Klamath Basin News, Monday, 3/6/23 – City of Klamath Falls Approves To Place Decommissioned F-15 Jet in Veterans Park

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Monday, March 6, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

This Afternoon A 30% chance of snow showers, mainly after 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 36. Overnight a 50% chance of snow showers, mainly before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 17. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Tuesday Snow showers, mainly after 4pm. High near 36. Southeast wind 6 to 10 mph becoming south southwest in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of around an inch possible. Overnight, some snow showers expected with a low around 19. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Wednesday A 20 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 36. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Overnight mostly cloudy, with a low around 21.
Thursday A slight chance of snow showers between 10am and 4pm, then a chance of snow after 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 39. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible, with an overnight now of 20.
Friday Snow before 10am, then rain likely. Snow level 4400 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42.
Saturday Rain and snow likely. Partly sunny, with a high near 42.

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Today’s Headlines

After a series of discussions between the City of Klamath Falls, Klamath County Government, and Kingsley Field over several years, the City of Klamath Falls was approved and selected as a site for a decommissioned F-15 from Kingsley Field to be placed in Veterans Park.

Interestingly, the F-15 was intended to go to another state, however, to save a large amount of money in shipping costs, operational costs in coordinating its relocation, etc. the City of Klamath Falls was moved up in its ranking and selected due to its proximity to Kingsley Field. 

Veterans Park and the Veterans Memorial located within Veterans Park was always intended to be expanded. The mission of Veterans Park is to create a timeless tribute honoring and recognizing past and present men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The park will serve as a quiet reminder of the honor, courage and sacrifice of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have served. Veterans Park will be a place set aside for honor, remembrance and reflection, demonstrating how the citizens of Klamath Falls cherish and embrace the sacrifice and dedication of all veterans and service members.

The F15 Static Memorial is an appropriate addition to Veterans Park as the City continues to expand on memorial monuments within the Park to honor those who served in uniform and the battles they fought to protect our nation’s freedoms. 

There is a misconception that the City is spending $600,000 on the F15 Static Memorial. The decommissioned F15 is being provided to the City at no cost from the United States Air Force through cooperation with Kingsley Field and after many years of discussion and collaboration with Klamath County Government, both the City and the County have dedicated $300,000 to the F15 Static Memorial.

The Klamath Falls Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying several juvenile suspects that caused thousands of dollars in damages to property and cars across the city.

Klamath Falls PD says that at around 11:30 p.m. on March 2nd, officers responded to the 500 block of Main Street after a call came in stating that graffiti had been sprayed on several items in the area.

After their investigation, police determined that multiple juvenile suspects had caused thousands of dollars in damages to at least 20 different victims.

Since the suspects are minors, police are unable to post any photos or videos of the suspects.

Police are requesting residents who live near the downtown area, 9th Street, Klamath Union High School and along President Streets to check surveillance cameras for any footage that might help identify additional suspects.

Anyone with information should call the Klamath Falls Police Department at 541-883-5336 or the anonymous tip line at 541-883-5334.

Shoppers at the Klamath Falls Fred Meyer grocery store were put in danger Thursday evening when a van crashed through the south entrance to the store.

The Klamath Fall Police Department responded at 8:13 p.m. Thursday, March 2 to reports of a van crashing into Fred Meyers grocery store at 2655 Shasta Way.

KFPD Lt. Rob Reynolds said that upon arrival officers were informed the driver had fled the scene. The driver, Misty Bailey, 42, of Klamath Falls, was found shortly thereafter at the WaFd Bank at 5215 S. 6th St. — which shares a parking lot with Fred Meyers — and taken into custody.

“Through the course of the investigation, it was discovered the driver had stolen the vehicle,” Reynolds said. Officers at the scene interviewed the owner of the vehicle who said Bailey had asked the owner for a ride to the store from the Motel 6 parking lot. The owner agreed and drove Bailey to the store. Bailey was then reported to have “forced her way” into the driver’s seat while the owner was still in the vehicle and proceeded to drive the van into the Fred Meyers entryway.

Reynolds said no injuries have been reported. KFPD officers on the scene said the damage to Fred Meyers entryway is estimated to cost $10,000. Bailey has been charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, first degree criminal mischief, third degree robbery, failure to perform duties of a driver, reckless endangering, reckless driving and two counts of failure to appear. Bail is currently set at $55,000.

