Walton Lake Campground closing Saturday to start restoration project

The following is from the Ochoco National Forest:

Prineville, Ore., September 26, 2023— Beginning Saturday, October 1, the Ochoco National Forest will close the Walton Lake Campground to begin implementation on the Walton Lake Restoration Project. The project will address public safety and forest health in the Walton Lake Developed Recreation Management Area approximately 30 miles east of Prineville.

The work will include a sanitation harvest to remove all host species of a root disease called laminated root rot. Laminated root disease has infected Douglas and grand firs in this area, rotting the trees at the base from the inside. Infected fir trees can fall without warning, creating a safety hazard for recreationists and increasing fire danger.

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The Walton Lake Restoration Project will also selectively remove fir trees encroaching on the large, legacy ponderosa pines to reduce the stress of competition and conserve the mature ponderosa forest.  Additionally, project work will include the replanting of trees that are resistant to laminated root rot to improve public safety and maintain visual aesthetics surrounding the forest’s busiest recreation site.

“After 8 years, we are eager to move forward with the Walton Lake Restoration Project in order to holistically manage for laminated root rot,” said Lookout Mountain District Ranger Slater Turner. “We’re proud of this project and know that this work will improve overall forest health in the Walton Lake area and provide for a safer visitor experience.”

Beginning Saturday, Walton Lake Campground and Day Use Area will be closed for the season and contractors will begin their work as soon as possible. The public may see logging equipment and log trucks in the vicinity of the campground and Walton Lake Sno-park and are reminded to keep their distance for their safety and the safety of the operators

The Ochoco National Forest initially issued a decision on the Walton Lake Restoration Project in 2015. The Forest Service later withdrew the decision in October 2016. The Ochoco National Forest later completed a Revised Environmental Assessment (EA) and Decision Notice (DN) for the Walton Lake Restoration Project in 2020.

Bring your own! Deschutes National Forest begins shutting off campground water

The Deschutes National Forest says it is starting to shut down campground water systems as overnight temperatures begin dropping below freezing.

The Forest Service on Tuesday urged people who may have a campsite reservation this fall to bring their own water.

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RELATED: Hiker rescued from Tam McArthur Ridge after snow moves in

RELATED: Final day to drive to Paulina Peak is Oct. 15



Final day to drive to Paulina Peak is Oct. 15

The final day of the season for driving access to the top of Paulina Peak will be October 15, the Deschutes National Forest announced Tuesday.

Up until then, drivers are urged to be prepared for winter driving conditions. The Forest Service shared a couple photos showing snow up at the overlook.

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RELATED: Bring your own! Deschutes National Forest begins shutting off campground water

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Searchers find body; possibly woman swept into ocean from popular WA beach

RIALTO BEACH, Wash. (AP) — The search for a 26-year-old woman who was swept into the ocean from a popular beach on the Washington coast has ended after a body was found that matches her description, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The Coast Guard said it received a call at 10:50 a.m. Monday about a woman who was reportedly taken by ocean currents while she was on Rialto Beach near Olympic National Park.

Park rangers found a body matching the woman’s description on Rialto Beach around 5 p.m. Monday, the Coast Guard said.

The woman’s name wasn’t released.

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Rialto Beach is northwest of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula.

Coast Guard helicopter crews searched about 51 square miles (132 square kilometers) for more than five hours, and had a team searching on land. Officers from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office and the La Push Tribal Police Department, in addition to park rangers, helped in the search.

The National Weather Service in Seattle had issued a small craft advisory and a gale warning Monday along the coast for strong winds causing hazardous seas. A powerful system has been bringing heavy rain, gusty winds, below-average temperatures and a wintry mix at higher elevations to parts of the Northwest, including western Washington and western Oregon, the weather service said.

Amazon sued by Oregon, others over allegations it inflates online prices

The Federal Trade Commission and 17 state attorney generals, including Oregon’s, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday. The allege the e-commerce behemoth uses its position in the marketplace to inflate prices on other platforms, overcharge sellers and stifle competition.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, is the result of a years-long investigation into Amazon’s businesses and one of the most significant legal challenges brought against the company in its nearly 30-year history.

According to a news release sent by the agency, the FTC and states that joined the lawsuit are asking the court to issue a permanent injunction court that they say would prohibit Amazon from engaging in its unlawful conduct and loosen its “monopolistic control to restore competition.”

