Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 12/29 – Crater Lake at 72″ of Snow, Roads Remained Closed From Park Headquarters To Rim Village Waiting for Snow Crews

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 20% chance of snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 33. West southwest wind around 7 mph. Overnight some patchy freezing fog, cloudy with a low around 10 degrees.


Thursday Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 32. Light and variable wind becoming west southwest 5 to 10 mph in the morning.
Friday A 20% chance of snow showers before 10am. Partly sunny, with a high near 33. West northwest wind 6 to 8 mph. Overnight low of 12 degrees.
Saturday, New Year’s Day Partly sunny, with a high near 32. Overnight Partly cloudy, with a low around 9.
Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 34.
Monday Snow likely. Patchy blowing snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 39.
Tuesday Snow. Cloudy, with a high near 37.

See Road Camera Views

Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr. (Bi-pass)
Lake of the Woods   
Doak Mtn.   
Hiway 97 at Chemult   
Hiway 140 at  Bly
Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

Like much of Southern Oregon’s higher-elevation areas, Crater Lake National Park is getting a major helping of powder this month, more so than is usual for this time of year.

The National Weather Service noted on Tuesday morning that Crater Lake received 27 inches of snow within just 24 hours between December 26 and 27. Its total snow depth was last recorded at 76 inches, when the normal depth would be 52 inches for this date.

The three miles of road between the park headquarters and Rim Village remain closed until two lanes of travel can be cleared through the snow drifts and across avalanche areas. Chains or traction tires are required on all roads in the park.

Mt. Ashland Ski Area reported a similarly significant dumping on Monday, reporting that the mountain had received almost 100 inches of annual snowfall in the less than 10 days since the season began.

Diamond Lake Resort reported Monday that it had received 13 inches of snow in the previous 24 hours. Despite ODOT shutting down snow parks along state highways in the region, Diamond Lake Resort’s parking lots remain plowed and maintained for visitors.

Oregon reports 1,900 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 8 new deaths

There are eight new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,631, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported today. OHA reported 1,900 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 416,020.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (30), Clackamas (136), Clatsop (4), Columbia (7), Coos (95), Crook (23), Curry (9), Deschutes (182), Douglas (22), Gilliam (1), Grant (16), Harney (3), Hood River (13), Jackson (104), Jefferson (8), Josephine (32), Klamath (40), Lake (2), Lane (157), Lincoln (14), Linn (33), Malheur (8), Marion (257), Morrow (5), Multnomah (258), Polk (73), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (79), Union (8), Wallowa (5), Wasco (20), Washington (217), Wheeler (2) and Yamhill (30).

Oregonians known to be infected with COVID-19 has climbed by 25% this past week even though the overall number of tests administered dropped 15%, reflecting the omicron variant’s tightening grip on the state.

While omicron has been surging nationwide in the past few weeks, Oregon clearly is now following suit, albeit at a slower pace. Across the U.S., new infections rose by 61% week to week, while testing declined by 24%.

The percentage of Oregonians testing positive for COVID-19 – known as the positivity rate – rose to 9%, up from 5% a week ago.

With most omicron infections thought to be milder than those caused by delta and many occurring in fully vaccinated people, experts say what matters most are the numbers of people experiencing severe disease and the potential for death.

On that front, the outlook worsened slightly, with the number of hospitalized patients rising 42 patients since Thursday to 381 patients on Monday.

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Fred Kepner estate sells his railroad engine collection to Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in Garibaldi.

More than a dozen steam locomotives, part of perhaps the single largest private collection of its kind, have been purchased from the estate of a Merrill collector by the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad in Garibaldi.

Fred Kepner collected the equipment over the course of decades and kept most of it outdoors, alongside the Union Pacific railroads tracks that ran past his property.

The collection included a dozen rare steam locomotives in addition to old cranes, cabooses, cars and more, most of which date back to the late 1800s through the 1930s.

As engines started to change over to diesel power, Kepner starting buying the now-obsolete machinery. His goal was to develop and manage the Great Western Rail Museum, though that never came to full fruition. Kepner died in October.

