Rogue Valley News, Monday 6/20 – Child Dies After Water Rescue In Eagle Point; Jury Finds Man Guilty Of Setting Pacific Pride Fire

The latest news stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from the digital home of Southern Oregon, Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com

Monday, June 20, 2022

Rogue Valley Weather

Child Dies After Water Rescue In Eagle Point

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has released updated information that as of 8:55 p.m on 6/18., the 7-year-old child in Saturday’s Water rescue in Eagle Point has passed away.

The Sheriff’s Office has informed us that the name of the child will not be provided at this time out of respect for the family.


The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that a missing 7-year-old, who went missing in Little Butte Creek, has been found and has been taken to a local hospital.

According to search and rescue crews, the 7-year-old was located by JCSO deputies in the water near Butte Creek Mill. The child was taken by Mercy Flights, however the condition of the child is undetermined at this time. 

Jury Finds Man Guilty Of Setting Pacific Pride Fire

A Jackson County Circuit Court twelve-person jury found a man guilty of setting a fire on April 12 that razed or damaged the Pacific Pride fueling station and five other businesses on South Central Avenue. The fire also released approximately 20,000 gallons of petroleum products according to the Department of Environmental Quality, some of which was found in Bear Creek.

John Salmons will be sentenced Wednesday, June 22 for first-degree arson, six counts of first-degree criminal mischief, which refers to property damage, and for recklessly endangering.

Jury members heard witness testimony and video evidence from Medford Police Department detectives showing security footage of 49-year-old John Salmons leaving the vicinity less than a minute after smoke started to fill the air.

According to court documents, Salmons was originally arrested April 16 for an unrelated incident after MPD Officer Harvey found Salmons with a lighter and a fire inside of a Monster energy drink can.

This fire was a parole violation from an Aug. 1 2021 incident when Salmons was arrested for starting another warming fire on Biddle Road near Crater Lake Highway. He was convicted Jan. 11 and spent 20 days in prison, after which he was required to undergo supervised parole for two years.

A court document, written by Salmon’s parole officer, Bryan Hescock, said the April 16 fire “is very similar to the behavior that placed Mr. Salmons on supervision in the first place.”

Nearly a week later, the Medford Police Department announced on April 22 that they had connected him with the Pacific Pride fire.

Five Illegal Grows Busted in Douglas County Last Week

Over the course of the past week, the Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team (DINT) has addressed several illegal marijuana sites in Douglas County.  In total, DINT has eradicated illegal marijuana from 5 sites, and made several arrests.

DINT eradicated two sites on Raleigh Drive, outside of Winston.  In the 600 block of Raleigh Drive, DINT located a property that had 18 greenhouses containing illegal marijuana plants.  DINT eradicated 3,832 marijuana plants from the property, and seized several other items of evidence of criminal activity.  In this case, DINT arrested 25 year old Jesus Manuel Martinez-Munguia, and 42 year old Ezequiel Martinez-Garcia, both lodged at the Douglas County Jail.

In the 500 block of Raleigh Drive, DINT detectives located another illegal marijuana grow operation consisting of approximately 1,330 marijuana plants.  In this case, detectives arrested the property owner, 43 year old Jackie Willis, who was lodged at the Douglas County Jail.  

Detectives located another illegal marijuana growing operation in the 1600 block of Weaver Road, Myrtle Creek.  In this case detectives eradicated 757 marijuana plants, and approximately 311 pounds of processed marijuana.  Detectives discovered the suspects had been diverting large amounts of water from the adjacent BLM land.  They discovered an area on the BLM land where a creek had been impounded to collect water, and that water was run through pipes a great distance to the marijuana growing operation. Detectives also seized a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle from the residence.  A check of the serial number revealed the rifle had been reported stolen out of San Joaquin County, California.  35 year old Arturo Perez-Aguilar was arrested and lodged at the Douglas County Jail.  

Detectives eradicated approximately 1,765 plants from a location in the 1200 block of N. Old Pacific Hwy in Myrtle Creek.  Again, all of these plants were illegal marijuana.  

At a residence in the 700 block of Buckhorn Road, Roseburg, detectives located and eradicated 1,103 illegal marijuana plants.

In many of these cases, the investigations are continuing and more arrests are anticipated.

