Rogue Valley News, Monday 7/8 – Salt Creek Fire Update, Ashland’s Annual 4th of July Parade Attracts Thousands & Other Local and Statewide News…

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

Monday,  July 8, 2024

Rogue Valley Weather

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Active Weather Alerts – EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING – NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE

...EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM PDT TUESDAY...

* WHAT...Dangerously hot conditions with high temperatures 105 to
115, and low temperatures in the mid 60s to lower 70s.

* WHERE...In California, western and central Siskiyou County. This
includes the cities of Yreka, Weed, Etna, Happy Camp, Mt Shasta
City, and Dunsmuir. In Oregon, Josephine and Jackson counties and
eastern Curry County. This includes the entire Rogue Valley and
the cities of Medford, Grants Pass, Cave Junction, and Butte Falls.

* WHEN...Until 9 PM PDT Tuesday.

* IMPACTS...Heat related illnesses increase significantly during
extreme heat events. Area rivers will be cold and can cause shock
to swimmers.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of
the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.

Do not leave young children and pets in unattended vehicles. Car
interiors will reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.

Take extra precautions when outside. Wear lightweight and loose
fitting clothing. Try to limit strenuous activities to early morning
or evening. Take action when you see symptoms of heat exhaustion and
heat stroke.

𝙎𝘼𝙇𝙏 𝘾𝙍𝙀𝙀𝙆 𝙁𝙄𝙍𝙀 𝘼𝙈 𝙐𝙋𝘿𝘼𝙏𝙀:

Firefighters assigned to the Salt Creek Fire, located approximately 10 miles east of Eagle Point, made significant progress last night, lining 40% of the fire. The fire is burning on steep ground along Salt Creek Road, and is currently estimated to be 1,500 acres. It’s currently affecting both private and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team 1, a Type 1 IMT, has been ordered and will be in-briefed at 10 a.m. They will shadow the current resources today and take command of the incident at 6 p.m. tonight. This will bring in additional resources and allow the local districts to be ready for any additional starts that may occur.

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Image from Jackson County Sheriff Oregon

May be an image of map and text that says 'Jackson County Sheriff Oregon 35m · Salt Creek Fire: Jackson County Sheriff's Office is issuing an Evacuation Level 1: BE READY to evacuate for Zones JAC-316, JAC-3... See more EVACUATION LEVEL1 AREA BulteFa alls JAC-306 INFO PREPARE EVACUATE AWARE DANGER THE REA Stay informed. Zones JAC-316 JAC-317 JAC-319 -321 Have go-kit JAC-318 JAC-317 i JAC-320 JAC-319 JAC-316 your loved youd ာ ' o quickiy JAC-321 JAC JAC-324 324 BE READY JAC-325 RobinsorButte +3 123 Like 33 comments 189 shares Comment Send Share'

Fire activity naturally decreased last night when the sun went down and temperatures dropped. With this advantage, resources overnight were able to put in a mix of bulldozer and hand line constructed with tools along the entire northern portion, as well as the southwest border of the fire. The eastern and southeastern portion remain largely unlined and will be the focus of Monday’s day shift. Today, 321 personnel are assigned to the fire, including 12 20-person crews, nine engines, 10 water tenders, seven bulldozers, and six tree fallers. Snags, or hazard trees, are present throughout the fire and may fall unexpectedly. This, along with steep terrain and hot conditions are hazards for firefighters on the line today. Aircraft will be heavily used again today as soon as possible, including one Type 3, two Type 2 and three Type 1 helicopters that are exclusively assigned to this incident. Air tankers will be ordered again as needed.

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User submitted photo from the Medford Airport

The Salt Creek Fire was first reported Sunday afternoon just after 4 p.m. Both ODF Southwest Oregon District and Lake Creek Fire District initially responded. When firefighters arrived on scene, it was estimated to be 2-5 acres and growing quickly in the hot, dry and windy conditions. Numerous resources were ordered, including engines, bulldozers, water tenders and multiple types of aircraft. The fire grew to an estimated 10 acres within the half hour, and 200 acres an hour and a half into initial attack. Six helicopters, two Large Air Tankers (LATs) and a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) were ordered, and numerous retardant drops helped to box in the fire by creating temporary retardant lines around the majority of the incident. This allowed firefighters the upper hand on solidifying containment lines overnight.

