Klamath Basin News, Monday, 8/30 – Wood Valley Rancher Donates Water Rights via CWA to Oregon Water Resources Department To Help Local Farmers

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The latest and most comprehensive coverage of local News, Sports, Business, and Community News stories in the Klamath Basin, Southern Oregon and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM / 102.5FM, The Herald & News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insuranceyour local health and Medicare agents.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Red Flag Warning in effect today from 2PM-8PM, Air Quality Alert, heavy smoke at times

Today Widespread haze after 2pm. Areas of smoke before 2pm. Partly sunny, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 86. Overnight clouds with a low around 44.

Tuesday Widespread haze after 2pm. Patchy smoke before 2pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 81. Cloudy overnight with a low around 44.
Wednesday Patchy smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 83. North northeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the morning.
Thursday Sunny, with a high near 83.
Friday Sunny, with a high near 84.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 84.

Today’s Headlines

Oregon reports 3,207 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 20 new deaths.

Today the Oregon Health Authority is reporting 3,207 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 268,401. There are 20 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,115.

The new cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (9), Benton (33), Clackamas (187), Clatsop (29), Columbia (26), Coos (88), Crook (21), Curry (13), Deschutes (296), Douglas (216), Gilliam (1), Grant (5), Harney (11), Hood River (14), Jackson (313), Jefferson (27), Josephine (186), Klamath (41), Lake (2), Lane (298), Lincoln (58), Linn (149), Malheur (34), Marion (317), Morrow (17), Multnomah (243), Polk (104), Tillamook (52), Umatilla (74), Union (15), Wallowa (​8​), Wasco (26), Washington (227) and Yamhill (67). 

As of today, 2,610,916 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,389,358 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. Over 4 million people live in the state of Oregon.

As Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge’s last remaining wetland reduces to a mud puddle, California Waterfowl Association’s efforts to secure a meager supply of water for the refuge have cleared a regulatory hurdle. On Thursday, the Oregon Water Resources Department accepted CWA’s application to transfer several thousand acre-feet of water from a willing Wood River Valley rancher to the refuge’s Unit 2. The rancher’s water right is so senior that it’s largely unimpacted by the Klamath Tribes’ water calls, which are intended to leave as much water in Upper Klamath Lake’s tributaries as possible to conserve aquatic habitat for the lake’s endangered C’waam and Koptu. CWA originally asked for 4,500 acre-feet of the rancher’s water right per year over the next five years. The water would flow through the Wood River and into Upper Klamath Lake and be diverted to the refuge through the Ady Canal below Lake Ewauna. Though OWRD said 750 acre-feet was non-transferable when accepting the application, CWA said it’s better than nothing. CWA raised more than $750,000 for the temporary purchase, with the intention of lobbying the federal government to complete it, and purchase the full water right of 30,000 acre-feet from that rancher and other willing sellers in the Wood River Valley.

Well before he ever donned a badge and uniform, Chris Kaber pulled and stacked lumber for Weyerhaeuser. The now-Klamath County Sheriff knew a few law enforcement officers at the time and in 1984 a mutual friend encouraged him to pursue a career he hadn’t considered before. Now, with multiple positions open for patrol deputies, at the sheriff’s office, and in the Klamath County Jail — but with less applicants than in the past — Kaber said he’s wondering if there’s others like him in the community who might fit into law enforcement but haven’t considered it. With the number of positions open, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office is below what Kaber said he would call a minimum level of staffing. Job applications aren’t pouring in like they used to, something that Kaber said could put the county at risk in the long term. The Klamath County website’s employment page is the best place to find the job listings, Kaber said. The listing site — klamathcounty.applicantpro.com/jobs/ — says it has 14 total jobs open across the county, but many of the listings, like for say patrol deputy, has multiple open positions even if there’s only one job listing, Kaber said.

The Klamath County School District will host two town halls next week to provide a chance for families to have questions answered as schools prepare to open to full-time, in-person learning. The first meeting will be Wednesday, Sept. 1 at Henley High School from 5-6 p.m., and the second will be Thursday, Sept. 2 at Mazama High School from 5-6 p.m. KCSD Superintendent Glen Szymoniak is organizing the events. Community leaders have been invited to attend. The district is asking that questions be submitted by email to blands@kcsd.k12.or.us by noon the day before each town hall. The town halls will be moderated, and those attending will be expected to follow ground rules that promote respectful participation and exchange of ideas.

