Oregon Beach News, Wednesday 3/15 – Spring Whale Watch Week Returns in Person for Spring Break 2023, Respect Nesting Areas to Protect Threatened Snowy Plover March 15 – Sept. 15

The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Oregon Beach Weather

Spring Whale Watch Week Returns in Person for Spring Break 2023

OREGON COAST, Oregon—Oregon State Parks will host Spring Whale Watch Week in person along the Oregon Coast Tuesday, March 28 through Sunday, April 2.

Visitors look for whales during Winter Whale Watch Week 2022

Every year thousands of gray whales pass through Oregon’s waters in the spring on their journey home from the calving lagoons in Mexico, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department invites visitors to the coast to see them. 

Trained volunteers will be stationed at 17 sites to help visitors spot whales, share information and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. The sites are some of the best places to watch for whales on the Oregon Coast. 

“Spring is a great time for whale watching because the gray whales are usually closer to shore on their return trip, typically around a mile or so out, and the weather is a little warmer for visitors,” said Park Ranger Peter McBride.

A map of volunteer-staffed sites is available online on the official event webpage: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=thingstodo.dsp_whaleWatching

An estimated 18,000 gray whales are expected to swim past Oregon’s shores from late March through June as part of their annual migration back toward Alaska. The end of March is the beginning of this migration and timed perfectly for spring break. 

The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Visitors to the center can enjoy interactive whale exhibits and take in the panoramic ocean views. Binoculars are provided. Rangers from Oregon State Parks will also be on hand to answer questions about the whales.

All Whale Watch Week visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, to bring binoculars and to follow beach safety guidelines such as remaining out of fenced areas, knowing the tide schedule and keeping an eye on the surf at all times. Go to https://visittheoregoncoast.com/beach-safety/ for a list of safety tips.

For more information about coast parks and campgrounds, visit oregonstateparks.org.

Respect Nesting Areas to Protect Threatened Snowy Plover March 15 – Sept. 15

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and federal U.S. Forest Service remind visitors to the Oregon coast that it is plover nesting season — visitors can help recovery efforts for the threatened western snowy plover by sharing the beaches March 15 to Sept. 15. 

Sensitive plover nesting areas will be roped off or identified by signs with rules and limits, such as staying on the wet sand, to help protect the small shorebirds and their exposed nests during this crucial period. 

Plover beaches remain open to foot and equestrian traffic below the high-tide line on wet, packed sand throughout the nesting season. This ensures that plover nests, eggs and chicks are kept safe.   All other recreation on plover beaches is prohibited on both wet and dry sand, including walking a dog (even on a leash), driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, camping, burning wood and flying kites or operating drones.

These small birds nest on open sand along Oregon’s beaches. Nests, and especially chicks, are well-camouflaged. During the nesting season, human disturbances can flush adult plovers away from their nests as they attempt to defend their young. Left alone too long, or too often, eggs or chicks can die from exposure, predators or people. 

“We’re making great strides in reversing the decline of this species,” said Cindy Burns, Siuslaw National Forest wildlife biologist. “But it takes all of us, so we urge people to do their part to understand nesting season rules and to share the beach this spring and summer.”

Recreation restrictions occur in designated plover management areas: small stretches of beach along the coastline where plovers nest or might nest. These areas combined make up about 40 miles of Oregon’s 362 miles of shoreline. 

“Visitors have access to hundreds of miles of beaches that have no seasonal restrictions,” said Laurel Hillmann, ocean shore specialist for Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “By planning your trip, you can enjoy the coast and help protect these special birds.”

More information on the snowy plover, including detailed maps of nesting sites, can be found on the Oregon State Parks website (oregon.gov/plovers) and on the Siuslaw National Forest website. Visitors to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area can review maps at its website to identify unrestricted recreation areas and information on riding motor vehicles on the sand. 

New plover activity — The increase in plover numbers may result in nesting occurring in new or historical nesting sites. For example, visitors to Sand Lake Recreation Area may see small roped off areas near the lake’s inlet to protect active nests, and may encounter plovers on the beach. Beachgoers are encouraged to protect these birds by restricting recreation activities to wet sand areas, avoiding roped off nesting areas, packing all trash out and keeping dogs on leash. 