The Jackson County Sheriff‘s Office and Jackson County Emergency Management has issued an Evacuation Level 1: BE READY for Zones JAC-316, JAC-317, JAC-319, and JAC-321. These zones are north of Highway 140 approximately 12 miles east of Eagle Point in the Lake Creek area- East of Salt Creek Rd, North of Hwy-140, South and West of Fish Lake Rd, including the Willow Lake area. There are no structures threatened at this time. Deputies are on scene to provide door-to-door notifications to houses in the areas. To find your evacuation zone, visit Genasys Protect https://protect.genasys.com/

Salt Creek Road and Wasson Canyon Road are closed at Highway 140, and Double Day Road is closed off of Butte Falls Highway. Highway 140 and Butte Falls Highway remain open at this time.

Temperatures of 105 degrees and wind contributed to the growth, along with the dry vegetation in the area and steep slopes. These conditions are continuing through Wednesday across the Rogue Valley. The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning, which extends into Tuesday night. Fire naturally thrives in these conditions, and any new starts will have the same potential to grow. Please be aware of all current fire regulations to help reduce the risk of new fires starting in southern Oregon. Today, the fire danger level on the ODF Southwest Oregon District is high (yellow) and regulations are in place. Please be aware of and follow all current restrictions to help reduce the risk of fires in our communities. Information is available here:

• The ODF Southwest Oregon District: https://swofire.com/

• The RRSNF Alerts and Notices page https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/rogue-siskiyou/alerts-notices and website homepage https://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou

• The BLM OR/WA Fire Management Page: https://www.blm.gov/orwafire

———-    VIDEO on Facebook – Chris Barnett, Candidate for County Commissioner  https://www.facebook.com/1460224437/videos/pcb.10231113121198985/818797519973445

The Rogue River Interagency Hotshot Crew responding to the Salt Creek Fire.

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This fire is located 10 miles east of Eagle Point, is burning on steep ground along Salt Creek Road, and is currently estimated to be 1,500 acres. It’s currently affecting both private and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Firefighters made significant progress last night, lining 40% of the fire.
Photo by Natalie Weber

Ashland’s Annual 4th of July Parade Attracts Thousands

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Representative Pam Marsh marching in Ashland’s 4th of July Parade

The tractor unit of a semi-truck was destroyed by a fire Sunday afternoon in Central Point

Multiple calls came in after 3:00 pm saying flames were coming from a truck. By the time firefighters responded to South Peninger Road, the tractor was engulfed by the fire. Firefighters quickly put out the flames with only damage to the tractor and nearby bushes. No one was injured.May be an image of 2 people and text that says '1evr levron'

Battalion Chief Scott Downing states the most likely cause is some kind of mechanical failure.

“There’s a lot of combustibles within that engine compartment that are already preheated that will, you know, burn very quickly. Then you combine that with the make of the vehicle with a lot of fiberglass versus steel or something like that, you know? So, those will burn very quickly and then that’s what created such a large, black column that can be seen across the valley,” Battalion Chief Downing said.

U.S. Supreme Court Sides With City of Grants Pass – Allows Ban On Homeless People Sleeping Outdoors

The U.S. Supreme Court Friday sided with a local ordinance in Oregon that bans homeless people from sleeping outdoors, and local governments will be allowed to enforce those laws.

The case, Gloria Johnson, et. al. v. Grants Pass was originally brought by three homeless people against the city’s ban on the use of tents, blankets and cardboard to protect them from the elements while camping on public property. (Ben Botkin/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

In a 6-3 decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the opinion that the enforcement of those local laws that regulate camping on public property does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

“Homelessness is complex. Its causes are many. So may be the public policy responses required to address it,” he wrote. “The Constitution’s Eighth Amendment serves many important functions, but it does not authorize federal judges to wrest those rights and responsibilities from the American people and in their place dictate this Nation’s homelessness policy.”

The case originated in Grants Pass, a city in Oregon that argued its ordinance is a solution to the city’s homelessness crisis, which includes fines and potential jail time for repeat offenders who camp or sleep outdoors.

Attorney Theane Evangelis, who represented the city, said in a statement to States Newsroom that the ruling would provide relief to local communities trying to address the issues of encampments of homeless people.

“The Court has now restored the ability of cities on the frontlines of this crisis to develop lasting solutions that meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of their communities, while also keeping our public spaces safe and clean,” she said. “Years from now, I hope that we will look back on today’s watershed ruling as the turning point in America’s homelessness crisis.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent arguing that the ordinance against camping and a separate ordinance against using blankets on public property targets the status of being homeless and is therefore a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

“Grants Pass’s Ordinances criminalize being homeless,” she wrote. “The Ordinances’ purpose, text, and enforcement confirm that they target status, not conduct. For someone with no available shelter, the only way to comply with the Ordinances is to leave Grants Pass altogether.”

During oral arguments, the justices seemed split along ideological lines.

The conservative justices sided with the town in Oregon, arguing that policies and ordinances around homelessness are complex, and should be left up to local elected representatives rather than the courts.