Kepner had long advocated for preserving railroad equipment in the Klamath Basin throughout his life, including the Oregon, California & Eastern Railway that ran from Bly to Klamath Falls until 1990.

He also advocated to save the long abandoned Southern Pacific roundhouse in Klamath Falls, which was on the historic register.

Oregon Ducks Play Oklahoma In Alamo Bowl Tonight!

No. 14 Oregon will take on No. 16 Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio tonight. 

It will be the highest ranked matchup among all non-CFP bowl games and the first Alamo Bowl matchup between two 10-win teams. 

The Ducks are 1-1 overall in the Alamo Bowl. Oregon is making its first Alamo Bowl appearance since losing to TCU in overtime after the 2015 season. The Ducks beat Texas in the 2013 Alamo Bowl. 

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Dec, 29. The game will be aired on ESPN. 

Free personal use firewood starts Saturday on Fremont-Winema National Forest

LAKEVIEW, Ore. – Effective Saturday, January 1, personal use firewood permits on the Fremont-Winema National Forest will be free, available at no charge to the public.

A permit will still need to be obtained by contacting the local Ranger District or the Forest Supervisor’s office.

Woodcutters will need to have a paper copy of the permit with them while cutting firewood.  The current Personal Use Firewood Synopsis and firewood map also needs to be with them either hardcopy or electronically while cutting wood. 

Loads should be logged on the Product Quantity Removal Record located on the permit before leaving the woodcutting site.  The Forest is no longer issuing tags for personal use firewood.

Each household can collect up to 10 cords of personal use firewood a year.  A cord equates to a wood stack that is 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long.

The Fremont-Winema National Forest is among the national forests shifting to a free personal use firewood program.  As a result, the Forest will no longer be charging for personal use firewood permits. 

Firewood obtained through this program is for personal use only and not for resale.  Commercial permits are still available by contacting local Fremont-Winema National Forest offices by phone.

Woodcutting permit holders are expected to follow the 2022 Personal Use Firewood Synopsis of Rules and Regulations.  The document, along with the woodcutting maps will be available online at the Forest’s “Firewood Permits” page.  Maps are also available digitally from Avenza Maps at www.avenzamaps.com.

Regulations include:

  • Cut only in permitted areas.  No woodcutting is allowed within 150 feet of developed recreation sites or in Wilderness Areas, Wild and Scenic River Corridors, Unique Areas, Research Natural Areas, Research Areas, Experimental Forest Areas or within posted areas including unlogged or active timber sales, contract areas and posted “No Cutting” areas.
  • All trees standing or down with paint, tags or signs on them are protected and may not be cut.
  • Use of mechanized skidding and/or loading equipment for removal of firewood is prohibited.  The only power equipment authorized for use are chainsaws, winches and hydraulic splitters. 
  • Spark arresters should be on all mechanical equipment and fire prevention measures, including following Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL), should be followed.
  • Maximum length of firewood allowed to be cut and transported is 6 feet.
  • Cut and scatter limbs and tops.  Remove all slash from roads and ditches.
  • See the synopsis document for specific regulations by Ranger District.  This includes restrictions on cutting near streams, seeps, springs and meadows, as well as tree species allowed.

Even with personal use firewood permits being free, woodcutters are still responsible for being aware of the current Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) and regulations during fire season.  More information on IFPLs can be found at www.scofmp.org.

Additionally, woodcutters should practice good forest safety, including:

  • Plan your trip – check the weather, bring plenty of warm clothes, enough water for everyone for 3 days, emergency food, tire chains, shovel, flashlight, flares and/or something to start a fire with, camp saw or hatchet, and cold weather sleeping bag or blankets.
  • Make sure you have a full tank of gas when you leave and are prepared for changing conditions in the mountains and high desert!  Also, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
  • Keep vehicles on designated roads and be aware of changing weather and road conditions.  Wet dirt roads can quickly turn to mud, making it possible to get stuck and causing damage to road, soil and water resources.
  • In snowy conditions, if the snow on the road is 3 inches or greater, turn around – conditions are not likely to improve ahead.
  • Do not count on technology – GPS can steer drivers onto impassable roads and there is not cellphone service across most of the Forest.

