Klamath Basin News, Thursday, Feb.1st – Senators Wyden, Merkley And Klamath Waters Users Asso Calling On Federal Government To Help Southern Oregon With Drought and Lack of Water Issues

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, The Herald and News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance, your Local Health and Medicare agents. Call 541-882-6476.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Klamath Basin Weather

Today
Partly sunny, with a high near 47. South southwest winds around 9 mph. Overnight, mostly cloudy, with a low around 30. South winds 3 to 5 mph.
 
Friday
A chance of snow showers before 10am, then a chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40. Southwest wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Overnight a 30% chance of snow showers, mainly before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 25. South wind 5 to 7 mph. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Saturday
Partly sunny, with a high near 40. South southwest wind 5 to 7 mph. Overnight partly cloudy, with a low around 23.
Sunday
Mostly sunny, with a high near 43.
Monday
Snow likely before 1pm, then a chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.
Tuesday
A chance of rain and snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 44.
 

Today’s Headlines

Oregon’s Senators are calling for more to be done by the federal government to help the agriculture community.

Earlier this month, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley submitted a letter calling for federal agriculture officials to address long-term drought in the region.

Senator Merkley says he hopes this call will make the committee see the challenges faced by farmers in the west.

The Klamath Water Users Association is a non-profit that represents farmers and ranchers working in the Klamath Basin. They say the biggest challenge faced by agriculture workers in the basin is the persistent lack of water.

Last year, KWUA reported a massive grasshopper infestation that took out many crops in the basin. It said the dry, hot conditions help promote the birth of these bugs.

This year, we had a tremendous grasshopper outbreak and those grasshoppers were coming off of our dry refuges.

White is the general manager for the Klamath Drainage District, a member district part of the Klamath Water Users Association. He says the dry wildlife refuges that aided in the grasshopper infestation were a direct result of the federal management of water supply.

The Klamath Water Users Association executive director Paul Simmons said in a statement that he hopes the federal government will make decisions to better all communities in the basin, rather than divide water rights based on policy preference.

Senator Merkley says he believes his call for action in the bill will help improve water infrastructure in the whole state, including the Klamath Basin.

 

Klamath Community College’s Cyber Security and Networking Applied Science Program has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency following an intensive and multi-tiered review process.

Managed by the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Security and Networking program, the NSA’s National Cryptologic School, the certification designation for KCC remains in effect through the 2027-28 academic year.

The CAE-CD was established to recognize institutions that promote the highest-quality standards in training producing the nation’s cyber workforce to defend against cyber threats and manage computer networks. KCC is the fifth institute of higher learning in Oregon to earn this gold standard of cybersecurity certification by the NSA – the first outside of the Willamette Valley metro area. KCC first developed the program in 2019 to address an ever-growing global demand for qualified computer technicians.

More recently, in addition to a two-year associate degree, KCC has also created a Secure Network Technician one-year certificate, and a Computer Support Technician Pathway Certificate. Thanks to a recent Department of Labor grant and CARES Act funding, $100,000 has been invested into KCC’s lab infrastructure to expand cybersecurity and network training capacity online, thereby making the program available on a national and international level.

 
Klamath County Commissioners Meeting News
The Board of Klamath County Commissioners said their thanks and goodbyes to Senior Assistant Attorney General John Casalino during their weekly business meeting on Tuesday.

After Eve Costello stepped down as district attorney in 2022, former Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered Casalino, a renowned attorney from the Department of Justice, to fill the position until a new one could be appointed.

In his time in Klamath Falls, Casalino has tackled some of the county’s more notorious cases, including the kidnapping and police evasion case of Eric Koon, the Jessica’s Law case of Souner Crane, and successfully prosecuted the state’s case against Hailie Harkins, a woman convicted for the murder of a Chiloquin resident.