The liberal justices argued the Grants Pass ordinances criminalized the status of being homeless and criticized the city’s argument that homelessness is not a status protected under the Eighth Amendment.

The Biden administration took the middle ground in the case, and U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler offered partial support for the city.

“It’s the municipality’s determination, certainly in the first instance with a great deal of flexibility, how to address the question of homelessness,” he said during oral arguments in late April.

Homelessness crisis

The ruling, which was split along ideological lines, reverses the 9th Circuit’s decision that previously blocked the local law because it found the ordinance criminalized the status of being homeless and was therefore a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s bar on cruel and unusual punishment.

The Grants Pass ordinances prohibited people from camping and sleeping in parks and on public property and barred those people from using blankets, pillows or other materials to sleep outdoors. A violation carried a $295 file, and if not paid, could be increased to $530. Repeat offenders could also risk jail.

But the city, and a coalition of leaders from red and blue Western states, including Montana and California, petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case.

“Cities across the West report that the Ninth Circuit’s involuntariness test has created intolerable uncertainty for them,” Gorsuch wrote.

Cities across the U.S., particularly in the West, are grappling with an increasing homelessness crisis. It’s estimated that 650,000 people were homeless on a single night in January of 2023, a 12% increase from 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

“HUD data indicates that the rise in overall homelessness is largely due to a sharp rise in the number of people who became homeless for the first time,” according to the agency.

States with the highest rates of homelessness include California, Oregon, Washington and Montana, according to five-year estimates in the American Community Survey.

Gorsuch argued that the case the 9th Circuit relied on in Martin v. City of Boise had a “poor foundation” for using the Eighth Amendment as its basis. In that case, homeless plaintiffs sued the city of Boise, Idaho, after it fined them under a camping ordinance.

“The Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause focuses on the question what ‘method or kind of punishment’ a government may impose after a criminal conviction, not on the question whether a government may criminalize particular behavior in the first place,” he wrote. “The Court cannot say that the punishments Grants Pass imposes here qualify as cruel and unusual.”

Sotomayor argued that the ruling focuses only on the needs of local officials and “leaves the most vulnerable in our society with an impossible choice: Either stay awake or be arrested.”

“The Constitution provides a baseline of rights for all Americans rich and poor, housed and unhoused,” she wrote. “This Court must safeguard those rights even when, and perhaps especially when, doing so is uncomfortable or unpopular.”

Advocacy groups expressed their frustration and disappointment in Friday’s decision, and raised concerns that it could lead to homeless people being criminalized for sleeping outdoors when they have nowhere else to go.

The president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Diane Yentel, strongly condemned the court’s decision and argued it would only worsen the crisis.

“It gives cover to elected officials who choose political expediency over real solutions by merely moving unhoused people out of public view rather than working to solve their homelessness,” Yentel said in a statement. “These ineffective and inhumane tactics exacerbate homelessness by saddling unhoused people with debt they can’t pay, while further isolating them from the services and support they need to become stably housed.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s deputy legal director for economic justice, Kirsten Anderson, said in a statement that the ruling will set a precedent for criminalizing homeless people.

“The Supreme Court held that it is a crime to be homeless — at a moment in which housing is unaffordable for half the people in the country — proving that it continues to be out of touch with the American public,” Anderson said.

Rosanne Haggerty, the president of Community Solutions, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness, expressed disappointment in the decision.

“Arresting or fining people for experiencing homelessness is cruel — and it won’t solve the problem,” Haggerty said in a statement. (SOURCE)

 

Oregon Housing and Community Services responds to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling allowing cities to ban people from sleeping outdoors

The United States Supreme Court made its ruling today in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson. In response to the decision, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) Executive Director Andrea Bell issued the following statement.

“For many, we knew this day was coming, and yet it is still devastating. This is a wake-up call for all of us – cities in particular. We cannot succumb to cynicism or confuse this ruling as a mandate. Many of us have either experienced the struggle to make ends meet or know someone who has. In the face of this shared reality, out-of-sight, out-of-mind positions that criminalize sleeping or sheltering in public spaces only exacerbates the experiences of homelessness.

“OHCS’ position remains unchanged – we reject homelessness as an inevitable outcome. Every person, regardless of their background or where they come from, deserves a place to call home. Oregon’s shared values serve as a guidepost of hope and progress. In cities, suburbs, and rural towns across the state, our economies and communities are strongest when everyone’s fundamental needs are met. To the people of Oregon struggling to get by: We see you. We value your life. We will continue to work tirelessly on your behalf.”

