Building Stands – For Now
There has been no official release on the cause of the fire at the La Bula restaurant nor has there been any determination on what will happen with the building as we get closer to Rhody Days. Chief Jim Langborg with Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue says that they are waiting for official word from the Oregon State Police on the fire and that the insurance company has been notified and they are awaiting confirmation from them. It is likely that the building will be demolished and that will take some funds in order to do so. Langborg did say they had a figure in mind on the cost of demolition. The time frame for proceeding at this point is in the hands of the OSP. The city will also have a say in how things proceed but for the time being things are on hold as the investigation wraps up.
Bill Could Fund Park Infrastructure
Bipartisan legislation in Congress could begin to relieve the 11 billion dollar maintenance backlog in the national park system. The National Park Restoration Act, co-sponsored by Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader, would dedicate funding to infrastructure projects around the country. Last year in Oregon, deferred-maintenance costs exceeded 115-million dollars. That’s something Jim Hammett, former superintendent for the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, understands well. He says visitation to national parks largely is reliant on dependable infrastructure – from roads and parking lots to restrooms – which is why it’s important to keep them maintained.
“I certainly think that in many cases, there is a limit in terms of how much increase in visitation that most of these parks can take based on just the infrastructure and the assets that are in those parks that are not being maintained, or brought up to current standards.”
Trips to national parks have continued to increase in recent years. They saw record attendance in 2016, topping 330-million visitors. That same year, visitors spent nearly 140-million dollars in gateway communities to Oregon’s six National Park Service sites. The legislation has also garnered support from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Whale Season Begins
Migrating whales have already been seen off the Oregon coast over the past week but the official whale watching season comes into play the week of the 24th through the 31st of March. Luke Parsons with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department says that trained whale watching volunteers will be stationed at 24 sites along the coast daily from 10am – 4pm. The whale watching center at Depoe Bay will also be open 10 to 4 daily. Visitors can enjoy interactive displays, wide panoramic views of the ocean and will be provided binoculars for viewing. For a list of the 24 sites that will be open go to whalespoken.org.