DEQ seeks comments on proposed cleanup plan

Portland- The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) seeks public comments on a proposed environmental cleanup plan for soil and sediment contamination at the Zidell property in the Portland South Waterfront development area between the Marquam Bridge and Ross Island Bridge.

The Zidell site, located at 3121 SW Moody Avenue, is contaminated with metals, petroleum hydrocarbons including diesel, motor oil and lube oil), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Contamination is present in site soil and in Willamette River sediments adjacent to the property. DEQ will issue a final cleanup decision for the site after public comment and consideration of those comments by the DEQ Director Stephanie Hallock.

DEQ’s proposed cleanup action for soil includes:

removing soil hot spots and asbestos containing material for off-site treatment and/or disposal;

installing and maintaining of a soil or alternative impervious material cap such as buildings or paved parking over remaining areas of soil contamination

institutional controls to prevent future contact with contaminated soil by site workers or planned future residential occupants.

DEQ’s proposed cleanup of sediment contamination involves placing a cap over the approximate seven to eight acre area of contaminated sediments. The preliminary cap design would consist of a two-foot thick layer of sand covered with a one-foot thick layer of rock to prevent erosion of the sand cap.

This proposal is a result of DEQ’s evaluation of the soil and sediment cleanup alternatives presented in a December 2004 Feasibility Study Report based on criteria such as protectiveness, implementation risk, and reasonableness of cost.

Specifications for the sediment cap will be finalized during permitting for the project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Division of State Lands. The estimated total present worth of the soil and sediment cleanup is $6.5 million to $7 million.

Detailed information on the Zidell South Waterfront site including the DEQ staff report, and investigation plans and reports are available for public review at the DEQ Northwest Region Office at 2020 SW Fourth Avenue, Suite 400, Portland. To schedule a file review appointment, call 503-229-6729; toll free at 1-800-452-4011, or TTY at 503-229-5471.

Send written comments to Bruce Gilles, Project Manager, DEQ Northwest Region, 2020 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, OR 97201, or via email at gilles.bruce.a@deq.state.or.us. DEQ must receive written comments by 5 p.m., Friday, March 4, 2005.

Man wielding knife on Senate floor in custody

(Salem) – A Salem area man is in custody and was taken to Salem Memorial Hospital on a police officer hold for a mental evaluation after an hour-long standoff with police officers in the Senate chamber of the Oregon State Capitol Building.

On January 31, 2005 at approximately 11:15 a.m., a man identified as Boyd A. Owens, age 54, from Salem, burst through the closed Senate chamber doors carrying a large knife. The chamber was occupied by about 15 persons, including senate staff members who set off a panic alarm notifying Oregon State Police of an emergency in the chambers.

The staff members safely exited the chamber as the man approached the front area where most of the staff members had been seated. Owens eventually seated himself at the lower desk area known as the “rostrum”.

Oregon State Police Troopers assigned to the Capitol building quickly responded and sealed off the room. State Police negotiators who were in Salem for training responded to the Capitol while other officers attempted to talk to the emotionally upset man. While talking to Owens, he periodically held the knife to his throat threatening to kill himself.

About one hour into the incident at approximately 12:15 p.m., a State Police negotiator talking to Owens convinced him to voluntarily surrender. Owens tossed the knife with about a ten-inch blade onto the carpet in front of the desk where he was seated. Officers moved in and took him into custody for questioning without further incident. No one was injured during the standoff.

Owens was transported to the Oregon State Police Salem Area Command office for questioning. He is currently detained for a mental evaluation and has been transported to Salem Memorial Hospital for the evaluation.

Investigators have cited him for Criminal Mischief Second Degree, Menacing, and Disorderly Conduct. No appearance information is available. Additional charges may be pending.

Assistance at the scene during the incident was provided by Salem Police Department and a Portland Police Bureau negotiator who incidentally was at the Capitol on another matter and offered his assistance.

TSA begins background checks on Hazmat drivers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began the second phase of the Hazmat Threat Assessment Program today with the fingerprinting of commercial truck drivers applying to obtain a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) on their state-issued commercial drivers license (CDL).

During phase one, TSA conducted name-based security threat assessments on all 2.7 million Hazmat drivers to determine whether any presented a potential terrorist threat. Phase two augments this effort by adding a FBI fingerprint-based criminal history records check and immigration status check. The third and final phase of implementation begins May 31,2005 when drivers, who currently hold HMEs and wish to renew or transfer the HME, must undergo the fingerprint-based background check.