Background on plover protections — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed western snowy plovers as a threatened species in 1993, when officials counted only 55 breeding adults. The numbers of breeding adults have steadily increased since then, from 107 in 2003 to 604 in 2021. 

Several land managers oversee beach activity for plover protection, primarily the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD).

Habitat loss from invasive plants — as well as human disturbances, including litter and discarded food scraps that attract predators — have contributed to the birds’ decline. The Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative, saveoregondunes.org, is working with land managers on a restoration strategy and to raise public awareness about the need to restore the dunes ecosystem for western snowy plovers, rare plants and animals, and the unique recreation

Tillamook Forest Center Re-opens to Public March 17

Tillamook State Forest, Ore. – The Tillamook Forest Center is re-opening to the public starting March 17, offering opportunities to connect with and learn about Oregon’s fascinating state forests.

Oregon Department of Forestry : Tillamook Forest Center : Recreation :  State of Oregon

Located in the heart of the Tillamook State Forest along Highway 6, the Tillamook Forest Center has been closed for about three years starting with the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. Initial limited hours will be Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., then expanding to a five-days a week summer schedule starting May 3.

“We are thrilled to be welcoming visitors back to the Tillamook Forest Center and to share our passion and knowledge about Oregon’s forests once again,” Interim Center Director Denise Berkshire said.

In addition to regular programming, for the next six months, the Tillamook Forest Center is hosting a traveling exhibit in partnership with the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center titled, Timber Culture. The exhibit transports you to 1920’s eastern Oregon and tells the story of multicultural loggers, and their families, who traveled to Oregon during the Great Migration. In sharing and discussing the history of the segregated logging community of Maxville, Oregon, the exhibit examines issues of race and social justice through the lens of Oregon’s history.  Bringing this exhibit to the Tillamook Forest Center was made possible with the support of the non-profit State Forests Trust of Oregon. 

For a full calendar of events and to learn how you can visit or volunteer at the Center, visit tillamookforestcenter.com.  To make a donation in support of private/public partnerships that goes toward enhancing recreation, education and interpretation activities on Oregon’s state forest lands visit the Trust’s website.

About the Tillamook Forest Center: Nestled in the heart of the Tillamook State Forest, the Tillamook Forest Center is the region’s largest forest-based interpretive and educational center, located 50 miles west of Portland and 22 miles east of Tillamook at 45500 Wilson River Highway, Tillamook, Ore.  It is a special place to develop a deeper connection with Oregon’s forests through experience and exploration. Spring hours for the Center are Friday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with expanded hours starting May 3. A $5 donation is suggested. 

House Bill 2915 Prohibiting Retail Pet Stores From Selling Dogs Or Cats Approved For Consideration

A bill in the Oregon House of Representatives would prohibit retail pet stores from selling dogs or cats.

May be an image of dog and text that says 'Help stop puppy mill sales in Oregon pet stores! Bailing Out Benji'
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The new rules would not apply to pet shops open prior to the legislation. It would apply to new stores that open after the effective date of the bill upon passage.

It also would not apply to stores that partner with animal recues or animal shelters.

House Bill 2915 was approved Wednesday by the House Committee on Business and Labor and will now to head to the full House for consideration.

“The core of this measure is that we want to prohibit retail pet shops in Oregon from bringing product in from out of state that they would not otherwise be able to acquire in state,” said Rep. David Gomberg, D-District 10, during a public hearing on the bill in February.

The concern is over puppy mills and that the animals that come from them often have behavioral and physiological problems.

Gomberg also said the purpose of the bill is to encourage pet adoptions from rescues and shelters as well supporting Oregon breeders. Opponents raised concerns that the bill takes business away from private businesses.

Governor Kotek Urges State Lawmakers To Back Literacy Initiative

Gov. Tina Kotek and others are pushing an early childhood literacy package in the Legislature. (U.S. Department of Education/Flickr/Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 )

Gov. Tina Kotek kicked off her first term this year with an especially big goal – to revamp the way Oregon teaches children to read and write.

Less than half of Oregon students can read and write at their grade level. This has a substantial impact on the students individually and on society.

