Klamath Basin News, Monday, 5/15/23 – Tribes and Fishermen’s Associations Argue in Court To Continue to Limit Water to Klamath Project, Farmers, Ranchers, Irrigators and Wildlife Refuges

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Monday, May 15, 2023

Klamath Basin Weather

Today,    Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. East southeast winds to 13 mph and some higher gusts at times. Overnight some showers possible with a low of 49. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
 
Tuesday
Sunny, with a high near 82. Calm wind becoming southwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday
Sunny, with a high near 85. Light and variable wind becoming southwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday
Sunny, with a high near 87.
Friday
Sunny, with a high near 88.
Saturday
Sunny, with a high near 86.
 

Today’s Headlines

Klamath County or utility companies will have work crews performing work at several locations next week around the Basin.

Motorists are asked to use caution when in work areas and to watch for flaggers. Any motorists who are are able to avoid the work zones, are asked to use an alternate route for both their own safety and the safety of Klamath County employees and contractors.

There will be utility work with intermittent lane closures in the vicinity of Stearns Elementary School on Crest Street from Clinton to Denver and on Laverne Avenue from Crest to Altamont.

Bobs Excavating will be performing storm sewer work. Patching and asphalt paving work is scheduled for Westside Road while dust-off work will be performed on miscellaneous gravel county roads and cracks are set to be sealed in the Yonna Valley/Bonanza area.

Traffic control measures will be in place for guidance. Motorists should use alternative routes if possible.

In general, flagging stations will be set up at the end of the work zone and delays will be zero to 20 minutes for the motoring public. The county’s goal is to minimize the delay to the motoring public. There may be adjustments of work schedules due to weather or other items outside of the county’s control (breakdown of equipment, material/resource availability, etc.) The County should not be contacted if work is not seen occurring because the work could be finished already or will be rescheduled.

For more information, call the Public Works Department at 541-883-4696.

 

Arguments were held Wednesday, May 10th on a case that threatens the delivery of irrigation water to Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers and to Klamath Basin wildlife refuges.

The Yurok Tribe and Pacific Coast Federations of Fishermen’s Associations are seeking an injunction that would limit water to the Klamath Project. The groups claim the Bureau of Reclamation cannot be trusted to limit water deliveries in accordance with an Interim Operations Plan (IOP), even though the current allocation for the project is less than the amount provided for in accordance with the IOP.

Judge William H. Orrick, U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California, indicated that he would not grant the motion, but left open the opportunity for parties to return to court after Reclamation adopts an actual Klamath Project operations plan for 2023.

In his Wednesday ruling, Orrick indicated he did not see a basis to issue a preliminary injunction based on the information he received. Orrick did, however, require Reclamation to submit a final 2023 operations plan, and left open to the parties the possibility of asking the court to grant some kind of relief at that time.

Spokesmen for the Klamath Water Users Association said the litigation “comes at a time when there is abundant water in the Klamath Basin.”

In 2020, Reclamation adopted an IOP for the Klamath Project controlling the amounts of water made available in Upper Klamath Lake, the Klamath River, and for irrigation and wildlife refuges. The IOP is the basis for annual operations plans based on year-specific hydrologic conditions.

Moss Driscoll, KWUA’s director of water policy, expressed frustration with the ongoing delays created by the BOR, saying, “They are not doing a good job in managing water in the Klamath Basin effectively.”

He noted that in recent weeks there have been “favorable, wet weather” and that “snowpack conditions in the mountains have been as high as 200 percent of normal.”

At Crater Lake National Park, for example, snowfall since Oct. 1, 2022, has been 624 inches, which is 134 percent of average.

 

The Klamath County School District Budget Committee approved the annual budget Thursday, May 11, reporting a total budget of $159,989,415 — a $10 million increase from last year.

The district’s 2023-24 budget attributes the increase to federal funding known as Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.

KCSD reported receiving $25 million in ESSER funds from 2020 to 2022. As these federal funds are a “one-time revenue” source, KCSD Superintendent Glen Szymoniak said they have been allocated to projects rather than items which require continuous upkeep, such as pay and staffing increases.