“We are eager to continue implementation of this important program to help enhance our nation’s security,” said Rear Adm. David M. Stone, USN (Ret.), Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for TSA. “By partnering with states to ensure Hazmat drivers have undergone a security threat assessment, we add another layer of security in the transport of hazardous materials.”

Under the USA PATRIOT Act, a state cannot issue, renew or transfer an HME unless the driver successfully completes TSA’s security threat assessment. TSA developed its program to meet the requirements of the Act and to protect
against the threat posed by terrorists transporting hazardous materials in commerce. TSA has selected a vendor to assist in the collection of applicant fingerprints and information for states that have elected to use a
TSA agent for this purpose. Seventeen states have elected to complete these tasks using state resources. In either case, the drivers’ fingerprints and biographical information will be forwarded to TSA for vetting.

If TSA disqualifies an HME applicant, the driver can appeal the finding or seek a waiver from TSA. Drivers who do not wish to transport hazardous materials do not need a HME, and drivers who surrender a HME will not be required to complete a security threat assessment. Some examples of shipments classified as hazardous materials include gasoline, explosives, radioactive and infectious substances, propane, chlorine, acids, ammonia and other poisonous gases.

Drivers must renew the HME at least every five years, although a state may require more frequent renewals. Under TSA rules, drivers are responsible for reporting disqualifying events.

For more information, please visit www.hazprints.com or call 1-877-429-7746.

Minnis makes statement on Doyle’s resignation

(SALEM) -House Speaker Karen Minnis (R-Wood Village) today made the following statement regarding the resignation from office of Rep. Dan Doyle:

“Representative Doyle submitted a letter of resignation from office to the Secretary of State today. I wish the Doyle family well and hope the process to fill his seat will move quickly so that his constituents will have a voice at the legislature.”

This press release and an archive of past releases issued by the Speaker’s Office are available on the web at: http://www.leg.state.or.us/house/speaker/home.htm.

Columbia River spring chinook seasons set

(VANCOUVER, WASH.) – Sport anglers are likely to fish in the Columbia River through April for a healthy run of 413,400 spring chinook under rules adopted Friday by the states of Oregon and Washington.

Biologists expect spring fishing opportunities to resemble those of 2004 because the 2005 run size is expected to be very similar. The extremely popular fishery will be monitored in-season and will close to sport angling when the allowable impacts to wild fish are reached.

With the intent of keeping the rest of the river open to spring chinook fishing through April and into May, fishery managers decided to limit anglers to fishing three days a week and keeping one hatchery-bred fish a day in the area immediately below Bonneville Dam. In 2004, a large portion of spring chinook harvested from the Columbia were caught in the five miles immediately downstream of Bonneville Dam. The 2004 recreational fishery closed between the I-5 Bridge and Bonneville Dam before the end of April because the allowable impacts to wild salmon had been met.

The recreational seasons adopted Friday will allow angling for hatchery-bred spring chinook everyday from the mouth of the Columbia River at Buoy 10 upstream to Rooster Rock and from Bonneville Dam upstream to McNary Dam.

Fishery managers also adopted a rule for the second year that prohibits Columbia River anglers from totally removing from the water any salmon or steelhead required to be released. This rule will be in effect for all vessels less than 30 feet in length from Feb. 15 – May 15, 2005 upstream of the Rocky Point-Tongue Point line.

Of the total run, about 70 percent are expected to be marked by a missing adipose fin which designates them as “keepers.” Biologists estimate a total mainstem harvest of about 35,000 hatchery-bred spring chinook, split between sport anglers and the commercial fishing industry.

Fish managers set the Columbia River spring chinook fishery based on the number of fish expected to return from the ocean and the allowable impact to wild salmon and steelhead stocks listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. “Impacts” are the unintended mortalities associated with handling and releasing wild fish. The allowed non-Indian impacts are 2 percent of the total runs of ESA-listed Snake River spring/summer chinook and Upper Columbia River spring chinook.

Spring chinook provide tremendous economic benefit to both the commercial and sport-fishing industries because the meat is prized for its flavor and it is the first fresh non-farmed salmon of the season to reach barbecues and specialty markets.

