An infrared flight has put the size of the Indian Creek Fire in steep and rugged terrain in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness on the Mt. Hood National Forest at 63 acres. The fire that started on July 4 began spreading slowly through the understory last week, producing smoke impacting nearby communities and Interstate 84. Type 1 Helicopter water drops are being used to cool down the fire and keep it from rapidly spreading further. In addition, a Warm Springs Fire Module made up of 10 people will continue to observe the fire and conduct reconnaissance for areas where fireline can safely and effectively be constructed. The cause of the fire has not been determined. The Forest Service trail and area closure for the area surrounding the fire remains in effect, including Eagle Creek Trail #440, from the boundary with Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness (to the north) to its terminus at the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. This means that Punch Bowl Falls and High Bridge are still open; however, Tunnel Falls is closed. The closure includes adjacent trails Eagle Benson #434, Indian Springs Trail #435, Eagle Tanner Trail #433 and Tanner Butte Trail, south of Tanner Butte. Signs are posted informing visitors that these trails are closed. The nearby Pacific Crest Trail remains open.
The City of Hood River continues to move toward replacement of the Children’s Park play structure. A public meeting last week updated where the City is in the process and what will happen next. City Manager Steve Wheeler says the next step is to send out requests for proposals to companies who build play structures, with a likely outcome to allow quite a bit of input from the community into the process of what is built. The City has budgeted $150,000 for the project, and they have asked the Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation District for systems development charges funds to help with the effort. In addition, fundraising will be taking place to accumulate more dollars for the replacement. Wheeler said the goal remains to have a new structure constructed in time for the summer of 2018.
The impasse that led to the Washington Legislature’s failure to pass a capital budget has significant impacts on Klickitat County. County Commissioner Rex Johnston points out that the capital budget is where grant funds for a number of county departments, including public health and senior services, come from. He notes many of those services must be provided for, whether the grants are there or not, adding the County will pull money out of its coffers and hope once a capital budget is passed the County will get its money back. The capital budget has become a leverage point as Senate Republicans have sought to have the Legislature takes steps to lessen the impact of the Hirst decision from the state Supreme Court that put so-called permit-exempt wells to be used for rural development in jeopardy.
Oregon 8-10 Year-Old Little League Baseball Tournament
At Erv Lind Field in Portland
Hollywood/Rose City 12, The Dalles 8
The Dalles 13, Ashland 0
The Dalles vs. Del Norte, 6:30 p.m.
Wasco County Commissioners have prepared a letter to send to the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments board indicating they would support a process in which new homes are found for programs under the MCCOG umbrella. Commissioner Scott Hege says the letter was developed to support their representative on the MCCOG board, fellow commissioner Steve Kramer. Hege adds the important thing is to get the services provided at the highest and best level to citizens, regardless of whether they run through MCCOG or elsewhere. Five counties and various cities are involved in MCCOG, and the group’s board is to meet in August to continue discussion on whether to continue to operate the agency as currently structured or move programs to other agencies.
A glut of sweet cherries on the market has sent the prices growers can get for their fruit downward, and some smaller cherries won’t be picked at all. Underwood Fruit fieldman Jeff Heater says the entire Northwest is picking a record cherry crop, and they have been shipping a record number of boxes out every day for the last five weeks. He says export prices have been good, but domestic prices have not. Heater says growers who had pruned aggressively and have much bigger size of cherries that can be exported were able to pick them without a problem. He adds they are trying to find alternative markets for the smaller cherries, including the frozen market, but Heater points out there is some carryover from last year so those buyers are reluctant to purchase more fruit.
Hood River County Elections Supervisor Kim Kean says they are getting calls from people worried about their voter information being sent to the federal government, and she is reassuring them that the state of Oregon is not turning over information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Intergrity. Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson wrote a letter to the panel’s vice-chair Kris Kobach saying that state law prohibits disclosure of much of the information they requested, including social security and drivers’ license numbers. Kean adds county clerks and the state have a number of security measures in place to protect, and keep current, voter records. In his letter to the federal advisory commission Richardson said there is very little evidence of voter fraud in the state, adding he believes the federal government should not be involved in dictating how states conduct their elections.
Klickitat County Commissioners voted to concur with the City of The Dalles and terminate the contracts for management of the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport in Dallesport with six months notice. Klickitat County Commissioner David Sauter says the airport board, which administers the facility on behalf of the City and the County, had made that recommendation. He adds there was no specific issue that could be cited for termination, but they are looking at new management as the airport grows in the near future. The contracts were with Aeronautical Management, which managed airport operations, and fixed based operator Gorge Aviation Services. Sauter says both could respond to Requests For Proposals as the City and County look for a new management agreement.
What the education budget passed this month by the Washington Legislature means for the White Salmon Valley School District is unclear. District Superintendent Jerry Lewis says they have a rough understanding of the changes included in the budget which is to address the McCleary decision from the Washington State Supreme Court calling for the state to meet its constitutional obligation to fund basic education, but won’t get real numbers from the state Superintendent’s Office of Public Instruction until December. He adds his focus has been on equity for all schools in the state. Lewis says the White Salmon district will be passing a budget for the upcoming school year this month.
Two regional landmarks are providing the cover photos for the new official Oregon State map. One is of Celestial Falls near Maupin, which the Oregon Department of Transportation says is appropriately named for this year with the solar eclipse on August 21. The other is a sunrise photo of Vista House and the Columbia River Gorge. The map includes updates to state highways, interchanges and other roadways as a result of construction projects completed since the last publication of the map in the summer of 2015. Maps are free and available at visitor centers, DMV offices, chambers of commerce and other outlets.