Kotek is urging lawmakers to approve plans to change Oregon’s approach to literacy education.

House Bill 3454 would award grants to improve early literacy in schools and communities across the state, and House Bill 3198 would establish the Early Literacy Success Initiative. The initiative would primarily provide coaching, materials and training to educators to improve literacy education before third grade and create literacy-focused tutoring and summer school programs.

Kotek and Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, who spoke to the state House education committee Monday for an informational hearing, want the proposals merged into one cohesive package .

The package would launch a multi-year effort aimed at helping parents, teachers and community groups better serve students. They want to increase early literacy for students in prekindergarten through third grade so students can read at grade level by the end of third grade, or for students who are English language learners, by the end of the fourth grade.

They also want to reduce literacy and graduation disparities and increase the state’s overall graduation rate through these efforts. Oregon’s four-year high school graduation rate for the 2021-22 school year was 81.3%.

“It’s clear we have a problem in Oregon,” Kotek told the committee. “This problem didn’t arrive overnight, and we are not going to solve it overnight.”

The ability to read and write proficiently is vital, but Oregon is failing significantly.

Less than 40% of Oregon third-graders in 2021-22 EditSignEditSignmet the state standards when tested in English Language Arts. That number is even lower for historically marginalized students, dropping, for example, to 23% for students in foster care, 21% for Black or Latino students, 20% for students with disabilities and 8% for English language learners.

As children learn to read, they build on skills and strategies. They learn “phonemic awareness,” which the Oregon Department of Education described as the ability to manipulate individual sounds in spoken words, as well as “phonics,” which is when we correspond sounds and spellings with syllable patterns to read written words.

They learn fluency and decoding, vocabulary and reading comprehension, and more.

“Teaching reading is very complex,” said Sarah Pope, executive director of the nonprofit STAND for Children , in her testimony to the committee. “Some have even likened it to neurosurgery.”

Though reading and writing skills are measured throughout K-12 education, results in third grade – the first time students are tested by the state – are an important indicator of future success.

Not only is it the time when students stop “learning to read” and start “reading to learn,” as previously explained by Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Abel Ortiz, but also researchers have also found that students who can’t read at  grade level by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma.

This makes them less likely to be gainfully employed, and more likely to rely on public welfare or become incarcerated.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , full-time workers with a high school degree earn about 24% more than those without one, and research shows students who do not complete high school are more likely to experience poor health and premature death.

Pope said the proposal could “quite honestly change people’s lives.”

Kotek and Kropf, along with agency officials and advocates who also supported the early learning plan in testimony, want to focus on helping teachers, families and community organizations in addition to the students themselves.

“We are often quick to identify and label individual kids as ‘struggling.’ But the incredibly high number of kids not reading at grade level tells us we need to take a more critical look at how we are teaching literacy,” Kropf said in his testimony.

“Our educators do amazing work, oftentimes under very difficult circumstances,” he added. “This legislation is about giving our educators the training, support and resources they need and want to best help our kids learn to read.”

Part of Kotek’s plan is to support parents as their children’s first teachers. Knowing children develop communication skills from birth, Gabriela Hernandez-Peden, program director of the Spanish-language preschool program Juntos Aprendemos in Central Oregon, told lawmakers, “Education starts five years before they actually end up in the school system.”

Kotek also wants to train educators across the state to use “evidence-based” instruction once the students enter school. This typically refers to a large body of research known as “the science of reading,” which is about how the brain learns to read and write, and what instruction is most effective. Literacy advocates have argued before that school curricula don’t always come from a scientific foundation or that educators are not always properly trained to teach them.

Kotek said it’s important the state provides teachers with ongoing, high-quality, culturally relevant coaching to help them improve, and so they can create school-wide systems to sustain those changes.

“We owe it to educators to prepare and support them for all of what we ask of them,” she said.

The other aspect of the proposal would lead the state to create summer programs that focus on early reading and writing skills in ways that relate to students’ interests and minimize the perception of summer school as punishment. Kotek said “high-dosage tutoring” should also be available for students who need extra support.

