The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has restricted boat access at the The Dalles Dam downstream navigation approach channel to lock users only. The Dalles Lock and Dam operations manager Ron Twiner says the restriction was necessary to ensure public safety due to the river current and the lock’s proximity to the dam. Its purpose is to keep as much distance as possible between river traffic and small boats near the lock’s approach, which is a constrained area. In addition to the danger of collision, large vessels can displace water and currents can rapidly change as the navigation lock cycles water through the structure, causing another potentially dangerous condition.
Wasco County Commissioners are planning to hold public hearings to learn if County residents want to vote to opt-out of legalizing recreational marijuana. Under provisions adopted by the Oregon Legislature, cities and counties are eligible to opt out of Measure 91. Those cities and counties where voters said no by a margin of at least 55 percent in the November 2014 election can opt out by its governing body simply adopting an ordinance, but Wasco County’s disapproval rate was only 52 percent, so such a move would have to be placed on November 2016 ballot. Commissioner Scott Hege said most of the concerns Wasco County officials have received revolve around the production of marijuana rather than retail outlets. Hege noted smell, water, fire, and security concerns have all been brought up. One hearing is planned for mid-September during a scheduled town hall in Dufur. In other business, Hege and fellow Commissioner Steve Kramer swapped committee assignments, with Hege moving to the North Central Public Health District board and Kramer to the Mid-Columbia Council of Governments panel.
Anticipating the arrival of a gusty cold front Wednesday, Cougar Creek Fire crews will continue to reinforce the fire lines along the west and south flanks and to burn out fuel on the east flank. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning beginning Wednesday afternoon through Friday, with strong winds combined with low relative humidity and high temperatures mixing to increase fire activity. Beginning Wednesday afternoon, winds are expected to gust up to 35 miles per hour and last through Thursday evening. Crews will pay special attention to look out for wind-driven spotting fires outside the line. Contingency structure protection plans have been developed in the unlikely event wind pushes the fire beyond its current boundaries. In its ninth day Tuesday, the fire increased 500 acres to a total of 23,100 acres. Crews have contained 20 percent of the fire line. The increased size was from burnout work. Residents of Glenwood north of Ladiges Road remain under a Level 1 evacuation advisory from the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office, advising residents to be alert of the fire’s activity.
Containment of the County Line 2 Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation is up to 43 percent. That fire has burned 62,000 acres. Fire managers and Warm Springs tribal representatives have decided the threat to structures has been reduced to the point that a structural protection team was released from the fire scene Wednesday morning. Fire managers say about 300 homes were saved from destruction in the fire storm that occurred at the beginning of the fire thanks to quick response and coordination between wildland and structural firefighters. Crews are continuing to strengthen and construct containment lines. The fire will receive two Type II initial attack crews Wednesday, with Red Flag Warning conditions anticipated through Friday. That means the potential for critical fire behavior with possible erratic winds. The cause of the fire reported last Wednesday afternoon remains under investigation.
The White Salmon Valley School District is getting ready for the start of classes on September 1. After experiencing a large enrollment bump two years ago, District Superintendent Jerry Lewis says they are anticipating fairly stable numbers this year. Lewis notes they are watching the enrollment trends closely with a changing population base in the district. He noted the growth of Insitu and other high-tech industry in the White Salmon area was a big factor in the numbers jump two years ago. Lewis adds the district this year qualified for state funding of full-day kindergarten.
Hood River County Commissioners have voted to participate as a plaintiff in the Hood River Valley Residents Committee’s lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service seeking to compel that agency to complete the Mt. Hood Meadows/Government Camp land exchange. County Administrator David Meriwether says the County wants to see this settled, and Commissioners felt they would best served by having a seat at the table. The land swap was negotiated by the Residents Committee, Mt. Hood Meadows, and others seven years ago to protect the forestland. In exchange for 120 acres of developable national forest land near Government Camp on the mountain’s southwestern slope, Mt. Hood Meadows agreed to abort plans for a resort on Cooper Spur and turn its 770-acre land holdings over to the Forest Service. Congress in 2009 gave the Forest Service 16 months to complete the trade, but numerous delays have held it up, most recently over some environmental protections. A Mount Hood National Forest spokesperson said when the suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Portland last month that legal processes have kept progress slow.
Hood River City Councilors reached consensus on approving strategies dealing with creating more affordable workforce housing, sending them on to municipal staff to begin to develop proposals for making them happen. The Council dealt with three different areas, including increasing the efficiency of land use within the Urban Growth Boundary, developing affordable housing, and regulating and managing short-term rental housing. A large part of the discussion centered on short-term housing, with one strategy calling for an evaluation of options to limit the number of short-term rentals. Mayor Paul Blackburn says it was the hardest question to deal with, adding they don’t want to take away what already exists but they do want to retard future growth. City staff will now work on studying options to implement the strategies, and will bring them to the municipal planning commission and the Council over the next few months.
Phase 1 of the East Scenic Drive Stabilization project in The Dalles has been completed. It corrects a shallow embankment failure that was occurring in the area by constructing 550 lineal feet of retaining wall and installing a storm water drainage system along Scenic Drive. The paving that was done in the project area is a thin temporary layer that will be replaced when Phase 2 takes place in three to five years. It will provide for the construction of another 525 feet of retaining wall along with some associated underground utility system repairs. At that time new curbs and sidewalks will be constructed throughout the entire project area and the street will be repaved to match the new curb elevations. City officials note this embankment failure is not a reactivation of the historic Kelly Avenue landslide.
Containment of the County Line 2 Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation is up to 31 percent. That fire has burned 61,735 acres. As of Tuesday morning, all Warm Springs Reservation evacuation advisories were reduced to Level 1 except for Tenino Road, which remains at Level 2 from mile post 1 to mile post 7. Crews today will continue with structural protection and direct and indirect line construction, and strengthening containment lines. Firefighters continue to look for opportunities to build containment lines in the steep, tough to access terrain in canyon bottoms and proceed with operations in those areas if possible. Because of progress made on the northeast and east sides of the fire, crews will begin to concentrate on the southwest, which still has heavy fuels including timber. On the northeast side of the fire, crews are patrolling burned areas in and around structures. Three residences have been reported destroyed along with one other structure. The cause of the fire reported Wednesday afternoon remains under investigation.
The Cougar Creek Fire north of Glenwood is now listed at 20 percent containment. The fire grew by 100 acres on Monday to 22,600 acres. Fire movement Tuesday was expected to be to the north along Mt. Adams’ east aspect, fueled mainly by bug-killed lodgepole pines. Fire crews will be looking to strengthen lines along the west and south flanks, continue line construction and burnout along the east flank, and scout line locations to the north. Scattered homes north of Glenwood remain under a Level 1 evacuation advisory, while all Washington State Department of Natural Resources lands and recreation sites within the Glenwood block and the south climb and all other trails on the south and east sides of Mt. Adams between Forest Road 23 at Williams Mine to the eastern boundary of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest are all closed.