Local News: City Trans Plan; Tsunami Debris; Open Burning; Pacific Crest Trail

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Local News

Prioritizing Transportation Projects on Tap for City Council

The guiding force for transportation improvements in Florence over the next two decades will be reviewed this evening by the City Council.  They’ll hear from a consultant about specific details of the Transportation System Plan that has been in the works for the past two years.  It contains a list of more than two dozen different projects ranging from major intersection reconstruction to walking trails.  The plan has already been the subject of several public meetings and more than one public hearing at the Planning Commission level.

That body recently endorsed the final draft and sent it on to the council for final consideration.  Following the special 6:30 work session at City Hall a public hearing will be conducted on the plan.  The council has the option of adopting the plan outright this evening, or continuing the hearing to a future date.

Tsunami Debris

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell says West Coast communities should get federal assistance to help with debris that has crossed the Pacific Ocean following last year’s devastating Japanese tsunami.  A 66-foot long section of dock ripped loose by the big waves in March 2011 crossed 5,000 miles of ocean and landed on a beach near Newport two weeks ago.

Friday, officials in Washington State said they were checking to see whether or not a 20-foot boat that washed ashore at Cape Disappointment State Park came from Japan.  The dock carried tons of sea-life, including potential invasive species.

Cantwell says those invaders pose a serious threat to the coastal economy and West Coast states and communities shouldn’t bear the cost of removing such debris on their own.  She says the federal government needs a comprehensive plan to help those communities.

Open Burning Fines Could Hit $2500

Open burning in Lane County came to a halt for the season last Friday.  Officials say if you have a brush pile to burn and if you do it before open burning reopens in the fall, it could cost you anywhere between $50 and $2500.  Sally Markos with the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency says fines for illegal burning average about $300 depending on the size and type of materials burned.  She said illegal burning during summer months increases the risk of wildfires.

Her agency works closely with local fire departments and state fire officials.  She said yard debris can be disposed of at the Lane County Waste transfer site in Florence, or at one of the monthly yard debris drop off events such as the one held last Saturday in Florence.

Hiking the PCL

The Pacific Crest Trail extends along the Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges from Canada to Mexico.  One Florence hiker saw the roughly 360-mile long stretch that goes through Oregon as a potential goal, but Aaron Nicholson wanted to make it a bit more of a challenge.  Instead of leaving supply caches along the way, or purchasing supplies, he decided to carry everything he needed on his back.

Aaron Nicholson – “I did make two attempts at it.  The first one was in 2008, I ended up injuring myself, but in 2010 I went back and started from the beginning and was able to make it all the way to the Columbia River starting at the California border.”

That meant starting at the southern end with a very heavy backpack that grew lighter as he went.  It also posed some interesting challenges… he had to carry foods that provided the most sustenance at the lightest weight.  He recorded both attempts in a book.  He’ll talk about his experiences and sign the books at two different outings in the Florence area this week: Sunday afternoon at Bridgeport Market, then Wednesday the 27th at Siuslaw Public Library.