The rules adopted Friday for sport anglers include:

For the mainstem Columbia River from the mouth at Buoy 10 upstream to the Interstate 5 Bridge, the season for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook, adipose fin-clipped steelhead, and shad is open seven days a week now until the allowable impacts are reached or May 15, which ever occurs first. Anglers may retain two adult spring chinook or steelhead in Oregon. In Washington, anglers may retain two adult spring chinook and two steelhead.

From the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line in the Columbia River estuary upstream to I-5, anglers fishing from a boat less than 30 feet are prohibited from totally removing from the water any salmon or steelhead required to be released from Feb. 15 through the end of the fishery.

For the mainstem Columbia River from the Interstate 5 Bridge upstream to Rooster Rock, the season for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook, adipose fin-clipped steelhead, and shad is open seven days a week March 16 until the allowable impacts are reached or May 15, which ever occurs first. Anglers may retain two adult spring chinook or steelhead in Oregon. In Washington, anglers may retain two adult spring chinook and two steelhead.

All anglers fishing from a boat shorter than 30 feet are prohibited from totally removing from the water any salmon or steelhead required to be released.

In the mainstem Columbia River, from Rooster Rock upstream to Bonneville Dam, the season for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook, adipose fin-clipped steelhead and shad is open Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays from March 16 until the allowable impacts are reached or May 15, which ever occurs first. Anglers may retain one adult spring chinook or steelhead per day.

All anglers fishing from a boat shorter than 30 feet are prohibited from totally removing from the water any salmon or steelhead required to be released.

For the mainstem Columbia River from the Tower Island power lines upstream to McNary Dam and the Oregon bank between Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines (about 6 miles below The Dalles Dam), the season for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook, adipose fin-clipped steelhead, and shad is open seven days a week March 16 until the allowable impacts are reached or May 15, which ever occurs first. Anglers may retain two adult spring chinook or steelhead in Oregon. In Washington, anglers may retain two adult spring chinook and two steelhead.

All anglers fishing from a boat shorter than 30 feet are prohibited from totally removing from the water any salmon or steelhead required to be released.

Biologists will analyze the sport harvest and the impacts to wild fish one or two days per week April 5 – May 15 to make in-season adjustments. If modifications are necessary to keep within the allowable impacts, they will be made in the following order: 1) Eliminate the fishery between Rooster Rock and Bonneville Dam; 2) Reduce the fishery below the Rooster Rock boundary to less than seven days a week 3) Eliminate the fishery below Rooster Rock. In addition, the fishery above Bonneville Dam will be managed to provide similar fishing opportunities as in the lower Columbia.

Commercial fishing regulations were adopted Friday for fisheries that target hatchery-bred spring chinook returning to the Willamette River and may include a combination of tangle net and large mesh net fisheries. Commercial fishing boats must have recovery boxes on board for any wild fish caught. In addition, on-board observers will determine the number of wild fish caught and released. The commercial regulations adopted Friday will apply to fisheries that start in late February or early March. Commercial season dates will be adopted at future Columbia River Compact hearings and will be based on test fishing results.

The states also adopted commercial shad seasons, spring chinook `select area’ fisheries, and anchovy and herring bait fisheries.

The commercial and sport seasons adopted Friday were based on an allowable impact rate of 2 percent for wild steelhead. NOAA Fisheries recently announced that an impact rate of up to 6 percent could be used. However, the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife commissions have not yet decided whether to use the amended impact rate. Both commissions will discuss the steelhead impact rate at their February meetings. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will held Feb. 5 and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be held Feb. 11 in Troutdale.

Bend/Ft. Rock winter trails update for Jan. 31

With the exception of 1-4″ of new snow accumulation at the mid to higher elevations last week, our mild winter continues with only some improvement of snow conditions. But some is better than no improvement at this time.

That improvement may be short lived as the forecast is once again for dryer and mild conditions over the next few days. We’ve had melting/refreezing of that new snow creating mostly hard-icy snow below 6,000 ft. and on some slopes above that. Still, for snowmobiling Wanoga, Edison, and Ten Mile Snow Parks are yet rideable but be aware of rough sections of trail and low snow hazards. For skiing/snowshoeing Swampy has fair to “decent” conditions with icy areas, Meissner and Edison are fair to marginal or poor, Skyliner poor and icy with sections of bare trail, and Ten Mile poor but improves with elevation. Dutchman yet has adequate snow conditions for all winter activities but watch out for low snow hazards and icy areas.
Wish I had better news at this time on the winter trails front. On a positive winter note, February and March can yet be good snow months with normal accumulations of several feet; fingers are crossed.