Southern Oregon has been inundated with large scale illegal marijuana grows during the last couple of years, including Douglas County.  The scale of these operations is unlike anything we have ever seen before and they are destructive to our communities.  These operations are most often run and controlled by multinational criminal organizations with only profit in mind.  They pay no regard to our local resources, rules, laws, or ethics.  They often do vast amounts of damage to our natural resources, and damage our streams and rivers by dumping garbage, toxic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides), and human feces.  Water diversion is another concern as they often illegally take water from wells and rivers.  It is common to see them illegally damming small streams to impound water for their own use.   Douglas County is committed to pushing back against these illegal activities and restoring our long held standards.  Douglas Interagency Narcotics Team (DINT

Fatal Traffic Crash Friday Night in Roseburg

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A 21-year-old Roseburg woman has died as the result of a single vehicle traffic crash on Garden Valley Road Friday evening.

On Friday, June 17, 2022, shortly after 7:30 pm, 9-1-1 dispatchers began receiving reports of a serious traffic accident in the 7000-block of Garden Valley Road.

Deputies arrived on scene to discover a 2000 Toyota 4-Runner, which had been traveling westbound on Garden Valley Road, that had left the roadway for an unknown reason, striking a utility pole and unoccupied vehicles. The driver and sole occupant of the 4-Runner, identified as 21-year-old Roseburg resident Kylee Alexander, was declared deceased at the scene.

The crash remains under investigation at this time, however speed is believed to have been a contributing factor. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at 541-440-4471.

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Douglas County Medical Examiner’s Office, Douglas County Fire District #2, Joe’s Towing and ADAPT’s Mobile Crisis Team.  Douglas Co. Sheriff’s Office

Beware New Local Phone Scam

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JCSO has recent reports of scam calls to local residents requesting money to resolve warrants for missing jury duty and other supposed offenses.

The latest calls have a new twist and may or may not come from the number (458) 265-8938. Please share with friends and family that may be vulnerable to such scams.

The calls from a scammer claiming to be Captain Aldrich at JCSO are instructing recipients to go to CoinFlip Kiosks at Stop N Go on Main Street in Medford and White City to deposit money. This is a reminder, do NOT send money to someone representing themselves as law enforcement on the phone. JCSO and other law enforcement entities will NEVER call you to collect money. When in doubt, hang up and call the department’s official phone number (ours is 541-774-6800).

The whole family is now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines! Children 6 months and older, and any eligible adult, can receive a COVID-19 vaccine for free. We're working with vaccine providers to make doses readily available at locations such as your health care provider's office and special COVID-19 vaccine clinics. We appreciate your patience.

Pediatric Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are now approved for use in Oregon for children ages 6 months and older.A two-dose Moderna vaccine series is available to children ages 6 months to under 6 years old. A three-dose Pfizer vaccination series is available to children ages 6 months to under 5 years old.The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup has confirmed that both vaccines are safe and effective for these age groups, following authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendation from the CDC. We’re working with vaccine providers statewide to make doses available at health care provider offices, federally qualified health centers and special COVID-19 vaccine clinics.We recommend you call first and ask if your pediatrician or preferred clinic has the vaccine yet. We appreciate your patience.

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Oregon State Historic Preservation Office Asks “How Do We Recognize and Preserve What Makes Oregon Special?” In Series of Virtual Public Meetings and Online Survey 

As part of its mission, the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in partnership with the public and our partners creates a statewide historic preservation plan every five years to identify what is special about Oregon and how best to preserve it for future generations. The plan addresses identifying and preserving historic places, collections, and traditional practices, educating the public about the State’s history, and building support for the organizations that curate our state’s cultural legacy. 

All Oregonians are invited to take an online survey. The survey asks about participant’s interests, what issues matter most, and what Oregonian’s can all do to preserve the state’s history. Go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2024-2029HistPresPlanSurvey.

This summer and fall the Oregon SHPO is asking Oregonians how Oregon’s heritage is special to them in a series of 90-minute virtual public meetings. Meetings will focus on a region or topic, but all are welcome to attend one or more of the events. At the regional meetings participants will identify what issues matter most, how to best preserve the state’s history, and what government agencies, cultural institutions, and each Oregonian can do. Topic-based meetings will discuss how the heritage community can better address diversity, equity, and inclusion in cultural resource programs, disaster preparedness and response, and planning for cultural resources in development and infrastructure projects. The meetings will be held Wednesday evenings from 6:30pm to 8:00pm, June through September by Zoom video and teleconference. Meeting details will be published on the project website. The information from the meetings will be used to create the 2024-2029 Oregon Historic Preservation Plan that will be published in early 2024.

