News Stories for Wed., Aug. 2, 2017

PGE and its consultants will begin conducting a dye study on Lake Simtustus today.  This is part of a larger study to evaluate the effects of reservoir operations on the lower Deschutes River. A red dye will be placed into the tail-race waters from Lake Billy Chinook.  They will monitor its progress through Lake Simtustus at the base of Pelton Dam. The dye has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for water contact and drinking water. Some of the red dye could be visible in the lake and river below the Reregulating Dam.  The dye is not harmful to humans, fish or other wildlife.

The threat of major U.S. wildfires will remain high throughout August in Southern California, northern Nevada and parts of the Northwest and northern Great Plains, forecasters said Tuesday. A wet winter and spring produced thick grasses in the region, but a hot June melted the snow and dried out the vegetation, leaving it vulnerable to lightning-caused fires, said Bryan Henry, a meteorologist for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, which produces the forecast. In the Northwest, the August fire danger was above normal in eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and most of Idaho. Bryan said some of the vulnerable areas in the Northwest are in the path of the Aug. 21 eclipse and are expected to draw large crowds. “We’d like to encourage people to be very careful out there,” he said. Thirty-six large wildfires were burning Tuesday in nine mostly Western states, including 11 in Montana, nine in California and six in Oregon, the fire center said.

The anticipated heat wave hitting the Northwest is NOT expected to cause widespread power outages, according to utility officials. That’s because fewer people in the region have air conditioning units than in other parts of the country. Pacific Power spokesman Tom Gauntt says that means less chance of problematic spikes in power demand. He says, “Less than half of all the homes and businesses in the Northwest have air conditioning. We spend more energy keeping warm in the winter than we do staying cool in the summer.” Gauntt says whether people have air conditioning or not, they should take some precautions to keep cool and save energy. Utilities suggest opening windows during the early morning and evenings to let in cool air, and then closing windows and shades during the hotter parts of the day.

Next week, a Community Video Screening featuring stories about Climate Change in Warm Springs will be held. It’s on Monday, August 7th from 6:30-8pm at the Community Center Social Hall. We invite folks to come out and see eight short videos created by Warm Springs community members, explaining the ways that climate change is impacting their health and well-being and that of the whole community. An open discussion will follow.

The northwest is in the midst of a heatwave. Temperatures will continue to be above 100 degrees this week and the forecast shows they will remain in the 90’s for the next few weeks at least. Health providers suggest people to wear light-colored clothing, sunglasses or hats when you’re outside. And, water is always your best bet to stay hydrated. They say not to wait until you’re thirsty, drinking water throughout the day prevents dehydration or over-exhaustion. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine is smart as well. Some other eating tips: Fruits and vegetables are easy to digest and often high in water content. Salads and other seasonal produce will keep you feeling light and hydrated. When it’s dangerously hot, stay inside with the A/C or fan going. If it’s not cool enough at home, find a cooling station. The Warm Springs Senior Program has opened the senior building in the afternoon until 4:45 for those wanting a cool place to go. The Family Resource Center is another option. The Library there has Wi-Fi which folks can use in the hall or in the library. They are open from 8-5.

The Whitewater Fire continues to actively burn in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness, about 20 miles east of Detroit. Tuesday’s operation objectives were to confine the fire as close as possible to the wilderness and protect general forest and adjacent private forests. Five helicopters will continue dropping water to slow the fire’s spread and douse any spot fires. Outside of the wilderness, crews and heavy equipment are being used to prepare contingency lines—reducing fuel along roadsides to use as firelines in the event the fire crosses the wilderness boundary. High Temperatures with very low humidity are likely to drive increased fire behavior and fire growth, fire managers say. The Whitewater Fire is approximately 297 acres and 10 percent contained.

The JROTC Program at Madras High School, canceled in June because of a lack of qualified teaching applicants, may soon return, the Bend Bulletin reports. Jefferson County School District Superintendent Ken Parshall told the school board Monday he interviewed a new candidate who is interested in leading the program. The vetting process with the Army could take four to six months before the candidate can take over the teaching position, Parshall said. The school district is asking the Army to speed up the process if possible. The program, affiliated with the U.S. Army, started at Madras High School 23 years ago. It is set up for two instructors — a commissioned and non-commissioned Army officer — to teach the class, which focuses on leadership skills, first aid and community-based activities.