Local News

Temporary Cold Weather Shelter Opened At Bend Church

BEND, OR -- A temporary overnight shelter opened at Bend's First Presbyterian church during this weekend’s cold snap to handle overflow from other homeless shelters.

Founder of Pandemic Partners in Bend Pastor Morgan Schmidt says people donated time, bedding, food, and clothing, “We’ve had guests walk in during this cold emergency in the snow wearing only socks. And so, it’s really important that we can get people properly outfitted as best we can to survive, and be okay in the elements.” Schmidt is grateful for the donations and she hopes more will get involved so this isn’t such an urgent issue, “That’s really the ask, that our community would just be mindful of opportunities to support the really important projects that are going, to help make sure that people don’t have to sleep outside in our community.”

City of Bend and Deschutes County services, Shepherd’s House, and the Red Cross also provided assistance to more than 30 people and their pets who stayed at the church. “All these folks from the community from First Presbyterian, a team of folks from First Unitarian Universalist church, and then all sorts of community members from groups like Pandemic Partners... that come and give of their time, they stay up all night, they really make it possible for us to offer a safe and hospitable place for people who need it,” said Schmidt.

The shelter was open again Monday night but will close with warmer temperatures in the forecast.


Crook Co. Drought Prompts Juniper Biomass Proposal

PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County remains the only place in the western U.S. under an Exceptional Drought designation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and county leaders have again asked for a state drought declaration.

Crook County Judge Seth Crawford says he has a new idea to recharge local reservoirs. "One of the things that’s really hurting the amount of water in the reservoirs is the juniper trees," he tells KBND News. Junipers can each consume up to 30 gallons of water a day, pulling from streams and other sources. Crawford believes those trees would be better used producing green energy, "Put in a biomass plant, monetize some of those resources, like the juniper trees to be cut down, putting more water in the system."

He says he recently took his idea to the Governor; although, more studies are needed before it can move forward, "Then we can go to different industries and municipalities and sell this as green energy to them. And so, we’re about $2 million short on that. And that’s what the ask for the Governor was. That was part of our drought declaration, as well, because I know the Legislature is working on funding four droughts throughout eastern Oregon." 

Crawford acknowledges it's a unique idea but believes a novel approach is necessary, "This is an opportunity to not only work on wildfire and a lot of those things, but to recharge the system and put more water back into it. Once we get those dollars, and once we have that plan, we do have the private sector ready to build the facilities and move forward; once we have the general idea of the cost and we have someone on board to purchase that power." He adds, "You’re going to be helping everybody. You’re helping the farmers, the fish, the recreator, you’re adding more water to the equation."


 

file photo, courtesy National Park Service


Three Sites To Be Dropped From Landfill Proposal

BEND, OR -- The list of potential sites for Deschutes County’s new landfill is getting smaller. County Commissioners have asked the Solid Waste Advisory Committee to review an FAA recommendation that new landfills not be sited within five miles of a public airport. "It’s actually been in place for a while, but when we spoke to the Redmond Airport, they were pretty adamant with us that we should use that five-mile radius as part of our siting criteria," Solid Waste Director Chad Centola says in a recent county video.

Landfills attract birds, which can be dangerous for nearby aviation operations, "The FAA advisory is actually any kind of wildlife movement. So, they regulate a lot of other things aside from landfills," says Centola, "But, in our case, it’s definitely birds at the site, as well as those that migrate to and from the landfill. We’re going to convene the Solid Waste Advisory Committee to discuss this item specifically."

Deschutes County's Solid Waste Advisory Committee will hold a special meeting February 7th, "The objective here is to honor that five-mile recommendation from the FAA and drop three sites off the candidate list. We have one site up in Redmond, near the Negus Transfer Station, and two east of Bend, off of Bear Creek and Rickard Road," says Centola.

Previous Coverage: Solid Waste Committee Hears From 100+ On Possible Landfill Locations

Nine other locations remain on the list, "We knew at the get-go, no matter where we went, we’d be challenged. There’s impacts to residents, there’s impacts to wildlife - sage grouse was a huge issue that we were fully aware of going into this, especially east of Bend. We’re going to go through this process; these sites are not set in concrete, by any means." Centola has said he hopes to have a final site recommendation to County Commissioners by the spring of 2024.

The Knott Landfill is expected to reach capacity in ‘29. To learn more about the project, visit Deschutes County's Solid Waste website.


Gull Point Campground Closed For The Year

LA PINE, OR -- Gull Point Campground and boat ramp at Wickiup Reservoir will close for the entire camping season this year, due to public safety concerns. The Deschutes National Forest has identified 679 dead or dying trees in the area deemed hazardous. Officials with the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District believe drought conditions contributed to the die-off.

The campground and boat ramp will reopen once hazard trees are removed - likely in 2024. Reservations for this season will be refunded.

Boating access to Wickiup Reservoir will be available at North Wickiup Boat Ramp, Sheep Bridge Boat Launch and West South Twin Boat Launch. Camping options in the area include North Twin Lake Campground, Sheep Bridge Campground, South Twin Lake Campground and West South Twin Campground.

Additionally, hazard tree inspectors identified more than 300 hazard trees within Paulina Lake Campground. Crews removed a majority of these trees last fall; however, some hazard tree removal work remains. The remaining tree work will resume as soon as snow levels permit this spring. In anticipation of this work, the opening date for Paulina Lake Campground will be delayed by two weeks to June 30. Visitors with camping reservations between June 16 and June 29, will receive a full refund from Recreation.gov.

 

Gull Point Campground file photo


One Hurt In Snowmobile Crash Near Elk Lake Lodge

BEND, OR -- A snowmobile rider was flown to the hospital Sunday night, following a crash near Elk Lake Lodge.

Deschutes County Search and Rescue was dispatched at about 7:30 p.m., and says the snowmobile slammed into a tracked snow vehicle stopped on Cascade Lakes Highway. Speed appears to have been a factor in the crash. The rider was thrown about a hundred feet and his vehicle caught fire.

The driver of the tracked vehicle is an Elk Lake Lodge employee and was not hurt. Other lodge workers responded with cold-weather gear for the two people involved.


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