Klamath Basin News, Friday, 5/29 – Farmers’ Tractor & Truck Convoy is Today; Shut Down & Fed Up Rally From Merrill Through Downtown KF to Midland

The latest news stories in the Klamath Basin and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM/102.5FM, BasinLife.com and The Herald & News.

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today   Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Calm wind becoming south 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon.  Overnight, mostly cloudy, with a low around 58.

Saturday   Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. High near 66.. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Sunday   A 20 percent chance of showers before 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 70.

Today’s Headlines

The “Shut down, Fed up” call to unity rally is today here in the Klamath Basin. The planned two-hour tractor convoy will start at 10:00 a.m. on May 29th in Merrill.

The route will wind its way through Klamath Project farmlands, proceed down Klamath Falls’ Main Street and end up in a local farmer’s field near Midland, Oregon. Organizer Bob Gasser says upwards of 400 vehicles are expected in the rally.  He emphasizes this is not one side against another so much as it is failed science that needs to be corrected.

The convoy is intended to draw attention to a multi-decade federal water management scheme that has increasingly moved water away from farming and ranching and towards the perceived needs of fish protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. For 20 years, federal agencies have been managing the Klamath River by placing priority on salmon and sucker fish populations protected by the ESA.

For 20 years, the agencies have used stored water that was intended for local irrigators to set artificially high lake levels (to stabilize sucker populations in Upper Klamath Lake) and send an increasingly large amount of water downstream (intended to flush disease out of the river). The 2020 irrigation season is the most challenging water year facing Klamath Project irrigation districts and contractors in at least two decades, if not ever.

Federal agency decisions threaten to bankrupt family farms, and send economic and psychological shockwaves throughout every local sector that has been dependent on agriculture for over a century.

With the Klamath Basin expected to see one of the driest years on record, struggles for salmon in southern Oregon are piling up this year.

The Yurok Tribe and commercial fishing groups tried to convince a federal court that an emergency motion to increase flow in the river was necessary for the fish species. Judge William Orrick of the U-S District Court for the Northern District of California denied that motion last week. Vice chairman of the Yurok Tribe Frankie Myers says ocean conditions already are bad for the salmon.

The Yurok Tribe and environmental groups say a heavier river flow is needed to flush out disease among juvenile salmon, which increases in May and June.

Orrick’s decision is a win for water users such as farmers in the region, who rely on irrigation from the Klamath, and the Klamath Tribes, who sided with the water users because the low levels in Upper Klamath Lake are threatening endangered sucker fish.

A coalition of environmental groups based in southern Oregon have filed a lawsuit challenging the federal commission that approved a natural gas pipeline that had not received several key permits from Oregon state agencies.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its blessing for the Jordan Cove LNG project in March. The proposal is for a 229-mile pipeline that would stretch from Malin to an export terminal in Coos Bay. Jordan Cove had not yet received several vital permits from Oregon state agencies prior to the FERC decision. On Wednesday, nearly a dozen environmental organizations filed the lawsuit against FERC at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. They are represented by attorneys from the Sierra Club and Western Environmental Law Center. According to the coalition, a group of Oregon landowners impacted by the project’s eminent domain proceedings also filed suit last week.

An enormous coronavirus study proposed by Oregon Health & Science University has hit an unexpected obstacle, delaying in-home testing by an undetermined amount of time while officials work to secure a federally approved vendor.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the initiative May 1 as “game changer” but four weeks later OHSU officials are still sorting out key details.

The project is supposed to collect daily information from up to 100,000 Oregonians who volunteer to monitor and report coronavirus symptoms. People with symptoms are supposed to be provided in-home testing kits. And officials planned to regularly provide tests to up to 10,000 Oregonians without symptoms to look for undetected spread. But officials on Thursday said they have not yet secured tests for the project because the intended manufacturer is not eligible under U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules announced in May, after OHSU announced the study.

A man with ties to both Lakeview and Coquille died in a crash along Highway 138E in Douglas County on Wednesday, according to Oregon State Police. Shortly before 4 p.m., OSP troopers and emergency crews responded to reports of a single-vehicle crash at milepost 54 near Tokatee Falls.

