KWSO News 5/28/19

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — One of Oregon’s most popular wilderness trails will remain closed into the beginning of this summer, almost two years after a large wildfire closed it down in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness. The Statesman Journal reports Whitewater Trail, the most common route to the popular backcountry campsites of Jefferson Park, had its closure order extended into August, the U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday. The trail was heavily damaged by the Whitewater Fire that burned in July 2017. Crews worked last summer and fall to fix the trail but more trees died over the winter and spring, leaving a mess on the road and at the trailhead.

The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde are leading a fight against a state proposal that would end a tax deduction for gambling losses — saying it would hurt much-needed tribal operations. The tribe’s Spirit Mountain Casino has joined with the Oregon Tribal Gaming Alliance to oppose Senate Bill 212. The legislation was approved by the Oregon Senate in March. It is now pending in the House with the chamber’s Revenue Committee yet to vote on the proposal. Under current state law, eligible taxpayers can deduct money they lost gambling — up to the amount they won in gaming — when figuring out taxable income. The Internal Revenue Service has a similar deduction for federal taxpayers.

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Officials say accessing wilderness trails for the day in national forests in central Oregon will likely cost more than $10. The Bulletin reported Sunday that a public comment period will open next month to review fees for the new trailhead permit system for the wilderness areas in the Deschutes and Willamette national forests. Willamette National Forest project leader Matt Peterson says the expected cost is for day-use trail permits with registration fees. The system that goes into effect next year will limit entry during the summer on 19 trailheads in the five wilderness areas in the state. The fees will fund crews to maintain the trails.

Anti-hunger advocates are hoping lawmakers will continue their investment in the state’s food banks. The Oregon Hunger Response Fund invests in the state’s 21 regional food banks’ capacity to reach members of the community. Oregon Food Bank is seeking four-point-two million dollars – the same amount the fund received last biennium.  The hunger response fund also helps the food bank network collect and distribute resources statewide and with outreach from regional food banks on how to access resources, including nutrition and cooking education. Hunger is a major issue in Oregon, with about one in eight unsure where their next meal is coming from at any given time in a month. Spencer Masterson, statewide network manager for Oregon Food Bank, says Oregonians still are being left behind after the recession, despite the improving economy, adding that certain populations, such as single mothers, immigrant communities and communities of color, are especially vulnerable to hunger.