Upon bidding farewell to Casalino, the commission approved for the Klamath County District Attorney’s Office to sign a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant worth $386,176. The award is granted through Sept. 30, 2025, and will be used to maintain personnel for victim services including response to emotional, psychological and/or physical needs for crime victims; assisting in the stabilization of victims following a crime; assisting victims to understand and participate in the criminal justice system; restoring a measure of security and safety for the victim.

In other news, the commissioners and Klamath County Public Health, continuing to fight against tobacco use, signed a memorandum of understanding with Healthy Klamath during the meeting.

Turning the attention next to a name change approval on a lease agreement, Property Manager Rick Vaughn presented to the commission the agreement with Kingsley Bowmen (now Klamath Basin Archers) dated back to March 2016 that allows them to provide an outdoor archery range on Klamath County property located off Anderson Avenue in Klamath Falls.

In a phone interview before the meeting with Klamath Basin Archers Treasurer Stacy Allen, the name change was done as a way to “revamp” the club.

 

The Klamath Falls Police Beneficiary Association is excited to announce for the second year, a scholarship opportunity for local high school seniors.

Members of the KFPBA are fortunate to be able to provide opportunities to local high school seniors while supporting our local community.

For more information, or to request a scholarship application, please email: KFPBA@klamathfalls.city

 

The Oregon Supreme Court appears ready to issue its decision Thursday (TODAY) on whether Republican senators who walked out during the 2023 legislative session will be allowed to run for re-election in November.  This includes Klamath County representative Dennis Linthicum.

On the Supreme Court website, the court indicates it will rule on Knopp vs. Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade. That decision could come down as early as 8:00 a.m. 

Linthicum is among five senators who filed a lawsuit challenging the law. They racked up more than 10 absences during the walkout that ground the 2023 legislative session to a halt. The longest in the Legislature’s history, the boycott stalled hundreds of bills and made national headlines.

The amendment says a lawmaker is not allowed to run “for the term following the election after the member’s current term is completed.” The senators claim the amendment as written means they can seek another term, since a senator’s term ends in January while elections are held the previous November. They argue the penalty doesn’t take effect immediately, but rather, after they’ve served another term.

The Oregon Supreme Court heard the case last month. 

 

Residents in the Klamath Basin have been able to enjoy the warm weather in the past few days. In fact, temperatures have broken records Sunday and Monday.

According to Charles Smith of the National Weather Bureau in Medford, Sunday’s high reached 64 degrees, breaking the previous mark of 55 set in 1940. Monday’s high reached 67, beating the old record of 58 set in 1976.

The mild weather has been a way for people to take a break from the winter cold and enjoy outdoor activities — if even for just a few days. However, temperatures are expected to drop back into the 40s for the rest of the week. Medford broke a record Tuesday for an all-time January high temperature at 73 degrees.

 

A jury in Medford reached their verdict earlier this week, in the nearly $12 million civil suit against the City of Klamath Falls by a popular bar and lounge known as El Palacio.

The suit was filed in federal court by the owners of El Palacio who are located in the historic First National Bank Building on Main Street.

The jury ruled against the restaurant owners who claimed they were discriminated against and targeted by Klamath Falls City police, after former police chief David Henslee made an unfavorable recommendation to the OLCC ultimately leading to the suspension of their liquor license.

Jury deliberation took just under two hours.  Neither the individual defendants nor the city of Klamath Falls was proven to have violated the Cisneros’s equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.

The plaintiff was also found unable to prove any intentional emotional distress inflicted by the defendants and no damages will be received.

 

January is National Mentoring Month and in conjunction with it, Citizens for Safe Schools recently named long-time volunteer mentor Patty Case as its 2023 Ed Caleb Mentor of the Year.

CFSS said Case’s dedication to her mentee has been nothing short of remarkable. Her insights into the transformative journey her mentee has undergone sheds light on the profound influence of a nurturing mentor-mentee relationship.

CFSS also said that quality mentoring programs are proven to build relationships that help improve school attendance and academic achievement, promote responsible decision-making, and provide skills to better navigate relationships at school, socially and at home.

Citizens for Safe Schools has been celebrating National Mentoring Month alongside other mentoring and youth serving organizations all over the country.

