Local News: Marine Reserves; Gas Prices Skyrocket; Old Town Plaza

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Local News

Oregon Legislature Approves Expansion of Marine Reserves Network

The final bill establishing three additional marine reserves off the Oregon Coast will now go to the Governor for his signature.  On a 57-2 vote yesterday, the Oregon House approved SB1510 which expands the list of two existing marine reserves to a network of five, along with four more ‘marine protected areas’.

The three new sites, off Cape Perpetua near Yachats; Cascade Head just north of Lincoln City; and Cape Falcon at Cannon Beach represent about four percent of Oregon’s coastal waters and will be off limits to all fishing.  They’ll be flanked by the five protected areas that will limit certain activities.  They’ll also join the two previously approved marine reserves… Redfish Rocks near Port Orford and Otter Rock just north of Newport.

Governor Kitzhaber says he will sign the bill which brings an end to more than a decade of battling between commercial fishermen, conservation groups and coastal communities over the idea of creating the marine sanctuaries.  The reserves won’t be implemented immediately… the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will spend the next two years collecting baseline data before restrictions go into effect.

Gas Prices Jump

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded skyrocketed in the past week.  In Florence the average price went up by 17-cents a gallon and is currently at $3.62… that’s up from $3.45 just a week ago.  The national average price, as measured by Triple-A, went up by six cents in the same period to $3.57.  The Oregon average took a hike similar to the local one; It’s up 15-cents a gallon to $3.68.

Marie Dodds with Triple-A says retail prices are soaring in some states… such as Oregon… while holding steady or even decreasing in others.  She estimates that gas prices will likely top $4 a gallon later this spring, with the national average expected to level off at $4.25.  Dodds says Oregon’s average price could be about ten cents higher.

Old Town Plaza Proposed

A unique proposal to close a portion of an Old Town alley-way to vehicles and convert it to an open air plaza that would serve as the entry way for a coffee shop will be presented this evening to the Florence Urban Renewal Agency.  Gene Olson and Julie Strecker of Old Town Coffee Company are proposing the creation of the plaza on the alley that runs between Nopal and Maple Street behind the Port of Siuslaw Office.

Strecker and Olson presented their plans to the Port earlier this month.  Florence Planner Wendy Farley will lay out the details for the Urban Renewal Board this evening when they meet at City Hall.  Strecker and Olson say they’re seeking city support for the concept before they continue planning.