Summer came early this week for 15 western pond turtles reared at the Oregon Zoo. The zoo returned the endangered reptiles to the wild at a number of different Columbia River Gorge locations on Tuesday. The turtles have been in a simulated summer at the zoo’s conservation lab since last May, growing large enough to have a fighting chance in the wild. Keepers prepare the turtles for life outdoors by helping them learn to hunt for food and giving them plenty of time outside to acclimate to changing temperatures. Once the turtles reach about 50 grams in size, they’re taken to the Columbia River Gorge where a team of volunteers and conservationists return them to their natural habitat and monitor them for safety. In one study, scientists estimated that 95 percent of the turtles released back to the Gorge survive annually. The biggest threat to fragile baby turtles has been the bullfrog.
Washington Class 1A Boys Golf Tournament
Luke Gerchak of Goldendale shot an 86 in round one of the tourney at Liberty Lake Golf Club. That’s leaves him in a tie for 33rd heading into the second and final round today.
Wednesday, May 23 Schedule
Oregon Class 5-A Baseball Tournament
Hood River Valley at Sandy, 5 p.m.
Oregon Class 2-A/1-A Baseball Tournament
Lost River at Sherman, 4 p.m.
Oregon Class 5-A Softball Tournament
Thurston at Hood River Valley, 4:30 p.m.
The Hood River County Commission has scheduled a public hearing for June 18 at 6 p.m. on a community identification card program that has been backed by a citizen group including Gorge Ecumenical Ministries. Proponents say some county residents lack a form of official identification, restricting access to some services. County Commissioners have had concerns about costs and liability. Administrator David Hecksel says those have been answered through using a third party provider, the Next Door. The community ID card would not be considered a valid form of identification for state or federal purposes, but the County would accept it and others could do so voluntarily.
It has been an uncommonly busy month for search and rescue crews in Skamania County. Skamania County Undersheriff Pat Bond says in May they have received 19 calls for service, compared to four in the same time period one year ago. Bond says they are seeing a bigger influx of hikers…particularly in the Mt. St. Helens area. He adds hikers should be prepared for changing conditions, don’t go on to closed trails, and communicate plans with others. Bond says while they use a number of volunteers in search and rescue, the large number of search and rescue operations does create a big drain on sheriff’s department resources.
High Columbia River water levels are effectively shrinking Hood River waterfront recreation beaches and parks. Spring runoff is causing high water levels throughout the Columbia/Snake River system, but local concerns are focused on water safety in the run up to Memorial Day weekend. The Port of Hood River says several local kiting and windsurfing schools are offering guide services now to provide safety and support for the unique water conditions. Kite launching is still permitted from the Event Site but only in designated areas. River current is stronger than normal at all waterfront beaches, so life jackets and constant adult supervision is a must for children swimming at the Marina Beach, the Hood River Waterfront Park beach, and even Frog, or Slackwater, Beach in the Nichols Basin. Boaters and anglers are also urged to use caution, as the high water and stronger currents are creating navigational condition changes with hidden and floating debris in the river, including large logs.
Oregon Girls Lacrosse Association
Lake Oswego 14, Hood River Valley 9: The top-seeded Lakers took the lead early and never looked back on the way to grabbing a berth in Thursday’s championship game. The Eagles finished their season with a 13-4 record.
The City of The Dalles has received a suggestion from some citizens to look at “The Portland Loo” as a way to provide public toilets. Mayor Steve Lawrence says the initial cost of the solar-powered, durable stainless steel makes it prohibitive for the City to buy them, but they will participate if advocates want to do fundraising for them, adding there are a number of advantages to them. The design of the loo is intended to deter illicit activity. A potential site is the City parking lot across from St. Peter’s Landmark.
Hood River County Commissioners denied an appeal by the Hood River Valley Residents Committee of a decision at the staff level to extend the commercial land use permit to build the DeeTour amphitheater at the former Dee Mill site. Project proponent Apollo Land Holdings had asked for the one-year extension of the permit initially approved in 2014. The Residents Committee appealed, claiming the initial approval of the extension was improperly processed as a ministerial decision, and because the approval criteria changed with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals decision that led to eventual denial of a permit to build a hotel on the site. The County Planning Commission had initially denied the appeal in January.
There will be a brief full closure of the Hood River/White Salmon Interstate Bridge on Wednesday beginning at 9:30 a.m. for a bridge lift. The closure is expected to last about 20 minutes. Delays of up to 30 minutes are expected, depending on traffic volume. Bridge users are advised to plan for delay or seek alternate routes during the lift. For more information, call (541) 386-1645.
The Oregon Department of Transportation’s Columbia Gorge Express bus service begins its third year on Friday, and now it will go as far east as Hood River and operate seven days a week, year-round. On Friday the bus will begin Friday-Saturday-Sunday service – plus Memorial Day — from Gateway Transit Center in Portland to Rooster Rock State Park, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks and Hood River. On June 11, the bus will start service seven days a week, year-round. Service will begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday when the first bus of the day leaves Gateway Transit Center. The last bus of the day departs Hood River for Portland at 7:10 p.m. In 2016, season one surpassed expectations with nearly 30,000 trips over 18 weekends between Portland and Multnomah Falls, and season two in summer 2017 saw average daily ridership increase by about ten percent over just 15 weekends, with the last three weekends cancelled because of the Eagle Creek Fire. For a full schedule, tickets, and more information go to www.ColumbiaGorgeExpress.com.