Western governors proclaim May Wildfire Awareness Month

The governors of eight western states have signed a proclamation recognizing May 2016 as Wildfire Awareness Month. The chief executives of Oregon, Washington, Nevada, California, Idaho, Utah, Montana and South Dakota encourage all citizens to “take steps to better prepare their home and communities for wildfires and work toward becoming a fire-adapted community.”

These states, in partnership with fire prevention agencies and organizations, are working together to increase awareness of wildfires. This year’s wildfire season is predicted to pose a substantial threat across Oregon. Gov. Kate Brown’s office, along with the Keep Oregon Green Association, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, is seeking the public’s assistance to help prevent human-caused wildfires this summer.

WILDFIRE RISK
In Oregon, approximately 70 percent of all wildland fires are human-caused. 2013 was an epic wildfire year in terms of state-protected acreage burned (103,809) and suppression costs ($122 million). 2014 was another endless season of fire, with 712 human-caused fires burning nearly six times the 10-year average acreage (20,052). The high cost prompted a substantial change to Oregon’s wildland fire insurance policy, doubling the annual deductible to $50 million and nearly doubling the premium to $3.75 million. Adding insult to injury, Oregon faced another record-breaking fire season in 2015 with record low snowpack, the driest conditions in 25 years, more than 800 human-caused fires, and $76.5 million spent on suppression.

During May, Keep Oregon Green along with federal, state, tribal and local fire agencies, will continue to promote wildfire prevention topics via traditional and social media each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to ensure their outdoor activities do not spark the next wildfire. For more information, visit these websites: Keep Oregon Green, www.keeporegongreen.org; Oregon Dept. of Forestry, www.oregon.gov/odf; Office of the State Fire Marshal,www.oregon.gov/OSP/SFM/pages/index.aspx

Follow Oregon wildfire news and prevention updates on social media: Twitter @keeporegongreen, @ORDeptForestry and Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/keeporegongreen;https://www.facebook.com/odfprevention/?fref=ts

Listen: recording of DEQ Amerities informational meeting

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The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality held a meeting last night in The Dalles to discuss an agreement signed last month between the DEQ and the Amerities West railroad-tie plant, which uses the coal-tar byproduct creosote. If you were unable to attend that meeting, you can hear a recording of it by clicking on the grey podcast bar below:

 

Kramer wins in Wasco County; Smith upset in Sherman County

Just over half of Wasco County’s 13,577 registered voters turned out for yesterday’s primary election. In the only countywide race on the ballot, incumbent Wasco County Commissioner Steve Kramer held onto his seat, defeating challenger Rodger Nichols by more than 500 votes. Final unofficial results, issued just before 1 am show Kramer with 3,241 votes to Nichols’ 2,723.

There was an upset in Sherman County yesterday, as incumbent Sherman County Commissioner Mike Smith was defeated by 16 votes in the Republican primary by Joe Dubalskis. Final total there was 196 votes to 180.

Commissioners up for re-election in Hood River County ran unopposed, but county voters did overwhelmingly pass a measure that would prevent Nestle from establishing a bottled water plant in financially depressed Cascade Locks. That passed with nearly 69 percent of the votes in favor. Voters in the county passed a facilities bond measure for Hood River County Schools by an even wider margin, with 71 percent of the voters approving.

Demorcratic voters in all three counties went for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, with the widest margin in Hood River and the lowest in Sherman County. And Donald Trump was the victor on the Republican side in all three counties, with the widest margin in Sherman County and the lowest in Hood River County.

See DEQ agreement with Amerities signed without public comment; DEQ meeting tonight to explain

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has set a meeting tonight at 6 pm in the Lecture Hall at Columbia Gorge Community College to discuss an agreement between the DEQ and the Amerities West railroad-tie plant. The plant has been the subject of numerous odor complaints and health concerns over the years from residents in the area. 

KGW Investigative Reporter Sara Roth reports the agreement was signed earlier this month without public comment.  Her story, which contains additional details, can be found at this link.

 

To see a PDF version of the document, click on the red PDF button below

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Listen: Amanda Hoey on what’s happening at MCEDD

05 16 16 Amanda Hooey 200Mid-Columbia Economic Development District covers a lot of ground in more ways than one. Their territory – Skamania and Klickitat counties in Washington, Hood River, Wasco and Sherman counties in Oregon – is larger than the states of Connecticut and Delaware combined, and contains more than 82,000 people.