Though the education committee members generally indicated their support for improving the state’s literacy education, Rep. Emily McIntire, R-Eagle Point, expressed concerns over regulating the initiative and the cost. Rep. Tracy Cramer, R-Woodburn, questioned whether the proposal could change teaching in schools that are performing well. And the committee’s vice chair Rep. Boomer Wright, R-Coos Bay, said he wanted to ensure there was enough money to pay for it. The state, he said, has a history of requiring more from schools but underfunding them.

Kotek’s staff told the Capital Chronicle her goal is to have a public hearing in the next few weeks when the package is finalized. Bills need to have a work session for a vote scheduled by March 17 to move ahead in the legislative process, but budget bills and rules’ proposals are exempt from that deadline.

“As we learn from other states about what works,” Kotek told the committee, “we must recognize that building and implementing an intentional, thoughtfully designed and comprehensive strategy will take more than one bill, budget line or legislative session.”

The post Gov. Kotek urges state lawmakers to back literacy initiative appeared first on Oregon Capital Chronicle .

Oregon Marijuana Prices Hit Record Lows

Oregon marijuana prices are at an all-time low. Median retail prices fell to $4 a gram at the start of 2023, according to state regulators, off 16% from a year earlier. Last year’s decline continues a long downward trajectory that has reduced prices by more than half in the seven years since recreational marijuana became legal in Oregon.

“The Oregon recreational marijuana market is in arguably the weakest economic position it has been in since the inception of the program in 2016,” the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission wrote in its annual report to the state LegislatureEditSignEditSign last month.

Falling prices are great for consumers who weary of inflation’s effects on most other products, but abysmal for Oregon retailers and growers. State economists warned last month that tax collections are below forecasts. That’s not just because falling prices have reduced the state’s cut — amid the steep decline, struggling cannabis businesses are “unable to pay all their billsEditSignEditSign.”

Oregon collects a little more than $150 million in marijuana tax revenue annually.

The industry’s deepening troubles are a notable development, given that Oregon’s cannabis market has grown into a $1 billion market.

“We have a record amount of overdue accounts receivable, retailers that owe us money,” said Mason Walker, CEO of East Fork Cultivars, which farms cannabis in Josephine County. “That’s happening across the market. It’s causing pain up and down the supply chain.”

The reason prices keep falling is Economics 101: Supply is much higher than demand.

Marijuana grows abundantly in Oregon. But cannabis remains prohibited under federal law and can’t be sold, legally, across state lines. And while cannabis has proven increasingly popular, the state’s 4.2 million residents consume only a fraction of the marijuana the state’s farmers grow.

The OLCC estimates Oregon cannabis demand was just 63% of supply last year.

Sales in 2022 fell by more than 17% to $994 million, the Oregon industry’s first-ever annual decline. Production is dropping, too, as farmers respond to falling prices. But supply and demand are far from balanced.

Farmers produced less cannabis last year, as it became clear the surge in demand that accompanied the pandemic wouldn’t continue. But state regulators say there’s another problem for retailers and growers – large stocks of inventory left over from prior years. That could hold prices down indefinitely.

“These low consumer prices force businesses to operate under low margins and extreme pressure,” the OLCC wrote in last month’s report.

Some major cannabis companies have left Oregon altogether, among them Curaleaf, one of the nation’s largest marijuana businesses.

“Those (exits) are very notable, and they leave a vacuum for the survivors to fill,” Walker said.

Still, Walker said he doesn’t see any quick fix for his industry.

Oregon stopped issuing new cannabis licenses last year in reaction to the supply issues, but Walker said that has had very little effect because so many licenses had been issued already.

And while marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, more individual states have legalized it. Walker said that reduces spending by people who travel to Oregon to buy cannabis, some of whom used to buy enough to quietly take some home when they left.

Oregon’s cannabis businesses have weathered hard times before, Walker said, most notably during a sharp decline in prices at the start of 2018. But he said the industry is coping with “fatigue” from the prolonged downturn, with a growing number of businesses giving up and selling their licenses for a fraction of what they had hoped.

“It’s not a completely screwed up market,” Walker said, “but it’s challenging.” (SOURCE)

Local Red Cross Volunteers Deploy During Red Cross Month 

10 volunteers are in CA & more could be on the way as another atmospheric river hits the Golden State

Portland, OR The American Red Cross is responding in California where millions of people face flood watches and warnings today as the 11th atmospheric river this winter threatens to drop as much as another eight inches of rain on the state over the next few days. This, after a weekend storm caused flooding, thousands of evacuation orders, levee breaches and numerous water rescues.

