Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 8/30 – U.S. Interior Department Allocates $26 Million to Klamath Falls National Fish Hatchery and Ecosystem Restoration

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

This Afternoon Widespread haze. Sunny and hot, with a high near 96. Light south wind increasing to 9 to 14 mph. Winds could gust as high as 21 mph. Overnight, clear, with a low around 56. South southwest wind 11 to 16 mph.

Wednesday Widespread haze. Sunny, with a high near 94. Light and variable wind becoming southwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon. Overnight, clear with a low of 53.
Thursday Sunny and hot, with a high near 96. Calm wind becoming south southwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Friday Sunny and hot, with a high near 96.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 95.
Sunday Sunny and hot, with a high near 96.

Today’s Headlines

Bend Police identified the two people shot and killed at a Safeway grocery store off Highway 20 on Sunday night, saying one of the victims ‘acted heroically’ in an attempt to disarm the gunman.

Law enforcement held a press conference on Monday afternoon to discuss new details in the shooting investigation. Officials say the gunfire started at The Forum shopping center at about 7 p.m. Sunday.

Police said a customer, 84-year-old Glenn Edward Bennett, was shot near the entrance to the store. He was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.

According to Bend Police, the suspect continued through the store while shooting.

An employee, identified as Donald Ray Surrett Jr., 66, of Bend, tried to disarm the shooter near the produce section. A Bend Police spokesperson said he “acted heroically” and “may have prevented more deaths.”

The Forum Shopping Center remained closed Monday as law enforcement officials continued their investigation.

The shooter fired shots in the shopping center’s parking lot at about 7:04 p.m., and multiple people called 911, the chief said.

Authorities do not believe anyone was injured in the neighborhood or parking lot.

The shooter’s identity has not been released.

The parched communities of Klamath Basin are finally able to wet their whistles this week as millions of dollars are being distributed to quench the thirst of the drought-stricken Klamath County.

The Interior Department issued a news release Tuesday, Aug. 23, announcing the allocation of federal funding to the Klamath Falls National Fish Hatchery and ecosystem restoration projects in the amount of $26 million.

For 20 years, ongoing drought in the Klamath Basin has caused tensions to run high as the water supply has dwindled. Water allocations are at “historic lows,” according to multiple news releases this year from the Department of Interior. This resulted in the destruction of important ecosystems, severe economic decline and strained relationships between groups, including the Klamath Tribes and the agricultural communities, according to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

Another $3 million, provided by the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and matched contributions, will fund 10 grants for the Trinity River Restoration and the Klamath River Coho Restoration Grant Programs.

A portion of the Biden administration’s $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) was devoted to conservation efforts for American public lands in the sum of $1.4 billion. The Interior Department previously earmarked $162 over five years for the Klamath Basin.

The most recent dispersal of funds will allocate $10 million to the fish hatchery for an expansion to the facility. Once completed, the hatchery will be capable of raising up to 60,000 of the endangered C’waam and Koptu (Lost River and shortnose suckers).

The departments said that the remaining $16 million will be granted to restoration efforts across the Basin that aim to improve water quality suffering from toxic algal blooms; restore wildlife habitats, including waterfowl wetlands; and support endangered, endemic species of fish which are sacred and crucial to the Klamath Tribes.

However, in a related statement from the Klamath Irrigation District (KID) said the board of directors walked out of a meeting discussing the BOR’s latest demands and left in question, the future of farming here in the Klamath Basin as a whole.

Gene Souza had this to say about the KID board meeting on Friday.  Sousa said, quote:

“We did receive a response from Reclamation yesterday I replied to the response just before the meeting During the meeting, Reclamation provided an update.

The board of directors deliberated for several hours.  The mental exhaustion in the room, without air conditioning on a very warm day, weighed heavily upon the directors.  The pressure on these 5 men is intense.  Not only are they sworn to uphold the law, look out for the best interest of the district, perform their fiduciary obligations, farm and manage their own operations,…they are being asked to determine the fate of others…with potentially national level impacts. This heavy yolk led them to adjourn the meeting and walk out of the building. I don’t know what the next chapter in the 2022 water saga has in store for us”.