An investigation of the scene determined that 62-year-old Owen Byers had been driving a Ford F-250 pickup eastbound on Hwy 138E when he crossed into the westbound lane and onto the shoulder before smashing into a guardrail. Byers continued over the westbound shoulder, his truck rolling down an embankment before coming to rest on its side. Byers was pronounced dead at the scene. According to OSP, he was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. It’s unknown at this time why he veered into the other lane.

OSP says it was assisted at the scene by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon Department of Transportation and Kokua Towing.

Henley Middle School’s yearbook program has earned the Jostens National Yearbook Program of Excellence Award. Nationwide, 348 schools, including 75 middle schools, received the award this year.

Henley was the only school in Oregon to be recognized. The 25 students in Henley teacher Chadwick Mahanna’s yearbook class create the book’s annual theme, take photos, and design and produce the pages. The award recognizes not only the book, but the entire process — an ongoing successful student program, effective project management, and percentage of students who receive a yearbook.  This year, the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools a week before the yearbook’s final deadline. Spring sports and the school’s annual rewards day celebration were canceled.

Members of the Oregon Army National Guard along with members from the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon State University Extension program handed out approximately 135,000 face coverings at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem today to local farm managers and producers to be distributed to agriculture and migrant seasonal workers during the harvest season.  

Farm managers and agricultural producers received face coverings to distribute to their agricultural workers. More than 900,000 face coverings are scheduled to be delivered and istributed to agricultural and seasonal migrant workers throughout the state over the next few days. The distribution is a collaborative effort between the Oregon Department of Agriculture, OSU Extension, and the Oregon National Guard under the direction of the Governor Kate Brown.

The goal is to support essential agriculture and seasonal workers throughout the harvest season ensuring their safety and limiting the spread of COVID-19. Since March, the Oregon National Guard has mobilized more than 200 Guardsmen to help support the COVID-19 response.

Citizen-Soldiers have assisted with the logistics, delivery, and distribution of millions of Personal Protective Equipment throughout the state of Oregon to include all counties, tribes, many long-term care facilities, and agricultural workers.

A limited selection of in-person services will now be available at 40 DMV offices across the state. Starting Monday, June 1, you can call to schedule a time most convenient for you to get your DMV business done.

Appointments will begin on June 3. Services available by mail or online will not be available at field offices, but you can make an appointment for: Driver licensing and ID cards – originals, renewals and replacements, including passenger car and commercial licenses, and instruction permits.

Driver knowledge tests, Driving privilege reinstatements, Disabled parking placards, VIN inspections for new-to-Oregon vehicles previously titled elsewhere and Farm endorsements If you need to renew a license or ID card, consider waiting until later in the summer when the initial demand for services may have subsided.

What should be one of the most important issues for Governor Brown besides handing the health and safety of the Covid-19 health crisis in the state, is the thousands left unemployment and still waiting for unemployment checks.  Nearly 40,000 claims haven’t even been processed yet over the last ten weeks.

The head of Oregon’s Employment Department unveiled a plan on Tuesday to process the roughly 38,000 backlogged unemployment claims that have piled up since the state’s coronavirus countermeasures caused a massive lay-off boom beginning in March.

Despite strides made in additional staffing and claims processing over the past two months, many Oregonians have continued to report a lack of movement on their unemployment claims and difficulty contacting OED for help.

Over the past two weeks, leading lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties have indicted the agency for the backlog, urging action.

Yesterday’s announcement heralded ‘Project Focus 100,’ an effort to process 100 percent of the backlogged claims through a four-point strategy.

A spike in reported coronavirus cases in Redmond, Oregon, last week has been tied to family and social gatherings in the area.

Last week’s breakdown of coronavirus cases by ZIP code in Oregon reported eight new cases of COVID-19 in the central Oregon town. That brought Redmond up to only 18 reported cases to date, but amounted to an 80% change over the previous week – the highest in the state.

Public health officials in Deschutes County told reporters on Friday that most of the county’s new cases can be traced to social gatherings with extended family, like barbecues and celebrations.

Morgan Emerson, preparedness coordinator with Deschutes County Health Services, told a local TV station that 18 of the county’s 25 new cases could be traced back to family or social gatherings, including some of the coronavirus cases in Redmond.

Klamath Falls News from partnership with the Herald and News, empowering the community.

…For complete details on these and other stories see today’s Herald & News.  Wynne Broadcasting and the Herald and News…stronger together to keep you informed.

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