For more information on the free personal use firewood cutting, please contact your local Fremont-Winema National Forest Office during regular business hours between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 

They can be reached at: Supervisor’s Office – 541-947-2151; Bly Ranger District – 541-353-2427; Chiloquin and Chemult Ranger Districts – 541-783-4001; Klamath Ranger District – 541-883-6714; Lakeview Ranger District – 541-947-3334; Paisley Ranger District – 541-943-3114; Silver Lake Ranger District – 541-576-2107.

Please bear in mind that all Forest offices are currently closed to the public, but virtual services are provided, including map and permit sales.

For more information on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/fremont-winema.

Follow the Forest on Twitter @FremontWinemaNF or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/R6FWNF.

Around the state of Oregon

The Pacific Northwest and Sierra Nevada Mountain range grappled Tuesday with another day of snow, ice and unseasonable cold that has disrupted traffic, caused closures and forced people to find refuge in emergency warming shelters.

Across Oregon, officials and private groups opened emergency spaces for people as forecasters said the extreme cold from an arctic blast that blew in Sunday could last until the weekend.

Farther south, part of the main highway from San Francisco to Reno remained closed Tuesday for a third day due to record-setting snow in the Lake Tahoe area after a winter storm blasted across northern California and Nevada. Snow-choked Interstate 80 shut down Sunday from the Nevada state line to Placer County, California, although Caltrans said U.S. 50 reopened late Monday for vehicles with chains or four-wheel drive.

Snow showers began in the Northwest on Sunday from the Gulf of Alaska, dumping up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) across the Seattle area. Another storm dropped more snow in western Washington and Oregon late Monday and Tuesday.

Falling Tree Crashes Onto ODOT Truck Near Wolf Creek

On Monday, an incident responder with the Oregon Department of Transportation was driving on northbound Interstate 5 near Wolf Creek, Oregon when a large tree came crashing down on their vehicle.

No one was hurt. Oregon DOT officials said that Oregon State Police and a private logging company responded and helped remove the tree.

Winter Weather And Holiday Traffic Leads To Hundreds Of Accidents On Oregon Roads

Courtesy Of Marion County Sheriff‘s Office

Oregon recorded a stunning number of traffic accidents on roads throughout the state this holiday season. State police and transportation officials say winter weather and a return to pre-pandemic levels of traffic are to blame.

According to Oregon State Police, there were 915 traffic accidents between Thursday, Dec. 23, and Tuesday, Dec. 28. Oregon saw 365 accidents during that same period last year, and some 237 in 2019.

The agency hasn’t yet calculated how many people may have been killed or injured. A 15-year-old passenger died in a Coos County wreck Dec. 23. OSP officials said a fuller picture of the human toll will take time to verify.

David House, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said that the high number of accidents over the last week is a reminder to travelers to use caution and prepare for slick conditions.

It’s also a signal that traffic is picking back up significantly.

“We’ve heard how air travel is back up, and we’ve seen for ourselves that the freeways are full of cars again, pretty much almost back to normal,” House said.

Snow in the mountain passes hasn’t been the only concern for transportation officials this holiday travel season, with lower elevations in the Willamette Valley and even areas of the Oregon Coast receiving up to several inches in some locations.

According to House, Highway 22 near Detroit was blocked for several hours Monday with a number of vehicles sliding off the road.

On Tuesday morning, a crashed semi-truck 14 miles east of Biggs Junction along the Columbia River caused all lanes of Interstate 84 to close as crews cleared the wreckage. About an hour later ODOT reopened one lane of travel in both directions.

“When it first hits, it really catches you off guard. It only takes one car to slip and block a lane” House said.

Staffing is also playing a role with both ODOT and Oregon State Police feeling the effects of a nationwide labor shortage.

Fines for trucks that don’t carry chains doubled earlier this year. According to House, the Oregon Legislature passed a law in 2021, and in September it took effect, increasing the fine from $440 to $880.

House said ODOT is working to get the message out to truck drivers that although chaining up takes time, it saves them and thousands of other travelers time in the long run.