It was as strong of a message released in recent memory by KID from the board.

Friday morning, at approximately 8:11 AM, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 140W near milepost 58 on the edge of Klamath Lake.

Preliminary investigation revealed an eastbound silver Pontiac Grand Am, operated by 35 year old Justin Vanscoyk (vans-COY-yik) of Klamath Falls, crossed over the westbound lane of travel and exited the roadway, into Klamath Lake. The vehicle came to rest on its top and was submerged.

Vanscoyk sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. Hwy 140W was closed for approximately 1 hour while the scene was investigated.  OSP was assisted by Klamath County Fire District 4 and ODOT. Klamath Dive Rescue also responded to the scene.

PacifiCorp, along with other signatories to the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, is encouraged by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s completion of a key environmental review of the Klamath River dam removal project. 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s issuance Friday of a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project represents a major milestone in the implementation of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, which set forth a process that began in 2010 to study and undertake the removal of four hydroelectric facilities (J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, and Iron Gate) that now comprise the Lower Klamath Project. 

Issuance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission represents the culmination of a period of studies more than a decade long, along with environmental reviews related to the dam removal project that ultimately resulted in an amended license surrender application submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in November 2020.

This was followed by an issuance of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement by FERC in February 2022, and issuance of the Final EIS today. In the Final EIS, FERC staff concluded that dam removal, with minor modifications to the proposal, represents the preferred action. 

Issuance of a Final Environmental Impact Statement by FERC staff paves the way for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a license surrender order later this year that will govern the removal of the dams by the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the completion of related environmental restoration actions. Issuance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement also allows related dam removal permitting activities to be concluded so that dam removal can proceed should the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issue a surrender order for the project.

Klamath County continues to search out and bust illegal grow operations.

Last Thursday August 25, 2022 Klamath County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Basin InterAgency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) served a search warrant at a property in the 7000 block of Wood Duck Dr, near Bonanza, OR. Deputies executing the search warrant oversaw the destruction of an illegal marijuana production operation.

The on-scene investigation revealed several large greenhouses containing over 4,500 illegal marijuana plants nearly ready for harvest or in the process of being dried. Deputies estimate the value at over $22 Million based on current prices in eastern states where this product was destined. Deputies seized stolen weapons, cash, and fentanyl at the location.

Approximately 5-10 individuals fled into the hills as deputies arrived on scene, no arrests were made. Also discovered was the illegal use of ground water to irrigate the marijuana. It is estimated that over 4.1 million gallons of water was illegally misappropriated for this grow site over the last several months.

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Oregon State Police, Basin InterAgency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET), Klamath County Solid Waste, Klamath County Code Enforcement, Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon State Waster Master.

A third cattle death caused by a wolf near Doak Mountain has been confirmed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In a case investigated Wednesday, Aug. 24, ODFW spokesmen said the previous evening staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Service found the carcass of an approximately 250-pound, two-month-old calf in a 36,000-acre private land allotment. It is estimated the calf died about 36 hours before the investigation.

An examination determined muscle tissue was missing from the calf’s chest and hindquarters but the hide was most intact. In addition, pre-mortem bite scrapes were found on its lower left should “with large areas of pre-mortem hemorrhage and tissue damage on the left shoulder and right hind leg above the hock.”

According to ODFW, “The severity, size and locations of these wounds are consistent with injuries to calves attacked by wolves.”

The depredation is attribute to OR103, a wolf described by ODFW as an adult male that was originally captured and GPS radio collared southeast of Bend in February 2021. It later dispersed into northern California and remained there until returning to Oregon’s Klamath County in July.

OR103 is also believed by ODFW as responsible for two other cattle deaths in the Doak Mountain area. Both of those incidents happened in mid-August on the same private land allotment.