Some of the ongoing and planned projects funded by ESSER include a new gymnasium at Chiloquin High School, HVAC control upgrades and Career Technical Education (CTE) renovations at Henley Middle School.

State funding for K-12 education has not been finalized according to the budget. Estimates were made based on the expected allocation of $9.9 billion statewide, pending decisions made by the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

 

The Oregon Legislature has debated funding the 2023-25 biennium allocations, having received a recommendation from the Oregon Department of Administrative Service of $9.5 billion.

The budget states that departments were instructed to budget at the same level as the previous fiscal year while accounting for minimal inflationary cost increases.

Local revenue from the permanent tax rate ($4.0519 per $1,000 earned income) has increased by 1.39%, a slightly lower increase than the 1.62% during the past fiscal year.

The Klamath County Assessor’s Office estimates property taxes to increase by 2% this year, but this percentage might decrease should the valuation of farmlands drop if there continues to be a lack of irrigatable water for agriculture.

 

Across two days, Klamath Community College celebrated its latest campus addition with the public at open house events in recognition of the recently completed KCC Apprenticeship Center.

A VIP tour for funders and project developers on Friday, May 5 served as a formal grand opening, completing a multi-year effort of fundraising and construction for the structure. The following day, the public was welcomed to tour the facility as part of an open house event.

Funded through grants and donations, the $11.5 million debt-free facility is the new home of numerous trade skill and apprenticeship programs. Programs already underway include manufacturing-related apprenticeship programs such as welding, carpentry, cement mason, drywall, electrical, interior/exterior specialist, millwright, painter, and plumbing, fire and emergency response, criminal justice and law enforcement, commercial truck driving, and heavy equipment training programs. Additional programs to utilize the facility are also in development, such as the planned 2024 launch of a well drilling specialist program. 

The center is expected to serve as a hub of workforce training, a key to regional growth and infrastructure development for the Klamath Basin and beyond as demand continues to grow for skilled labor – particularly in construction. 

Friday’s formal opening included speeches by multiple key figures in the project’s completion, and recognition of many who contributed. A formal group countdown culminated with flying confetti as KCC Board of Education Chair Kenneth DeCrans, Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot, KCC Foundation Chair Steve Tippin, and Foundation Committee co-chair Jean Pinniger were given the honors to press the button officially opening the structure.

Dr. Roberto Gutierrez, KCC president and one of the longest-tenured higher education administrators in Oregon, emphasized to a crowd on Friday the importance of hands-on learning experiences for both adult apprenticeship and trade skill programs as well as pre-apprenticeship high school programs that have partnered with KCC.

 

Directed by Portland filmmaker Trip Jennings, co-produced by Sara Quinn, the critically-acclaimed, award-winning documentary ELEMENTAL: REIMAGINE WILDFIRE will premiere in Chiloquin on June 3, 2023 at Klamath Tribes Community Fitness Center.

Doors at 4:15 PM, film at 5 pm. This special event will be followed by Q&A with filmmakers Trip Jennings, Ralph Bloemers and invited guests.

Filmed in Oregon and narrated by David Oyelowo, ELEMENTAL: REIMAGINE WILDFIRE (84 min) takes viewers on a journey across the nation with the top experts to better understand fire. The film starts with the harrowing escape from Paradise, California as the town ignited from wind-driven embers and burned within a few hours of the fire’s start and then continues to recent record shattering fires. The film includes the voices of climate experts, Indigenous people and fire survivors, and asks us to reimagine wildfire as we prepare for an increasingly hotter future.

In the wake of deadly fires in Oregon, California, Colorado and New Mexico, ELEMENTAL, REIMAGINE WILDFIRE is an important look at discovering how we can all reimagine our relationship with wildfire, now more timely and urgent than ever.

Around the state of Oregon

Republican Temporary Restraining Order Denied For House Bill 2002

According to court records, a motion set by Representative Emily McIntire (R-Eagle Point) & Senator Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook) to get a temporary restraining order put on House Bill 2002 has been denied.

“Having considered the briefing submitted by the parties, and having heard argument and being fully advised, for the reasons stated in the hearing record, the Court hereby orders that Plaintiffs’ Motion is denied,” said the Honorable David E. Leith from Marion County.

