Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 4/27/23 –Oregon Tech Tuition Increasing Effective Fall Term 2023

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Thursday, April 27th, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Today,   Sunny, with a high near 81. Light winds to 6 mph. Overnight mostly clear with a low of 44.

Friday   Sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind to 9 mph. Clear overnight with a low around 46.
Saturday   Sunny, with a high near 83. Light winds to 13 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 18 mph.
Sunday   Mostly sunny, with a high near 71.
Monday   Partly sunny, with a high near 62.
Tuesday   A slight chance of showers. 

See Road Camera Views around the Basin: 

Lake of the Woods
Doak Mtn.
Hiway 97 at Chemult
Hiway 140 at  Bly
Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr.
Hiway 97 at LaPine


Today’s Headlines

The Oregon Tech Board of Trustees voted at its April meeting to increase tuition levels for the 2023-24 academic year.

According to a news release, Oregon Tech Finance and Administration Vice President John Harman summarized the process of reviewing and recommending university tuition rates, which involves strong student leadership on the Tuition Recommendation Committee (TRC), as well as faculty and staff engagement.

The TRC actively engages the campus community through meetings and campus forums to develop and recommend a tuition rate to the university president based on student and university needs, focusing on programs, quality, affordability, supporting at-risk students, and budget dynamics, the press release states.

The Associated Students of Oregon Institute of Technology (ASOIT) student government also makes its recommendation to the university president. The president then presents his recommendation to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

According to the news release, both the TRC and ASOIT recommended increasing the academic year 2023-24 base tuition and fees by 5% to Oregon Tech President Nagi Naganathan, who then recommended a 4.9% increase to the Board, which the Board approved. Naganathan thanked members of the TRC, Incidental Fee Committee work groups, and ASOIT for conducting a thorough and collaborative process through open and supportive deliberations.

The Oregon Tech tuition increase will become effective fall term of the 2023-24 academic year.


Klamath County Commissioners Derrick DeGroot and Dave Henslee responded directly to constituents during their most recent meeting.

While the Board of County Commissioners were discussing the appointment of Trevenen Wright to the Klamath Falls Forest Estates Unit 1 Special Road District, Gayle and Sam Marquez objected to the appointment during the Tuesday, April 25 meeting.

Marquez also alleged that Wright has been illegally camping on his property and that an individual is allowed only three weeks to dwell in a motor home before having to purchase permits from the county.   Following Marquez’s comments, DeGroot asked Klamath County Tax Assessor Rick Vaughn to discuss what he knows of Wright.

In light of this, DeGroot chose to hold back the motion allowing the board time to gather more information on Wright.

Also during the meeting, the board announced its plan to hold public hearings concerning proposed changes to a county tobacco ordinance that will limit how near to schools and childcare facilities tobacco retailers are allowed to be.

County Public Health Director Jennifer Little told the commission about how research shows that children who are exposed to tobacco and advertising for tobacco are more likely to try those products and said that policy change is a powerful tool to limit children’s exposure and access to.

The Board of County Commissioners plans to hold two hearings on the matter at 1:15 p.m. Tuesdays May 9 and May 23.


Become a Teacher.  Community members in Klamath Falls and surrounding areas are invited to attend an open house event to learn how to become licensed teachers without leaving Klamath County through Klamath Community College (KCC) and Southern Oregon University (SOU).

The event is at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, in KCC’s Building 8, Room 812.

Representatives from KCC and SOU are jointly hosting the open house to share information about their partnership, which allows students registered at SOU to complete a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education at KCC. The event is intended as an informational evening for anyone interested in earning a teaching license.

The KCC-SOU collaboration provides a clear pathway for students in the Klamath Falls area to earn a bachelor’s degree and provides options for earning a teaching license and/or a minor in early childhood development.

Community members who already hold a bachelor’s degree and want to become teachers can also get information about earning a teaching license, as well as school staff, graduating high school students, and those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field of study. Options include a K-12 special education teaching license, a second bachelor’s degree with licensure, and a Master of Arts in Teaching at SOU.   For more information, visit klamathcc.edu.


The Oregon Tech Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program is working with Grace William Health Systems, a non-profit behavioral health agency located in Klamath Falls, to provide advanced education and license prerequisites for professionals living in Ghana and Nigeria.

Kevin Garrett, Ph.D., Program and Clinical Director of the MFT program at Oregon Tech, said with this license, and as graduates of the MFT program, these professionals would help fill the growing demand for qualified behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment professionals in Klamath Falls and Oregon.