After the Medford City Council’s narrow passing of local Council Bill 2023-23 Thursday night,  our television news partner of Wynne Broadcasting, NewsWatch 12 KDRV, reached out to several tribes across Southern Oregon & Northern California to hear their reaction to the change.

Back in 2013, the city council passed Resolution 2013-68, which declared a position of opposition to the Coquille Indian Tribe’s fee-to-trust application to the United States Department of the Interior to build a casino in Medford. However, during last night’s meeting, that position of opposition changed to neutral when the council voted in favor 5-3.

According to NewsWatch 12 the Cow Creek, Karuk and Klamath Tribes implored the city of Medford, either during the comment period or while at last night’s meeting, to maintain their status of opposition.

Although the council’s decision does not officially play a role in the federal government’s final decision of approval or denial, some tribes believe the change could make a difference.

Klamath Tribes’ Chairmen Clay Dumont says he doesn’t want to speak for the (Bureau of Indian Affairs) or the City of Medford, but feels sure it will be something that the BIA would consider when they make their decision.  Dumont says the hardest hit may be Klamoya Casino.  He says it could cut into Klamoya’s business by as much as 50 percent if the worst were to happen.

For the Karuk Tribe the impacts could be very similar for them down in Yreka at the Rain Rock Casino.

For the last decade, the Coquille Tribe has been working towards building a casino in Medford which they say would be used to help their tribe, along with creating new jobs and revenue for the city.

But for other surrounding tribes like the Cow Creek, Klamath and Karuk Tribes, a new casino located in Medford could be devastating for them.  As it stands now, all three tribes rely heavily on the business generated by those that travel to their casinos from Medford and the surrounding Jackson County communities. 

Representatives from the Cow Creek tribe, who operate Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville, believe a Medford based casino would take at least 25 percent of their current business.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon will lift mask requirement for health care settings April 3rd, 2023

Change follows improvements in people hospitalized for respiratory infections, test positivity

Workers, patients and visitors in health care settings will no longer be required to wear masks starting April 3, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced today.

OHA is rescinding provisions in Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 333-019-1011 that require workers in health care settings – such as hospitals, mobile clinics, ambulances, outpatient facilities, dental offices, urgent care centers, counseling offices, school-based health centers, complementary and alternative medicine locations – to wear masks. The requirement has been in effect since August 2021.

In addition, Executive Order 22-24 will expire on March 6, 2023. The emergency gave hospitals needed flexibility to respond to a surge in respiratory infections, including COVID-19, RSV and influenza.

The decision to end statewide health care mask requirements aligns with decisions in other states, including Washington.

Dean Sidelinger, M.D., M.S.Ed., health officer and state epidemiologist at OHA, said the lifting of Oregon’s health care mask requirement stems from data in recent weeks showing overall decreases in circulation of the three respiratory pathogens that triggered a surge in visits to hospital emergency departments and intensive care units last fall. As of today, COVID-19 test positivity is at 10% and is expected to continue dropping; influenza test positivity is at 1.2%; and RSV test positivity is at 1.6% (antigen tests) and 3.5% (molecular tests).

The month-long lead-up to the ending of Oregon’s health care mask requirement gives the health care system, local public health authorities and other health partners time to prepare for the change, including adjusting policies, training and procedures that ensure continued patient safety and access. It also gives members of the public, particularly populations at increased risk of severe disease—communities of color, tribal communities, rural communities, lower-income communities, those with underlying medical conditions, seniors, and parents of vulnerable infants – a chance to plan health care visits and protective measures.

People at higher risk for severe disease, or who live with someone at higher risk, should still consider wearing masks in health care or any settings, to better protect themselves and those most vulnerable around them. Some health care settings may continue to require masks even after the requirement is lifted.

Masks remain an effective way to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses. People are recommended to wear masks when they are sick, and individuals – particularly those with health conditions that put them at high risk for severe illness from a respiratory virus exposure–should continue to wear masks wherever they feel comfortable.

In order to protect themselves and their families and communities, people are strongly encouraged to stay up to date with vaccinations and boosters.

Oregon Senator Wyden and Colleagues Reintroduce Bill to Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent

Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 12th, and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and a bipartisan group of senators want to make it permanent.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Senate colleagues from both parties today reintroduced legislation that would end the antiquated and annoying practice of changing clocks twice a year.

“It’s time to put a stop to the twice-a-year time-change madness. Science and common sense show that more year-round daylight would improve our health, help kids spend a bit more time enjoying outdoor after school activities, and encourage folks to support local businesses while on a sunny stroll in their communities,” Wyden said. “I’m all in to get the Sunshine Protection Act passed into law at last.”