In 2023, Oregon prevented more than 9,000 households from becoming homeless, created over 1,000 new shelter beds, and helped some 2,000 people move from homeless to housed. This was done in partnership with Governor Tina Kotek, the Oregon Legislature, numerous state agencies, and many local community partners who implemented the funding and policy developed through the Governor’s homelessness state of emergency (EO 23-02) and the Affordable Housing and Emergency Homelessness Response Package (HB 2001 and HB 5019, 2023).

About Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS)
OHCS is Oregon’s housing finance agency. The state agency provides financial and program support to create and preserve opportunities for quality, affordable housing for Oregonians of and moderate income. OHCS administers programs that provide housing stabilization. OHCS delivers these programs primarily through grants, contracts, and loan agreements with local partners and community-based providers. For more information, please visit: oregon.gov/ohcs.

 

HGTV names Jacksonville Oregon among the most charming small towns in the US

From cities with quaint shops to “fascinating histories,” HGTV released a list of the top 50 charming small towns in the United States, with one southern Oregon hidden gem making the cut.

“There’s something special about small towns,” HGTV said about the list. “Whether it’s the simplicity, the character or the people, they are a quintessential part of American life.”

Located in Southern Oregon’s wine county, the historic Jacksonville, Ore. scored a spot on the list, as first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

The small town received a shout-out for agritourism like the Applegate Valley Wine Trail and a “premier” arts fest.

“Come in the summer to enjoy the Britt Music & Arts Festival, the Pacific Northwest’s premier outdoor summer performing arts event, or explore the town’s independently owned shops, restaurants and hiking and biking trails year-round,” HGTV said, noting the city has also been named among America’s 10 “coolest small towns.”

Cities topping the list include Fairhope, Ala., Unalaska, Alaska, Winslow, Ariz., Eureka Springs, Ark., and Carmel, Calif.

 

Community members are invited to enjoy Mount Ashland’s summer season

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According to the ski area, the restaurant and retail shop inside the lodge will be open every Friday through Sunday from now until Labor Day. Events including movie nights, tie-dye events, and a disc golf tournament will be offered throughout the summer. Mount Ashland is also kicking off a summer program for kids.

Opening this Friday!
Lodge summer hours:
Fridays | 11AM – 5PM
Saturdays – Sundays | 11AM – 7PM
Disc golf, hiking, events, the list goes on. There are tons of things to do at your local mountain playground this summer.☀️ Plus, it’s pretty much always 10-30 degrees cooler up here. 😉

To find out more, visit the Mount Ashland Summer webpage: https://www.mtashland.com/operating-schedule/

David Grubbs’ Murder Investigation Remains Active

Community still looking for answers in violent 2011 murder of David Grubbs on Ashland, Oregon bike path The Ashland Police Department’s investigation into the murder of David Grubbs on November 19, 2011 remains open and active. Recently two new detectives have been assigned to look into new leads that have come in.

This case remains important to David’s family, the community, and the Ashland Police Department. As detectives continue to pursue these new leads, anyone with additional information is encouraged to reach out to the Ashland Police Department at 541-488-2211. The reward for information leading to an arrest on this case remains at over $21,000.

It has been Four Years since Fauna Frey, 45, disappeared in Oregon on a road trip, June 29, 2020, following her brother’s death  —

PART 2 – Newsweek Podcast Focusing on The Disappearance of Fauna Frey From Lane County

Here One Minute, Gone the Next —– PART 2 – Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel joins investigative journalist Alex Rogue to speak with Here One Minute, Gone the Next about the disappearance of Fauna Frey, the growing friction between citizen investigators and law enforcement, and the lack of resources in missing persons cases. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-disappearance-of-fauna-frey-pt2-feat-sheriff/id1707094441?i=1000630100040 PART 1 – John Frey joins Newsweek to discuss exclusive details about the case of his missing daughter that until now have been unavailable to the general public. READ MORE HERE: https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-what-happened-fauna-frey-new-clues-uncovered-1827197?fbclid=IwAR3Z3Glru5lIgqiYXbs_nA1Fj8JuCIzM11OHSVHfwIucfq2f_G5y9y5bnmQ If you have any information on the whereabouts of Fauna Frey, call the anonymous tip line at 541-539-5638 or email FindFaunaFrey@gmail.com.

Help Find Fauna Frey #FindFaunaFrey FACEBOOK GROUP

 

McCaffery Fire – SE Mccaffery rd – Crook & Deschutes Counties

The McCaffery Fire (incident #353) is burning east of the Redmond Airport and south of Highway 126 on Prineville District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands near the Oregon Army National Guard Biak Training Center. The fire is currently estimated at 250 acres and is 0% contained.

The fire was reported approximately 2:00 p.m. and grew quickly to the south/southeast in extremely hot and dry conditions. Multiple large air tankers (LATs) and heavy helicopters were able to effectively slow the spread of the fire so BLM, Forest Service and contract engine crews, dozers and skidgines could begin constructing containment lines.

