2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,600 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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DLWID Considers Dam Removal

The Devils Lake Water Improvement District cancelled its December 11th board meeting due to the threat of high winds. There were several important items on the Board’s agenda we would like to call your attention to the last item in unfinished business; the replacement of the water impoundment devices (the dam).

Director Randy Weldon’s report to the board states that “At our November 2014 meeting, my proposal to the board was to explore the idea of removing the concrete foundation of the current dam and using a different type of impoundment device in the summer. I suggested that we use sandbags or water-filled flood control tubes during the short recreational impoundment period instead of our current structure.” The winter edition of the District’s Clearwater Newsletter further describes this proposal; you can find a link on the right hand of the District website.

Temporary Sandbagging

Temporary Sandbagging

Plastic Water Tubes

Plastic Water Tubes

 

Mr. Weldon recommended the board take action during the December meeting by writing that, “The US Army Corps of Engineers and Division of State Lands Joint Permit can take up to 120 days to complete. While waiting for our permit to be approved, we could proceed with RFP’s for removal of the concrete foundation and select a contractor to do the removal work.”  We anticipate that his request for authorization will be brought forward for action during the January 8th DLWID Board meeting. We strongly recommend attending the January meeting to encourage the Board to meet with the DLNA Board as well as suggest putting the brakes on this potentially DAMaging idea that has not been through any type of public process or outreach.

The Devils Lake Neighborhood Association urges the DLWID to defer taking any action toward authorizing the creation and release of an RFP for the removal of the current dam structure. For a dam of this size Oregon does not require that the design be prepared by a professional engineer however the Oregon Water Resources Department specifically recommended the District “consult with an engineer when making changes to a dam.” 

The structure that is the subject of this discussion is considered a “small dam” as defined by the Oregon Water Resources Department. Since the proposal is to remove the current structure completely we have verified that from a regulatory perspective this would be treated as two separate projects, one for the removal of a small dam, and one for the construction of a new dam structure to replace it.  This would involve input from a minimum of 11 State,Federal and local Agencies for both the removal and construction phases of the project.  Successful completion of the removal approvals does not guarantee approval for the installation of a new structure in its place.

The proposal before the board does not include the recommended professional engineering, or any discussion of the regulatory process required.  Why would you remove the dam before you have permission to replace it? The performance of a temporary structure is unknown; the risk is high that permission to build a new permanent structure would not be granted.  A project such as this if done without the proper engineering, planning and care could severely impact access to and the use of our lake and potentially result in lower property values.

It is also possible that a properly engineered project could have a positive result.  In any case, this project is every bit as complex as the district’s ongoing attempts to restock grass carp which began in mid-2011 or the aeration project that is just getting started.  It’s a safe bet that if all these government agencies are interested in these proposed projects that the citizens that live on or near Devils Lake would also be quite interested in the same projects. The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Guidelines for Dam Removal devotes seven full pages to describing the importance and methods to be utilized to build organizational support through public outreach.  The district needs to take this advice to heart.  A workshop is a single component of an outreach program that is helpful but not nearly adequate to address the complexity of the projects currently underway.

The Devils Lake Neighborhood Association has offered several times to help the district build a connection with the citizens that live around Devils Lake.  Representing the citizens that live on and own the 1,473 parcels of land within our boundaries is the primary reason we exist.  We continue to offer the district an opportunity to schedule a public meeting of the DLWID and the DLNA boards so we may engage in a two way dialogue about ways we can work together toward the benefit of the lake.

Since we are nearing the end of another year; might I suggest that the Board of Devils Lake Water Improvement District make a New Year’s resolution and agree to schedule a meeting in January with the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association.  They risk so little and they have so much to gain.  No let me rephrase that, we have so much to gain.

 

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DLNA and the SOS Program

In the May 2014 DLWID Board meeting the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association presented some suggestions that we felt would be beneficial for the lake and the community.  In our document “A Path Forward” for Devils Lake we outlined how with the support of the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association the District could make significant progress toward  several key elements contained in the Devils Lake Plan.  Among them the Save Our Shoreline (SOS) program was given as an example of  how the DLNA could help the District achieve their goals.

The Neighborhood Association has publicly stated that they have a list of several homeowners who wish to make shoreline improvements to their property.  On December 12th, we toured five properties where SOS projects are being considered.  The District delivered  a dozen plants from their stocks to encourage the projects.

We need your help, in order to add another five projects, for a total of ten, to the list being considered for planting this spring.  Please contact us a [email protected] to let us know of your interest.  We would like make the planting of these projects a springtime neighbor to neighbor event.  It would be great fun to work together to improve our lake.

As a reminder here is how the DLWID describes the SOS Program.

