Out of the Past Feb. 05, 2020

From 10 years ago: More than 60 people attended a job fair that offered information about stimulus-funded jobs to be filled by the Malheur National Forest.

75 years ago

John Day Bank Thief Asks Lighter Sentence

Patrick Bushman, 36, one of three bandits serving terms at Alcatraz for robbing the John Day bank in July, 1937, has filed a petition in federal court here asking a lighter sentence.

He has served eight years of a life sentence. Similar petitions submitted earlier by his partners were denied.

25 years ago

Will Idaho Wolves Spread West?

With wild, widened eyes and ears pinned flat, the cow moose made it abundantly clear that she means business. Her feeble, young bull calf tucked tightly to her flank, the old matriarch snorted and stamped the ground menacingly, hoping to send an advancing threat away in search of an easier meal.

Meanwhile, the youthful yet fully grown wolverine sized up the situation from his crevice in the rocks. He really wasn’t a player in this game but, given his nosy nature, he couldn’t help but watch scant yards from the pair stood two large gray wolves. Their icy gaze fixed on the weak-legged offspring. So far the cow’s warnings had gone unheeded. You see the wolves had young to feed too.

A typical Alaskan scenario?

Just another day at the office in Canada’s Northwest Territories? Perhaps. Or maybe this is a new drama that will soon premier right in the mountains of Northwest Oregon.

While the concept seems far fetched now, it could be coming to a reality sooner than we think — right down to the wolverine. In fact, the wolverine would have to be the one component that we could count on right now.

Actually native to the mountains of our region, wolverines are sighted, or reported as sighted, rather frequently these days. Such reports reach from the Ochoco Mountains of central Oregon, the Blue and Wallowa Mountains of northeast region.

“We’ve had two wolverine reports in the region since last fall,” said Oregon Department of Fish and wildlife biologist Mark Henjum. “And although these were unconfirmed sightings, both were made by biologists.”

Henjum said one report was actually of wolverine tracks found near Freezout Saddle in the Hells Canyon area.

The other was an observation of the animal itself as it held in the biologist’s headlights one night near the Starkey Experimental Forest in the Blue Mountains. As for the wolves, Henjum said that, despite repeated reports of sightings, to his knowledge the department has not substantiated a single report of a wild wolf in Eastern Oregon.

“Now there are people who do raise these things and even hybrids which could get loose, but in every case so far the animal was not of wild origin.”

In one case Henjum said what appeared to be a wolf was killed several years ago in the southern Blue Mountains. Even after close examination a biologist agreed the animal appeared to be the genuine article. However, further testing by the Smithsonian determined the specimen was not a wild wolf. Of Course, that situation could eventually change if the gray wolfs recently reintroduced in to north-central Idaho decide to expand their range.

One of the animals has already been killed near Salmon, Idaho, when it strayed form the target area and killed a newborn calf. Henjum thinks that as the wolves re-invade those portions of Idaho and Western Montana they could easily link up to the ideal wilderness habitat in the connecting Hells Canyon and Wallowa Mountains of Oregon.

“All that’s between us and a wolf population in Idaho is a river,” he said. “And that’s just not something that will stop a wolf.”

It certainly hasn’t stopped the moose.

A couple years ago the column reported reoccurring sightings of moose in select areas of northeast Oregon. Particularly the Hells Canyon area. According to ODFW Wallowa District Wildlife Biologist Vic Coggins, his office continued to do field reports of moose along the Snake River last year, including repeated sightings of a single bull near McGraw Creek on Hells Canyon Reservoir.

“I hope we’ll continue to get moose reports,” said an encouraged Coggins. “The frequency of these sightings is increasing. Hopefully someday things will be right for some of the animals to stay and we’ll have a population here. The moose you know is a pretty good pioneer.”

10 Years Ago Oregon Employment Department filled with job-seekers

More than 60 people poured into the office last Wednesday, Jan. 27, for a job fair that offered information about some 50 stimulus-funded jobs to be filled by the Malheur National Forest.

Cindy Kranich, wildlife biologist for the Prairie City Ranger District, was among forest employees urging job-seekers to “take advantage” of the special hiring, which will run from late spring or early summer through Sept. 30.

“Ask any questions you want. Don’t wait until the last minute,” Kranich said.

Online applications must be completed no later than Feb. 12.

Local Oregon Employment Department office coordinator Cindy Lemcke offered assistance with completing the required online applications, which must be done through a specific program called AVUE. Hours of the office are 8 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 5 p.m. Lemcke emphasized the application is “a process” that isn’t done quickly.

It “can be a little daunting” for those who don’t have experience with it, said Pattie Hammett, public information officer for the forest. She urged those who haven’t done it before: “Don’t do it at home.”

The staff is very familiar and will talk you right through it, said Lemcke. It’s a process that takes time, so don’t just show up at 4:50 p.m.

In addition to Kranich, the job fair brought in workers from the fields of archeology, hydrology and fisheries, who gave pointers on how to best apply for the jobs. The stimulus jobs will be in addition to the Forest Service’s normal seasonal workforce.

A list of the crews and the number of various positions was provided seekers, with start dates and other information. Students who will return to school in the fall follow a different temporary employment process than regular adult applicants, they noted.

Qualifications for the various stimulus-funded jobs were also provided.

“Self-select the jobs you can do,” urged Mary Lou Welby, a Forest Service hydrologist, referring to the background and skills that people must have.

Hammett encouraged people to “be very specific” regarding skills on the application. “Don’t just say that you’ve been a hunter all your life,” she said, encouraging people to list their skills, which could include being able to use a compass, and to be able to read a map.

Someone hired for a stream inventory job would need to know the outdoors, said Welby. She invited people to close their eyes and visualize themselves walking in the woods. If they recall the details of the trees in the canopy, they might be best suited a timber crew position, Welby said.

Applicants were urged to “break down” what they have done “into its pieces.” The percentage of time that has been spent doing various activities is important, specialists emphasized.

“Tailor the information” provided to the position sought, said Forest Service fisheries biologist Allen Taylor.

When one person asked whether they should demonstrate physical ability for a job, Taylor noted that the process looks for the best qualified. Later on, physical ability may come into question.

“There’s no box you fill out that tells them how far you can hike,” he said. “It’s largely up to you (to indicate demonstration of physical abilities).”

One should self-select jobs that meet abilities, Welby again emphasized. For instance, if hearing isn’t strong, wildlife surveys, where one listens to bird calls, might not be the best job to apply for.

The turnout last Wednesday “shows there’s a real need for this in the community,” said Hammett.

The Forest Service held another job fair Feb. 2 in Burns.

Because of Wednesday’s numbers in Canyon City, the forest has set another fair for Saturday, Feb. 6, from 9 a.m. to noon. This time it will be in the conference room at the federal building on Patterson Bridge Road in John Day.

The location will be a bit more spacious to accommodate job-seekers. Tables will be set up for the different specialties, Hammett added.

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