Here’s a local traffic advisory from the city of Klamath Falls…..now through Friday, September 9th, the northbound lane on Avalon Street between Shasta Way and Eberlein Ave will be closed from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

 Flaggers will be in place to direct traffic through the duration of work. This closure is to accommodate underground utility installation and ensure motorist and pedestrian safety.

Expect long lines at traffic lights and motorists are urged to use an alternate route if possible during this time period.

Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges will be closed to all public upland game bird and waterfowl hunting during the fall/winter 2022-23 season.

Beginning September 17, 2022, and continuing through March 10, 2023, this closure will affect upland game bird seasons, the general waterfowl season, special group waterfowl hunts (youth, veterans, women) and late season duck and goose hunts.

The decision to close the hunt season was based on the ongoing and severe drought conditions and lack of available habitat, including food, water and shelter, to support upland game and migratory water birds.

 Visitors to Lava Beds National Monument will face temporary road closures and delays as a project to pave park roads continues.

In addition, the road work will continue to impact park sites.

According to a park update, as the paving project heads south from Lava Beds’ main entrance there will be temporary closures and disruptions to some of the park’s sites throughout the next several weeks.

Visitors are encouraged to keep updated by visiting the park’s website at www.nps.gov/labe or by calling the visitor center during business hours at 530-667-8113.

During the course of the project visitors should expect:

• Possible delays up to 30 minutes in the construction zone. Work will generally be done from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Work will not typically occur on weekends and holidays.

Also,  obey instructions by flaggers on the road and watch for the pilot car before traveling through the construction zone.

Around the state of Oregon

City of Bend Police Department – Press Briefing on Shooting 8/29 – Heroic Action by Bend Safeway Worker

View the City of Bend Police Department’s press conference live from Muni Court at 12:30 p.m.: https://youtu.be/gPp2QWbk5yU

Bend Police say a worker who was killed in Sunday night’s shooting at the Safeway on Bend’s east side tried to disarm the shooter and may have saved lives in the process.

Police provided new details at a Monday afternoon press conference, saying the crime scene is still active and detectives have a lot of evidence to sift through. A motive for the shooting remains unclear.

The first 911 calls of shots fired came in at about 7:04 p.m. Sunday.

The suspect entered the shopping center from the Fox Hollow Apartments, located behind the Safeway, police say. Starting at the Costco, police say the shooter fired shots in the parking lot from an AR-15-style rifle.

Windows at the Big Lots next door were also shot out.

The victims were identified as Glenn Edward Bennett, 84, and Donald Ray Surrett Jr., 66.

Bennett, a customer, was shot near the west entrance of the Safeway. He was taken to St. Charles Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The suspect continued through the store, firing more shots, police said. 

Heroic Action by Safeway Worker

Bend Police say a worker who was killed in Sunday night’s shooting at the Safeway on Bend’s east side tried to disarm the shooter and may have saved lives in the process.

Surrett, a Safeway worker, got into a physical altercation with the shooter and tried to disarm him. 

“We believe, truly, that that stopped or disrupted the activities long enough to allow our officers time to come in and also to disrupt the shooter enough to really confuse him enough to stop what he was doing; stop actively shooting people and that really was a heroic action,” said Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz.

Krantz said without that action, the shooter would have likely continued through the store.

He stopped other people from losing their lives. He was heroic and that fight is what stopped this incident.”

Two people were also injured at the scene. They were not identified.

The suspect was identified as Ethan Blair Miller, 20, of Bend. He was found dead in the produce aisle from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, police say. In addition to the AR-15-style rifle, police say a shotgun was found near the suspect’s body.

A search warrant for the suspect’s apartment found digital devices and extra ammunition. Police also searched his car and found 3 Molotov cocktails and a sawed-off shotgun.

Because of what was found in the suspect’s apartment, a bomb squad was called into the Safeway Monday morning and eight units of the Fox Hollow apartments were evacuated.