At 5:18 p.m., Deschutes and Crook County Sheriff’s Offices issued a joint Level 3 “Go Now” evacuation order for residences on Sunny Sage Road off of McCaffery Road, west Powell Butte Estates and the area south of Powell Butte Highway. As of 10:00 p.m. tonight, the Level 3 “Go Now” remains in effect for the areas on Sunny Sage Road off of McCaffery Road in Deschutes County. Crook County Sheriff’s Office has reduced the evacuation notice from a Level 3 to a Level 2 “Be Set” for the area of west Powell Butte Estates and the area to the south of Powell Butte Highway in Crook County.

Stay up to date on Crook County Emergency Alerts by visiting: http://www.alertcrookcounty.org/For Deschutes County Emergency Alerts, visit: https://www.deschutes.org/911/page/sign-deschutes-alertsFirefighters remain on scene constructing fire line in more moderate overnight weather conditions. The public is asked to stay out of the area for the safety of firefighters and equipment working to contain the fire.

At 6:00 a.m. tomorrow, July 7, a Central Oregon Type 3 Incident Management will take command of the McCaffery Fire. Multiple aerial resources remain available to the team, along with 12 engines, 2 dozers, 2 skidgines, 2 water tenders, and 1 Type 2 initial attack crew. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Ballot measures on cannabis unions, higher corporate taxes could be on November ballot

Election officials will determine whether backers of the two proposals collected enough valid signatures from Oregon voters

Just two of the more than 50 new laws proposed by Oregonians through the ballot initiative process stand a chance at appearing before voters in November.

Friday was the deadline for groups to submit the more than 100,000 petition signatures needed to give voters a chance to approve or reject ballot measures. Only two measures – one that would tax corporations more to give $750 annual payments to all Oregonians and one that would restrict union-busting in the cannabis industry – submitted signatures by Friday.

If the Secretary of State’s Office confirms that both proposals collected enough verified signatures from Oregon voters, they’ll join three legislative referrals on the November ballot. Lawmakers in 2023 opted to let voters decide whether to give the Legislature the power to impeach top officials, let an independent commission set salaries for elected officials and change the way candidates are elected.

Backers of high-profile measures to walk back Oregon’s drug decriminalization law and limit political spending used their signature gathering efforts as leverage to convince lawmakers to make the changes they wanted. Other proposed measures, including an attempt from the Republican state representative responsible for many of Oregon’s tough-on-crime laws to limit pretrial release and require state law enforcement to cooperate with immigration officials, ran out of time. And still other proposals, including a suggested constitutional amendment to quintuple the state House of Representatives, never stood a chance.

Cannabis unions

Backers of Initiative Petition 35, the only of several proposed ballot measures from the state’s largest private sector union to move forward, submitted about 160,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office on Friday. It’s the latest attempt by United Food and Commercial Workers 555, the union that represents Oregon grocery workers, to make it easier to unionize the cannabis industry.

UFCW first tried to pass House Bill 3183, similarly worded to the ballot measure, during the 2023 legislative session. When state Rep. Paul Holvey, a Eugene Democrat and chair of the House Business and Labor Committee, tabled the bill over concerns that it would conflict with federal law, UFCW launched a recall campaign against him. Holvey won the recall with more than 90% of the vote, though he chose to retire instead of run for reelection.

The proposed ballot measure would require cannabis retailers and processors to remain neutral in communications to employees about labor organizations and mandate that cannabis companies present a “labor peace agreement” with a pledge of neutrality when they apply for or renew their state licenses. Failing to do so could result in fines or license suspension.

Michael Selvaggio, a lobbyist for the union, said Holvey’s concerns about the legality of this proposed law aren’t widely held and are a “non-issue” as far as he is concerned.

“California, New York and New Jersey have all had these kinds of provisions baked into their cannabis policy since it was adopted,” he said. “There have been zero challenges of any kind of merit to this structure of organizing rights.”

UFCW, the largest private-sector union in Oregon, has directed more than $2 million to the campaign.

Oregon rebate

The other ballot measure likely to move forward, Initiative Petition 17, submitted more than 168,000 signatures on Wednesday. It would increase corporate excise taxes to 3% on sales above $25 million and use the proceeds to send rebates to everyone in the state, including children.

Backers estimate the average annual rebate would be about $750, assuming it brings in $3 billion in new taxes and the state population of more than 4 million. But opponents, including the state’s main business lobby group Oregon Business and Industry, warned that higher taxes could drive corporations to leave the state.