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“The complaint sets forth detailed allegations noting how Amazon is now exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself while raising prices and degrading service for the tens of millions of American families who shop on its platform and the hundreds of thousands of businesses that rely on Amazon to reach them,” FTC chairman Lina Khan said in a statement.

Many had wondered whether the agency would seek to a forced break-up of the retail giant, which is also dominant in cloud computing and has a growing presence in other sectors like groceries and health care. In a briefing with reporters, Khan dodged questions of whether that will happen.

“At this stage, the focus is more on liability,” she said.

The FTC said the states joining the suit include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin joined the Commission’s lawsuit. 

Central Oregon Daily News contributed to this report.

▶️ Alleged sex abuse survivor at Bend spa encourages others to come forward

(Editor’s note: The alleged victim describes what happened to her. The details may be disturbing to some.)

A woman alleging she was sexually abused a spa in Bend has come forward to tell her story in hopes others who have been in similar situations will do the same.

“I’ve been to May Spa before and gotten massages, I had no issue. That night he sexually assaulted me during the massage. He touched my breasts and my vagina,” the woman told Central Oregon Daily News Monday. She wishes to remain anonymous.

RELATED: Police: Masseuse at Bend spa arrested for sexual abuse; may be more victims

The alleged incident happened in July. 

“I was really scared, you know? I’m naked under a sheet in a public place and I didn’t know what to do. I froze up and left immediately as I could and ran out of the building,” the woman said.

Deschutes County court records say Jianming Tang is charged with one count of sexual abuse in the third degree and one count of massage without a license. Both are misdemeanors.

After reporting the incident to authorities, Oregon State Police asked the survivor to go undercover at the massage parlor. 

“They wanted me to wear a wire and to ask for an apology. I previously texted [May Spa] to arrange a time that I could come in for an apology. I met with the suspect, the owner, and the owner’s wife outside the building and the suspect apologized to me,” the woman said.

The woman is concerned that Tang might still work at May Spa. Central Oregon Daily News went to the business on Monday asking if Tang is still employed. An employee said Tang wasn’t there.

As for the survivor, she hopes speaking out will encourage others to do the same.

“I’ve had a really great experience working with the Oregon State Police. I feel safe. I feel like justice is going to be served. I would encourage other people who’ve had a similar situation to reach out the OSP contact,” the woman said.

We reached out to the District Attorney’s office asking for additional information on the two charges, including why Tang was not charged with a more serous crime. We have not heard back.

▶️ Cascade Equinox festival success suggests more for music lovers in future

The Cascade Equinox festival welcomed thousands of music lovers to the Deschutes County Fairgrounds over the weekend.

Cascade Equinox marked the second multi-day music festival in two months for the fairgrounds. The inaugural FairWell Festival brought tens of thousands of music lovers in July. It’s left festivalgoers wondering if this type of event is becoming more the norm in Central Oregon.

The festival went, for the most part, with rave reviews. By early afternoon on Monday, many campsites still needed to be packed away.

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“Lots of positive vibes. Just great, great folks and great music and dancing,” Kris Wilhelm said.

He traveled from Bellingham, Washington, for the festival and spent much of Monday cleaning up his group’s site.

It’s the type of positive experience that fairgrounds director Geoff Hinds hopes becomes the norm.

“We know that just the sheer growth of music in Central Oregon continues,” he said about bringing in more similar music events. “The success of Fairwell Festival and what we anticipate from the organizers of this is the success that certainly prepares the way.”

Hinds says it’s too far out to determine if any similar events will be in the lineup for the fairgrounds next year.

Reviews from inside the grounds were overwhelmingly positive. Reviews from neighbors online were a different story, many claiming that bass could be heard across Redmond.

“This event had some additional volume challenges that we worked through with the promoter,” Hinds said. “We continually made adjustments throughout the weekend and tried to make sure that the impact was the least possible.”

Hinds added that the weather and type of music likely carried the sound farther from the grounds.

Wilhelm, unsurprisingly, had no qualms in the volume department.

“Absolutely stellar experience, super, super well done. I’m ready for next year already,” he said.

Hinds says the fairgrounds’ changes surrounding entering and exiting helped avoid congestion at different pinch points. Back in July, getting in and out of the Fairwell Festival at the fairgrounds proved more complex, with many forced to wait in the parking lot for several hours.