The bipartisan Sunshine Protection Act, if enacted, would apply to states that currently participate in DST, which Oregon and most states observe for eight months out of the year. Standard Time, from November to March, is only observed for four months out of the year. The bill would simply negate the need for Americans to change their clocks twice a year, and could have benefits for the nation’s health and economy.

Oregon Senate Passes Bill Focusing On Students With Disabilities & Their Right To Education

The Oregon State Senate has voted “overwhelmingly” to enforce students with disabilities’ right to attend school full-time.

According to a press release sent out by the Office of Senator Sara Blouin, Senate Bill 819, if fully passed, will require informed and written parental consent before a student can have a shortened school day. It also would require the Oregon Department of Education to enforce the law and empowers the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to investigate and hold superintendents accountable for refusing to restore equal access to schools for students with disabilities.

The press release also stated that roughly 1,000 students with disabilities in districts across the state are denied a full school day and in some cases, receive as little as 25 minutes a week of instruction for years on end.

If SB 819 is signed into law, beginning on March 27, parents of these students can file a written objection to their student’s shortened day schedule. The district must return the student to full time school within 5 school days. Failure to do so can lead to loss of state school funds and discipline for the responsible administrator.

“Students with disabilities have had the right to full time public education since the 1970s. It is inexcusable that many districts routinely deprive students of the chance to learn reading, math and social skills by shutting the schoolhouse door in their faces,” said Senator Sara Gelser Blouin (D-Corvallis).

“Today, the Oregon State Senate sent a clear message: There is no excuse for school districts to violate the civil rights of students with disabilities, and the Oregon Department of Education is expected to enforce state and federal law. With rapid action from the House and Governor, Oregon students will be able to realize the promise of a free and appropriate public education next month.”

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Oregon Food Company Recalls Trader Joe’s Salad With Chicken Products

GH Foods NW, a Clackamas, Oregon-based company, is recalling around 106 pounds of Trader Joe’s ready-to-eat salad with chicken products citing misbranding and undeclared allergens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service or FSIS announced.

The product contains wheat, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label.

The recall involves 9.2 oz. plastic clamshell packages containing “TRADER JOE’S LEMON CHICKEN & ARUGULA SALAD” with “BEST BY 03/06/23” and lot code GHNW 059-06.

The affected products bear establishment number “P-46987” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The ready-to-eat lemon chicken & arugula salad products were produced on February 28 and shipped to Trader Joe’s locations in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

The agency noted that the recalled items are labeled with the correct top label but an incorrect bottom label, which contains the ingredient statement for a Broccoli Slaw and Kale Salad with White Chicken Meat product, which does not contain wheat

Clackamas, Oregon- based GH Foods NW, LLC is recalling around 106 pounds of Trader Joe’s ready-to-eat salad with chicken products citing misbranding and undeclared allergens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service or FSIS announced.

The product contains wheat, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label.

The recall involves 9.2 oz. plastic clamshell packages containing “TRADER JOE’S LEMON CHICKEN & ARUGULA SALAD” with “BEST BY 03/06/23” and lot code GHNW 059-06.

The affected products bear establishment number “P-46987” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The ready-to-eat lemon chicken & arugula salad products were produced on February 28 and shipped to Trader Joe’s locations in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

The agency noted that the recalled items are labeled with the correct top label but an incorrect bottom label, which contains the ingredient statement for a Broccoli Slaw and Kale Salad with White Chicken Meat product, which does not contain wheat.

The recall was initiated after the producing establishment notified FSIS that the product had the incorrect ingredient statement label on the bottom of the package.

However, there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators, and urged them to throw away the products or return to the place of purchase.

Felony Hit-and-Run Suspect Arrested After Crashing into Multiple Cars on Hwy 62

JCSO Case 23-1227 WHITE CITY – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) deputies responded to call from ECSO Dispatch for a hit-and-run driver that crashed into three separate vehicles today around 11:18 a.m. The crashes occurred northbound on Crater Lake Highway between Vilas Road and the White City Rogue Valley Expressway entrance. The suspect and two victims received minor injuries from the crashes and were transported to a local hospital for medical care. The suspect fled the scene of the final crash on foot but was captured by a JCSO deputy responding to the call. The suspect is believed to have been suffering from a mental health crisis during the time of the crashes.