The campaign has raised more than $700,000, most from out-of-state donors. More than half its funding is from Jones Holding LLC, a California-based company owned by Josh Jones, a venture capitalist who supports universal basic income.  (SOURCE)

Klamath community in mourning gathered for a public vigil Wednesday night in remembrance of two teen sisters who killed in their home last weekend.

Aleeka and Zion Qualls were shot the morning of Saturday, June 29 in a Klamath Falls residence on North Hills Drive.
Aleeka, age 19, had just graduated from Klamath Learning Center in 2023 and received an award during the annual Graduation Sensation ceremony. Her sister, Zion, was 14 years old. According to statements made by family
members, the sisters were best friends. Hundreds of people gathered at the Klamath Christian Center — relatives,
friends, teachers and community members.

One man was arrested and an investigation is underway, after a double homicide in Klamath County.  According to the Klamath Falls Police Department, it happened Saturday morning on North Hills Drive.

Police say soon after arriving at a reported menacing, shots were heard. One victim died at the scene, another at the hospital.

A KFPD news release said that Tashka Qualls reported a man in his home had pointed a gun at him and was now hiding in the house. A second 9-1-1 call came in seven minutes later requesting emergency medical personnel.
KFPD officers heard gunshots when they arrived at the scene. Upon entering the residence, officers found Aleeka and Zion had suffered life-threatening gunshot wounds.

KFPD reported one victim was found deceased, and the second victim was transported to the hospital where she soon after succumbed to her wounds. Police confronted and arrested suspect Elijah Croy, 20, without incident. He
is in custody at Klamath County Jail and facing first-degree murder and attempted murder charges as well as unlawful use of a weapon.

In the probable cause statement filed at Klamath County Circuit Court, the arresting officer said Croy confessed to the crimes. Croy allegedly told the officer he had tried to kill the teens’ father when he discovered Croy in his daughter’s bedroom, but his gun jammed.

“The Klamath Tribes has continued to experience an unprecedented amount of violent crime, and many of these crimes do not appear to be properly investigated, prosecuted and addressed,” the Tribal Council statement reads. “This most recent murder must be immediately and fully investigated, holding any and all criminals accountable for their crimes.”

The suspect, 20-year-old Elijah Croy was arrested on multiple charges including two counts of murder in the first degree. The investigation is ongoing. If you have any information regarding the case, reach out to Klamath Falls Police.

Study Finds Northwest Ecosystems Changed Dramatically When Wolves Were Nearly Exterminated

The wolves kept other species in check, like deer and elk, and maintained a healthy environment

Gray wolves are in Oregon and Washington.
ray wolves can be found in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Michigan and the Yellowstone area of Wyoming, according to the National Wildlife Federation. (Getty Images)

Ecosystems in the Northwest were heavily shaped by wolves before they were nearly wiped out of the region, a new study finds.

By the 1930s, gray wolves were nearly gone in Oregon and the rest of the West, leading to the multiplication of animals the wolves hunted and creating an imbalance in the environment, researchers at Oregon State University found.

But the full impact of their disappearance isn’t fully understood because ecological research from the last century largely left out the role of wolves on the landscape. Most of the research wasn’t done until the wolves were nearly gone.

This means our understanding of natural ecosystems in the Northwest is flawed, according to William Ripple, an Oregon State ecologist and the lead author of the study. He said that hampers habitat restoration projects in the Northwest and moves, for example, to reintroduce more gray wolves in the West.

“Since the presence or absence of wolves can dramatically affect ecosystem structure and function, we believe this is a major issue for restoration, conservation and management,” Ripple said in an email.

The study was published recently in the journal BioScience.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act in most of central and western Oregon. Oregon’s population of gray wolves has only recently returned and grown following decades of absence. The first gray wolves to return to Oregon wandered into the eastern part of the state in the late 1990s, more than 50 years after they had been effectively hunted and pushed out of the U.S. By 2009, the wolf population in eastern Oregon became more established, but growth has leveled off.

The analysis looked into ecological studies between 1955 and 2021 at 11 national parks to see whether they mentioned or explored the effect of the wolves’ disappearance. Less than half – 39 of nearly 100 studies – included such data.

“We found that the historical presence of wolves was not considered in the majority of relevant publications that we analyzed,” he said.

Ripple said this lack of research has created a false baseline, with many scientists measuring ecosystem health based on the degraded conditions that spread after the wolves were gone. Without them, elk populations grew, leading to overgrazing; coyote numbers grew, shrinking populations of the small animals coyotes hunt; even trees struggled due to changes in animal populations and plant functions once the wolves were gone, the researchers found.

“The historical loss of wolves from Western landscapes is a major ecological issue,” he said.