For more information on becoming a volunteer mentor with CFSS, or are interested in donating to the organization, stop by their office at 731 Main St.

 

The Klamath Falls Lions Club will be selling See’s candy for Valentine’s Day as a fundraiser for their sight and hearing projects.

Purchases can be made at Turn Thom-Point S Tires, 2052 Washburn Way, next to Bi-Mart, beginning Wednesday.

The Lions Club conducts vision screening for most students in Klamath County, as well as provides glasses for students and others in need.

Lions Clubs collect used eyeglasses for recycling, and provide a college scholarship to a graduating high school senior from a local school.

For more information about the Lions Club and how to donate to Lion’s projects, call (541) 591-6483.

 

Chiloquin Visions in Progress recently announced the appointment of its new executive director, and the adoption of its comprehensive, five-year strategic plan that will serve as a roadmap for the organization’s future.

According to CVIP, under the guidance of the newly appointed Executive Director Robert Cowie, the organization is set to embark on a transformative journey that aligns with its steadfast commitment to serving and uplifting the Chiloquin community.

John Rademacher, CVIP President said last year the CVIP board of directors completed an organizational self-assessment. We then interviewed three quality applicants to replace retiring Executive Director Bill Wilkins.

Cowie and his wife Kimberly became Chiloquin residents in 2017, bringing with them a wealth of experience and a commitment to community development.

He has over two decades of experience, previously serving at Sony Electronics in various capacities, including vice president of customer insight, director of engineering and program management.

Cowie was elected to the Chiloquin City Council, further solidifying his commitment to the local community. Additionally, he serves as a board member of the League of Oregon Cities.

 

Copco 1, the oldest of the three remaining dams on the Klamath River, was successfully breached last week and water is now releasing.

Crews blasted a plug in Copco’s adit tunnel, a 10-foot diameter tunnel that was drilled at the base of the dam last summer. Ren Brownell, spokeswoman for Klamath River Renewal Corporation, which is coordinating the removal of the dams, said crews went about 100 feet into the dam and left a 12-foot concrete plug at its upstream end. A steel pipe was installed on its exterior and covered with concrete and a large rock.

Earlier this year, openings were created at the two other hydroelectric dams, Iron Gate and John C. Boyle, as part of drawing down water from the reservoirs behind the dams. A fourth dam, Copco 2, was removed last year.

Videos of the explosion show a cascade of brown, sediment-filled water gushing through the opening. Brownell said as the plug was removed, water sprayed high into the air. No one was allowed on-site because of the force of the blast.

By next year, the Klamath will flow free for the first time in a century.

The seeds put in the ground this winter will germinate and grow into plants.  As the flora matures, the 38-mile-long reservoir reach will provide habitat for a myriad of native fish and wildlife. What was previously a dead zone will be brought back to life.

 

Sky Lakes Medical Center says be aware of scammer phone calls hitting the area.

Community members have reported scammers using our number to impersonate Home Health Services. They are requesting sensitive information such as social security numbers, dates of birth, card information, and money. Please be cautious and vigilant against potential scams!


Photo drawing with where decommissioned F-15 Fighter Jet will be displayed soon.
A decommissioned F-15 fighter jet from Kingsley Airfield in Klamath Falls arrived Friday for its future display in Veterans Memorial Park.

According to Mark Willrett, city public works director, the static jet display is expected to be completed within a month.

The city’s project sparked prolific controversy with city and county residents due to, among other reasons, its planned location and the use of $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated 50/50 from the city and the county’s allotted provisions.

Willrett said there will likely be an unveiling ceremony the day the project is to be completed.

 

Five high schools in the Klamath County School District boasted graduation rates above 90% in 2023 and one of those — Bonanza Junior/Senior High School — hit a perfect graduation rate of 100%.

The other KCSD schools with above 90% graduation rates were Henley High School at 97.9%, Lost River at 91.7%, Gilchrist at 90.9%, and Chiloquin at 90.5%. Mazama’s rate of 88.4% was down from 2022, but still nearly 7 percentage points above the state average.