The suspect, Melissa Ann Krevitskie, 29, of Pennsylvania, was cited and released to the care of medical staff due to injuries sustained and her apparent mental health crisis. She is charged with felony hit and run, two counts of third-degree assault, four counts of reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and two counts of hit-and-run property damage. Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Transportation, Fire District 3, and Mercy Flights responded to assist. The case is under further investigation. 

Governor Kotek Urges Legislature To Give $7.5 Million To Oregon Food Bank As COVID Benefits End

As hundreds of thousands of Oregonians face a 40% decrease in their food budgets, Gov. Tina Kotek has urged the Oregon Legislature to give millions to the Oregon Food Bank. The Oregon Food Bank offers an assortment of food, including frozen vegetables like these beans.

(Courtesy of the Oregon Food Bank)

The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, covers more than 720,000 Oregonians. When the COVID pandemic hit in spring 2020, the federal government increased monthly SNAP benefits, to an average of $450 per household each month.

Find food —- To find food resources go to or call:

The emergency funding ended in February, slicing aid to households receiving benefits to an average of $270 per month. Local food pantries and the Oregon Food Bank, which serves 1,400 free food markets, pantries, meal sites and delivery programs, have been preparing for increased demand .

Kotek, who started her career as an advocate at the Oregon Food Bank, sent a letter to the chairs of the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee this week asking for an immediate $7.5 million allocation to the Oregon Food Bank for food purchasing.

“Without an immediate investment, Oregon Food Bank will be forced to reduce the level of food support it provides to its regional food banks, and local food pantries will be unable to feed Oregonians who need help,” Kotek wrote.

The proposed $7.5 million is included in a 42-page amendment to the Legislature’s “budget rebalance” bill, a wonkish measure the Legislature passes every two years to reconcile the state’s accounts. The bill will be considered by a subcommittee of the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee on Friday and by the full Legislature later this month.

Oregon Food Bank CEO Susannah Morgan told the Capital Chronicle the money would be enough to ensure the nonprofit can purchase enough food through the end of June. The food bank is also anticipating more federal aid later this spring or summer, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture spends $2 billion announced last fall to buy domestically produced food for food banks and school meal programs.

“Part of our hope for the summer would be that the federal commodities will start flowing in at a higher rate again as we are finishing up spending the additional very welcome grant from the state of Oregon,” Morgan said.

The legislative Emergency Board gave the food bank $5 million last September, but that money’s gone. Like consumers who have grappled with higher prices at grocery stores in recent years, the Oregon Food Bank is paying more for food than it did before the COVID pandemic.

“Pre-pandemic, a 40,000-pound truckload of peanut butter, a whole lot of peanut butter, would have cost $32,000,” Morgan said. “It’s now costing us over $40,000.”

Morgan said the food bank hasn’t seen an increase in demand because of the end of expanded SNAP benefits, but that officials expect increases in the second or third week of March. People typically ask for food assistance when SNAP benefits run out part way through the month, she said.

Eighteen states, mostly Republican-run states in the South, Midwest and Mountain West, already opted out of the additional federal funding. Food banks in those states reported a surge in demand when the extra benefits ended.

Morgan said the most important thing Oregonians can do is make sure their friends, family and neighbors know how to find resources at oregonfoodfinder.org . After that, the food bank is seeking monetary donations , which go further than food donations because the food bank buys food by the truckload and can turn $1 into three meals worth of food. Volunteering time at a local food pantry or regional food bank also helps, she said.

“This grant from the state of Oregon is amazing and really will help us get through June,” Morgan said. “The need will not go away in July. Our neighbors will still need help in July.” (SOURCE)

Advocates From Oregon Urge President Biden To Issue An Executive Order Protecting Beavers On Federal Public Lands

 Oregon’s state animal. (Peter Pearsall/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

A group of scientists, nonprofit organizations and advocates from Oregon and around the country have asked President Joe Biden to issue an executive order protecting beavers on federal public lands.

Their letter was sent to the White House on Monday, signed by over 200 scientists, wildlife experts and activists. It says beavers are important for fighting climate change, biodiversity loss and water shortages.

Oregon’s state animal, beavers were once common here and across the continent. Scientists estimate that there were as many as 200 million beavers in North America before colonization. Widespread trapping in the 19th century brought beavers to the brink of extinction in many areas, and though they have recovered somewhat, current estimates are around 15 million, a reduction of more than 90%. 

Beavers are natural engineers. They build dams, slowing down and spreading water that would otherwise run off – and that makes them a natural ally for Biden’s climate agenda, said Suzanne Fouty, a retired U.S. Forest Service hydrologist who co-authored the letter. 

