekly robocalls reminding
parents how much an absence costs the school along
with other information for the upcoming week.
Thank you, members of the School Board, for all
your support,

Valerie Martinez, Hailey Marshall, Vanessa Silva

Principal Keri St. Jeor's Report
On Thursday (Feb 6) Principal Keri St. Jeor gave the
following report to the El Tejon Unified School District
Board of Trustees:
 With the money the PTSO has been able to raise,
they are helping to fund field trips for our elementary
classes. They met with the Superintendent on Wed.
morning to discuss how they operate and assist the
 Frazier Park School’s Magic Mountain Reading
Program got underway during the month of January
under the direction of Mrs. Mary Hon. This is a
program where the students (K-6) and their parents
read for six hours or 360 minutes to receive a free
pass to any Six Flags Theme Park. Students can read
books, magazines, news papers or comic books and
need their parent(s) to sign off verifying they have
done the required reading and put in the required
minutes. All entries must be complete and returned to
their teacher by Feb. 28th.
 Character Counts Program – For the month of
February we are focusing on the character trait of
 The transition into the CCSS continues. We
participated in the third and final training provided
by KCSOS on February 4th. We are also working on
getting our teachers up to speed on using the updated
Renaissance Learning programs of Accelerated
Reader and Math and Star Reading and Math. The


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