Because of the items found, police say the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are assisting in determining if the weapons were obtained legally.

Police said there was no evidence found of more shooters or shootings. No officers fired shots in the response, police said.

Police have set up a tip line for anyone with information that can help in the investigation. It is 541-322-6380.

Amazing job by Bend Police Department all the way through this horrific event. Our thoughts go out to the Bend community.

Oregon’s elected leaders reacted to the shooting Monday with pledges to fight for more gun control.

Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement that the shooting was one of several in Oregon over weekend and that “Oregonians deserve to be safe from gun violence.”

Oregon residents will vote in November on one of the strictest gun-control measures in the nation. If passed, Initiative 17 would ban large capacity magazines over 10 rounds — except for current owners, law enforcement and the military — and require a permit to purchase any gun.

To qualify for a permit, an applicant would need to complete an approved firearm safety course, pay a fee, provide personal information, submit to fingerprinting and photographing and pass a criminal background check. The state police would create a firearms database.

ODF Southwest Oregon District – Fallen Firefighter Logan Taylor’s Memorial Service

Public Memorial Service for Fallen Firefighter Logan Taylor Video live stream of fallen firefighter Logan Taylor’s public memorial. https://www.facebook.com/ODFSouthwest/videos/834595251062719

Crews Hope To Halt Rum Creek Fire – Now Largest Fire in Oregon

The Rum Creek Fire has covered nearly 11,000 acres with no containment. A statewide emergency declaration is in effect. Fire officials hope a surge of hands on the perimeter of Oregon’s largest August wildfire can stop it before a heat wave and potential wind gusts multiply its size.

A helicopter flies over the Rum Creek Fire on Aug. 21, 2022. (Courtesy InciWeb)

The 10,709-acre Rum Creek Fire had already doubled in size over the weekend, claimed the life of a firefighter and burned a home to the ground, they said.

Fear over predicted 100-degree days and potential gusty winds is inspiring a scramble to clear and secure fire lines along the blaze’s back end, to the south, where thousands of homes could get fireside views if it reverses with the wind, officials said.

Additional fire crews that specialize in structure protection arrived Sunday, according to the latest federal update. The number of state-led structure-protection firefighters at the scene was 135, the update says.

“They are installing sprinkler kits, using hand tools to remove vegetation and other measures to better protect homes and outbuildings,” said the update, published under the leadership of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The wildfire in Josephine County is in an area that includes the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River and Rand Recreation Area, both managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The blaze is one of 42 active wildfires in the Southwest, California, the Pacific Northwest, Idaho and Montana, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. More than 300,000 acres have been consumed, it said in a daily report Monday.

The center warned of “significant wildland fire potential” this week. For southwest Oregon, there is concern for structures south of the Rum Creek Fire.

“The concern for the next handful of days — there’s triple-digit temperatures in the forecast, and we’re going to see the potential for gusty winds that will push it south-southeast, into a very populated area,” said Kyle Reed, a spokesperson for the federal and state response.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Nieuwenhuis said the shift that would have winds moving from north to south is likely Tuesday into the evening. Gusts could reach 20 mph.

“It’s looking pretty likely,” he said. “It’s not a strong wind, but it is a complete shift in direction. It would be blowing directly into populated areas.”

In the path of the fire, if it takes a U-turn, is the resort town of Galice, named for Frenchman Louis Galice, said to have discovered gold in the area dominated by the Rogue River. The population of the unincorporated community was not tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Residents of the nearby town of Merlin were told to stand by for possible evacuation orders, and the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office suspended boating on the Rogue River in the area of the fire.

Mandatory evacuations were in effect for areas along the perimeter of the fire.

State fire officials said 824 homes threatened by the Rum Creek Fire were the subject of defense efforts. More than 900 firefighters, managers and support personnel, including crews for four helicopters, were assigned to the blaze.

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an decrease trend in cases, test positivity, and hospitalizations. Vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more.

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