Overall, the county school district’s four-year on-time graduation rate of 79.90% represents a half a percentage point decrease from 2022, coming in at 1.4 percentage points below the state’s rate of 81.3%, according to data released Jan. 25 by the Oregon Department of Education.

KCSD’s rate includes Falcon Heights, an alternative high school for students who are behind on credits and at risk of dropping out. Falcon Heights, though tracking in at lower overall on-time graduation rates than the county’s six traditional high schools, has seen consistent increases over the past five years — from 29.49% in 2019 to 47% in 2023.

Graduates who earn GEDs or extended diplomas do not factor into the on-time four-year graduation rate, but instead are considered completers. The district’s 2023 four-year completer rate was 83.2%, and the five-year completer rate for 2023 was 85.8%.

District leaders say more social emotional supports, including a counselor in every school, as well as implementation of new math curriculum and small-group and project-based learning in the elementary schools is expected to positively affect student learning and, ultimately, graduation rates.

 

Each week, BasinLife.com and KFLS News 1450AM & 102.5FM feature a pet of the Week ready for adoption from the Klamath Animal Shelter.

This week’s pet is a kitty named ” Zoe “.

Zoe is a female Medium-hair, around 3 years old, she is grey and white with light green eyes, she weighs around 10 pounds.

Zoe’s family has a new person in the home that is very allergic to kitties. They said that Zoe is litter box trained, she lived in the home with children as young as 6 years, small and medium sized dogs and another cat named Winter who is also available for adoption.

If you are interested in adopting Zoe the shelter is located at 4240 Washburn Way,  Monday through Friday from 12:00 – 4:00, pet meet and greets are by appointment, you can reach the shelter at 541-884-PETS (541-884-7387)

View all adoptable pets anytime online at www.klamathanimalshelter.org

 

Lake of the Woods is holding a Winter Snow Festival Feb. 10th and 11th.

The Lake of the Woods Winter Snow Festival is open to the public this month with many fun events and activities planned.

Folks can join in on a snow sculpture/snowman building contest, enjoy an outdoor bonfire with music, play cornhole, snowshoe the Ancient Trees walking loop and more. For an additional 10 bucks a person, you can even get in on a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

The Lake of the Woods Kite Fest, which is held on the second weekend of every February, was canceled. George Gregory of Lake of the Woods Mountain Lodge said  the cancellation was because the ice isn’t strong enough to support people.

 

The Ross Ragland Theater will bring back local blues band Code Blue for a performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3. This show is for all ages.

Formed back in 2011 and brought together by the Klamath Blues Society, the band plays a selection based in blues music.

Their selections have also grown to include southern rock, R&B, bluegrass and other genres that reflect the interests of their members who include Karl Knudsen, Marty Ledgerwood, Bill Maddalena, Andrew Smith, Staton Smith, Edwin Tuhy, Corey Hansen and Robert Harlow.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 seniors/ military, $15 students, kids aged 2 & under FREE if held on lap for performance. Tickets can be purchased at the Ragland Box Office Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m., by calling (541) 884-LIVE, or by visiting their website at www.ragland.org.

 

Just for reading our news, click to enter to win Free Movie Tickets from BasinLife.com and Wynne Broadcasting. 
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Around the state of Oregon

The Oregon Trucking Association and three trucking companies have filed a lawsuit against the state alleging they’re over-charged for road use.

A study by the state determined trucking companies are over-paying by at least 32 percent. ODOT is aware of the problem, but the Oregon Transportation Commission has failed to act on it. ODOT is already over budget on the cost of projects and if it reduces fees paid by truckers it would have to raise taxes on light duty vehicles, like cars and trucks. The lawsuit claims truckers are over-paying by 193-million-dollars a year.

 

Controversial California Gov. Gavin Newsom is pledging to fast-track more than half a dozen projects by the end of his term to remove or bypass dams that have blocked salmon from returning to the state’s chilly mountain streams and acting as the keystone of a complex ecosystem that sustains both economies and spiritual beliefs for tribes.

