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 and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance, your local health and Medicare agents.
Thursday, March , 2023
Klamath Basin Weather
Winter Weather Storm Warning in effect today, Thursday, March 9th from 10AM-4PM today. Be prepared
Today A 50% chance of snow showers, mainly after 11am. Cloudy, with a high near 36. South southeast wind 10 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible. Overnight, more snow showers expected, low around 33. An additional new snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
Friday Snow showers, mainly before 5pm. Patchy blowing snow all day, windy to 30 mph at times, high near 39 degrees. Friday overnight a 20% t chance of snow showers, with a low around 17.
Saturday A 30% chance of showers after 5pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 42. East southeast wind 6 to 8 mph. Overnight, rain mixed with snow, snow level about 4200 feet, low around 27 degrees. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Sunday A chance of rain and snow showers before 11am, then a chance of rain showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44. Chance of precipitation is 50%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Monday Showers likely. Snow level 5400 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.
See Road Camera Views:
A local nurse who was charged in 2022 with sex crimes involving a minor is back in custody after breaking the conditions of release by allegedly providing alcohol to juveniles last month for which she is facing new charges.
Tiffany Fregoso, 35, a registered nurse in Klamath Falls, was originally arrested Oct. 8, 2022, for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old child.
On Monday, March 6, Fergoso appeared in court to face additional charges after allegedly providing alcohol to minors at her home in February.
A copy of the probable cause statement from October 2022 obtained by the Herald & News summarized the alleged events which led to Fregoso’s arrest. The document states that the nurse had publicly engaged in sexual acts with the minor at the local movie theater. Fregoso was conditionally released Oct. 10 after posting a $1,000 security.
In a separate case more recently, Fregoso is facing additional charges involving minors after two underage individuals were discovered to allegedly have been drinking with the defendant at her residence.
Court documents revealed that, after leaving Fregoso’s home Feb. 17, one of the minors was involved in a motor vehicle accident while another was taken to the hospital to be intubated for alcohol poisoning.
The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office arrested Fregoso on Feb. 22 and charged her with furnishing alcohol to persons younger than 21 years of age and recklessly endangering. Upon posting 10 percent of her $10,000 bond, Fregoso was released shortly after her arrest.
The arresting officer’s report stated that witnesses estimated up to 50 minors were present at Fregoso’s residence the night where alcohol was allegedly made available to them. A motion to revoke Fregoso’s release agreement was approved Monday when the defendant appeared before Judge Stephen Hedlund in Klamath County Circuit Court.
An affidavit submitted by Assistant Attorney General Jayme Kimberly on behalf of the state asserted that Fregoso had violated her October 2022 release agreement by committing new law violations.
Fregoso had a third concurrent case presented before the courts Monday after an indictment was filed by the state. The indictment included five additional sex crimes involving a minor to the list of charges.
The first charge, using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct, is a Class A felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.
Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley announced this week he is continuing to hold in-person town halls in 2023 with community conversations in Lake and Klamath counties this weekend.
Merkley’s Lake County town hall will start at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 11 in the cafeteria at Lakeview High School, 906 S. 3rd St. in Lakeview.
The Klamath County town hall is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 12 in the Mt. Mazama/Mt. Scott Rooms at Oregon Institute of Technology, 3201 Campus Drive in Klamath Falls.
Since taking office in 2009, Merkley has kept his promise to hold an open town hall for each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year. In recent years, many of the events have been virtual amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He held in-person town halls throughout January and February, speaking with Oregonians in 19 counties ranging from Oregon’s North Coast to the Columbia River Gorge, Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon, the Willamette Valley and Clackamas County.
Acting as the Urban Renewal Agency (URA), Klamath Falls City Council approved an extension for the construction company hired to build a Home2Suites by Hilton hotel in TimberMill Shores, downtown.
Estimated completion for the hotel — previously referred to as TimberMill Shores Hotel — was originally set for Dec. 31, 2023. At the City Council meeting Monday, March 6, an extension was granted, moving the date back to Dec. 31, 2024.
Due to the necessary wastewater mainline upgrades as well as changes in design guidelines by Hilton which are not yet complete, the contracted company, Ferguson Development, would be unable to finish the build by the end of this year.
Council also heard from other local businesses undergoing construction and expansion projects, including Canvasback Books and the soon-to-be Woodsy Kitchen.