“It turns out that wetlands, which beavers are capable of creating very effectively, are a tremendous carbon storage zone,” she told the Capital Chronicle.

Wetland soil can store up to 10 times more carbon than the same amount of forest soil, and up to 35 times more than grassland, the letter said. Carbon in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is the primary driver of climate change, and scientists say we have to both reduce our emissions and pull more carbon out of the atmosphere to stabilize the climate. 

Beyond storing carbon, wetlands created and maintained by beavers have been shown to improve water quality, improve and expand fish and wildlife habitat and act as natural firebreaks during wildfires. They also help to mitigate the effects of drought like the one that’s affected the West for several years. 

The letter proposes an executive order with three parts: a near-total ban on beaver trapping on federal public land, a directive to land management agencies to prioritize beaver conservation and funding to federal agencies to expand beaver numbers. It said money should be allocated to the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management along with the Civilian Climate Corps, a climate-focused jobs program that was cut from the Inflation Reduction Act to pass the Senate in 2021.

Until now, beaver management has been left mostly to state wildlife agencies, but the letter’s authors claim that these agencies, funded primarily by hunting, trapping and fishing licenses, are more beholden to hunters and trappers than to the public or the wildlife. The letter mentions Oregon as an example of a state which has been unable to adequately protect beavers, noting that attempts at regulation have failed in both the state Legislature and Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in the last three years.

“Beaver hunting and trapping is open in most states right now,” Adam Bronstein, Director for Oregon and Nevada at the Western Watersheds Project, told the Capital Chronicle. “In a lot of cases, there are no quotas and no seasons.” This means that managers have no way to set sustainable limits on trapping, and scientists have no reliable count of how many beavers are being taken off of public lands.

Many of the co-signers of the letter are Oregonians and leaders of Oregon-based nonprofit organizations, including representatives of several local Audubon societies, the Urban Greenspaces Institute and WaterWatch of Oregon. Professors, retired and active, from both Oregon State University and University of Oregon, joined the effort. Several fishing advocates signed the letter as well, including David Moskowitz from the Conservation Angler and Bob Rees of Northwest Guides and Anglers Association, highlighting the value that beavers can provide to healthy fish habitat.

Bronstein points out that beaver trapping is only one use that actively competes with the other services that wetlands with beavers can provide. In Oregon, fewer than 200 people actively trap and hunt beavers to sell their fur or because some landowners consider them pests. Others hunt them recreationally. “Public lands belong to all Americans, and wildlife is in our collective trust,” says Bronstein. “We want our public lands to provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people.”  (SOURCE)

OHA seeks comment on J.H. Baxter health consultation draft

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Environmental Health Assessment Program (EHAP) at Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is releasing a J.H. Baxter & Co. health consultation draft report with summary fact sheets and is accepting public comment on the documents through June 2, 2023.

The documents are available for viewing and download here. The health consultation report outlines OHA’s analysis of community health risks related to industrial pollution caused by J.H. Baxter, a now-closed wood treatment facility in Eugene.

In September 2021 and May 2022, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency collected surface soil samples from residential yards and other areas further from the facility. Both rounds of sampling showed levels of dioxin in soil above health-based screening concentrations in seven residential yards.

Dioxins are environmental pollutants, in this case likely the byproduct of J.H. Baxter’s operations over the past seven decades.

To address community concerns about the health risks of exposure to dioxin, OHA evaluated data from soil taken from residential areas north of the facility and documented its conclusions and recommendations in the health consultation report.

The report concludes that:

  • Soil with dioxin concentrations over 40 parts per trillion (ppt) could harm the health of children younger than 6 who come in contact with bare soil regularly for one year or longer.
  • If backyard chickens live in residential yards where the soil has dioxin levels above 4.7 ppt, it could be harmful to eat eggs laid by those chickens. This health risk is for people of all ages and backgrounds.
  • There is no health risk from exposures shorter than one year.
  • The increased cancer risk from long-term or chronic exposures to dioxins from J.H. Baxter is low.

The public comment period for the health consultation is open now through June 2, 2023. OHA will host a public meeting April 22 at Petersen Barn Community Center in Eugene to answer questions from the public about the health consultation findings; more details about the meeting will be shared in the coming weeks. Comments can be emailed to ehap.info@oha.oregon.gov or mailed to the following address:

Oregon Health Authority – EHAP

800 Oregon St., Suite 640

Portland, OR 97232

For more information, visit EHAP’s J.H. Baxter page.

