Firewise grants open to unincorporated Lane
Lane County’s Firewise Grant Incentive Program is accepting applications from residents in unincorporated Lane County through Sept. 29, 2023. The grants provide rural property owners with funding to help complete projects that reduce the risk of wildfire, such as clearing vegetation, replacing wood shake roofing, fire-resistant landscaping materials, noncombustible exterior siding, chimney spark arrestors, and more. Up to $15,500 in grant funding is available for each qualifying property.
Apply online at lanecountyor.gov/firewise. Paper applications are also available in the Lane County Public Works Customer Service Center at 3050 North Delta Highway, Eugene.
Firewise grants are funded through Title III of the Federal Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Program – Section 601 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.
Rural Lane to benefit from $25.7M for broadband
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley last week announced that four Oregon counties will receive a combined $25.7 million from the USDA Rural Development’s ReConnect program to bring broadband to homes and businesses, including Lane County.
Wyden has been advocating for expanding rural broadband access by successfully pushing the Department of Commerce to fix out-of-date maps to include more than 48,000 additional unserved locations in Oregon, noting that “high-speed internet is a central component to ensuring that Oregonians can access services and build our rural economies.”
These Rural Development investments will go to the Canby Telephone Association and the Pioneer Telephone Cooperative to deploy fiber broadband that will provide high-speed internet to 2,346 people, 56 businesses, 211 farms and one school in Lane, Benton, Lincoln, and Marion counties. The awards are part of the $714 million in grants and loans to connect thousands of rural residents, farmers and business owners in 19 states, including Oregon, to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.
Biologists: Do not disturb fledgling common murres on Oregon beaches
Oregon coast visitors are seeing many dead and dying fledgling common murres right now on state beaches. Some commercial fishermen report also seeing this at sea.
At this time of the year, the young birds are trying to survive on their own for the first time. It’s not uncommon to get reports of some sick or dying birds, say Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists.
The severity of this year’s event is uncommon and may be related to a combination of a large production year for common murres and extremely warm ocean conditions along the Oregon coast.
Warm ocean temperatures generally have a negative impact on the production of food in the lowest levels of the food web. That impact trickles up through the food web affecting many species, including common murres.
Biologists say most of the young birds they’ve seen appear to be starving or cold, however samples were sent to ODFW’s Wildlife Population Health Lab for further examination. Without proper nutrition, the young birds cannot maintain their body heat. And while ocean temperatures are warmer, the water is still below the average body temperature of these birds.
Biologists ask people to refrain from disturbing or picking up sick or dying birds to give them the best chance for survival. With a healthy and thriving population of common murres in Oregon, rehabilitation is not an option. People can report observations of sick or dead common murres to local ODFW offices.
Rate of uninsured Oregonians reaches an all-time low
Since the public health emergency ended this spring, Oregon has renewed Oregon Health Plan (OHP/Medicaid) benefits for more than 85% of members. By comparison, the national average for renewing Medicaid coverage is about 60%.
To date, approximately 4 million people across the U.S. have lost Medicaid coverage since the COVID-19 health emergency ended, which includes nearly four in 10 adults and one in three children.
Oregon is taking a different approach, one that has brought Oregon’s uninsured rate down from 6% to a record low of 4.6%. At this time, about 1.5 million Oregonians (one in three people) are covered by OHP.
New OHP rules will allow Oregon to: keep kids covered on OHP from birth to age 6; guarantee benefits for a longer period of time, two years for most; expand eligibility to adults with higher incomesl; and provide full OHP coverage regardless of immigration status.