KWSO News for 12/13/19

Former Warm Springs Chief Operations Officer Alyssa Macy has been selected as CEO of the the Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters.  In a press release, the organization stated that “Alyssa brings a strong professional background in political action, social justice, and tribal leadership, grounded in a deep, personal connection to our land, our water, and the communities they sustain.”   The Washington Environmental Council is a nonprofit, statewide advocacy organization.  Macy resigned her Tribal C.O.O. position this fall and subsequently the position was cut by Tribal Council as part of the 2020 budget process.

On Thursday US Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkeley introduced legislation to fund water systems in tribal communities. The bill comes after thousands of people in Warm Springs spent the summer without safe tap water. Emily Cureton reports. “Warm Springs Chairman Raymond Tsumpti called the bill a lifeline. Senator Wyden is championing the Western Tribal Water Infrastructure Act as a way to move past temporary and emergency fixes– by ensuring stable federal investments.  Tribal governments face unique challenges when funding big infrastructure projects, partly because they don’t have a tax base to secure bonds.  The bill aims to increase annual funding for tribal drinking water systems nationwide, by 50 percent, from about 20 million dollars a year to 30 million.  The legislation would also authorize the EPA to fund more water projects on tribal lands along the Columbia River and adjacent coastal river basins.  Emily Cureton, OPB.”

The Toys for Tots campaign in Central Oregon – the largest toy drive in the region – has collection sites at more than 100 locations including Bi-Mart, Les Schwab Tire Centers and Walmart in Bend, where people can give money or new, unwrapped toys. According to the Bend Bulletin, last year the local Toys for Tots collected 10,000 toys for about 5,000 children in Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, Harney and North Klamath Counties. Food Pantries and local organizations are hosting Christmas events and fundraisers to gather donations for underprivileged people across the High Desert. Warm Springs HAPPI Holiday Giving project is still accepting donations of unwrapped gift items for children until next Monday. You can drop items off at the Warm Springs Library or here at KWSO.

With a Drier than usual November, Central Oregon could see delayed snow runoff in the spring, leading to drier forests and could also affect Central Oregon Farmers. According to the Bulletin, soil acts like a sponge, holding water until it’s oversaturated, at which point new precipitation will no longer soak into the ground but instead flow into rivers and streams. Dry soil takes longer to recharge in spring, delaying snow runoff into streams and reservoirs. A decent snowpack can turn things around for the forest floor, but Central Oregon’s snowpack was just 44% of average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service website. Scott Oviatt, snow survey supervisory hydrologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, says there’s still time to catch up, we could still see storm impacts, Especially later in the year, like last year when we had a cold and snowy February.

In Local Sports: The Madras High School Buff Boys Basketball is hosting the White Buffalo Classic, starting with La Grande and Hood River at 5:30 tonight and then Madras will play The Dalles at 7pm.  Action continues tomorrow and KWSO will be broadcasting the games.  The Warm Springs K-8 Boys basketball was at the Jefferson County Middle School yesterday, the 7th Grade boys fell by 1 point 37-36, leading scorers were Jayden Esquiro with 10 points, Brody Leonard with 9, James Napyer with 8 and Erik Williams with 6. The 8th Grade Eagles won 68-64, led by Skytus Smith with 27 points and Gunner Bailey with 25.