Save our Shorelines is; A project to assist landowners in increasing the native vegetation on their shoreline as well as other Best Management Practices for living on the water. The goal of this project is to encourage homeowners to plant native vegetation in place of having turf grass and rock walls on their shoreline.  Native shoreline vegetation offers homeowners many benefits, including low maintenance, reduced shoreline erosion, a beautiful natural landscape, and you will save money since native vegetation does not require fertilizer or additional watering.  Restoration projects also benefit the lake by decreasing sediments and other pollutants that enter the lake, including nutrients that promote cyanobacteria.

DLWID is continually looking for homeowners who are interested in doing native shoreline plantings.   The District will provide up to $750 or 75% whichever is less of a project.  For more details on the program follow this link.

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Marine Board Rejects Salmon River Petition

On October 22nd the Oregon Marine Board voted 4 to 1 to denied a petition to prohibit personal watercraft (PWC) operation on the Salmon River in Lincoln County. The Marine Board cited the overwhelming public support for the current rules coupled with the results of their investigation in to the petitions complaints as the reason for the decision to take no future action.

The Oregon State Marine Board received a petition in August to amend the personal watercraft rules, and adopt a local restriction in the Salmon River Estuary to prohibit personal watercraft use. The Marine Board defines personal watercraft as a motorboat less than 16 feet, powered by a water jet pump, generally operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on, rather than in sitting inside.

The Marine Board held a hearing in September and listened to the comments of a packed Community Center meeting room with approximately 74 in attendance.  As reported by the Newsguard, “the majority of the crowd strongly opposed the petition while a handful were in favor.”

The comments in support of the petition cited safety concerns because of the small size of the waterway, claims that PWCs violate the existing operating rules (proximity to swimmers and non-motorized), complaints about the loud noise that PWC engines make, and general comments that the noise and speed of PWCs conflict with the purpose of the Cascade Head Scenic Research Area.

The comments in opposition to the petition generally citied the lack of a conflict between PWCs and other boats, a desire to keep the waterway open to all boats/users and the contention that PWCs have no more impact on the environment than any other boat. Additionally, opponents to the petition raised concerns that the reasoning behind the petition could lead to a prohibition on all motorboats.

Several PWC operators submitted comments in which they said they used the Knight Park boat ramp and Salmon River only for the purpose of accessing the ocean (less than 1 mile from boat ramp to mouth). The American Watercraft Association commented that the petition unfairly targeted PWCs when some of the arguments of the petition could apply to all motorized watercraft, and that non-motorized watercraft are not required to take safety education courses, whereas PWC operators are required to have a boater education card.

Many of the petitioners’ written complaints describe alleged violations of proximity and speed by PWC boaters. According to the Marine Board incidences of this nature may occur, however law enforcement patrols on the Salmon River have significantly increased in the past two years and this type of activity is not documented by cited violations.

You can read the petition here and review the staff report here.

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Newport Coast Guard Open Until Jan 2016

coast-guard-heloWASHINGTON, D.C. – Following their repeated calls to ensure the safety of residents in coastal areas, Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Representatives Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici announced December 10th that the Congress has passed legislation that will keep the U.S. Coast Guard’s air facility at Newport open through the coming year.

The Oregon lawmakers worked to include language in the Coast Guard reauthorization bill that would keep the Coast Guard’s air stations open through January 1, 2016—including the Newport facility.

In a letter last month, the Oregon lawmakers, along with South Carolina Senators Tim Scott, R-S.C. and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Representatives Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and Tom Rice, R-S.C., and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., urged the Department of Homeland Security to reverse the Coast Guard’s decision. This letter came on the heels of a letter that Oregon lawmakers sent to the Commandant of the Coast Guard urging him to keep the helicopter in Newport.

While the Coast Guard claims that it would still be able to meet the national standard of a two-hour search-and-rescue response time, local fishermen and Central Coast residents who depend on the rescue helicopters say first-hand experience shows that closure of the base will lengthen response times and threaten the safety of local mariners.

Newport houses National Oceanic and Atmospheric vessels and Oregon’s largest commercial fishing fleet, in addition to research vessels from Oregon State University. In response to repeated calls from Oregon lawmakers, the Coast Guard announced it would delay the December 1 closure of the Newport facility. (Source: Senator Jeff Merkley Press Release Dec.10, 2014)

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Hawker Honored as Retiring City Manager

Photo: The News Guard

Lincoln City City Manager David Hawker was recognized by the Lincoln City city council for his 15 years of city service and his retirement effective Dec. 31. The council recognized Hawker and presented him with a certificate for his time with the city. The councilors shared praises for Mr Hawker for his ability to lead the city. Hawker also announced that he hoped to have a contract offer for one of the four city manager finalists by the Dec. 22 council meeting. (Photo: The News Guard)

The Lincoln City City Council  approved a contract during its regular public session Monday, Dec. 22 to hire Ronald Chandler as the new Lincoln City City Manager. Chandler will take office Jan. 20.

 

 

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DLNA Comment at DLWID Meeting

During the October 2nd DLWID Board meeting the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association was represented by Mitchell Moore and Mark Christie. The goal of our testimony was to let the District know that there are several areas where the neighbors and the District agree. We feel that relations could improve if we could find a project or two that we could work together.The following are the comments made by each DLNA representative.

