As the State Turns…

oregonThe Lone Wolf
Known to many at this point as OR-7, the gray wolf that historically has wandered west of the Cascades, since it started being tracked in 2011 currently resides in Klamath County. Spending the winter feasting on a number of elk and deer carcasses that have been found, researchers believe the lone wolf is searching for something else – a mate. While the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife say that it’s technically possible for there to be other wolves in the area, it seems unlikely. For now, perhaps, OR-7 might have to do what us humans do when we’re lonely: find something that looks friendly and rub up against it.

Vacant Jobs
Despite Oregonian employers reporting five-year highs in terms of job openings this past year, a survey conducted by the Oregon Employment Department saw around 32,000 available jobs remain vacant last fall. The survey also reported a drop in unemployment numbers, echoed by the estimated current four unemployed people per job opening figures – figures that looked more like 12 to 1 at the height of the recession.

When commenting on the “why” of the situation with the vacancies, a lack of applications were cited in addition to unfavorable working environments. Amongst the hardest positions to fill were heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, retail salespersons, nursing assistance, mechanics and auto technicians, bus drivers, preschool teachers, physical therapists, construction laborers and registered nurses.

Hey Taxpayers, Help Save My Forest
Private owners of forested land in Oregon have approached the state legislature to bring back an expired reforestation tax credit in addition to creating a fund to help them recover from destructive fires. With 2013 launching forth 1,139 fires that obliterated over 100,000 acres, the firefighting tally alone shot up to around $122 million. In February the Oregon Department of Forestry is set to approach the legislature for $40 million to cover firefighting costs that weren’t accounted for in the budget.

While some citizens may be initially taken aback by the request, these private forests hold up many public interests, including jobs, habitat for wildlife and more. Without reforestation, landslides, erosion and damage to wildlife populations can, over time, become catastrophic.

Recent Snow Doesn’t Have Us Out of the Cold Yet
Although OR-7 might ebb and flow with the season quite well, the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service is a bit worried. Despite last week seeing 20 inches or so dropped onto several areas of the Cascades, apparently it wasn’t enough to make any significant change to our incredibly low snow levels. The USDA expects Oregon state to see summer streams flowing at less than 50 percent of normal, which will impact everything from irrigation to hydroelectric power, the general water supply and will even strain fisheries. Most worrisome is the Klamath Basin, where USDA predictions indicate that some areas could see a reduced stream flow as low as 20 percent of normal.

Experts say it is unlikely that we’ll see enough snowfall to reverse the impending damage.

by Johnny Beaver