Virus deadly to rabbits found in La Pine, other parts of Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Environmental experts are concerned about Oregon’s wild rabbit population after multiple cases of a virus that is deadly to the animals were confirmed in different parts of the state.

The latest case of the rabbit hemorrhagic disease, which was confirmed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday, was in La Pine.

Last month, the disease was detected nearly 200 miles away in Milwaukie, a suburb of Portland, in eight dead domestic and feral rabbits.

Following last months discovery of the viral disease in the animals, Dr. Ryan Scholz, Oregon’s state veterinarian, said the virus has taken hold in the feral rabbit population.

Spring Chinook season announced on Hood River; no season on Deschutes

ODFW has set regulations for a spring Chinook fishery on the Hood River.

  • Open for adult hatchery Chinook from May 1 through June 30 from the mouth to mainstem confluence with the East Fork, and the West Fork from the confluence with the mainstem upstream to the angling deadline 200 feet downstream of Punchbowl Falls.
  • The catch limit is one adult hatchery salmon per day, and five hatchery jack salmon per day.
  • All wild Chinook salmon must be released unharmed.

Fishery managers are predicting a modest return of about 400 adult hatchery fish for the Hood River, which is similar to last year’s actual return.

There will be no season for spring Chinook on the Deschutes River for 2021 due to another year of predicted poor returns of both hatchery and wild fish. Fall Chinook angling will open on Aug. 1 on the Deschutes.

According to Rod French, ODFW fish biologist, the Hood River fishery is one of the few places a bank angler has a pretty good chance of catching a Columbia River spring Chinook.

While the fishery will open in May 1, French said the run usually peaks in late May due to colder water temperatures in the Hood River.

For the latest regulations and recreation report for the Central Fishing Zone visit

Community invited to meet La Pine High School principal finalists

Students, staff, and community members are invited to meet the four finalists for the principal position at La Pine High School during a virtual forum Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.

Attendees will get a chance to see presentations from the candidates and provide feedback about the finalists.

Finalist details:

Richard Ceder is currently principal at Toledo Junior/Senior High School in Lincoln City, a position he has served in for two years. Prior to that, he served as assistant principal at Toledo for two years. Cedar spent two years as a program manager for Gear Up, a college and career readiness group. He served as a school counselor for 9 years in Gaston, Oregon and has experience as a treatment specialist, career coach and youth transition specialist. 

Scott Olszewski is currently principal at Sky View Middle School in Bend, a position he has served in for six years. Prior to that, Olszewski served as an assistant principal at Mountain View High School for three years. He also served as Dean of Students at Pilot Butte Middle School for four years. Olszewski also has seven years of classroom teaching experience in Bend and New Jersey.

Mairi Scott-Aguirre is currently principal at Centennial High School in Portland, a position she has served in for six years. Prior to that, Scott-Aguirre served as assistant principal at Reynolds High School in Fairview and was Dean of Students at Liberty High School in Hillsboro. Additionally, she served a human resources and safety manager in private industry for 12 years. Scott-Aguirre also has seven years of experience as a classroom teacher and teacher coach.

Troy Stoops is currently Superintendent at Mt. Angel School District, a position he has served in for 10 years. Prior to that, Stoops served as principal for two Mt. Angel schools: John F. Kennedy High School for three years and St. Mary’s Public School for six years. He also served as a principal in Silver Falls School District for two years. Stoops also has six years of experience as a classroom teacher.

The new principal will begin July 1, following current interim principal Anne-Marie Schmidt.

How to join: 

Community members interested in participating can join the WebEx event/ video access:

  • Join online:  (Note: If prompted, event number is 120 860 7670 and password is LPHS)
  • Phone access: 408-418-9388 Access code: 120 860 7670

Attendees will have audio muted, but will be able to ask questions through the WebEx chat feature.

Those who need accommodations or translation services to participate in the forum, please call Bend-La Pine Schools’ Education Center at 541-355-1001 by 5 p.m. April 12.

Public comment period begins on proposed paved trail connecting Bend-Lava Lands

The Oregon Department of Transportation and Deschutes National Forest are inviting the public to provide feedback on plans for a paved multi-use trail from south of Bend to the Lava Lands Visitor Center.

The proposed 6-mile long trail will start south of Bend at the Baker Rd/Knott Road Interchange.