Comments of Mitchell Moore.

In February we introduced you to the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association. There are several members of the DLNA here tonight. I am happy to report that since that time the Association has held several well attended public meetings in the Driftwood Library as well as at Faith Baptist Church. The great news is we are growing at a rapid rate and have received membership declarations from hundreds of residents in the neighborhood. In our meetings a consistent theme is the expression by our membership of genuine concern for the lake and a willingness to help.

I have been before you on several occasions this year to discuss how residents of the neighborhood are supportive of the majority of the projects contained in the Devils Lake Plan. While we have offered our help on several occasions we have never been contacted by the District or this Board of Directors. I am here again tonight to offer the assistance of the Neighborhood Association.

The SOS program is an example of our offer to help the District achieve their goals
During last months meeting the board engaged in quite a discussion about the SOS program even considering raising the potential award to $1,500 to encourage participation. We have a list of several homeowners who wish to make shoreline improvements to their property. Our research indicates that there are a variety of issues that have prevented the initiation of these projects.
We would propose a the district consider a few modifications to SOS that that might be more acceptable to a broader base of lakefront owners. We would suggest that Ava schedule a lakeside meeting with a few of these interested parties to learn firsthand about some of the obstacles or roadblocks for the program. The DLNA will be happy to organize these meetings.

The rhetoric and relationships between the district and the community has been strained for the past several years. We created the DLNA in the hopes it could relieve some of the pressure that exists.Recently the DLNA appeared before the City Council to help define the process of creating neighborhood associations in Lincoln City. In that meeting the DLWID Chair spoke against the members of the Devils Lake Neighborhood Association, were not entirely sure why. Our response is come before you again and stress that we want to create a cooperative environment that is beneficial for the neighborhood and the lake.

Tonight we have offered a new path, one that directly engages the public in the mission of the District. We are recommending that the DLWID board and the DLNA board come together in a workshop to engage in a two way dialogue about ways we can move forward as a team, and not adversaries. You may contact me directly to schedule this important meeting.

Thank You for your time, we look forward to a productive meeting.

Comments of Mark Christie

My message tonight is similar to that you heard from Mitch, we want you to know that there are many areas that we are willing to help. Here are a few more examples.

In the past 18 months the district has focused a lot of attention toward the potential of extending sewer service around the lake. The members of DLNA are generally supportive of exploring the idea of expanding sewers around the lake. In fact I have yet to hear anyone speak out against such a project. We must all recognize that this is a complex issue that involves detailed engineering, private right-of-ways, extensive underground construction, taxation and eventual annexation. In the spirit of improving the chances of a positive outcome we feel a DLNA representative should be at the table as this idea moves forward. Within our membership we have individuals that have decades of experience in right-of-way acquisition, utility construction and operation, and residential and commercial development that are willing to lend their expertise.

Six years ago the district established septic inspections at the number one priority for the lake. Unfortunately to date there have been zero inspections performed as a result of this program. Indeed as of today, this program has been put aside in deference to the potential of sewers. This is a program that has been universally supported in the neighborhood. It has languished because the district has made “perfect” the enemy of good! with standards and expectations that are difficult to obtain. The DLNA has developed a voluntary septic inspection program designed on the DEQ Septic Smart program as well as the DEQ inspection guidelines
The Lincoln County Onsite Waste Management Division has agreed to participated in the record keeping portion of this voluntary program. Our program has been introduced to the real estate community throughout Lincoln County. We have requested their cooperation particularly encouraging pre-listing testing of existing septics on and around the lake. We would propose the voluntary septic inspection process be adopted by the DLWID for homes outside the City and with the UGB to begin in January of 2015. The District should continue to work with the City of Lincoln City to establish a inspection program within the City based on the same DEQ inspection guidelines.

The neighborhood is thrilled that the board responded to input supplied at a public workshop on lake level and began investigating aeration for the lake. I can declare that the DLNA is 100% supportive of the RFP for aeration based on receipt of a minimum of 3 qualified bidders. We would suggest that each bidder be invited to a public Board workshop and interview process for possible adoption. Indeed to help expedite this interesting project the DLNA engaged a lake contractor this summer to collect data related to the material at the bottom of the lake from a series of core samples. These samples have been chemically analyzed and our data could be shared with the final candidates to help them better forecast the results of their proposed solution. As with sewering we must recognize that this is also a complex issue that involves detailed engineering, and very likely private right-of-ways.
We have shown that we are committed to moving this process forward would like to offer a DLNA representative to participate in the project and act as a conduit to property owners, whose land will very likely be required for siting of air compressors, power lines and air houses around the lake.

As you can see there are many areas where we can work together. This could best be initiated by the workshop previously requested, one where the DLWID board and the DLNA board discuss ways we can move forward as a team for the good of the lake and the neighborhood that surrounds it.

Thank You for your time.

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