Summer trails are about the same as last week with little change, though maybe less muddy in areas with cooler nighttime temperatures. Icy snow conditions can be expected on the lower elevation trails that yet have snow; those include the Deschutes River Trails between Lava Island and Benham Falls. Muddy trail conditions will likely be encountered in those areas that have recently melted free of snow.

A BLM closure update for the Dry River Canyon is as follows:

January 31, 2005

The Bureau of Land Management is issuing a temporary closure on February 1, 2005 to all uses for the entire Dry River Canyon adjacent to highway 20 approximately 18 miles east of Bend near Horse Ridge. The closure is in effect due to the seasonal presence of wildlife species whose breeding activities are very sensitive to human disturbance. The closure will legally expire on August 31, 2005 but biologists will likely make an earlier determination on an expiration date based on when the wildlife moves out of the canyon. This closure blocks all passage through Dry River Canyon, so all uses including hiking, mountain biking and equestrian use won’t be legal for the closure period.

Thanks for your cooperation in honoring these closures.

For more information on this temporary closure, please contact Gavin Hoban, BLM Recreation Planner at (541)416-6879, or by email at Gavin_Hoban@blm.gov

Sen. Westlund to host Operation Dear Abby

Senator Ben Westlund, who represents District 27 (portions of Deschutes County), will be the guest host for tomorrow’s session of Operation Dear Abby (Oregon) in the Oregon State Capitol. The initiative, sponsored by Attorney General Hardy Myers, Speaker of the House Karen Minnis, and President of the Senate Peter Courtney, provides the means to send messages of encouragement and support to Oregonians in military service.

A computer connected to OperationDearAbby.net is provided for public use between 12:15 and 12:45 p.m. every Tuesday in the Galleria area (near the Rotunda) of the Capitol. The service is free.

The office of Legislative Administration provides the internet connection. Volunteers from the Department of Justice help make the operation possible.

The Attorney General, Speaker, and President invite anyone planning to be in the Capitol on Tuesday to visit with Senator Westlund and to use the computer to support our friends, colleagues, and relatives serving in the military.

Two Prineville BLM employees, “real heroes”

PRINEVILLE – Two Bureau of Land Management employees are soon to be recognized at an Interior Department Honor Awards Convocation in Washington, D.C. on February 2, 2005. Wildlife biologist Scott Cooke and Resource Area Assistant Dale Johnson, both Prineville District BLM employees, arereceiving top honors as Valor Award recipients for individual acts of courage on and off duty.

On June 18, 2003, while enroute to a family vacation, Scott Cooke came upon an accident on Highway 26 west of Mitchell. A pickup and travel trailer had rolled and was upside down on the highway, with the engine compartment starting to burn. Both driver and passenger were suspended inside the vehicle, hanging from their seat belts. Scott arrived on the scene, and broke the passenger side door window so they could escape. His timely arrival and quick, decisive action saved their lives. After rescuing husband and wife, Scott drove them home to John Day because he “was going that way anyway.”

On August 9, 2003, Dale Johnson was busy making visitor contacts on the Lower Deschutes River near Davidson Flat Campground. A person at the campground alerted Dale that a man was drowning in the river. Dale immediately sprinted to the site and saw the man in the water was not wearing a life jacket, was in a state of panic and struggling to stay afloat. Dale, who was wearing a vest, quickly entered the water and swam to the individual and started coaching him to calm down. Dale risked his own safety during his efforts to safely bring the individual to shore.

Prineville District Manager Barron Bail will accompany the two employees to the Honor Awards Convocation in Washington, D.C. “We are extremely proud of Scott and Dale for acting with such courage and regard for others while putting themselves at great risk. Between the two of them, they saved three lives,” said Bail.

The Valor Award was established in 1957. It is the highest honor granted by the Interior Department to employees who have shown unusual courage in the face of grave danger. This involves a situation where the employee is putting his or her life in jeopardy in attempting to save another. There is no requirement that the act be related to official duties or that the site of the incident be the official duty station. The Valor Award is based on the nature of the act and given individually. The Valor Award is approved by the Assistant Secretary-Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

Recognition includes an engraved gold medal and a certificate and citation signed by the Secretary.