From there it will wind through a forest and old lava flow, terminating at the Lava Lands Visitor Center at Lava Butte.

Along the way, the multi-use trail provides connections to the High Desert Museum, Sun Lava trail system, and Sunriver.

The proposed path would be built using funds from the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration.

The Forest Service’s environmental assessment can be accessed on the Deschutes National Forest project website at:

A copy of the environmental assessment is also available by contacting the Bend-Ft. Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest at 541-383-5300 or reaching out to the project manager at

For the next 30 days, public comments on the proposed project will be taken.

Comments may be submitted electronically to .

People are asked to put “Paved Path” in the subject line of their email. Comments must be submitted as part of the actual e-mail message, or as an attachment in Microsoft Word, rich text format (rtf), or portable document format (pdf) only. If using an electronic message, a scanned signature is one way to provide verification. E-mails submitted to e-mail addresses other than the one listed above, in other formats than those listed or containing viruses will be rejected.

Comments may also be submitted in writing by mail and sent to
Kevin Larkin, District Ranger, Bend-FortRock Ranger District
63095 Deschutes Market Road, Bend, OR 97701.

Hand-delivered comments are discouraged at this time.

Anyone wishing to obtain additional information on the project or to provide comments over the phone should contact Cristina Peterson at  or 541-383-4028.

Due to federal regulations comments provided to ODOT are not a part of the Forest Service’s public comment process and anyone who wants their comments to be considered as part of the environmental assessment process must also submit their comments to the Forest Service in the manner described previously.

The trail is a major component of the Lava Lands regional trail system concept, and is expected to serve more than 80,000 visitors a year once it is built.

The Deschutes National Forest currently is preparing an Environmental Analysis (EA) of the proposal, which will also include collecting and reviewing public comments for the portion of the trail within the Forest Service Boundary.

The focus of the feasibility study is to look at trail alignments.

As part of the next phase of the project, ODOT will work with partners including Bend Parks and Recreation District and Deschutes County to look at potential parking facilities in the vicinity of the Baker/Knott Rd.

To help the public better understand this project, ODOT has prepared an online open house website where members of the public can review the feasibility study completed for the project and provide feedback on the alternatives examined.

The open house is located at:

The site will be open for review and feedback through April 30.


COCC to reopen campuses June 14; in-person classes will gradually expand

Central Oregon Community College plans to reopen all campuses to the public in a limited capacity on June 14th.

The college has been closed to the public since March 23, 2020, when COCC moved classes and services to remote delivery in response to an executive order from Gov. Kate Brown in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In-person learning for summer term will remain limited and as currently scheduled, with the intention of gradually expanding on-campus classes for fall and subsequent terms.

Beginning June 14 on all campuses (Bend, Redmond, Madras, and Prineville), buildings and offices will be open and staffed in order to resume incremental in-person services.

On COCC’s Bend campus, the college will reopen its track, field, and trails to the public.

COCC will continue to offer tours to prospective students and their families (one household per tour, masks required).

The college will also consider facility rental requests from community partners in accordance with all current health and safety protocols.

Wickiup Residence Hall will reopen to residents in the fall term.

“Over the last 13 months, our students and employees have weathered this pandemic with resilience, determination, creativity, and empathy,” said Dr. Laurie Chesley, president of COCC. “We are excited to safely reopen our campuses to the public and welcome back our Central Oregon community this June.”

Summer term at COCC begins Monday, June 21, and fall term begins Monday, Sept. 20.

Deschutes National Forest offers recreation overview for summer 2021

As the public makes plans for spring and summer outdoor recreation, the Deschutes National Forest wants to provide some important information and tips to help everyone be prepared, plan ahead, and have a great experience recreating on the national forest this year.

Campground Information

Due to COVID-19 concerns, all Deschutes National Forest campgrounds are 100% reservable with three exceptions.

Within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument area Cinder Hill, Paulina Lake, and Prairie campgrounds will have limited (25-35%) of camping sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Campground sites must be reserved on As people make campground reservations, they should note that opening dates of campgrounds are dependent upon weather conditions and snowmelt.

With recreational visitation on the Deschutes National Forest increasing 40% last year and the expectation of continued high use, people are encouraged to make their camping reservations early. Some of the most popular areas on the forest, like the Cascade Lakes, Metolius Basin, and Newberry National Volcanic Monument may have limited availability for campground reservations, particularly on weekends.