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Find out more about this organization, first established in 1969, by clicking on the grey podcast bar below for  our interview with executive director Amanda Hoey.

 

Oregon Energy Facilities Siting Council considers requests from proposed wind farms in Wasco, Sherman counties

The Oregon Energy Facilities Siting Council will meet twice this week in Boardman. Thursday night at 6 p.m. they’ll hold a public hearing at Boardman City Hall on the proposed 500 megawatt wind farm for Morrow and Union c0unties.  On Friday they’ll meet again starting at 9 a.m. also at the Boardman City Hall. Among the items on the agenda are requests to modify permits that have been approved for the proposed Summit Ridge wind farm in Wasco County and the Golden Hills Wind Project in Sherman County. In both cases, the requests are for two-year extensions on the deadlines to finish the projects and to make other modifications outlined below.

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Summit Ridge Wind Farm

Facility: The site certificate holder will construct and operate a wind energy facility with up to 87 wind turbines with a peak generating capacity of approximately 200 megawatts.

Status (Approved): Construction has not yet begun.
LotusWorks-Summit Ridge I, LLC is requesting to amend its existing Summit Ridge Wind Farm site certificate to:
1) Transfer the Site Certificate from LotusWorks-Summit Ridge I, LLC to Summit Ridge Wind Holdings, LLC.
2) Extend the construction start and completion deadlines by two years.
3) Add a 3.0 MW turbine option that, if selected, would:
· Reduce the total electrical capacity from 194.4 MWs to 192 MWs;
· Reduce the total number of wind turbines from a maximum of 72 to a maximum of 64;
· Include larger generators, a reduced hub height, and a greater rotor diameter;
· Decrease the overall height of the turbines by approximately two meters; and
· Decrease the minimum blade tip clearance from 23 to 18 meters above ground.

Location: Wasco County, approximately 17 miles southeast of The Dalles and eight miles east of Dufur.

Site Certificate Holder: LotusWorks–Summit Ridge I, LLC a wholly owned subsidiary of Lotus Group USA, Inc.

 

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Facility: The Golden Hills Wind Project is a wind energy facility that is currently approved to build up to 267 wind turbines with a peak generating capacity of 400 megawatts.

​Status (Approved): Construction has not yet begun. Amendment 3 consists of the following changes:

(1) extend the construction start and completion deadlines by two years,
(2) Reduce the number of turbines used at the site to 125 from 267, and change the allowed turbine height and rotor diameter in response to improvements in turbine technology.
(3) Modify related and supporting facilities including eliminating the previously approved western substation and 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission line and extending the 230 kV transmission line to connect to the BPA grid near the existing Klondike substation.
(4) Amend the site boundary to remove approximately 2,800 acres of previously included land that is no longer needed for the facility and add approximately 82.5 acres to the site boundary.

Location: Sherman County, near the town of Wasco. (​Map)

Site Certificate Holder: Golden Hills Wind Farm, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Orion Renewable Energy Group LLC.

 

DNR, ODF basing firefighting aircraft in Dallesport for fire season

05 13 16 AirTractor_802 single engine attack tanker

Washington State Department of Natural Resources will base two firefighting aircraft in at the Columbia Gorge Regiional Airport in Dallesport for this fire season; one Single Engine Attack Tanker (SEAT) and one Air Boss (a Single Engine Attack Tanker on floats). In addition they will have a helicopter along with a fire fighting team that the helicopter can drop at the site of a fire. In addition, the helicopter will also drop water from a bucket. DNR is also leasing office space at the Airport for its team that will be based here. DNR will also be bringing support vehicles for this equipment. In addition Oregon Department of Forestry will be bringing 2 SEATS and their crews.

ODF will also be bring two 3,000 gallon tanks for mixing and loading the Aircraft with the fire retardant. From last year, when the airport was only a satellite base, the airport has two tanks that also will be used to load the Aircraft. These two initial commitments will result in 14-15 people based at the Airport. The agencies will be booking blocks of motel rooms for their personnel.