MFT enrolled seven students during Winter Term who are, or were, working professionals in their home countries. Most students have advanced behavioral health degrees, but a desire to work in the U.S. prompted them to earn a license to practice in Oregon. The shortage of qualified therapists in Klamath Falls and Oregon makes this partnership ideal, and some of the students have already relocated to Klamath Falls.

Full-time students in the MFT program can complete their education within 2.75 years. Garrett said this cohort of international students is expected to graduate from the MFT program within 1-1.75 years, since they have already completed advanced education and degrees. Oregon Tech’s MFT program is a part- or full-time mental health graduate program with specialized training in systems, families, and relationships, as well as substance use disorder treatment and integrated behavioral healthcare.


Highlighting and honoring young people whose lives and achievements demonstrate an enduring commitment to qualities associated with good character, the organization called Citizens for Safe Schools hosted the 2023 American Youth Character Awards at the Klamath Community College Conference Center last Monday.

According to a press release, these awards are a great way to acknowledge skills and achievements that sometimes go unnoticed.

In cooperation with the national Character Counts! Coalition, Citizens for Safe Schools host this awards process and ceremony every year, the release states, soliciting applications from schools and individuals in the Klamath Basin.

The press release states the awardees are selected not based on academic merit but rather, based on applicants’ demonstration of strength of character, namely the six pillars of character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

Six youth awardees were selected, according to the press release, and each youth received a certificate and $100, and two teachers in the community were selected as the Character Builder winners, receiving $500 to be used in their classroom for character initiatives.

According to the press release, awards this year were made possible through the generosity of these local businesses: Precision Painting, Summit Funding, Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corporation, Rachael Spoon at State Farm Insurance and Margot Durand at Fisher Nicholson Reality.

Now more than ever, the press release states, it is important that our nation commit to those ideals of respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship that have made our nation so great. Citizens For Safe Schools would like to extend their warmest congratulations to all of the 2023 Nominees and Awardees for living up to these ideals.

For more information about Citizens For Safe Schools, go to www.citizensforsafeschools.org.


A parade of peaceful protesters planted a very different kind of garden on Arbor Day over weekend in Veterans’ Memorial Park here in Klamath Falls.

Outlined with carnations, the “garden of issues,” as it came to be known, sprouted signs with statements in protest of the plan to display a retired fighter jet in that location.

The size of the jet display — which will measure 110-feet in diameter and 40-feet in height — would require the trimming and removing of some of the longstanding trees in the park.

A proposal to place an ice-skating rink in the park in 2001 also would have required trees to be cut back and removed. Similar outcry from community members convinced city officials to countermand the project.

Community concerns include more than just arbor preservation, however, with primary upset stemming from the use of federal relief funds for the project.

Project funding allocations come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.  City council and Klamath County Commissioners have each promised $300,000 for the jet installation for a total of $600,000.

U.S Treasury Department defines allowable uses of ARPA funds state that relief funding cannot be used for general economic development.

City staff argue funding the project is an allowable use as it is for the purpose of improving revenue as a tourist attraction.  It was announced at a council meeting earlier this month that the city is considering moving the jet project to another location within Veterans’ Park.


Jury selection began Monday for a trial in which utility company, PacifiCorp, will have to defend itself against claims that its negligence resulted in several of the devastating wildfires that burned across Oregon during a historic wind event in September 2020, including a massive fire here in Klamath County.

The class action lawsuit was first filed at the end of September 2020, shortly after the fires, by a Linn County couple who lost their homes to the Beachie Creek Fire. The complaint grew to include survivors of the Echo Mountain Fire in Lincoln County, the South Obenchain Fire in Jackson County, the 242 Fire in Klamath County and the Santiam Canyon Fire — the last one formed by the merger of multiple large fires, including Beachie Creek.

According to the complaint, Pacific Power and its parent company failed to de-energize power lines in areas of particular risk, despite forecasts warning of a historic wind event and extreme fire danger.

In November, PacifiCorp settled with a couple who had sued over their losses in the Archie Creek Fire in Douglas County, another of the Labor Day weekend fires.  As a result, the lawsuit continues, trees brought down active power lines — sparking some of the fires that destroyed hundreds, if not thousands of homes, businesses and other structures, resulting in several deaths.  The defense attorneys argued for the ability to cross-examine Nik Blosser, former Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s Chief of Staff, saying that the plaintiffs “intend to give him a starring role in testifying.”