Quinn River, Sheep Bridge, and Reservoir campgrounds will be closed for the summer because of significant public safety concerns. Hundreds of hazard trees in these campgrounds need to be felled prior to the campgrounds opening.

Currently, Graham Corral has issues with a loss of water at the site and the public should be aware stock water may not be available. The Forest Service is working on the issue and alternative solutions for delivering water during the 2021 camping season are being developed. Prior to going, people should check the Deschutes National Forest’s website for the most updated conditions.

Group Sites

Group site occupancy limits will be based on current COVID-19 guidance and will be updated if new guidance is provided.

Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is allowed on the Deschutes National Forest for up to 14 days. Dispersed camping is camping outside of designated campgrounds.

Some areas are closed to dispersed camping and all dispersed campers must follow the Deschutes National Forest Camping and Campfire Forest Order , which was signed on April 2, 2021 as well as the Motor Vehicle Use guidelines found here.

The Deschutes National Forest Camping and Campfire Forest Order prohibits dispersed camping and/or campfires in the Bend Municipal Watershed, Cascade Lakes Highway Scenic Views Corridor, Crescent Industrial Camp, Deschutes Wild and Scenic River Corridor, Hosmer Lake and Mallard Marsh, Newberry Caldera, Three Creeks Lake Area, Tumalo Creek Area, Upper Tumalo Creek Area, Whychus Creek Riparian Corridor, and Whychus Creek Wild and Scenic River Portal Area.

Day use sites

Increasing recreational use on the Deschutes National Forest has caused issues with parking and crowding at some day-use sites.

People going to day-use sites may experience substantial problems with parking and are asked to avoid causing safety issues by parking along roadways.

The Forest Service wants to highlight that there are many day-use sites across the forest and people should have multiple locations in mind as they head out to enjoy the forest.

In addition, last year at day-use sites, because of significantly increased visitation Forest Service employees could not keep up with the amount of garbage left at day-use sites.

The Forest Service asks the public to bring a garbage bag along with them to pack out as much of their garbage as much as possible to reduce impacts to wildlife, watersheds, and other visitors.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Lava Lands Visitor Center will offer outdoor services, including retail operations, starting May 20, but indoor operations at the visitor center will not be offered.

The public should look for updates on Lava River Cave on the Deschutes National Forest website.

A decision about opening Lava River Cave given COVID-19 restrictions will be made soon.

Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the Lava Cast Forest and the Newberry Caldera areas of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Wilderness Visitation

As mentioned in previous press releases, the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests will be implementing a new Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System for the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wildernesses. If people plan on visiting these wildernesses, they should do their planning after reviewing this website. All permit reservations need to be made through

Permit reservations will open April 6 at 7 a.m. at

Road Openings

Opening dates of Cascade Lakes Highway and the Paulina Lake Road will be on Deschutes County’s road website

Those two roads are not under the Forest Service’s jurisdiction.

Campfires and Fires

As always, visitors need to be aware that campfires may not always be allowed on the Deschutes National Forest depending on fuel and weather conditions.

Visitors should always check the Deschutes National Forest website to know the most current fire restrictions in the summer.

In addition, visitors should be aware that wildfires in Central Oregon are not uncommon.

The Deschutes National Forest is a fire-adapted ecosystem and wildfires should be expected in August and September, which may impact recreation opportunities and experiences.

Wickiup Junction ‘Refinement Plan’ ready for public input

A revised plan for Wickiup Junction on Highway 97 near La Pine is ready for community input.

Highway planners with the Oregon Department of Transportation, the City of La Pine and Deschutes County are trying to improve the area to make is safer.

An initial plan to improve the area with an overpass ended in 2017 after crews discovered the ground beneath the construction site was sinking.

Oregon Transportation Commission Officially Ends Wickiup Junction Overpass Project

ODOT reached out to the public in 2020 and heard many ideas for improvements.

The feedback gathered, along with a technical highway analysis, helped  ODOT create a draft plan to make the area safer and easier to navigate.

This plan, called a Refinement Plan, is now available for public review and comment at a virtual open house at

Visitors to the website can review the plan and use an interactive map to see the proposed improvements and provide feedback on the options.