Newsom — now in his second term and seen as a potential Democratic presidential candidate soon or beyond 2024 — has worked hard to stake a claim as the nation’s most environmentally-conscious governor, although is state is suffering greatly with many major issues for California residents.

Newsome’s record has been dogged by criticism from environmental groups who say his water policies benefit big agriculture at the expense of salmon and other fish species in danger of becoming extinct.

Millions of salmon once filled California’s rivers and streams each year, bringing with them key nutrients from the ocean that gave the state an abundance of natural resources that were so important to indigenous peoples that they formed the foundation of creation stories central to tribes’ way of life.

But last year, there were so few salmon in the state’s rivers that the officials closed the commercial fishing season.

Frustrated by the criticism leveled against his administration, Newsom on Tuesday released his strategy to protect salmon — a plan that includes a heavy helping of projects that would remove or bypass aging dams that prevent salmon from returning to the streams of their birth to lay eggs.

The removal of several dams in and around the Klamath Basin on the Klamath River is making the rounds on national news pages.

Newsom’s embrace of some dam demolitions comes as the largest dam-removal project in U.S. history got underway in earnest last week when crews blew a hole in the bottom of the Copco No. 1 dam along the Klamath River near the California-Oregon border. It is one of four dams set to be removed along the Klamath.

In the Pacific Northwest, tribes and environmental groups want to see four dams along the Snake River removed. The Biden administration has stopped short of promising to do so, but it has pledged $1 billion for salmon restoration.

 

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek is re-establishing the Task Force on Oregon Tribal Cultural Items. Schools, universities and state agencies across the state have tribal cultural items.

In 2017, a task force was formed to create an inventory of the items. In 2020, the work was paused because of the pandemic. The task force is now being restarted. Kotek says, “Tribes should have access to information about cultural items held in storage or on display.” They’ll develop a process to find the items, determine who they belong to, who should have them and how they should be stored.

FEDERAL CHARGES FILED AFTER INTERNATIONAL PARCEL LEADS TO THE SEIZURE OF 16 DIFFERENT DRUGS AND 42 FIREARMS FROM A GRESHAM RESIDENCE

Full seizure of guns, drugs, drug processing materials, and cashPORTLAND, Ore.—A local man is facing federal charges today after authorities intercepted an international parcel he had ordered containing MDMA and quantities of at least 16 different drugs and 42 firearms were found in and seized from his Gresham, Oregon home.

Riley James Hinds, 38, has been charged by criminal complaint with possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents, on January 9, 2024, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Los Angeles International Airport seized an inbound package from the Netherlands containing approximately 2.5 pounds of MDMA.

The package, addressed to “James Settler,” an alias used by Hinds to open a mailing box at a UPS Store in Gresham, was handed over to special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Portland for further investigation.

On January 26, 2024, investigators arrested Hinds and executed a federal search warrant on his residence. Investigators located and seized quantities of at least 16 different narcotics in Hinds’ residence including MDMA, Adderall, counterfeit Oxycodone, cocaine, ketamine, marijuana, psilocybin, ayahuasca, LSD, opium, morphine, DMT, mescaline, peyote, GHB, 5-MeO-DMT, and a mixture of unidentified pills. They also located and seized various drug processing tools and packaging materials, 42 firearms, four firearm suppressors, two unfinished ghost guns, and six sets of body armor.

Hinds made his first appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

This case was investigated by HSI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the Portland Police Bureau Narcotics and Organized Crime Unit (PPB-NOC), and the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Interdiction Task Force (HIT) with assistance from CBP. It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

All Oregon resident taxpayers preparing their own returns in 2024 can file electronically at no cost using one of Oregon’s free file options, the Oregon Department of Revenue announced today.

Taxpayers in Southern Oregon can now file their returns using a special kiosk set up in the Medford Regional Office at 3613 Aviation Way, Suite 102 in Medford. The kiosk can be used to file taxes through the free fillable forms and Direct File Oregon e-file options.