▶️ Bend residents have their say on transportation utility fee at public forum

Old Farm District Neighborhood Association held a public forum Monday night to discuss a possible monthly transportation fee that would be tacked onto utility bills.

“We are looking at sustainable ways to fund our transportation system so that we can have better service, more options for people and really enhance the transportation system,” said Mayor Melanie Kebler. “That hasn’t really kept up with our growth.”

The City of Bend says it’s one piece of the overall transportation funding puzzle. Despite the $190 million transportation bond passed in 2020, the city says more money must be spent to maintain roads.

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RELATED: Why is Bend considering monthly transportation fee after voters passed bond?

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“We really just want to talk to folks about how the plan for this implementation of the fee came about,” said Kebler. “What it is, how it’s going to work. Hear their questions, make sure we’re answering them and taking their input on the whole policy.”

Bend homeowners may be asked to pay $10-$15 monthly on utility bills. The fee, which does not require a public vote because it’s not a tax, would be toward things like street sweeping and filling potholes.

Roundtable discussions on the project have already been held, but Monday was the first time that the public was allowed to comment.

“I have a mom that’s 85 years old,” said one commenter. “She’s on fixed income, Social Security and she’s on food stamps. She can’t afford $180 extra on her utilities.”

“What is the future of that going to look like?” asked another. “Is there a percentage increase? Is there some kind of upper limit of property tax increase or limited 3% increase per year?”

The mayor and city staff answered each question before allowing the public to talk 1-on-1 with the city about any additional questions or concerns they may have.

The $190 million transportation bond voters passed in 2020 can only be used for specific projects. The city says the transportation fee is to take care of general road maintenance.

The city will hold another roundtable discussion on October 11 and plans to make a decision by the end of the year.

▶️ Free farm-to-table meal kits for Sisters seniors through pilot program

From Blue Apron to Hello Fresh, there’s a number of  subscription services out there that will send you everything you need to cook meal at home. A pilot program was launched in Central Oregon over the summer to do something similar for Sisters seniors — locally grown produce delivered right to their door for free.

It’s the third growing season for Lauren Rasmussen and Aaron Stubbs at Fibonacci Farm in Northeast Bend, and the plants have been popping.

“It’s usually towards the middle of the bed that the bed kind of hits its stride and you can see its real harvest potential,” Stubbs said.

The couple traded New York City for Central Oregon with the focus to farm.

“We definitely wanted to make sure that we were feeding everyone, everyone. All of our food was going into everyone’s hands,” Rasmussen said.

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Their organically grown produce found an unlikely route to market — a partnership curated by the Council on Aging of Central Oregon and funded through the High Desert Food Farm Alliance (HDFFA).

“We realized that our missions were aligned and that we wanted to bring fresh and nutritious food to older adults throughout our community,” said Cassie Regimbal, executive director of the Council on Aging.

“Every time we can try to connect people in need with fresh produce that will help them in the long run, that’s our goal,” said Sharon Maier-Kennelly, the executive director of the HDFFA.

Each week, bags are stuffed with the recipe and all the ingredients from various local farms to make a meal.

The ten week pilot program was spun out of a conversation between employees of the two organizations.

“They met at a party and then got to talking and realized again how aligned the missions were and that’s just how it came to be,” Regimbal said.

Local organic food isn’t always cheap and not everyone can get out to a farmer’s market.

“And so it just seemed that it’d be a perfect fit, given that we had the mechanism already in place with the Meals on Wheels delivery and they have the harvest kits, so why not put it all together?” Regimbal said.

Meals on Wheels volunteers Ricky Goede and Sue Walker pack the produce to seniors in Sisters.

“They all had the option to get it or not and almost every everybody’s getting them. And to a person, they love it,” Goede said.

And it’s all free for those who qualify for the Meals on Wheels program.

The recipe feeds four people. But the program enriches more than meals.

“I couldn’t believe it was happening. I mean, it just is wonderful,” said Meals on Wheels recipient Lorena Bliven.

“Our hopes would be to expand that funding and continue to grow the program,” Regimbal said.

“We all need to think of everyone. We think of nutrition for our children and ourselves, but sometimes senior citizens get forgotten about. And it’s really important that we take care of them because we all will be senior citizens one day,”  Rasmussen said.