Meeting dates are:

  • June 29th, Greater Portland Metro Area
  • July 6th, Greater Willamette Valley
  • July 20th, Central and Southeast Oregon
  • August 3rd, Rogue Valley and South Oregon Coast
  • August 17th, I-84 Corridor and Northeast Oregon
  • August 31st, Northwest and Central Oregon Coast
  • September 7th, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access in the Oregon Preservation Plan
  • September 14th, Disaster Preparation and Response for Cultural Resources
  • September 21st, Community Planning for Cultural Resources

Those interested in or associated with local historic preservation efforts, museums, governments, cemeteries, archaeology, archives, historic trails, and other heritage-related interests are encouraged to attend.

Visit https://www.oregon.gov/oprd/OH/pages/tools.aspx#2024presplan to register for a meeting.

Oregon Heritage, a Division of Oregon State Parks, includes the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The Oregon SHPO locally administers National Park Service (NPS) programs created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, including the identification and designation of historic properties and archaeological sites; tax and grant programs; and the Certified Local Government Program (CLG), a partnership program between local jurisdictions and the state and federal government. The SHPO office is funded in part through a grant from NPS. The SHPO also coordinates closely with Oregon Heritage programs, including the Oregon Heritage Commission and Main Street program, Cemetery Commission, and various grant and technical assistance programs. See the current 2018-2023 Oregon Historic Preservation Plan.

To learn more about the Oregon SHPO and Oregon Heritage programs, visit www.oregonheritage.org.

Will Wet Spring in Oregon Be a Quiet Wildfire Season Or Fuel Major Fires

In June of 2017, the Statesman Journal published an optimistic story about the upcoming wildfire season. It had been a wet spring, after all, and there was plenty of snow in the mountains. “Quiet season expected for Oregon wildfires,” the headline said in part.

The reality turned out anything but quiet. Numerous large wildfires smoked out solar eclipse plans while ushering the beginning of a period that’s seen wildfires become a normal part of Oregon summer.

The 2017 season became the most expensive on record to fight at the time at $447 million while burning 757,000 acres. The Eagle Creek Fire brought chaos to the Columbia River Gorge and shut down Interstate 84 for an extended period, while the Chetco Bar Fire came terrifyingly close to burning the town of Brookings on the South Coast.

So what happened, and what might it tell us about the upcoming fire season?

“I actually think 2017 is a pretty good example of what we’re worried about this year,” said Eric Wise, a predictive wildfire meteorologist at the Northwest Coordination Center. “Every season is different, but there are definitely similarities.”

A few of the concerning aspects include rapid-growing grasses and fine fuels that could dry out and become highly flammable by late July and August, along with projections for more lightning strikes than a normal year, Wise said.

In general, the wet spring has been a very good thing for Oregon. It has refilled reservoirs, kept river flows higher than normal — good for fish and wildlife — and scaled back the severity of the state’s long-term drought.

It has also delayed wildfire season.

A year ago, major wildfires erupted near Mount Hood and brought evacuations to southern Oregon in mid-June. This year, there’s little chance of that happening so early.

“The upside is that it has delayed the fire season and given us extra time to do our hiring and training so that when fires do eventually start, we’re well-prepared,” said Jessica Prakke, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Forestry, which fights fire on Oregon’s state, county and private timberlands.

The late-season snowpack, which is between 160% to 400% of normal across Oregon’s mountains, also helps delay fire season and quell any potential ignitions from the Cascade Range to the Wallowa Mountains.

“I’d tend to say that (the wet spring) is a good thing overall,” Wise said. “And it could — could — end up not being much of a fire season at all. But there are definitely concerns depending on how the summer plays out.”

Anyone with a yard in Oregon can attest to how prodigious spring rain has caused plants, weeds and grass to grow rapidly, turning backyards into veritable jungles.

The same is true in Oregon’s forests and grasslands, leading to the rapid growth of what’s known as fine fuels — smaller plants and grasses.

“Once those dry out, they catch pretty easily and burn and spread really fast,” Prakke said.