The Medford office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed for lunch 12:30-1:30 p.m.). No appointment is necessary. Use of the computer to file taxes is on a first-come, first-served basis. Employees cannot help prepare returns but can answer basic questions.

E-filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. On average, taxpayers who e-file their returns and request their refund via direct deposit receive their refund two weeks sooner than those who file paper returns and request paper refund checks. 

“The computer kiosk offers a way to file electronically for those without a computer or those who fill out paper forms and want to transfer their data into one of the two available options to receive their refund sooner,” said Megan Denison, administrator of the department’s Personal Tax and Compliance Division.

Free fillable forms and Direct File Oregon
Oregon Free Fillable Forms performs basic calculations and is ideal for taxpayers who don’t need help preparing their returns and want the convenience of filing electronically. The IRS offers a similar option for filing federal taxes electronically.

 

WHITE CITY, Ore. – The suspect arrested earlier this week for a shooting in White City on Sunday, remains in the Jackson County Jail charged with attempted murder and other serious crimes.

The suspect, Hector Cruz Orozco, 27, of White City, is charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm. The victim has been flown to an out-of-area hospital for further treatment and remains in critical condition.

Through the initial investigation, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives discovered Orozco and the victim were at a mobile home in the 3700 block of Falcon Street on Sunday evening. They exited the residence and Orozco shot the suspect at close range and fled on a bicycle. JCSO deputies responded to the call for gunshots and someone calling for help at 6:51 p.m in the area of 29th Street and Falcon Street, and Orozco was no longer on scene.

The next day, investigations led JCSO detectives to a house in the 7800 block of Laura Lane in White City. JCSO detectives served a search warrant with assistance from SWAT, K9, and the Crisis Negotiator Team. JCSO deputies took Orozco into custody Monday at 5:54 p.m.

This case is under further investigation. The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case. There is no more information available for release at this time. Further information will come from the DA’s Office.

 

Klamath Basin residents that frequently use Foothill Road when exiting highway 140 near Medford……and here’s a heads up.

Medford’s Foothill Road Project is moving to its next stage and part of the road will be closed for several months.

Cedar Links Drive to the McAndrews Road westbound ramp will be closed for the next four to five months. Detours for Cedar Links Drive to Springbrook Road to East McAndrews Road will be available. Local access will be available from Cedar Links Drive.

The $62 million project is expected to widen the lanes on Foothill Road. The city expects the project to finish by 2026.  City of Medford’s Public Works Director John Vial said, “the project is progressing very well. We’re probably slightly ahead of schedule right now. But there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re not changing the projected end date right now, but the project is definitely on schedule, on task and it’s doing great.

The four-lane road will feature two lanes in each direction, along with turn lanes, sidewalks, bike lanes and street lighting.  The road typically takes you through the backside of East Medford and will intersect with Barnett Road, where many basin residents have doctor and hospital business.

 

Two deer are dead after getting stuck in mud at Copco Lake.

According to the Hornbrook Fire Protection District’s Facebook page, it collaborated with CAL FIRE and the Department of Fish and Game in an attempt to rescue the deer which got stuck in mud at Mallard Cove. Chief Tim Thurner says it’s crucial to inform the public that the current condition of the lake bed is unsafe and the mud is deep and extremely dangerous.

Eventually, Fish and Game had to make the decision to euthanize both deer. Chief Thurner and William E. Simpson II, executive director of the Wild Horse Fire Brigade, say they don’t believe this will be the last time this happens.

But mud doesn’t seem to be the only problem. With water being drained out, long stretches of mud are being exposed and the water left has high concentrations of sediments.

 Anyone who sees any stuck animals should not try to rescue it themselves. Instead, you should call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

Much of Oregon saw significant snowfall earlier this month. But the state’s snowpack is now on the decline. 

The Natural Resources Conservation Service measures snowpack as a percent of average – what’s considered “normal” for this point in the season. “Last Monday, statewide snowpack was about 100%. And today, it’s sitting at about 89%,” says NRCS-Oregon Hydrologist Matt Warbritton. 

He says this month’s severe weather is unusual for El Niño, which typically brings warmer, drier weather. “Those storms that did bring significant snow accumulation, that was sort of an anomaly for an El Niño year. We got a bit lucky some larger climatic patterns aligned and El Niño weakened just slightly.”

The current outlook is proving challenging for reservoirs. Warbritton says, “Reservoir managers now have to switch their operations, because they’re used to receiving snow accumulation up in the mountains, as opposed to rain, to better control for flooding.” 

Prineville Reservoir was forced to release some water last week. And that could mean less summer water for irrigators and recreators who rely on those reserves. Although Warbritton says one bright spot is the Ochocos, where the snowpack is faring better than much of the rest of the state. 

 

For seasonal workers with the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Fire and Ice program helps keep their jobs alive year-round.

 Natalie Weber, public information officer with ODF Southwest District says “these are local jobs. “Even though they’re seasonal, thankfully they’re opposite seasons, so we’re providing those local jobs year-round.”

Employees switch departments depending on the busy season. In the summer, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) sends workers to help with wildfires. In the winter, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) sends workers to help keep the roads safe.

Fire and Ice workers also get to keep their state benefits, according to Weber. Those aren’t the only perks, though. ODOT says the Fire and Ice program is a great way for employees to start advancing their professional career, in either agency.

The Fire and Ice program has been around since the 1980’s and gets participants every year. This winter, Weber said four ODF Southwest District employees are currently working with ODOT in the Rogue Valley.

 

In Portland Gov. Tina Kotek, along with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, on Tuesday declared a fentanyl state of emergency for downtown Portland as drug use, dealing and overdose deaths continue to ravage the heart of Oregon’s largest city.

The tri-government order seeks to synchronize city, state and county responses to the public health and safety crisis through an incident command structure akin to those used during emergency events such as the coronavirus pandemic or severe weather incidents.

While the effort fulfills one of the top recommendations that emerged from Kotek’s task force on ways to bolster a beleaguered downtown Portland, its overall success faces obstacles, uncertainty and some skepticism.

And while state lawmakers will weigh proposals next month that would ban the public use of fentanyl and other illicit substances and roll back portions of Oregon’s pioneering drug decriminalization law, it’s unclear where the Legislature will ultimately land and whether such suggested remedies will have a measurable impact.

 

The number of people killed in recreational boating incidents declined in 2023. But the Oregon Marine Board still says 14 is too many fatalities, and most were preventable. In 2022, 16 people were killed in recreational boating incidents. 

Brian Paulsen, OMB’s Boating Safety Program Manager, says 12 of last year’s victims weren’t wearing a life jacket. 

Paulsen says the marine board launched an initiative last year, encouraging users of standup paddleboards to take safety measures,

Eight people drowned due to capsizing.

 

The Oregon Heritage Commission is offering grants to qualified museums for collections, heritage tourism, and education and interpretation projects. Awards typically range between $2,000 and $10,000.

Museums may apply for a variety of projects. Collections projects may include cataloging, archival storage, disaster preparedness, and conservation. Heritage tourism projects may include museum marketing and promotions, enhancing visitor experience, and training for museum staff. Education and interpretation projects may include exhibits, online education, school classes, workshops, and camps. Museums may also partner with other organizations for projects that might be outside of the museum, but still meet the museum’s mission. 

The online grant application is simple to use and includes plenty of support.  A free online workshop specific to this grant and how to use the online grant application will be offered February 20, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Advance registration is required. Recorded trainings and tips are also online.

 

Nearly all commercial egg farms in Oregon and Washington must now keep their hens cage free, under laws that went into effect Jan. 1.

The nearly identical laws in both states were passed in 2019 but neither took effect immediately in order to give egg producers time to change their practices.