PacifiCorp is a Portland-based company, and the trial will take place in Multnomah County Circuit Court.


Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin invites the community to its annual fundraising program and auction,”Friend Raiser,” presented by Lithia Ford of Klamath Falls, Thursday, June 1.

Doors open at Mike’s fieldhouse at Steen Sports Park at 5 p.m.

The event begins at 5 p.m. with music, cocktails by Pourhorse Canna, “Cowcohol” vodka samples from TMK Creamery, bidding on silent aucon items, a wine toss, and a MirrorMe photo booth by Impressions Design. A “Bite of the Basin” buffet-style dinner begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by a program and live auction.

The event site is accessible via friendsklamath.org or directly at hps://fckb.ejoinme.org/FR2023. Available now are event ckets ($50), succulent centerpieces ($30), and entries for a $1450 Holliday Jewelry gi cerficate raffle ($10) and a $1000 Golden Ticket raffle ($50). Silent and live aucon items will be added May 25 for preview.

Supporters unable to aend but wishing to parcipate can arrange for proxy bids by calling 541-273-2022 or by donang via credit card (friendsklamath.org) or check (to Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin, 3837 Altamont Drive, Klamath Falls, OR 97603). Friends – Klamath Basin was established in 2000 to impact generaonal change by empowering youth facing the greatest obstacles. It pairs youth with professional mentors for 12+ years, no maer what.


The Klamath Falls Community Band, a 501©(3) nonprofit organization, is seeking players for the 2023-24 concert season.

The all-volunteer band seeks to promote band music as a traditional community art form through performances, music education programs and community partnerships. The group performs an average of three concerts per year and provides an opportunity to make music, have fun and build community in the Klamath Basin.

Any musician with at least a high school level of experience on their instrument is welcome to join the band, no auditions necessary,. High school students are welcome at the recommendation of their band teacher. The band is especially looking for clarinet and saxophone players at the moment, but all instruments are welcome.

Rehearsals are currently underway for a July 4 concert and a Halloween concert to be held in October.   Regular rehearsals are held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays in the band room at Mazama High School.   Interested musicians can sit in on a rehearsal or contact basincommunityband@gmail.com for more information.


An intense solar storm has the northern lights gracing the skies farther south than usual.

A stunning photo of the northern lights taken overlooking Upper Klamath Lake is circulating on social media.  Elsewhere, from Washington state to Wisconsin, auroras were reported as mostly a reddish glow instead of the typical green shimmer. In the U.S., skygazers also took in the sights from Colorado, California, New Mexico and even Arizona.

A blast of superhot material from the sun late last week hurled scorching gases known as plasma toward Earth at nearly 2 million mph, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday.

Earth felt the brunt of the storm Sunday, according to NOAA, with forecasters warning operators of power plants and spacecraft of the potential for disruption.  The farther north, the better the show as the energized particles interact with the atmosphere closer to Earth.  The farther south, the curvature of the Earth cuts off the most dazzling scenes as the particles interact higher in the atmosphere.


Around the state of Oregon

Another concern for voters, Oregon legislative procedures allow lawmakers to fast-track some of the most controversial measures, skipping opportunities for public testimony that other bills receive.

Republicans in the minority in the House and Senate want that practice to end. They sent Democratic leaders a letter last week asking for changes before the Legislature convenes in 2024 to ensure that policy committees in both the House and Senate get a chance to scrutinize every bill that moves through the legislative process.

Most legislation follows a process familiar to anyone who’s taken a government class or watched Schoolhouse Rock. A senator or representative introduces a bill and it’s assigned to a policy committee. If the committee approves of the bill, it goes to the full House or Senate for a vote. Then it goes to the other chamber and the process starts over again.

But if there’s a cost associated with a bill, it goes from a policy committee to the budget-writing Joint Ways and Means Committee. Bills recommended by that committee skip policy committees in the second chamber.

Republicans who oppose the practice are most concerned about two of the more controversial bills awaiting House votes: House Bill 2002, which aims to guarantee access to reproductive and gender-affirming health care, and House Bill 2005, a gun control measure that would raise the minimum age to purchase some firearms and ban untraceable guns.


A young Grants Pass father is dead, after he and several children fell off an embankment, on the Oregon coast.