ODOT encourages people to comment on the plan prior to its adoption by the La Pine City Council due to occur later this spring.

The online open house runs through April 16.

Oregon Dept. of Forestry urges caution with spring debris burns

Spring is often the time when landowners work to clean up vegetation and yard debris around their property and is the perfect time for cleaning gutters and removing leaves and needles from rooftops to reduce risk of wildfire damage to homes and buildings.

However, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Prineville Unit reminds landowners to be cautious if they plan to burn that material.

Weather in the spring can often be erratic and winds can pick up suddenly, fanning flames and dispersing embers into dry vegetation nearby.

Many communities have programs which allow for chipping and disposal of these types of materials at low or no cost to landowners.  ODF encourages landowners to take advantage of these “No Burn” opportunities such as FireFree Events throughout Central Oregon.

Event dates for 2021 can be found here,

Landowners planning to burn yard debris, material from fuel reduction projects, and other commercial forest slash this spring in Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson counties should obtain a burn permit from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and/or follow burning instructions from their local fire department.

Operators and landowners burning forestry slash or fuel reduction materials should complete burning according to the instructions on their burn permit to reduce risks of escaped burns and the rekindling of burn piles later in the season when wildland fuels have dried out.

Below are some tips to reduce the risk of a fire getting out of control.

  • Check weather forecasts.  Avoid burning on windy days or when wind is forecast to be erratic or increasing.
  • Check with local fire department and county restrictions to be certain burning is allowed and what restrictions should be followed.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.  Be certain the fire is completely out prior to leaving.
  • Have a water source and shovel available while burning.
  • Keep debris piles small.  Add material gradually as the pile burns down.
  • Ensure burned piles are cold prior to adding new material for future burning.
  • Contact 911 immediately if the fire gets out of control.

Landowners can be held financially responsible for the costs of putting the fire out and any damage caused by fire if they are found to be negligent while burning.

The responsible party can also be cited for an uncontrolled fire.

Debris burning includes field/pastures and irrigation ditch burning intended to reduce thatch as well as other agricultural type burning.

For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit

Central Oregon health clinics get federal funding boost for COVID vaccines

Central Oregon’s Mosaic Medical and the La Pine Community Health Center have received a combined $5 million in federal funding to help distribute the COVID vaccine across the region.

Oregon’s Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced Wednesday $84 million in federal funding—provided by the American Rescue Plan—is headed to 30 health centers throughout Oregon to expand access to the coronavirus vaccine.

“The urgent need to get as many Oregonians vaccinated as soon as possible receives a real shot in the arm with these vital American Rescue Plan resources heading to health centers in every nook and cranny of our state,” said Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “Oregonians and the health care workers dedicated to helping them deserve every possible opportunity to continue Oregon and the country on the road to the other side of this pandemic. And I will keep battling for every potential dollar for that path to be as fast and smooth as possible.”

Today’s funding will be distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as follows:

Health Center Name


Award Amount



























































































Deschutes Public Library takes next step in bond project plans

The Deschutes Public Library has taken another step in plans to build a new central library and expand facilities across the county by selecting an “owner’s representative” to guide the projects.

After evaluating several proposals, the Library Board awarded deChase Miksis and GH Consulting, in partnership, the contract.

Both are based in Oregon.

“Selecting an owner’s representative is a crucial next-step in our expansion,” said Library Director Todd Dunkelberg. “deChase Miksis and GH Consulting will protect the Library District’s investment and interests through every stage of the process, from updating some libraries to building a new Central Library. We feel this representation is key to ensuring our continued standing as a sound fiscal steward of taxpayer funds.”

Last November Deschutes County voters supported the Library’s bond measure to expand and improve libraries across the county.

Deschutes Public Library bond passes; new central library and remodels on tap

The bond will fund the design and construction of a roughly 100,000-square-foot Central Library to serve all Deschutes County residents.

Bond funds will also pay for doubling the square footage of the Redmond Library and will expand and update existing libraries in Downtown Bend, East Bend, La Pine, Sisters and Sunriver.

The Central Library will be built on a 12-acre parcel off Highway 20 and Robal Road. Design planning for an expanded Redmond Library will begin in late summer 2021.

Dunkelberg estimates it will take four years to complete the Central Library project and up to two years to complete the expanded Redmond Library.

Find more information about the Library’s vision process and its expansion on its website: