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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View This Issue
S ERVING THE S ILVERTON A REA S INCE 1880
50 C ENTS
A U NIQUE E DITION OF THE S TATESMAN J OURNAL
V OL . 136, N O . 53
W EDNESDAY , D ECEMBER 20, 2017
Questions rise over Whitewater Fire
Forest Service accused of
lying about when blaze was
discovered, how it started
SALEM STATESMAN JOURNAL
USA TODAY NETWORK
Heavy rain and snow brought the Whitewater Fire to
an end nearly three months ago, but questions about
how the blaze was managed have remained controver-
sial in the Santiam Canyon.
The 11,500-acre fire, that burned in the Mount Jef-
ferson Wilderness, was among Oregon's most damag-
ing of 2017.
It cost $39 million to fight,threatened private land,
torched some of Oregon’s most popular hiking trails
and was blamed for harming summer tourism in De-
troit and Sisters, especially during August’s solar
The main accusation is that the U.S. Forest Service
either ignored or didn’t take action against the fire in its
early stages, essentially allowing it to grow out of con-
That narrative became so ubiquitous that even Ore-
gon Rep. Kurt Schrader said he’d heard that version of
There also were claims the Forest Service lied about
when they discovered the fire, misrepresented how the
fire actually started, or set the fire themselves to avoid
dealing with the mass of people expected for the Aug. 21
The Statesman Journal requested all public records
related to the fire during its early stages and inter-
viewed more than a dozen people about the Forest Ser-
vice’s handling of the Whitewater Fire.
In more than 300 pages of reports and inner-depart-
mental emails, obtained through the Freedom of Infor-
mation Act, a consistent timeline emerges of how the
fire was attacked and how officials became aware of it.
Here are some of the things our reporting turned up:
The Whitewater Fire burns on Aug. 1. It eventually consumed
11,500 acres. PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. FOREST SERVICE
See FIRE, Page 2A
A game that will
‘change their lives’
Students experience Beavers Beyond the Classroom
The earthquake that rattled Molalla and the sur-
rounding area appears to have left the dam near Sil-
The City of Silverton’s Public Works Department
reported that “all dam components are operating nor-
mally and as designed,” on Dec. 14, the day after the
According to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Net-
work, the quake occurred southwest of Molalla at 5:24
p.m. on Dec. 13. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded
its magnitude at 3.9.
Silver Creek Dam, located 2 miles south of town, is
of special interest to residents because its failure
could flood areas of Silverton. For this and other rea-
sons, it’s monitored via a remote system.
After the quake, city staff checked all systems and
followed up with an onsite inspection. Close monitor-
ing will continue, they reported.
Top: Oregon State women's basketball player Madison Washington visits with Silver Falls School District students following
the Beavers Beyond the Classroom game on Dec. 13. Bottom left: Students enjoy the Oregon State women vs. Savannah
State basketball game. Bottom right: Oregon State women's basketball player Kat Tudor signs programs for some Silver Falls
School District students following the game.
The Silver Creek Dam, built in 1974, is two miles upstream
from Silverton. Following the recent earthquake, the dam
appears undamaged. APPEAL TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO
TOP PHOTO: PHOTO COURTESY OF OREGON STATE WBB; BOTTOM PHOTOS: MEGAN LIERMAN/THE STATESMAN JOURNAL
“It’s one of my favorite days of the
SALEM STATESMAN JOURNAL
year. It’s highly inspirational. I’ve been
USA TODAY NETWORK
Boarding a bus and heading from their rural school-
house to the big university was an eagerly anticipated
foray for many school kids across the state on Wednes-
day, Dec. 13.
That’s not surprising.
What may be surprising is the hosts at Oregon State
University appeared equally enthusiastic.
The annual Beavers Beyond the Classroom unfold-
ed with thousands of K-12 students pouring in from all
corners of the state – including nearby Cascade foot-
hills – to visit the university and take in a specially
scheduled 11 a.m. women’s basketball game vs. Savan-
Oregon State women’s basketball coach Scott
Rueck expressed his excitement for the event during
an on-air news interview just minutes after his team
defeated San Jose State a few days earlier.
“It’s one of my favorite days of the year,” Rueck
said. “It’s highly inspirational. I’ve been a public school
teacher, and I’m still working in a public school. Here
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a public school teacher, and I’m still
working in a public school. Here we
have over 6,000 school kids who get to
watch their role models play.”
SCOTT RUECK, OREGON STATE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL COACH
SPECIAL TO SALEM STATESMAN JOURNAL
USA TODAY NETWORK
we have over 6,000 school kids who get to watch their
role models play — and that’s going to change their
Reports from the foothills seemed to coincide with
“My 5th grade class had a blast yesterday, including
some autograph time with a very kind and gracious
See GAME, Page 2A
Letters to the Editor...........2B
Life in the Valley.................4A
Printed on recycled paper
With the appointment of five citizen members, Sil-
verton’s new Transportation Advisory Committee is
up and running.
Now the committee can go about its
business of recommending action to the
City Council that its members think will
keep Silverton moving smoothly and
safely – on foot, by bike and via motor
At their November meeting, council-
ors unanimously appointed Garron La-
moreau and Christopher Linn to 1-year
positions; and Mark Rauch, Brianna
Wolterman and Sarah Reif to two-year positions.
Councilor Matt Plummer and Public Works Direc-
tor Christopher Saxes are also on the committee.
Plummer said he hopes to soon develop a “good work-
ing list” of transportation projects for the city.