Located at 1219 Main St., Canvasback Books is in the process of expanding the bookstore into the space between the Tool Library and the bookstore. The space would be reserved as a reading nook where patrons could sit back with a book and beer or glass of wine.
The council held a public hearing to determine whether to support the provision of a liquor license to the bookstore.
Council unanimously approved the allowances for both businesses to receive liquor licenses.
A reminder to slow down on the roads around the Klamath Basin. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), in association with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), awarded the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office grant funds for traffic safety during 2022-2023 totaling $15,000.
The grants are being used to increase traffic enforcement with focused patrols for Distracted Driving, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII), Occupant Protection (Safety Belts), Pedestrian Safety and Speed Enforcement.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office to keep drivers and passengers safe by raising awareness about the dangers of speeding and urging drivers to obey speed limits. Throughout the month of March, deputies will be on higher alert for speeding vehicles. Not only is speeding illegal, it’s deadly. In 2020, speeding killed 11,258 people, accounting for more than one-quarter of all crash fatalities. Tragically, there was a dramatic increase (17%) in speeding-related crash fatalities from 2019-2020, with a projected 5% increase from 2020-2021.
NHTSA and the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office want to remind drivers that, no matter how seasoned you are as a driver, ultimately, Speeding Slows You Down.
The Klamath Fish Hatchery is still operating and producing legal and trophy-size rainbow trout even though its main building was totally destroyed in the September 2020 Chiloquin 242 Fire.
The hatchery, located along Crooked Creek off Highway 62 south of Fort Klamath, is still producing about a million fish annually, mostly rainbow trout, along with smaller numbers of brown trout and chinook salmon, according to hatchery manager Greg Lipsiea and Scott Patterson, fish propagation manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Lipsiea said the blaze destroyed the 225- by 75-foot office complex — “The heart of the hatchery” — that also housed the main mechanical shop and that the hatchery’s power, water and sewer systems were compromised. He and Patterson said they hope construction of a new building can begin later this year and that the hatchery will reopen to public visits in 2024. Tentative plans have the new structure housing the hatchery’s offices, maintenance shops,
Despite the extensive damage, “We haven’t had a hiccup in production,” Lipsiea said of ongoing efforts to raise fish.
Eggs from the Klamath Hatchery were taken to other state hatcheries, where they were hatched and kept until young fish were large enough to be returned to the Klamath Hatchery where they are reared. When the rainbow trout are released, some are fingerlings about 2- to 4-inches long, others are 10-inches while upward of 16,000 are 2-pound trophy trout. The rainbows are stocked in lakes and streams throughout the Klamath Basin and Southern Oregon, including Lake of the Woods, several lakes in Lake County and Diamond Lake, which Lipsiea terms “one of the best productive lakes in the state.”
The fingerlings are stocked by helicopter into lakes in regional wilderness areas, including the Mountain Lakes and Sky Lakes Wilderness areas. The stocking is done every other year, with the next planting planned in July.
The 36th annual Rock, Gem and Mineral Show hosted by the Klamath Rock and Arrowhead Club is taking place this weekend, Saturday, March 11 and Sunday, March 12 at the Klamath County Fairgrounds.
The popular Klamath Rock and Arrowhead club welcomes both the old and young of age to take part in the two-day event featuring demonstrations on flintknapping, gold panning, silversmithing, jewelry making and so much more.
Learn where to go rock hounding (collecting) within the Klamath Basin and nearby outlying areas.
Already have a collection of gems and minerals, but have no idea what a particular one is? Bring them down for identification.
A raffle and silent auction will take place, and there are door prizes every hour that participants must be present at to win. There is a $3 suggested donation fee and children younger than 12 may participate for free. Doors open at 9 a.m. both days.
Southern Oregonians will be strapping on their tool belts this weekend and heading to the Klamath Basin Home & Outdoors Expo at Klamath County Fairgrounds.
This year marks the 46th annual expo event, running from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 11 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 12.
Theresa Edwards, the executive officer of Klamath Basin Home Builders Association, said the expo will offer “a plethora of vendors this year,” including roofers, flooring specialists and even a gutter protection company from Ohio.
The annual expo has been growing in recent years, according to Edwards. With more than 3,000 people attending last year’s event, Edwards said she is hopeful to see upward of 5,000 this year.
Other venders such as locally-favored food trucks and boutique outlets also will be on site for the event.
Presentations are tentatively scheduled to take place over the course of the weekend and will include speakers from the main event sponsor, Coldwell Banker, as well as New York Life Foundation.
At 10 a.m. Saturday the expo has announced a special presentation from the Home Builders Association program Build My Future, where a Tiny Home built by local high school students will be donated to Project Homefront.
Entry to the expo is $4 per ticket at the door or $3 with the donation of a canned food item.
March is officially the month to raise awareness for those with developmental disabilities as declared by the Klamath County Board of County Commissioners.
To open their weekly business meeting, the commissioners welcomed Myles Maxey, director of Developmental Disability Services for the county, to assist in proclaiming March 2023 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Klamath County.
After reading the proclamation, the commissioners turned to more serious business: The next rounds of relief funds opening for dry domestic wells.
The county will pay 75% of the eligible cost of the work on a well up to $40,000. To apply for the Klamath County Domestic Well Financial Assistance Grant, go to the county’s website at klamathcounty.org.
In further county news, the commissioners approved an agreement with the South Suburban Sanitary District to reimburse Klamath County a total of $12,418.20 for upcoming roadway and sidewalk improvements on the Stearns Corridor.
The commissioners also approved renewing existing Klamath County Weed Control contracts with the City of Klamath Falls and with Pacific Power and Light Company.
Teams of students from across the Northwest are gearing up for the 2023 Regional VRC/VEX Robotics Championships this weekend at Mazama High School.
More than 60 teams of middle and high school students — along with their robots — will be competing for numerous awards, including an opportunity to compete in the world championship.
The event is free and open to the public. The battle of the bots will run from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, March 10 and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 11.
Robots and their teams will go head-to-head gasket throughout both days of the event, with championship matches taking place between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday.
The home team competitors will include students from Chiloquin, Lost River, Henley and Mazama.
According to Marcia Schlottmann, public relations specialist for Klamath County School District, teams from as far as Vancouver, Wash., will be attending to compete.
A man in Klamath County was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after viewing child sex abuse material, according to a Tuesday news release.
Scott Loraditch pleaded guilty to four counts of encouraging child abuse in the second degree, the release said. Loraditch admitted to watching images of children being sexually abused for his own gratification over the course of a year, between Dec. 9, 2020 and Dec. 15, 2021.
The Klamath County District Attorney’s Office encourages anyone with information about the production, distribution or use of child pornography to report it to police or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) through the CyberTipline at https://report.cybertip.org/ or 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).
Coming to the Ross Ragland Theater!
Funny guys! Jim and Hurricanes Funniest Friends: Ft. Jeremy Curry, Kabir Singh, Jay Rich.
March 18 @ 7:30 pm $20 https://ragland.org/
EagleRidge HS MEETING NOTICE
The Board of Directors of EagleRidge High School, an Oregon Nonprofit Corporation, will hold a Board Meeting on Thursday, March 16, 2023, at 4:00 pm at EagleRidge High School, 677 South Seventh Street, Klamath Falls, Oregon.
The meeting is In-person and available on Teams. The meeting agenda includes presentation of Integrated Guidance and award of the new building proposal. The Board may also consider other business brought before the board.
EagleRidge High School was established to create and implement an autonomous, high achieving and equitable small high school in collaboration with the Klamath Falls City School District pursuant to the Oregon Charter School law.
The meeting will be conducted in accordance with the Oregon Public Meetings laws.
Around the state of Oregon
Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.8% in January, matching Oregon’s revised 4.8% unemployment rates for October, November, and December 2022.
The last time Oregon’s unemployment rate was more than 4.8% was in July 2021 when the rate was 5.1%. In January, the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.4%, its lowest level in more than 50 years. Annual revisions to the data, released this month, indicate that Oregon’s unemployment rate was higher than originally estimated last year, and payroll employment growth was slightly slower.
In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 9,900 jobs in January, following a gain of 5,600 jobs in December. Monthly job gains in 2022 averaged 5,600. The gains in January were largest in health care and social assistance (+2,200 jobs); professional and business services (+1,800); and leisure and hospitality (+1,400). The only major industry with a job loss in January was private educational services (-600).
We’re getting plenty of snow across Southern Oregon and the Klamath Basin these past few days and flurries will continue for a couple more days, on and off.
Last month’s record-breaking snowstorm left the normally rainy city of Portland reeling for days, but part of why the storm hit so hard was that it took the city by surprise — and a gap in Oregon’s weather radar coverage has something to do with it.
Commuters headed to work on Feb. 22 were still expecting not much more than a light dusting, but the storm ended up dumping nearly 11 inches of snow, turning metro area roads into a catastrophic mess by the early evening.
Poor radar coverage means weather systems are tougher to track in Oregon, making it really difficult to pinpoint who will see snowflakes and who won’t. The Feb. 22 storm is a good example because it involved a band of moisture moving in over Oregon’s central coast — right where a radar gap stretches for nearly 200 miles to the south of Lincoln City.
Snowstorms aren’t the only dangerous weather patterns that can slip through radar gaps. When a tornado hit the coast town of Manzanita in October 2016, the only warning residents got was an alert sent to their phones.
Closing the gap isn’t an easy task, because new radar installations on the coast would cost millions of dollars. Mass said his approach would be to move an existing radar installation from Medford out to the coast, and replace it in Medford with less expensive hardware.
Authorities say a hiker was killed in a fall Saturday at Cape Kiwanda State Park, north of Pacific City.
Oregon State Police say 25-year-old Henry Minh Hoang, from West Covina, California, was hiking beyond a safety fence and fell 20-feet into a punch bowl. He was knocked unconscious and swept into the ocean by the waves. A search was launched but had to be suspended on Saturday due to darkness. Searchers found Hoang’s body Sunday afternoon on the shoreline at the base of a nearby cliff.
Oregon Governor Tina Kotek has announced appointment of 25 people to her Housing Production Advisory Council. Kotek set a goal of building 36-thousand homes per year to meet the state’s housing crisis.
The council will develop an action plan to meet the goal. Members of the committee come from across the state. Their first meeting will be on Friday and they have until April 1st to develop a framework for their action plan.
Gov. Kotek has tapped a longtime financial officer to temporarily lead the Oregon Health Authority starting mid-month.
Dave Baden, who has served as the agency’s chief financial officer since 2019 and previously was the deputy chief financial officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be the Oregon Health Authority’s new interim director following the unexpected of resignation James Schroeder. Schroeder announced last week that he will step aside March 17 after less than 10 weeks on the job.
Baden served as a statewide incident commander during the pandemic, procuring and distributing personal protective equipment to Oregon health care systems, bringing more than 2,000 workers to Oregon to help keep health care providers afloat and overseeing vaccine distributions, Kotek’s office said.
A new bill that’s already passed through the Oregon senate in the state legislature wants to make sure shortened school days are not used too often for students with disabilities.
State Senator Cedric Hayden said across the state, he’s seen data that shows students with disabilities have more shortened school days than other students.
He said Senate Bill 819 would make sure students with disabilities get their right to a full day of education, unless their parents choose otherwise.
Senator Hayden said, “they need to get their constitutional right. They have a right to education and a person with a disability doesn’t have a less right to be in school for an amount of hours versus someone that in the healthcare industry we might call within the normal limits.”
Hayden said he’s worked to get funding for special needs programs in the senate before and he wants to see the that money is used properly.
The bill passed in the senate and had its first reading in the house Monday.
Oregon’s psilocybin program is still being developed. Part of that process includes licensing manufacturers, laboratories and people who will administer the drug.
The Oregon Health Authority has released the first numbers on how much progress is being made. Oregon Psilocybin Services has approved 39 worker permits. The agency has not yet approved licenses for any psilocybin facilities, although, it’s received 21 applications since January second.
Oregon State Police (OSP) are asking for the public’s help identifying a suspect in a credit card theft investigation.
According to OSP, on February 10, 2023 a mother and three kids were traveling on Interstate 5, around 11:00 a.m. she pulled into a rest stop near milepost 206 where she discovered her credit card was missing.
The woman reached out to an OSP Trooper for assistance. Officials say that the OSP Trooper was was able track down images from video surveillance, obtained from the stores where the suspect used the stolen credit card.
Officials say that the suspect vehicle appears similar to a 2000 GMC pickup, with what appears to be ‘aftermarket wheels.’
Oregon State Police say the suspect used the stolen credit card at the Pilot Fuel Station and Adult Store in Rice Hill, as well as the Bi-Mart and Grocery Outlet in Cottage Grove. Authorities say there was an additional attempt to use the car at an auto parts store in Springfield, but the card declined.
OSP asks anyone with information about the identity of this suspect to contact their dispatch center at 1-800-442-2068 or *OSP from your mobile phone.
Want to pump your own gas, like 48 other states allow? Oregon lawmakers are once again discussing a bill that would allow drivers to pump their own gas. House Bill 2426 would require gas stations to keep half their pumps for attendants.
Oregon is one of only two states that does not allow drivers to pump their own gas, the other is New Jersey. To move forward, the bill needs to pass the House committee vote later this week. From there it would need to clear both the full House and Senate and get the governor’s signature.
Owners of gas stations in Oregon say they have had trouble finding employees to pump gas .
Most agree the labor shortage is the biggest stumbling block for gas stations.
Drivers in Oregon have mixed feelings about the bill with some saying they will always choose to have someone pump, and others want the choice.
A driver used some quick thinking to help alert rescuers to his location after he got stuck in the snow on a remote road in Willamette National Forest, the Lane County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue reported.
After the man got stuck in the snow, he realized he didn’t have cell service. He also knew nobody would call the authorities when he didn’t come home because his family was out of the country and he hadn’t told anyone else where he was going when he left.
Stranded with no obvious way out, the man came up with a plan on how to alert rescuers to his situation. He attached his cellphone to a drone he had in his vehicle. He typed out a text on his phone to a friend describing what had happened and his exact location. Then he hit send on the text and launched the drone several hundred feet into the air. That high up, the phone was able to connect to service and send the text.
The man’s friend received the text, reached out to authorities and rescue crews were able to locate the man and rescue him. During the rescue trip, crews also found and rescued another driver who’d been stranded nearby in the snow for multiple days.
Britt announces the first set of Britt Presents concerts for 2023
JACKSONVILLE, OR — Britt Music & Arts Festival is excited to announce the first installment of Britt Presents music & comedy concerts for the 2023 summer season.
The first of two season announcements, this group of shows features a wide array of musical artists, including first-time-to-Britt country artists Kelsea Ballerini and Elle King, plus returning artists Diana Ross, Shakey Graves, Old Crow Medicine Show, Cake, Los Lonely Boys, The Head And The Heart, Pink Martini, and annual fan favorite, Michael Franti & Spearhead.
For Beatles fans, RAIN – A Tribute to the Beatles is also returning to the Britt main stage. On April 6, Britt will announce more concerts for the 2023 Britt Presents season.
With this announcement, there will be a Member pre-sale before tickets go on sale to the general public, which is coming at 10:00 AM on Friday, March 24. Donor & Patron Members can now order tickets online.
Tickets for the “Best of Britt” dinner and auction are already on sale and include premium seats to the Pink Martini concert. Tickets to the concert only for Pink Martini featuring China Forbes will go on sale to the public at 10:00 AM on March 24th. Tickets for the Britt Festival Orchestra Season, the Best of Britt fundraiser and Rebelution: Good Vibes Summer Tour are already on sale at Brittfest.org.
Tickets and more information can be found at Brittfest.org, or you can call or visit the Box Office at 541-773-6077 or 216 W. Main St., Medford, Oregon.
The 2023 concert line-up:
June 11: Shakey Graves
June 19: Diana Ross
June 25: Kelsea Ballerini
July 6: Old Crow Medicine Show
July 18: Elle King
August 3: An Evening with RAIN – A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES
August 5: An Evening with CAKE
August 6: Los Lonely Boys – The Brotherhood Tour
August 9: Michael Franti & Spearhead
August 10: The Head And The Heart
August 24: Pink Martini featuring China Forbes & Best of Britt
August 27: Good Vibes Summer Tour 2023
Inspired by its intimate and scenic hillside venue, Britt Music & Arts Festival provides diverse live performances, an incomparable classical festival and dynamic education programs that create a sense of discovery and community. Since its grassroots beginnings in 1963, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber music festival to a summer-long series of concerts in a variety of genres, including a three-week orchestra season, and year-round education and engagement programs. For more information, visit www.brittfest.org.
Oregon Senator Wyden and Colleagues Reintroduce Bill to Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent
Here it comes. Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 12th, and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and a bipartisan group of senators want to make it permanent.
And again U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Senate colleagues from both parties have 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.”
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.
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:
- www.211info.org (211)
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.”
Advocates From Oregon Urge President Biden To Issue An Executive Order Protecting Beavers On Federal Public Lands
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)
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.
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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