Paula Guenther

North Fork District Ranger Paula Guenther shares with the county court the focus for 2020 and plans for Olive Lake.

Plans were announced regarding projects and activities on the North Fork John Day Ranger District of the Umatilla National Forest during a Grant County Court meeting Jan. 8.

North Fork District Ranger Paula Guenther shared with the county court Olive Lake is one focus for 2020. The regional set of dam engineers have put together a comprehensive risk assessment for the dam and identified the values downstream to Olive Lake that are important.

“There are definitely some big highway bridges and other things that, should Olive Lake dam and spillway become inoperable and fail, there could be a rush of water down there that could put that at risk,” Guenther said.

Guenther sent out an invitation for county search and rescue and county emergency management to participate in a simulation of how to respond if a flood were to happen. The simulation is scheduled for Feb. 19, and it will be in either Ukiah or Dale.

“This is intended as a practice exercise for us to figure out who we need to notify of what and how that will work,” Guenther said.

The dam engineers also provided a variety of options for stabilizing the damn in the long term. Some of the ideas were to breach the dam and lower the lake water level, which would influence the recreational development experience at the lake, or a complicated method of boring some holes and installing a concrete curtain that would separate the lake water from the wooden parts of the dam.

In late spring, Guenther plans to put out a proposal, and the public will have the opportunity to review and comment on it.

“It’s not just recreational activities,” said County Commissioner Jim Hamsher. “It’s having the water there for firefighting and for lake stream flows and the salmon and steelhead.”

Another project planned for early spring 2020 is the implementation of the 10 Cent environmental impact statement decision, Guenther said. The impact statement decision allows for a variety of timber and fuel treatment projects along 10 Cent Creek and the area south of the county border near the Granite and Greenhorn communities.

Guenther added that three out of the four planned timber sales have been made from the impact statement with two going to Dodge Forestry.

In other county court news:

• Due to the many cases of theft and burglary in the last four months, Grant County Undersheriff Zach Mobley asked for $1,000 from the county. This money will be used for a tip and reward program with the community. The county court approved the $1,000 for the program.

An award of up to $1,000 will be given for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people involved with thefts or burglaries. To leave a tip, call 541-575-1132 and leave a message from the Major Crimes Team, and they will call back.

• The county court approved the purchase of a flatbed pickup and training hours for Tammy Workman since Kathy Gillam will be retiring on Feb. 1.

• The county court approved giving $4,322.49 from the remaining 2018 marijuana tax funds to the Community Health Improvement Coalition. This group has helped in suicide prevention, substance use disorders in youth and community health.

• The county court made MASA Medical Transport Solutions coverage available to county employees.

MASA will cover the out-of-pocket costs for all emergency medical air and ground transportation in the U.S. and in Canada. This will save thousands of dollars that is not covered by insurance, according to Tony Urioste, MASA’s Western States Regional Director.

“Most people don’t understand that the transport companies that we have available in Oregon and throughout the country (AirLink, Life Flight Network and Mercy Air) have no reciprocity with each other,” said Urioste. “The false sense of security, when somebody has the air ambulance membership, is that they’re covered by anyone where they’re not.”

According to Urioste, insurance will cover about a quarter to half of a bill from air transport, which could range from $40,000 to $70,000. MASA will work with the provider to cover the balance of the bill and will provide coverage regardless of the company providing the emergency medical transport. Community members interested in the program can sign up for the program as well but only to the platinum membership.


Rudy Diaz is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at or 541-575-0710.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.