Ripple and the researchers suggest more historical data needs to be identified and studied across the region to better understand the effect wolves and other large predators had on ecosystems in the Northwest and to adjust expectations of their health.

“It is important that we do not forget what ecosystems looked like before the loss of wolves. We need to document the shifting baseline and remember that we might now be studying landscapes that are a sick patient,” Ripple said. (SOURCE)

Heightened seismic activity continues under Mount St. Helens; 22 earthquakes this week

Despite the increase, scientists say there’s no signs of an eruption happening soon

Mount St. Helens continues to experience increased earthquake activity, according to a Friday update from the Cascades Volcano Observatory.

Mount St. Helens has experienced slightly heightened seismic activity this year, compared to recent years, with 22 earthquakes in the last week alone, according to the observatory.

There have been 423 recorded earthquakes under the volcano since Feb. 1. The largest earthquake over the past week was a magnitude 1.1. –

The largest earthquake recorded in the area since Feb. 1 was measured at magnitude 2.0.

The average depth for these earthquakes last week were 2.3 miles below the volcano’s crater. This is compared to an average depth of 3.8 miles since Feb. 1.

No longer considered predators, Oregon beavers get new protections from state

Oregon’s state animal has for years been classified as a “predator” by the state fish and wildlife agency, and that’s meant that the North American Beaver has lived largely unprotected from private landowners who can kill them at will.

A beaver swims in a tundra pond in the Nome area on June 12, 2018. As the climate has warmed, beavers have moved north into tundra terrain in both Alaska and Canada. A National Science Foundation-funded program, the Arctic Beaver Observation Network, is examining the myriad aspects of that trend. (Peter Pearsall/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
The North American Beaver nearly went extinct in Oregon due to fur trapping. New state rules protect beavers from being killed on private land. (Peter Pearsall/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

That changed July 1 when new rules went into effect under House Bill 3464, the “beaver bill.” The bill passed the state Legislature in 2023, and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, which crafts regulations for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, approved new rules June 14 to reclassify and protect beavers from being killed at will by private landowners.

The beavers will now be classified solely as “furbearers,” an animal whose fur has commercial value, and no longer be classified as “predators.”

With this change, landowners can’t kill a beaver for being a nuisance, or because they’re worried the animal will gnaw through plants or crops. To kill a beaver, the landowner must go through a permitting process with the Fish and Wildlife Department, which will require the landowner to undertake non-lethal mitigation strategies first. These include placing fences and barriers around trees, repellent on trees and choosing different types of plants, according to Michelle Dennehy, a spokesperson for the agency.

The bill won’t affect the killing of beavers for their furs during the hunting season, which runs from Nov. 15 to March 15. It also won’t affect beaver trapping on public lands. Conservationists have over the last four years called on state and federal agencies to end the practice on federal lands.

Beavers are considered ecological engineers because of their ability to construct dams and create ponds. They can help manage water issues related to drought but they can also cause flooding and damage trees. They’re the largest rodent in North America, weighing between 35 and 65 pounds and measuring 2 to 3 feet in length in adulthood.

By the late 1800s, the North American Beaver was nearly extinct in Oregon due to fur trapping, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their numbers across the continent have climbed in the last century from around 100,000 to about 15 million, today. There is no estimated population figure in Oregon.

For private landowners, some exceptions to the new permit requirement will exist. If a beaver’s gnawing, digging or dam building is “imminently threatening” to infrastructure or crops, or is damaging – or has the potential to damage – trees owned by small timber landowners, landowners can get permission from the agency to kill the animals without a permit.

Even in an instance when the state Fish and Wildlife Department determines a permit is not necessary, anyone who kills a beaver will have to report it to the agency, enabling it to collect data on all beaver kills in the state for the first time. The agency will also for the first time collect more detailed data on what kinds of damages beavers tend to be most responsible for, where beavers are distributed across the state, where conflicts have a pattern of arising and when and why Oregonians kill beavers.

The agency does not have much data on beaver kills and deaths each year, according to Dennehy, but the latest rules will change that. Beavers killed with a permit for their fur have remained low over the past decade, she said. An average of 1,100 beavers in Oregon have been killed each year between 2020 and 2023 for their fur. (SOURCE)

Wyden, Merkley Announce $30.1 Million in PILT Payments to Support Vital Services in Oregon

Program provides funds to communities that support Oregon’s public lands, waters; invests in firefighters, police, schools, road construction

WASHINGTON D.C.— U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced counties throughout Oregon will receive more than $30.1 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding for 2024. Because local governments cannot tax federal lands, annual PILT payments help to defray the costs associated with maintaining important community services.