A hiking trip on the Oregon coast quickly turned deadly for one Rogue Valley family last weekend. The Curry County Sheriff’s Office says on Saturday it got a call from a Grants Pass woman saying her husband, her two kids, and their juvenile friend fell off a cliff. Sheriff John Ward says the family got lost on their way to Secret Beach.

According to a GoFundMe, the hike was supposed to be at Secret Beach near Brookings, however, the trail was not marked clearly and they ended up on the wrong trail Thunder Cove. It says the trail was easy enough up until approaching the waterfall, where it became treacherous.

Sheriff Ward says the woman’s husband 36-year-old Ryan Acord saw the kids go over the cliff, and in trying to save them, he slipped and fell to the rocky beach below. He didn’t survive the fall.

Sheriff Ward says an eight-year-old also fell and was airlifted out with substantial injuries. The other two children had also fallen down the steep embankment but didn’t fall over the edge to the beach below. Both were rescued and released to their mothers.

The GoFundMe says Ryan loved hiking, and spending most of his time outdoors. He is described as a courageous, brave, brilliant, adventurous husband and dad, who will be missed dearly. Sheriff Ward says the 8-year-old is expected to make a full recovery.


Mobile speed cameras could soon be popping up around the state after lawmakers approved a bill Monday that would allow any Oregon city to use photo enforcement to catch and ticket speeders.

Under existing law, only 10 Oregon cities are allowed to use photo radar, and for no more than four hours per location per day. Under the bill awaiting Gov. Tina Kotek’s signature, any city would be able to use photo enforcement, with no limit on how long the cameras can be operational.

Portland since 2016 has been allowed to use fixed speed cameras for any length of time on streets prone to serious accidents.

The bill would also expand cities’ power to set lower speed limits than those established in state law, from 5 miles per hour lower than the statutory minimum to 10 miles per hour lower, except for zones where the law dictates a 20-mile-per-hour speed limit.


The Department of the Interior yesterday announced a $140 million investment for water conservation and efficiency projects as part of the President’s Investing in America agenda to enhance the resilience of the West to drought and climate change.

Funding for 84 projects in 15 western states, provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and annual appropriations, will go to irrigation and water districts, states, Tribes and other entities and are expected to conserve over 230,000 acre-feet of water when completed. This is equivalent to 77 billion gallons of water, enough water for more than 940,000 people.

Delivering water more efficiently is key to helping Western communities become more resilient to drought.

For more than 120 years, Reclamation and its partners have developed sustainable water and power solutions for the West.

The leaders returned last week from visits across the West as part of the Administration’s Investing in America tour to highlight the opportunities that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act are creating.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $8.3 billion for Reclamation water infrastructure projects over five years to advance drought resilience and expand access to clean water for families, farmers and wildlife. The investment will revitalize water delivery systems, advance water purification and reuse techniques, expand water storage capacities and complete rural water projects. The Inflation Reduction Act is investing another $4.6 billion to address Western drought. Combined, these laws represent the largest investments in climate resilience in the nation’s history and provide unprecedented resources to support the Administration’s comprehensive, government-wide approach to make Western communities more resilient to drought and climate change.

In Oregon three projects were funded, including the Deschutes River Conservancy, Conserving Water Through Piping and Improved Monitoring and Measurement Reclamation Funding: $2,693,355 Total Project Cost: $5,388,811.  Another in Tualatin and one in Malheur County were also funded.


A Multnomah County judge has sentenced a daughter to prison for stealing from her own elderly mother.

In 2020, 52-year-old Nicole Stevens stole over 400-thousand dollars from her mother who was suffering from dementia and no longer able to handle her affairs. By February of 2021, Stevens had spent 325-thousand dollars of the money with no evidence she was spending it on her mother. In 2020, Stevens checked her mother into a care facility claiming she had enough money to pay for it. Two months later, Stevens told the facility manager that her mother was out of money.

Stevens was found guilty by a jury. Stevens was sentenced to two years in prison.


Oregon Credit Unions Ask Legislature to Support Financial Education in Oregon High Schools

Senate Bill 3 will set students on a path toward higher education, career skills, and personal financial education.

Here are facts. Oregonians aren’t ready for financial crisis. Sixty-two percent of Oregonians spend more money than they earn, and 29% don’t have enough cash to cover a $2,000 emergency, according to research by Oregon State University. In addition, an Oregon Department of Education study issued in September 2022, found that financial education “was the most frequently cited subject that respondents across groups said students should have.”

Legislation being considered in the Oregon Senate could be a game-changer in that it would require high schools to provide financial education and real-world life skills training.  Senate Bill 3 is backed by GoWest Credit Union Association and its member credit unions in the state.

