Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined a bipartisan group of Western senators to urge savings from the Wildfire Disaster Account be reinvested in the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to ensure the agencies can continue wildfire prevention. The Senators sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chair Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Ranking Member Tom Udall of New Mexico requesting savings from the account, which for fiscal year 2020 amounts to $650 million, be reinvested back into the agencies, which they say was the intent when the account was created. The Wildfire Disaster Account was created in 2018 to save the Forest Service and BLM hundreds of millions in wildfire suppression costs, rather than forcing them to raid other accounts that went towards fire prevention efforts.
A street construction project on West 6th Street in The Dalles between Chenowith Loop Road and Irvine Street West will continue on Monday. The Dalles Public Works Department says both the eastbound and westbound lanes will be resurfaced, with through traffic to be flagged to a single lane in the construction zone, so motorists should expect delays. Business and residential neighborhood access will be open during construction. The purpose of this project is to rebuild the failed roadway and make it smoother and safer.
Congress extended federal funding for 12 community clinics in Oregon that provide localized crisis and outpatient behavioral health services. Senator Ron Wyden said the federal funding extension until September 13 will help ensure no interruption in critical services performed by the certified community behavioral health clinics as well as provides more time to achieve a longer-term extension for states that continue the demonstration. Wyden is a cosponsor of the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act that would grant CCBHCs an additional two years of funding. Mid-Columbia Center for Living in the Gorge is one of the dozen CCBHC’s in Oregon. Oregon was selected as one of eight demonstration states for program.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has introduced legislation to require railroads to share information regarding oil shipments with state emergency responders and allocate tens of millions of dollars in financial assistance towards emergency preparedness and risk reduction in local communities. Wyden’s Crude Oil Advanced Tracking Act mandates that railroads share their manifest information with local emergency responders in every community through which their materials will travel, allocates $15 million in grants to support the development, improvement or implementation of emergency plans and training for communities through which crude oil trains regularly pass, and provides $25 million of financial assistance to support local projects that reduce risk or help protect communities. Wyden says the bill is in response to multiple accidents involving trains carrying crude oil, including a 2016 derailment in Mosier that spilled 42,000 gallons of crude oil and sparked a large fire.
The driver of an SUV that overturned after a tire blew apart early Wednesday morning on Interstate 84 in The Dalles was able to extricate herself from the vehicle. The accident occurred just after midnight Thursday morning on westbound I-84 at milepost 85. According to the Oregon State Police, the driver had gotten out of the vehicle before the responding trooper arrived. The driver told the OSP she heard a loud bang while she was driving in the right hand lane, lost control of the vehicle, and struck the barrier twice before flipping onto its top and skidding down the freeway.
Hood River County Forest Manager Doug Thiesies is looking at options to maintain the County’s recreational trails program in the midst of the County’s budget woes. The department is looking at losing its recreational trails’ coordinator position at the end of the year unless some way of providing more funding is found. The County has about 100 miles worth of trails on its forestlands, and Thiesies says the coordinator works with the recreational trails committee to ensure the interests of all are accommodated. Thiesies says the options being considered for new funding include business sponsors for the program.
During the recent session the Oregon Legislature approved establishment of a new Oregon State Wildland Fire Extension Program. It will be part of Oregon State University’s College of Forestry and OSU Extension’s Forestry and Natural Resources program. OSU Extension forester Glenn Ahrens says the goal is to enable them to work with partners and communities to build wildfire resistance and resilience into rural landscapes and wildland urban interface areas, most notably keeping fires at a ground level so they are less severe, which requires large-scale fuels reduction. Ahrens believes Wasco and Hood River counties are good candidates for this effort, adding they will be looking for prospective landscapes with willing partners for 10,000-acre-plus wildfire risk reduction efforts across public and private boundaries.
Two people were injured when a motorcycle collided with a deer on Wednesday morning on Highway 14 in eastern Klickitat County. According to the Washington State Patrol, the motorcycle operated by 43-year-old William Cuevas of Medford, Minnesota was westbound on Highway 14 about five miles west of Roosevelt and entered a curve to the left when it collided with a deer in the roadway. The motorcycle continued into the eastbound ditch. The WSP indicated Cuevas and his 13-year-old passenger were both transported to Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles for treatment of injuries. The accident occurred at about 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Wasco 2040, Wasco County’s periodic review of its comprehensive land use plan, has wrapped up its revisions in regards to housing, so the next topic will be Goal 5 on environmental, open space, and historic resources. County long-range planner Kelly Howsley-Glover says for this goal, state law is much more prescriptive than in other areas, particularly in how resources are inventoried and how they go about deciding uses that may conflict with them and how they are protected. Topics that figure to be addressed include modifying wild and scenic rivers protections in the County, along with sensitive wildlife including big game. Howsley-Glover says the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has indicated it might like to merge rules on big game with other species-driven protections to develop a habitat-based protection model.
A Dufur woman died in a one-vehicle accident Tuesday morning on Highway 197 north of Tygh Valley. According to the Oregon State Police, a preliminary investigation found the SUV driven by 51-year-old Barbara Hunt was traveling north on Highway 197 near milepost 29 when for unknown reasons the vehicle left the roadway shoulder and hit a rock wall. The OSP says Hunt sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident occurred at around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. The OSP was assisted by the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, Tygh Valley Fire Department, Juniper Flat Rural Fire Department, and the Oregon Department of Transportation.