 According to a press release from Representative Lily Morgan, on May 3, Senator Weber and Representative McIntire filed a lawsuit against the Legislature contending that the bill summary of House Bill 2002 violates Senate Rule 13.02ORS 171.134, and Article 4 § 21 of the Oregon Constitution.

The suit seeks a declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to ORS 28.020  directing the legislature to prepare the measure summary for HB 2002 so that “it’s summary is written in manner that results in score of at least 60 on the Flesch readability test or meets an equivalent standard of comparable test.

The plaintiffs also seek a declaratory and injunctive relief pursuant to ORS 28.020 and Oregon Rule of Civil Procedure 79 against Defendants Brocker, Johnson, and Wagner, enjoining them from taking further action on HB 2002 until the measure’s summary complies with ORS 171.134.

If passed House Bill 2002 would allow minors to seek reproductive health care information or services, and gender affirming treatment without the consent of a their parent(s). (SOURCE)

 

Search Ends For Woman and Dog Feared Drowned In River At Indian Mary Park

A woman and dog camping along the Rogue River are feared drowned after going missing in the water near Indian Mary Park.

A bystander pulled the woman’s husband from the river at Indian Mary County Park near Grants Pass at about 5 p.m. Friday, May 12, Rural Metro Fire said in a news release.

The rescue followed an “incident” at the park’s boat ramp, firefighters said. The bystander and rescuers performed CPR on the man until his pulse was restored.  He was taken to a hospital, the release said. No further information on his medical condition was available.May be an image of 3 people, boat and text

Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies used a drone to search for the woman and dog, who were believed to also be in the river, but could not find them, the release said.

They called off the search at 8 p.m., and the woman and dog are feared drowned, firefighters said.

“Water levels are very high and move deceptively swift below the surface,” firefighters warned. “Melting snowpack keeps the water colder than expected, and will quickly affect muscle function.”

“A camper staying at Indian Mary County Park, and her dog, are missing and feared drowned after an incident at the park’s boat ramp into the Rogue River. However, the husband of the missing woman was pulled from the water by a bystander who immediately began CPR with the help of the patient’s son.

Rescue crews from Rural Metro Fire, AMR-Josephine County, and marine deputies from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office arrived and initiated a full search and rescue operation. CPR was continued until pulses were regained and the patient was transported to the hospital (current condition unknown). Firefighters and deputies searched the water from a boat and by “hasty search” on the bank. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was also deployed.

The search was called off just before 20:00 hrs. Cause of the accident remains unclear due to lack of witnesses. Indian Mary Park is one of several locations on the Rogue River where this type of accident has occurred in the past. During this time of year when the weather warms up and people start hanging out near the river, First Responders routinely issue safety reminders to prevent tragic mishaps such as this. Water levels are very high and move deceptively swift below the surface. Melting snowpack keeps the water colder than expected, and will quickly affect muscle function. (current Rogue conditions: 55 degrees and flowing at 4960 cfs)

 

Arizona Man Indicted for Shipping Fentanyl to Southern Oregon

MEDFORD, Ore.—A federal grand jury in Medford has returned an indictment charging a Phoenix, Arizona man with mailing large quantities of fentanyl to Southern Oregon.

Luke Austin Montgomery, 24, has been charged with three counts of attempting to distribute fentanyl.

According to court documents, in late 2022, law enforcement learned Montgomery had been shipping counterfeit oxycodone pills suspected to contain fentanyl from Phoenix to Southern Oregon. Soon after, investigators arranged the purchase of 1,000 counterfeit pills from Montgomery. The same day Montgomery fulfilled the order, he shipped an additional 10,000 pills to a second Southern Oregon address. Montgomery concealed the counterfeit pills in over-the-counter pill bottles packaged among various toiletries. Investigators later obtained videos Montgomery had allegedly created and used to sell the counterfeit pills on social media.

On May 9, 2023, Montgomery was arrested in Arizona. Today, he was ordered detained pending transfer to the District of Oregon.

Attempting to distribute more than 40 grams of fentanyl is punishable by up to 40 years in federal prison with a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, five years’ supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. It is being prosecuted by Marco A. Boccato, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

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