Experts Gather In Portland To Discuss Offshore Wind Power In Oregon

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, Oregon’s coast could be home to some massive new structures.That wind energy future was the subject of the Northwest Offshore Wind Conference, held over two days this week in downtown Portland, where nearly 300 of the country’s top experts in the field came together to take stock of the process. 

Wind turbines, some close to 1,000 feet tall and capable of producing up to three gigawatts of power, are planned for two areas about 12 miles offshore. There’s a long way to go before the blades start spinning and generating electricity to power Oregon homes, but the decisions being made now will shape what the projects will look like when they are constructed in the years to come. 

“You’ve got national labs, universities, regulators, stakeholders and a fair amount of supply chain folks who are starting to realize there’s enormous opportunity here if they position themselves well,” said Jason Busch, executive director of the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, a nonprofit that sponsored the conference. Industry leaders say offshore wind development will be a key piece of the puzzle for Oregon to hit 100% renewable energy production in the future.

The process of siting, permitting and constructing offshore wind turbines is not a short one. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management began looking at areas off the west coast several years ago and identified two areas in Oregon waters that would be suitable, off the coast of Coos Bay and Brookings. 

The coast off of southern Oregon and Northern California is known for having some of the highest potential for wind energy production due to strong, reliable and consistent wind.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Federal regulators have been analyzing the two plots, referred to as “call areas,” which encompass more than a million acres, with the intention of identifying the best areas to offer to lease to developers through an auction early in 2024. 

One of those developers is Deep Blue Pacific Wind. Peter Cogswell, government affairs director for the company, said it was more than just wind quality that drew him to Oregon. 

“What makes Oregon unique is that first you have a world-class resource off the Southern Oregon coast,” Cogswell said. “You combine that with Oregon’s historic strong support for clean energy policies and decarbonizing our electric supply, and there’s a lot to like about offshore wind and how it fits into that environment.” 

Offshore wind power will also be a necessary addition to the northwest power generation portfolio as Oregon works toward its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040. 

“A lot of people like to think of offshore wind as kind of an either/or while comparing it with land-based renewables, but the reality is, is that we need everything,” Cogswell said. “If Oregon is going to achieve its 100% clean energy goals and some of its other decarbonization goals, offshore wind is a critical part of achieving that.”

Offshore wind is already in use around the world, including off of the east coast of the U.S. with more than 6,000 turbines providing clean electricity.  

Wind power on the west coast comes with some unique challenges compared to other areas. East coast turbines can be anchored to the ocean floor in the relatively shallow waters off the eastern seaboard, but the continental shelf off the Oregon coast drops off to deeper waters much more quickly, so the turbines will need to be mounted on floating platforms like at some European installations.

That’s only one of the challenges facing developers hoping to tap into the power of Oregon wind. Large infrastructure upgrades would be needed at the deep water ports in Coos Bay, and high voltage transmission lines would need to be built to bring all that power onshore. 

Wind energy proponents point to all of those challenges as sources for new jobs, but there are other potential hurdles to overcome before offshore wind energy becomes a reality in Oregon.

Fishermen worry that the towers could interfere with their livelihoods. Environmental advocates are concerned that vulnerable marine species could be put further at risk. Tribal groups fear that their cultural resources could be put in jeopardy and that they won’t be given the chance to offer any meaningful input on the siting of the turbines.  

In an op-ed for the publication CalMatters, Frankie Myers, vice chairman of Yurok Tribe, wrote that Indigenous people have often been ignored when outsiders come to extract resources from their lands. 

“Offshore wind presents an opportunity to develop the clean energy America needs,” Myers wrote. “But unless offshore wind truly engages with the Native American tribes that suffered the impacts from previous natural resource extraction, it will be as dirty as the rest of them.”

And all those potential conflicts are one of the reasons that winning the lease auction is just the beginning of a lengthy process. After that, developers will go through a roughly 7-year period of environmental impact studies, site analysis and surveys of the areas where they plan to build. 

That extended period will also provide ample opportunity from all the groups that will potentially be impacted by the development to have input on the process. 

Busch said he hopes that the conference in Portland this week will provide a chance to address the concerns of fishermen, environmentalists and tribal members early in the planning process. 

“We have something called the Oregon Way, and that means that people have to come to the table and have a dialogue and build trust about how we deal with the controversial or difficult decision making,” he said.  (SOURCE)

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