Walden calls on budget chairman to plan for fire

(White Sulfur Springs, W.V.) – The Chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), has asked the Chairman of the House Budget Committee to include $500 million in the fiscal year 2005-06 budget to pay for forest fire suppression costs should they exceed what is normally needed. Walden made this request of Budget Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA) while Republicans were at their planning retreat this weekend in West Virginia. The Budget Committee will start its work on the budget when the President delivers his to Congress next week.

“In recent years, due to the increased number of large, expensive fires, wildfire suppression money has become exhausted long before the wildfire season is over. This has forced the Forest Service to borrow money from other, non-firefighting, accounts. The raiding of non-suppression accounts has caused serious harm to the continuity and viability of a number of Forest Service programs, including fuel reduction projects,” said Walden, who last week was reappointed to serve as the forestry panel’s chairman.

Walden was successful last year in getting $500 million set aside for wildfire suppression – $400 million for the Forest Service and $100 million for the BLM. Fortunately, an unusually wet August in the Northwest resulted in a dramatic reduction in fires so the agencies did not need to tap into the fund. “But who knows what the weather holds for this year? Given the very small snow pack in some parts of the West, we could be in for trouble,” he said.

According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), fires continue to burn increased acreage. For 2000 through 2003, the GAO found the average number of acres burned annually on all lands nationally was 56 percent greater than the average acres burned annually during the 1990s.

“We still have 190 million acres of federal lands subject to catastrophic fire, bug infestation and disease, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of acres that are at risk to re-burn with an even greater vengeance if their desperate need of restoration following a previous catastrophic event is not met,” said Walden who co-wrote the Healthy Forest Restoration Act.

Since 1999, appropriations for wildland fire management activities for both the Forest Service and the Interior Department agencies has nearly tripled, from about $1 billion in 1999 to more than $2.7 billion in fiscal year 2004. That includes a nearly four-fold increase in fuels reduction funding in the last five years.

“I anticipate that the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA) will allow communities and federal agencies to come forward with a record amount of fuel reduction projects to safeguard our communities and protect habitat and watersheds. Preventing or reducing the severity of fires by decreasing the fuel loads saves taxpayers money, protects lives of firefighters and citizens, and helps restore balance with nature. But if we don’t properly budget, the funds for those fuels reduction projects will literally go up in the smoke of fire suppression,” said Walden who has asked the GAO to evaluate Wildland Fire Management by federal agencies. The GAO’s report will be the subject of a hearing in Walden’s subcommittee in February.

After passage of HFRA in 2003, Walden held informational roundtables in southern, eastern and central Oregon to educate community leaders on provisions in the new law that allow them to help federal agencies prioritize where fuels reduction work is most needed.

Congressman Walden represents the Second Congressional District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon. He is a Deputy Whip in the House leadership structure and a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Committee on Resources.

Competition grows slowly in telecommunications

(Salem) -Most Oregonians are buying their basic wireline telephone service from Qwest, Verizon, Sprint and Century Tel but a growing number of Oregonians are receiving their telephone service from the big four’s competitors.

“Competition is most evident in the Portland metropolitan and Willamette Valley areas where 90 percent of the competitors’ customers live,” Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. “Technology and Federal law are evolving rapidly. It remains to be seen how these forces will affect competition in the years ahead. However the Commission will continue to take measures within our power to protect customers while also fostering competition.”

In 2003 the competitive carriers’ share of the market in Oregon went from 11.3 percent to 13.9 percent according to the Sixth annual report by the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The competitors’ share of the residential market remains

tiny–2.8 percent–but they have made inroads in the business market where their share has grown to 30.5 percent, up from 26.3 percent, in 2002.

Qwest, Verizon, Century Tel, and Sprint serve about 80 percent of the wirelines in Oregon a drop of about three percent from the year before. There are nearly the same number of wireless phones as wireline phones in Oregon although most customers see their cellphone as a supplement. Many young people are moving to wireless service as their only phone.

In 2003, the number of competitive carriers increased from 101 to 118. Forty-nine of those companies offered dial-tone service. The others are reselling wholesale services offered by the incumbents.

To gather information for the report, the Commission surveyed all local exchange carriers. The Commission also surveyed Oregon cities, counties, school districts, community colleges, universities, and people’s utility districts that own coaxial, digital subscriber lines, fiber optics cable and other advanced telecommunication infrastructure.

The full report is available on the Commission’s website at puc.state.or.us under telecommunications, reports.