“Oregonians cherish our public lands, and we need to make sure local communities have all the tools they need to help improve quality of life and steward our natural treasures,” Wyden said. “These PILT payments are vital to help local governments carry out necessary services like firefighting, search-and-rescue operations, road construction, schools and police protection. I’m gratified to see PILT payments to Oregon are up nearly $3 million over 2023, and I’ll continue to monitor payments to ensure each county gets its fair share.”   

“Public lands are a treasure in rural Oregon, but they must not prevent communities from having the resources they need to pay for quality schools, emergency services, and safe infrastructure,” Merkley said. “This federal investment is vital for Oregonian’s communities. I will keep working to protect PILT payments so communities and families across Oregon have the stability they deserve.”

PILT payments are made for tax-exempt federal lands administered by federal bureaus including the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Payments are calculated based on the number of acres of federal land within each county or jurisdiction and the population of that county or jurisdiction.

Individual payments may vary from year to year as a result of changes in acreage data, which are updated annually by the federal agency administering the land; prior-year federal revenue-sharing payments reported annually by the governor of each state; and inflationary adjustments using the Consumer Price Index and population data, which are updated using information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Senators Wyden and Merkley continue to monitor PILT payments closely and will advocate for fair payments for every county.

For a breakdown of PILT payments per Oregon county: https://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/wyden-merkley-announce-301-million-in-pilt-payments-to-support-vital-services-in-oregon

A full list of funding by state and county is available on the Department’s Payments in Lieu of Taxes page.

Proposed ballot measure to raise corporate taxes, give every Oregonian $750 a year likely to make November ballot

Oregon voters will likely decide in November whether to establish a historic universal basic income program that would give every state resident roughly $750 annually from increased corporate taxes.

Proponents of the concept say they likely have enough signatures to place it on the ballot this fall, and opponents are taking them seriously.

State business advocacy groups are preparing to launch a campaign against the proposed measure, arguing that it would harm Oregon’s business landscape and economy.

The proposal, Initiative Petition 17, would establish a 3% tax on corporations’ sales in Oregon above $25 million and distribute that money equally among Oregonians of all ages. As of Friday, its backers had turned in more than 135,000 signatures, which is higher than the 117,173 required to land on the ballot. The validity of those signatures must still be certified by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“It’s looking really good. It’s really exciting,” said Anna Martinez, a Portland hairstylist who helped form the group behind the campaign, Oregon People’s Rebate, in 2020. If approved by voters, the program would go into effect in January 2025.

Martinez and other supporters say the financial boost would help Oregon families buy groceries, afford rent and pay for basic necessities. “This will put money back in the local economy. It will help small businesses,” she said. “Some people say, ‘Well it’s only $750.’ But that’s huge if you really need it.”

The state Department of Revenue would be responsible for distributing the money. Every Oregon resident would be able to claim the money either in cash or as a refundable tax credit, regardless of whether they have filed personal incomes taxes, according to the ballot initiative draft.

The initiative proposal draft states that any leftover funding from the rebate would “be used to provide additional funding for services for senior citizens, health care, public early childhood education and public kindergarten through grade 12 education.” (READ MORE)

Proposed ballot measure to raise corporate taxes, give every Oregonian $750 a year likely to make November ballot

Oregon voters will likely decide in November whether to establish a historic universal basic income program that would give every state resident roughly $750 annually from increased corporate taxes.

Proponents of the concept say they likely have enough signatures to place it on the ballot this fall, and opponents are taking them seriously.

State business advocacy groups are preparing to launch a campaign against the proposed measure, arguing that it would harm Oregon’s business landscape and economy.

The proposal, Initiative Petition 17, would establish a 3% tax on corporations’ sales in Oregon above $25 million and distribute that money equally among Oregonians of all ages. As of Friday, its backers had turned in more than 135,000 signatures, which is higher than the 117,173 required to land on the ballot. The validity of those signatures must still be certified by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“It’s looking really good. It’s really exciting,” said Anna Martinez, a Portland hairstylist who helped form the group behind the campaign, Oregon People’s Rebate, in 2020. If approved by voters, the program would go into effect in January 2025.

Martinez and other supporters say the financial boost would help Oregon families buy groceries, afford rent and pay for basic necessities. “This will put money back in the local economy. It will help small businesses,” she said. “Some people say, ‘Well it’s only $750.’ But that’s huge if you really need it.”

The state Department of Revenue would be responsible for distributing the money. Every Oregon resident would be able to claim the money either in cash or as a refundable tax credit, regardless of whether they have filed personal incomes taxes, according to the ballot initiative draft.

The initiative proposal draft states that any leftover funding from the rebate would “be used to provide additional funding for services for senior citizens, health care, public early childhood education and public kindergarten through grade 12 education.” (READ MORE)

 

 

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