“The need for financial education in Oregon high schools is clear,” said Pam Leavitt, Vice President of Regional Grassroots and Political Programs/Legislative Affairs, GoWest Credit Union Association. “The bill we are asking the legislature to pass has received widespread support in committee hearings by teachers and community leaders. The time is now.”

If SB3 becomes law, students would earn ½ credit on each of two tracks – one teaching higher education and career skills and the other offering personal financial education.

The career path curriculum would help students learn to apply for jobs, prepare resumes, practice job interview skills, apply for admission to higher education or career training programs, seek scholarships or financial aid, and become self-advocates for their mental, physical, and financial wellness.

The personal education curriculum would be designed to help high school students start to build financial wellness as they embark on life as adults. Skills to be taught include building credit worthiness and credit scores, budgeting, spending wisely, making loan payments, understanding the full costs of rent and homeownership, tax preparation, and fraud prevention.

When credit unions met with legislative leaders to propose the idea for the bill, it received broad, bipartisan support and was introduced by Oregon Senate President Rob Wagner, a Democrat, and Senate Republican leader Tim Knopp.

Structured as not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions have long provided financial education to Oregonians. In 2022, credit unions in Oregon provided free financial education to 17,000 children and 25,285 adults, according to a GoWest community impact survey. Required classes in high school, the credit union believe, will even better prepare the next generation.

“Investing in our students – our future leaders – by making financial and life skills essential learning in high schools, is our responsibility and will help students to thrive,” said Leavitt.

SB3 received positive support during a recent Senate Education Committee hearing, and the bill is now moving through other committee processes before an anticipated vote in the full Senate and then in the Oregon House.

About GoWest Credit Union Association   

GoWest Credit Union Association is the trade association representing credit unions in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. GoWest advocates on behalf of more than 300 member credit unions, and their 16.5 million consumer members. 


The Thomason family, who has owned, grown and nurtured the Galice Resort on Southern Oregon’s Rogue River for 43 years, is selling the resort and two adjoining residential properties.

A 2021 fire destroyed the resort’s original main building, restaurant and store, but tourists who fish, hike or enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking on the river’s Wild and Scenic section continue to visit.

The asking price for the resort: $2,299,000.  Debbie Thomason raised her family in the Riverview House, which is for sale at $699,900. In 2020, she bought her parents’ Rogue Retreat House and converted it into a rental. It is also for sale at $699,900.

Thomason said new owners would be able to continue the lodging, restaurant and shuttle businesses.  The Galice Resort’s rafting operation can handle up to 325 people a day. There are also guided trips and raft rentals. The rafting equipment has been sold, said Thomason.

The properties are in Merlin, an unincorporated community northwest of Grants Pass. Merlin has about 2,000 residents, and, as the gateway to the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, is home base for outfitters and fishing guides. Travel Oregon calls Merlin a “watery heaven” for rafters and kayakers.


An Illinois man was sentenced to 75 years in prison on April 17 for running a sextortion scheme on Facebook with several victims ranging from 11 to 17 years old — with some of them being in the Rogue Valley of Oregon. 

The man, 44-year-old Michael A. Ferris of Mill Shoals, IL, was convicted by a jury in November on 25 counts of extortion, cyberstalking, and production, distribution and possession of child pornography.

According to a news release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Offfice (JCSO), investigations started when the Southern Oregon Child Exploitation Team (SOCET) got a report from a local child victim. A Rogue Valley mother reported on May 8, 2020 that her daughter had run into someone posing as her friend on Facebook, and was then coerced into sending nude photos.

SOCET took over the investigation and discovered Ferris victimized many other minor children sexually, including a victim in Salem.  Through further investigations, SOCET discovered 29 child victims throughout the United States and Canada. SOCET worked with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to identify the out-of-state victims and build the federal case.

Ferris allegedly targeted teenage girls on Facebook from March 2020 to November 2020, the release said.

As part of his scheme, Ferris created fake Facebook personas appearing to be teenage girls. He joined Facebook groups for teenagers or young survivors of sexual abuse. Ferris sent unsolicited messages to teenage girls under the guise of being a peer looking to make a new friend.  If the teens responded, Ferris tried to convince them to send a nude photograph or answer personal questions about themselves. Ferris then used that information as leverage to coerce them into sending more explicit photos, answering more sexual questions, or performing sexual acts while Ferris watched on video chat.

