Cannon Beach gazette. (Cannon Beach, Or.) 1977-current, February 23, 2018, Image 1

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    VOL. 42, ISSUE 4
FEBRUARY 23, 2018
Sea star wasting unusually
high at Haystack Rock
Survey findings could be a
worrisome indicator
By Brenna Visser
Cannon Beach Gazette
A wasting disease is again plaguing sea stars at Hay-
stack Rock — and it’s not clear why.
A survey in January found that 64 of the 247 sea
stars monitored had symptoms. The spread of the dis-
ease in the sea star population — 26 percent — is high-
er than other locations on the West Coast.
The disease was first spotted in Washington state’s
Olympic National Park in June 2013, and then shortly
after on the coast from Alaska to Southern California.
It didn’t appear at Haystack Rock until 2014, where a
summer survey showed more than 70 percent of the
population was affected. The population bounced back
in 2015 when there was a sharp increase in the birth of
baby sea stars.
Sea stars at Haystack Rock in
Cannon Beach have been hit
hard by a wasting disease.
See Stars, Page 7A
Fire district foregoes hike As demand grows,
volunteers step up
Extra money
would have paid
for firefighter
Food pantry gets
creative to handle
growing need
By Brenna Visser
Cannon Beach Gazette
Checking equipment to ensure it is in working order is a daily task at the
Cannon Beach fire department.
“I think wording is important,”
said board member Bob Cerelli.
“This shows we have more options
for this money that can be helpful
with the overall needs of the dis-
Modifying the levy also helps
pave the way to propose an increase
in the future, Benedict said, after the
fire district has more time to educate
the community about the reasons for
a higher property tax bill.
It will also allow the district to
consolidate the budgeting process
and open up funds for more general
maintenance and supplies, Benedict
The vote was unanimous, but
some board members had concerns
that changing the name without
changing the rate could cause confu-
sion among voters.
“I’m concerned about changing
the wording. With all these bond is-
sues out, I don’t want people to get
confused. The most important thing
See Levy, Page 6A
Unraveling a whale of a mystery
The Cannon Beach Rural Fire
Protection District will not propose a
tax increase on this year’s fire chief
levy to pay for firefighter paramedics.
Residents will vote in May
whether to renew the levy that pays
for the fire chief’s salary, expenses
and training at the rate of $0.1488
per thousand of assessed property.
This rate will again bring in about
$141,469 to the fire district over five
Fire Chief Matt Benedict had sug-
gested increasing the rate up to $0.35
per thousand of assessed property
and modifying the fire chief’s levy
into an operational one to allow fund-
ing for two firefighter paramedics.
But after a month of discussion,
the fire district board came to a con-
sensus that voters were unlikely to
pass another tax increase after pass-
ing the $99.7 million bond in 2016
for the new Seaside school campus.
While the rate will remain the same,
the board did vote to modify the levy
so that revenue can be used for all
operational and staffing needs, rath-
er than just costs associated with the
fire chief.
Wednesday, all taking home about
three to five days worth of food.
While those visiting the food
pantry represent a diverse popula-
tion, Littell and Wood, the co-chair-
women, said almost everyone they
By Brenna Visser
Cannon Beach Gazette
serve lives from Cannon Beach to
Jewell. In an informal survey last
As Nancy Littell and Judy Wood year, volunteers interviewed 89
prepared for the Cannon Beach households and found about 50
percent of all custom-
Food Pantry’s week-
ers worked in a hotel,
ly Wednesday service,
‘THE NEED restaurant or retail job
they reminisced about
in Cannon Beach.
the day it first opened.
“The need is here,
Ten years ago, the
THE NEED the need is strong and
food pantry was a few ta-
bles lined up in the base-
IS STRONG it’s increasing,” Lit-
tell said. “A lot people
ment of Cannon Beach
don’t realize we’re even
Community Church. A
few minutes before they INCREASING.’ here. They ask, ‘Why
do we need a food bank
were supposed to open
in a place like Cannon
their doors, no one was
Nancy Littell
Beach?’ Well, we have
waiting in line.
the need.”
“I remember think-
ing, ‘What if we throw
a party and no one comes?’” Littell Contributing factors
The rising demand for emer-
laughed. “Yeah, well, I don’t worry
about that now. Our dance floor is gency food is nothing new, Clat-
sop County Regional Food Bank
Over the past two years, the Director Marlin Martin said. More
number of households using the than 25 percent of county resi-
small pantry in the shuttered Can- dents qualify for emergency food
non Beach Elementary School has assistance, and the number of
almost doubled. The food pantry households served peaked at 1,400
used to serve about 26 households countywide in 2017.
a week. Now, Littell and Wood are
See Food, Page 6A
seeing closer to 40 families every
Marine ecologists
study coast’s whale
habitat for answers
By Nancy McCarthy
For Cannon Beach Gazette
Marine ecologist Leigh Torres de-
scribes what her team from the
Marine Mammal Institute have
discovered about the gray whales
that visit the Oregon Coast.
Whales have existed for millions
of years, but, like the depths of the
oceans they live in, they remain
mostly a mystery.
Marine ecologist Leigh Torres
and her collaborators at Oregon State
University, where she is an assistant
professor, are trying to unravel some
of that mystery by studying whales
at the Oregon coast.
Of the 200 whales that visit Or-
egon regularly between May and
October, scientists know little, Tor-
res said during a “World of Haystack
Rock” lecture Feb. 14 in the Cannon
Beach Library.
“We really don’t know much
about them,” she said. “But we do
know they have ‘site fidelity’; the
same individuals come here year after
year, and we can see the same ones
pretty regularly.”
But with the advent of drones,
computers and other testing equip-
ment, it is easier to observe, measure
and analyze the giant creatures in
their habitat without disturbing them.
“The Oregon coast habitat is real-
ly important for these individuals be-
cause this is their prime feeding sea-
son and their prime feeding habitat,”
Torres said.
While the coast is important for the
whales, the whales are also important
to Oregon’s economy, Torres noted.
In 2008, whale watching brought in
nearly $30 million, she said.
“And that was 10 years ago,” she
added. “They’re an important part of
our economy, our culture, and we all
like to see them. So, the important
message here is that we don’t want
the gray whale to be disturbed, or
leave or not show up in this habitat.”
Torres is working on four research
projects on the whales’ habitat: vessel
traffic impacts, preferable locations
and food, entanglements and ocean
By using surveyor’s equipment
and trigonometry in Depot Bay and
Port Orford, Torres tracked vessels
and whales in their vicinity. She
learned that whales will continue to
feed or travel to another site even
with a vessel 100 meters away. How-
ever, if they were searching for food
as a vessel approached, the whales
would leave the area.
Until recently, Oregon lacked
guidelines about how to operate ves-
sels around whales, Torres said. Her
team took its collected data to fishery
groups and together they eventually
See Whales, Page 7A