“Trucks from out of state who have never been to Oregon before don’t understand that this snow can be different,” House said. “It’s different when you go to the other side of the mountains, or you go to the Midwest where the snow is very dry and gritty. [In the Willamette Valley], it’s very wet and slippery.”

ODOT and State Police are continuing to push the message to travelers that they need to carry chains or use traction tires when crossing the Cascades. They’re also urging travelers to use TripCheck to ensure their route is clear.

The other biggest piece of advice for travelers this holiday season: Stay home if you can.

“If you can sit tight for a couple more days, just avoid getting out there, that’s going to be the safest thing you can possibly do,” House said.

State officials in Oregon have declared an emergency. In Multnomah County — home to Portland — about a half dozen weather shelters were open.

Seattle city leaders also opened at least six severe weather shelters and the mayor declared an emergency. Warming shelters in Multnomah County were around 75% full on Monday night, with 339 people. Utilities reported about 5,000 customers without power Tuesday morning, mostly in southwestern Oregon.

At Donner Pass in the Sierra, officials with the University of California, Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Laboratory on Monday said recent snowfall has smashed the snowiest December record of 179 inches (4.6 meters), set in 1970. The record is now 193.7 inches (4.9 meters) as more snow is expected.

The snowpack in the Sierra was at dangerously low levels after recent weeks of dry weather but the state Department of Water Resources reported on Monday that the snowpack was between 145% and 161% of normal across the range with more snow expected, which will help in a region experiencing a protracted drought. With temperatures in western Washington and Oregon not forecast to rise above freezing for days, officials were planning on keeping emergency shelters for longer

The southern Oregon father of four who ended a Christmas Eve call with President Joe Biden by declaring “Let’s go Brandon” told a former adviser to President Donald Trump this week that he believes the verifiably false claim that “the election was 100 percent stolen.”

Central Point’s Jared Schmeck, an electrician, said Monday he’s “proud” of using the conservative dig against Biden at the end of a live streamed Santa tracker call and called the moment “pretty darn funny.”

In the aftermath of his remarks, the company website appeared to be down and the company’s Yelp page was filled with negative comments. He was previously a Medford police officer for six years until he resigned in July 2018.

Schmeck received sharp criticism on social media, where amateur sleuths dug into his background, trolled his father’s business and mocked Schmeck for turning a Christmas tradition into a political stunt.

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Law enforcement in Josephine County found the body of a man who had been shot and buried on the site of a former illegal marijuana grow near O’Brien, according to a statement from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation began back on October 8, when deputies and detectives received a report about a man who had been killed and buried in the area. The person who put in the tip “did not know the area well,” but was able to lead officers to an area off Samarkand Drive near O’Brien.

Upon arriving at the scene, officers recognized the property as an illegal marijuana grow site that had previously been raided by law enforcement. The reporting party reportedly knew some details of the homicide, and was able to walk investigators into the woods about a quarter-mile from the grow site to “a shallow grave.”

Investigators dug up the grave and found a dead Hispanic man who was identified as someone known to work on the grow site. J

CSO said that next of kin have been notified, but the man’s name will not be released in order to protect the integrity of the investigation. This is at least the second death that law enforcement has linked to an illegal grow operation in Josephine County. 

One person was found dead after a mobile home caught fire and collapsed near Hugo on Monday evening, according to Rural Metro Fire.

Josephine County dispatch began receiving a number of 911 calls about the fire shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Monday, according to Rural Metro, coming from neighbors in the area and drivers along I-5.

Crews from Rural Metro Fire arrived to find a single-wide mobile home on a hill in the 6300-block of Hugo Road, accessible only by a long driveway off Trevor Way. The unplowed driveway quickly became a problem for firefighters working to access the burning home.

Fire crews requested the help of a County snowplow, but even the plow truck struggled to fully clear the narrow driveway due to vehicles and debris scattered along the edge of the driveway, limiting areas to push the snow.

Oregon State University plans to resume in-person instruction and other university activities and operations on Jan. 3 as planned at all of its campuses and locations.

OSU’s decision aligns with plans collaboratively announced today by all of Oregon’s public universities to maintain on-site teaching as winter term begins. Earlier this week, several universities in Washington State and Willamette University in Salem announced they were going to distance learning only for the next semester.