That was one of the issues in 2017, Wise said. The growth of fine fuels spurred by a wet spring quickly dried out as temperatures spiked in July, August and September, leading to a flammable understory that ignited into major infernos such as Eagle Creek, Whitewater, Chetco Bar and Miller Complex wildfires.

Major wildfires are typically the product of multiple ingredients coming together — dry fuels, hot temperatures and wind being some of the most potent. But, of course, there also needs to be a spark, and that’s another concerning similarity to 2017.

In 2017, the most famous wildfire was the Eagle Creek blaze, which burned just under 50,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge and was ignited by a teenager tossing a firework off Eagle Creek Trail.

In reality, though, most of the major fires ignited in 2017 were caused by lightning strikes in remote locations. The Miller Complex, Milli Fire, Whitewater Fire and Chetco Bar Fire were all ignited by lightning strikes in hard-to-reach areas that grew quickly on hot temperatures and dry winds.

This summer, there is an above-average chance for more thunderstorms than normal, Wise said. That’s because of what’s projected to be an active monsoon season in the southwest, which typically funnels moisture up to Oregon where it turns into thunderstorms.

“If the thunderstorms hit us with moisture, it can be helpful,” Wise said. “But when they just bring dry lightning, that’s when things get crazy in a hurry. That’s one of our biggest concerns this year, just that we expect an active monsoon season, and then an active thunderstorm season in the Northwest.”

While the recent rain has soaked northwest Oregon, the central, eastern and southern parts of the state remain mired in deep drought. It’s been a wetter spring than normal in Medford, for example, but the area is still about 3 inches below normal precipitation for the year, according to the National Weather Service.

That persistent drought means fuels are still drier than they should be, elevating fire risk. The area where fire danger is the highest continues to be Central Oregon and southeastern Oregon, Wise said.

In general, Wise said, Oregon is in much better shape than a year ago and it could end up being a quiet summer. It’s likely to be a much shorter season than normal, with wet and cool conditions expected into late June at least.

But if the weather turns hot and dry and the lightning arrives, it could be a replay of 2017 in the summer of 2022.

Stricter Groundwater Regulations Could Be Coming For Oregon

Oregon water regulators want to impose stricter rules for drilling new irrigation wells next year to preserve groundwater levels and prevent over-pumping.

A preliminary analysis of available data suggests that little groundwater across the state is available for new allocations, said Ivan Gall, field services division administrator at the state’s Water Resources Department.
The goal is to create a policy that’s “simple and transparent” and also “protective” of groundwater and senior water rights holders, Gall said at the June 16 meeting of the state’s Water Resources Commission, which oversees the department.

The agency plans to hold public outreach workshops about the proposal this summer, following by a “rules advisory committee” to weigh in on potential changes. Under this timeline, the commission could vote to adopt the new
regulations in early 2023.

The agency is on an “ambitious schedule” to revise the rules for permitting new wells, he said. It plans to later deal with other groundwater reforms, such as the rules for deepening existing wells.

WATER RIGHTS IN OREGON – An Introduction to Oregon’s Water Laws https://www.oregon.gov/owrd/WRDPublications1/aquabook.pdf

 Fishing Vessel Catches Fire Off The Coast Of Manzanita

U.S Coast Guard crews responded to a fire on a 42-foot commercial fishing vessel off the coast of Manzanita Beach in Oregon early Saturday morning.

USCG said they received a distress call at around 6:30 a.m., about 2 miles West of Manzanita Beach. One person on board was rescued from the water by a Good Samaritan, transferred to a USCG crew and brought to shore with no medical concerns.

The boat burned down to the waterline and according to USCG, and drifted to about 1 mile West of Nehalem Bay State Park. It continues to smolder as of 2:46 p.m. Responders are continuing to monitor.

Rescued Puppy Mill Dogs Arrive At Oregon Humane Society

The Oregon Humane Society has taken in more than 30 dogs from a suspected puppy mill in California. In all, more than 150 dogs were living in cramped crates, filled with waste.

Many of the dogs need medical attention. They are French bulldogs and other bulldog mix breeds. The Oregon Humane Society says it’ll be several months before the dogs are ready for adoption. They’ll go to foster homes to recover and learn how to be a pet. The dogs will be put up for adoption as they become ready.

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