After serving his 75-year-old sentence, the release said, Ferris will spend the rest of his life on supervised release.

Ferris allegedly harassed and threatened his victims if they refused, the release said, by saying he would send photos or answers to questions to their family, friends, police or child protective services. Many times, he still sent photos to family and friends of his victims even if they complied, the release said.

Forestry department invites public comment on state forest management activities

Salem, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Forestry is inviting public comment on planned projects, timber sales and other management activities in state-owned forests in fiscal year 2024.
Starting April 25 through 5 p.m. June 8, Oregonians can weigh in on draft Annual Operations Plans (AOPs) for state forests on the Astoria, Forest Grove, Klamath Falls, Tillamook, West Oregon, and Western Lane Districts. These plans lay out on-the-ground activities expected to take place in the coming fiscal year. State forests by law must provide economic, environmental, and social benefits to Oregonians. To achieve the legal mandate, these lands are managed to create healthy productive forests, high-quality habitat for native fish and wildlife, clean water, timber, revenues to rural communities, and recreation and education opportunities. Overall management policies and management goals are established in long-range Forest Management Plans and Implementation Plans.
Annual Operations Plans describe activities to achieve the objectives and goals laid out in the longer-range plans. ODF is seeking input on the draft AOP summary documents, which can be viewed on the State Forests website.
Common topics included in an Annual Operations Plan include:
  • Timber harvest operations
  • Recreation improvement and maintenance projects
  • Forest road construction, maintenance, and improvements
  • Reforestation/replanting and young stand management activities
  • Habitat improvement for native species
  • Invasive species management
The most useful input speaks to these specific activities and whether they are consistent with longer-range plans, offers suggestions to improve efficiency or effectiveness, corrects errors, provides additional information, and is solution-oriented, understanding that state forests are working forests and by law must provide a variety of economic, environmental, and social benefits. Activities that affect fish and wildlife habitat are reviewed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, while operations that may affect threatened and endangered fish and wildlife habitat are shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Public comment on planned projects, timber sales and other management activities on the North Cascade District fiscal year 2024 Annual Operation Plan will be conducted separately.
ODF is offering several convenient avenues to comment on AOPs:


Smokey Bear’s Hat is focus of new awareness campaign kicking off Wildfire Awareness Month

May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Keep Oregon Green, in partnership with federal, state, tribal and local fire agencies and organizations, celebrates May as the ideal month to create defensible space around homes before fire season and prevent the start of careless, unwanted wildfires this summer.

Protect what you love

Each year, more than 70% of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people. Many are a result of escaped fires from debris burn piles or gas-powered equipment casting sparks or catching fire.

During the 2022 season, the Oregon Department of Forestry reported that people were directly responsible for sparking 616 wildfires that burned 1,255 acres. Any spark can gain traction in dry fuels, spread quickly and impact lives, personal property, and Oregon’s scenic landscapes.

Before heading outdoors this summer, contact the agency or landowner who manages the lands at your destination for an update on current fire restrictions or bans. Any visitor to Oregon’s natural areas should be familiar with these restrictions before building campfires, burning debris, or using equipment that could start a fire.

Put Your Smokey Hat On

This year, Keep Oregon Green is launching a new wildfire prevention campaign and releasing five new public service announcements to help raise awareness of the risks. The ads feature Emmy-award winning television, movie and voice actor Ty Burrell. The ads will encourage Oregonians and tourists to keep wildfire safety in mind while enjoying the outdoors.

Burrell was born in Grants Pass, grew up in Applegate and Ashland, and graduated from Hidden Valley High School in Grants Pass. He understands the risk of wildfire and smoke that threatens our health and beautiful landscapes each year.

Smokey’s hat is the driving force behind Keep Oregon Green’s 2023 campaign. “Put Your Smokey Hat On” is a call to action, encouraging people to predict the outcome of their actions and do everything they can to protect our state’s scenic areas. New campaign artwork, PSAs, and additional wildfire safety tips can be found at keeporegongreen.org or its various social media platforms.

Coming soon: More Wildfire Awareness Month tips 

During May, a new wildfire prevention topic will be shared each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to prevent their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire. For more information, visit the websites for Keep Oregon Green at www.keeporegongreen.org, the Oregon Department of Forestry at www.oregon.gov/odf, and the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal at www.oregon.gov/osp/programs/sfm/Pages/Wildfire-Awareness-Month.aspx.


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