Elliot Bass Tournament; Affordable Housing; Northwest Forest Plan Update; Gas Prices

Elliot Bass Tournament

This weekend is the annual Elliot Bass Tournament.  the Florence Lions Club will hold its 40th tournament at Darlings at Siltcoos lake.  The event is a huge fundraiser for the Florence Lions Club Scholarships that is given out to 3 Siuslaw High School graduates each year.  The scholarships are in three categories: General, teaching or health and trade.  The two day tournament on Saturday and Sunday will have a 2pm weigh-in each day which organizers say is a highlight of the tournament.  There will also be a raffle, trophies for the participants and hot dogs and hamburgers for the onlookers.

Affordable Housing

More affordable housing units have just completed.  The Oak Manor Apartments is a 24 unit affordable housing unit on 3944 Oak Street.  There will be a grand opening for the public to celebrate the completion on June 13th at 11am.  Andrea Bell, the Executive Director of the Oregon Housing and Community Services department will be in attendance.  Bell will speak on the affordable housing mission and its allocation of 9% low income housing tax credits.  16 units are set aside in the complex as affordable housing units from $820 for a one bedroom up to 1,137 for a 3 bedroom unit. And 24 units are set aside for those under 30 percent with rents starting at $407 for a one bedroom.

Northwest Forest Plan Update

An update to the 30-year-old Northwest Forest Plan is expected soon. The plan has a been a critical tool for managing 19 million acres of federal forest lands in Oregon, California and Washington. In December, the U-S Forest Service announced its intent to amend the plan, with a draft environment impact statement expected for release this summer. Susan Jane Brown is the chief legal counsel for the Oregon-based nonprofit environmental law firm Silvix Resources. She says the biggest threat to forests when the plan was adopted in 1994 was logging.

“Today, it is much more about climate change and drought and insects and uncharacteristic wildfires that are a threat to these forests. So, we need to revise our expectations of how we’re going to manage these lands.”

Brown says the original plan came after years of clearcutting in the region’s forests. The Northwest Forest Plan reduced logging by 75 percent. While the Northwest has the most intact old-growth forests anywhere in the lower 48 states, the plan has crippled the logging industry with several companies going out of business due to the regulations and reduced ability to harvest trees.  Loggers argue that the trees are a renewable resource and the threat of wildfire would be reduced if loggers were given the opportunity to harvest.

Gas Prices

The price of gasoline in Oregon continues to decrease even in the wake of the Memorial holiday.  Oregon saw a 6 cent decrease last week and is the 6th largest week over week decrease, however the price of a gallon of regular gas began the year at #3.79 a gallon, a .51 cent difference.  Here in Florence the current average of a price of regular gas in $4.18.  Marie Dodds with AAA Oregon says while she believes prices will continue to tick down, there are wildcards in the mix.  The severe weather in the gulf coast states and the oncoming hurricane season can have a drastic impact on gasoline prices nationwide.