The laws mandate that commercial farms with 3,000 or more chickens give their birds room to move around and that any egg producers looking to sell within the states also have cage-free birds. Oregon Senate Bill 1019 outlines minimum space for chickens, and requires that they be allowed to “roam unrestricted, other than by external walls” and are “provided with enrichments that allow the hens to exhibit natural behavior, including, at a minimum, scratch areas, perches, nest boxes and dust bathing areas.”

Eggs prices, meanwhile, reached a historic high in 2023 for a variety of reasons, including higher costs for feed and fuel and outbreaks of avian flu, but economics say more ethical eggs can mean higher prices.

Shoppers might see both cage-free or free-range labels on their eggs at the grocery store. The difference? Cage-free hens may live entirely indoors while free-range hens have outdoor access.

 

Oregonians  are still projected to spend nearly 30% more on utilities this winter than before the pandemic.

But differences in fuels, prices, and climate create large regional variation in household utility expenditures, especially during the winter months.

To determine the states most impacted by rising heating costs this winter, researchers calculated the change in monthly household utility costs from winter 2019–2020 to winter 2023–2024, then ranked states accordingly.

These are the key takeaways from the report for Oregon:

  • After remaining low since 2010, natural gas prices have risen nearly 27% since the winter of 2019–2020. Winter propane and heating oil prices also followed this trend, rising 23% and 39% during the same time period, respectively.
  • Nationally, natural gas is the predominant heating fuel, used as the primary source in over 60 million homes (46% of the total). Electricity ranks as the second most common fuel for residential heating, serving as the primary source for approximately 54 million homes.
  • Residents of Oregon—who primarily rely on electricity to heat their homes—saw average household utility costs of $180 each month during the winter of 2019–2020.
  • This winter, they’re projected to spend an average of $196 each month.
  • Based on these projections, households in Oregon will experience an 8.4% increase in their utility bills this winter.

 

Coming to Central Oregon this summer…The Doobie Brothers! 

The Doobie Brothers band repertoire ranges wide from mellow roots vibes to rock and roll with a dose of soul. They’re taking it to the streets this summer cruising to Bend, Oregon on Tuesday, June 18 with special guests, and Blues Hall of Famers, The Robert Cray Band!  This is at the Hayden amphitheater in Bend.

ONLINE PRESALE:
Thursday, Jan. 25 at 10 a.m.
PRESALE CODE: GREENLAKES

GENERAL ONSALE:
Friday, Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. online or
in-person at the Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District.

 

Also coming to Bend this summer at the Hayden will be the Dave Matthews Band

No strangers to our stage, Dave Matthews Band is arguably one of the most influential bands in music history, and it’s a guaranteed memorable night when they hit us with three hours of hits like “Satellite” or “So Much to Say” along with their famous sonic surprises. Experience it for yourself Tuesday, Aug. 27!

GENERAL ONSALE:
Friday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. online or
in-person at the Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District
 

Thanks for reading BasinLife.com from Wynne Broadcasting. 

BasinLife.com is the Klamath Basin and Southern Oregon’s #1 source for news, weather and sports scores, now in our 8th year. Enjoy daily news and weather updates, local articles, music, entertainment news, recipes, business offers, contests and more right here on BasinLife.com every day.
 
Ready to Advertise in 2024? Call BasinLife.com at 541-363-7503.
We offer more local advertising opportunities than any one in the Klamath Basin. We’re ready to help you with the best radio and digital advertising in Southern Oregon.
You can receive Daily Radio Mentions across our 6 stations, Articles, direct link Banner Ads, floating Banner Ads on hundreds of article pages daily, Social Media Posts, geo-fencing and geo-targeting services, and also available are monthly Email Blasts to thousands of local residents. We keep you updated with the latest smart digital marketing strategies for 2024 for your business. BasinLife.com is still the best value in the Klamath Basin for advertising, as we celebrate our 8th year promoting businesses!
For information or prices on plans, simply call us today at 541-363-7503 or email us at Info@BasinLife.com.  Let us keep your business top-of -mind!

 

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