Currently, as many as 325 trained Red Cross disaster workers are assisting local and state officials to ensure people get the help they need. Ten volunteers from Oregon and Washington have deployed to California and an additional 20 have been asked to. 

So far, the Red Cross and our partners in California have provided:

  • 1,988 overnight stays for more than 474 residents in 45 emergency shelters
  • 8,000 meals and snacks 
  • 980 relief items including comfort kits and other supplies

Trained Red Cross volunteers are helping families cope during this challenging time and replacing prescription medications, eyeglasses or critical medical equipment like canes and wheelchairs.

This March, the Cascades Region is honoring those who make its mission possible during the 80th annual American Red Cross Month celebration — a national tradition thatbegan in 1943 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the first Red Cross Month proclamation. 

Locally, more than two dozen municipalities across the Cascades Region have declared March as Red Cross Month.

“When help can’t wait during emergencies, people in the Cascades Region rally together to provide relief and hope for neighbors in need,” said Priscilla Fuentes, CEO, Red Cross Cascades Region. “This humanitarian spirit is at the heart of our community, and we are proud to honor all those who make our mission possible during this year’s Red Cross Month celebration. You can join in their commitment by donating, volunteering, giving blood or platelets, or taking a lifesaving skills course.”

Participate in Red Cross Month by visiting redcross.org to make a financial donation, give blood or platelets, become a volunteer, or take a class in lifesaving skills, such as first aid, CPR and how to use an AED. On March 22, you can also join our annual Red Cross Giving Day campaign by donating at redcross.org/givingday to help provide shelter, food, relief items, emotional support and other assistance for people affected by disasters big and small.

CONTINUING CLARA BARTON’S LIFESAVING LEGACY Today’s Red Cross volunteers, blood and platelet donors and supporters are advancing the lifesaving legacy of Clara Barton — one of the most honored women in U.S. history — who founded the American Red Cross more than 140 years ago. Her vision to prevent and alleviate human suffering has never wavered: Generation after generation, people have come together to adapt this timeless mission for their communities’ most urgent needs.

PREVENT A BLOOD SHORTAGE When volunteer blood and platelet donors lend an arm this March, they’ll help keep the blood supply from dropping this spring. All who come to give blood, platelets or plasma March 1-31, 2023,​​​​ will receive a $10 Visa® Prepaid Card by email. Plus, they’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win a $3,000 Visa Prepaid Card – which could help toward expenses like gas or groceries. There will be five lucky winners.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross. — American Red Cross – Cascades Region

# # # Terms for both offers apply. Visit rcblood.org/help for details. 

May be an image of 2 people and text that says 'MISSING HELP BRING ME HOME Sara Moore Moore NCMEC:1474110 NCMEC: 1474110 Extra Photo Missing Since: Feb 28, 2023 Missing From: Florence, OR DOB: Sep 4, 2006 Age Now: 16 Sex: Female Race: White Hair Color: Lt. Brown Eye Color: Blue Height: 5'4" Weight: 130 lbs Both photos shown are of Sara. DON'T HESITATE! ANYONE HAVING INFORMATION SHOULD CONTACT CALL 911 OR 1-800-843-5678 (1-800-THE-LOST®) Lane County Sheriff's Office (Oregon) 1-541-682-4150'

83-year-old Clarence Edward Pitts walked away from his home in Bandon on Tuesday, January 31 at around 1:00 p.m. Pitts is described as:

  • 6′ 00″
  • 150 lbs
  • Gray hair
  • Brown eyes
  • Last seen wearing an orange beanie, plaid jacket, tan pants and white shoes
  • May have a walking cane
  • Has dementia and PTSD

Pitts may be in a vehicle that was also found to be missing from the home:

  • 1999 Toyota Van
  • White
  • Oregon license plate: WYN 788

If you see Clarence or have any information pertaining to where he may be, please call the Coos County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center at 541-396-2106 or the Bandon Police Department at 541-347-3189.

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