It was midmorning on a Saturday, but locals were working as hard as ever to load up bales of hay at Duarte Sales Auction Yard on the northwest corner of Ivory Pine Road and Highway 140. The auction yard belongs to Jeff Wessel, and he opened it up for hay shipments that mostly came from western Oregon. The shipments were organized by Timber Unity, a political organization of mostly farmers, loggers and supporters. Geof Miller, a rancher whose land nearly abuts the auction yard, loaded the trailer of Janice Roberts-Griffin and Scott Griffin with hay. The Griffins will use some of the hay themselves, and distribute the rest for other victims of the Bootleg Fire who lost grazing land, barns and more. Roberts-Griffin and Griffin live on the forest, and despite losing nearly everything they owned to the Bootleg Fire, they have been running hay up to their neighbors for weeks. As drought in the Klamath Basin and more generally in the U.S. West continues, hay is becoming harder to find and more expensive, forcing many to sell off horses and livestock that survived the wildfire.

Around the state of Oregon

The death toll from COVID-19 in Oregon is climbing so rapidly that two counties have requested refrigerated trucks to hold the bodies, the state emergency management department said Saturday. So far, Tillamook County, on Oregon’s northwest coast, and Josephine County, in the southwest, have requested the trucks, said Bobbi Doan, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. Tillamook County Emergency Director Gordon McCraw wrote in his request to the state that the county’s sole funeral home “is now consistently at or exceeding their capacity” of nine bodies. The refrigerated truck arrived in the county on Friday, loaned by Klamath County, Doan said in a telephone interview. The Tillamook County Board of Commissioners said Friday the spread of COVID-19 “has reached a critical phase.”

The Oregon Employment Department said last week that people who lose their jobs because they bucked a vaccine mandate probably aren’t eligible for unemployment assistance. That’s a much more definitive position than the department took a week ago, when it described vaccine mandates as a “rapidly evolving issue” and said it was awaiting clarity from future court rulings on benefits eligibility. In Oregon, very few businesses require their employees to receive a COVID-19 shot. But Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has issued a succession of orders mandating vaccines for health care workers, teachers and executive branch employees. Jobless benefits are typically available to people who lose their jobs because they’ve been laid off or fired, but not to people who quit without “good cause.” People who are fired may not be eligible, either, if they refused to comply with an employer’s reasonable policies.

Record low numbers of steelhead are returning to the Columbia River this year, prompting conservationists and anglers alike to call for a halt to recreational fishing for the sea-run fish. As of this week, just 29,000 steelhead passed the Bonneville Dam since July 1 — the fewest ever recorded, less than half the average of the past five years, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. A coalition of conservation and fishing groups sent a letter to the Oregon, Washington and Idaho agencies that manage fish and wildlife requesting an immediate closure of recreational steelhead fisheries on the Columbia River, the Lower Snake River and their tributaries. Steelhead on the Columbia and Snake rivers are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. After hatching in freshwater rivers and streams, the steelhead — sea-run rainbow trout — migrate to the ocean and return to freshwater to spawn.

The Oregon Nurses Association is calling on all nurses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before the October 18th deadline or get an exemption for medical or religious reasons.  The ONA Board of Directors says the Governor has made vaccinations a legal requirement, and unvaccinated nurses will face termination if they don’t comply. They say the science is clear that vaccinations are safe and effective.

Meanwhile, The number of young children in Oregon being hospitalized with COVID-19 is on the rise.  The Oregon Health Authority reports that the hospitalization rate for kids younger than five was three per 100-thousand over the last week.  The number has been rising since mid-July.  State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger says it shows the importance of being vaccinated and wearing masks to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to young children.

An updated projection from OHSU shows nearly 12-hundred people will be hospitalized with COVID-19 by September 6th.  That’s over a hundred people more than the initial prediction.  Health officials say 45-percent of Oregon’s ICU beds are currently filled with COVID-19 patients.  The statewide indoor mask mandate that started August 13th isn’t having a significant impact yet.  Oregon’s outdoor mask mandate begins today.  Health officials say masking and vaccinations will reduce the surge of patients.

Graphic repeats information in article.

A COVID-19 outbreak at an Oregon assisted living facility that has infected 64 people and killed five began with an unvaccinated worker, public health officials said. The outbreak at Gateway Living in Springfield began July 5, The Register-Guard reported. The facility has 105 employees and 101 residents; only 63% of the staff and 82% of the residents are completely vaccinated. Lane County Public Health spokesman Jason Davis said the outbreak began with an unvaccinated employee who worked while infectious. The outbreak arrived as an immense surge of COVID-19 cases hit Oregon, driven by the especially contagious delta variant as well as vaccine obstinacy in some quarters.

According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, officers believe they have found the remains of Kirk Jones who had been missing for over two months. JCSO says that the remains were located in the Sky Lakes Wilderness area and that based on circumstances they believe it to be Jones, missing out of San Antonio, Texas. An autopsy is pending, and that Medical Examiner’s office is working to establish a positive scientific ID. Cause and manner of death is pending autopsy. Today Jones’s family was notified that his body may have been found. The family posted on their Facebook page that they had been notified by JCSO.  Search and rescue teams and deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office joined for the search for a missing Texas man after his motorcycle was recovered east of Prospect. Jones was last seen on June 3rd.

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