The Southern Oregon Hemp Co-op and Green Leaf Lab Announce the Third Annual Hemp, CBD & CBG Trade Show

Featuring the Golden Grow Awards 

Grower’s Deadline for Entering Their 2021 Flower is January 3rd, 2022

MEDFORD, OR December 19, 2021 –The Southern Oregon Hemp Coop, a leading local Hemp growers and brokers cooperative, announced the third annual Hemp, CBD and CBG trade show, scheduled February 5, 2022 at the Ashland Hills Hotel and Convention Center in Ashland, Oregon.

The trade show will culminate in the evening Golden Grow Awards (GGA) lunch  and ceremony which celebrates the recent harvest, recognizes product excellence, and names the region’s “Grower of the Year”.  

With an emphasis on educating the industry and public on the characteristics of quality hemp flower, the GGA judges, all with impressive industry backgrounds, will select cultivars for awards. This is the only competition of its sort in the region, and organizers anticipate a lot of local interest.  

“The show is an opportunity for local growers to celebrate the recent harvest, as well as to present their Hemp cultivars to a panel of judges who will chose the award-winning varietals and select the ‘Best Northwest Grower’ of the year,” said Mark Taylor, event organizer and founding board member of the Southern Oregon Hemp Co-op. “We’ve seen a lot of changes and consolidation in the Hemp industry, alongside significant regulatory reform, and we anticipate a lot of spirited discussion around these topics on the show floor and at our awards lunch.”

Exhibitor tables are available for interested vendors at a cost of $250.00 per table. 

The 3rd  Annual Southern Oregon Hemp, CBD and CBG Trade Show will host the 3rd annual Golden Grow Awards lunch  and ceremony as part of the Saturday event.  The following speakers are scheduled to make presentations:

Eric Cerecedes, Hemp Industry Consultant, Justin Botillier, CPA from Calyx Accounting, Erik Larson, vertical integration expert, Jason Peterson, Hemp Industry Consultant,  Matt Cyrus, from Triple C Farms, and, Andrew Dewisse from the Green Light Law Group.

The Golden Grow Awards ceremony celebrates the recent harvest and recognizes product excellence. With an emphasis on educating the industry and public on the characteristics of quality hemp flower, the GGA will award cultivars based on cannabinoid potency, terpenes, physical characteristics and overall presentation. 

The show will be emceed by two local favorites: Freeway Farrell and Jamie Colson. 

A regular at local casinos, emcee Freeway Farrell began his career thirty-three years ago in high school as a Disc Jockey at a roller rink. He then hosted his own weekend time slot as a DJ at a local radio station; then he traveled the country working as an on-air personality for various radio stations, all while he maintained a regular spot in the local stand-up comedy scene. 

Emcee Jamie Colson is a hilarious, Eugene-based stand-up comedian and singer. A Cannabis educator and bud-tender, this young lady knows her way around both comedy and the Cannabis industry. 

Music for the show dinner and awards ceremony will be provided by “Highway Bound”. Highway Bound is a local Country Music Band. The group features Erica Flynn on Vocals. Erica is accompanied by Jimi Smith on electric and acoustic guitar, Jimi has his masters degree in music, and Alex Detweiler on drums and acoustic guitar. New member Tim Kelly, bass player, also has a masters in Music and is from the Bay area.

Southern Oregon Hemp Cooperates, Inc., the “Co-op”, was incorporated by Mark Taylor in 2019 to serve the region’s Hemp farming community with education, advocacy, networking, trade shows, real estate acquisition and a co-operative product brokerage. The organization is governed by a board of directors and is supported by its membership and outside sponsors who seek to target the local Hemp industry. The Co-op can be reached through its website contact form at http://www.soorhempco-op.com/; or by calling Mark Taylor at (541) 601-5130.  The Co-op currently hosts The Pizza Meet Up at Wild River Pizza located at 2684 N Pacific Hwy, Medford, OR one Saturday each month for local farmers to share their own experiences and stories.

The organization’s $125.00 annual membership fee supports the many farming and sales assistance programs the Co-op provides, and also helps grow the local industry through cooperative efforts and ventures.

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