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Spring Whale Watch Week returns to the Oregon Coast for spring break 2024 – KTVZ

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Spring Whale Watch Week returns to the Oregon Coast for spring break 2024 – KTVZ


DEPOE BAY, Ore. (KTVZ) — Oregon State Parks will host Spring Whale Watch Week along the Oregon Coast from Saturday, March 23 through Sunday, March 31.

Trained Oregon State Park volunteers will be stationed at 15 sites along the Oregon Coast to help visitors spot whales and their calves and answer questions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily March 23-31. The sites are some of the best places to watch for whales on the Oregon Coast. 

The spring event is three days longer than last year and might include better odds of seeing gray whales on their journey home from the calving lagoons in Mexico in light of last week’s announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

NOAA announced the end of an Unusual Mortality Event, a significant die-off of the gray whale population, that had affected the marine mammals since 2019.

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“The latest counts indicate that the gray whale population has likely turned the corner and is beginning to recover. It’s a perfect time for people to see them as they swim north with new calves to feed,” said Michael Milstein, public affairs officer with NOAA Fisheries.

Researchers counted about 412 calves last year, which was almost double the number from the year before. That helped signal an end to the Unusual Mortality Event and a likely turnaround in numbers as the species begins to rebound.

An estimated 14,500 gray whales are expected to swim past Oregon’s shores from late winter through June as part of their annual migration back to Alaska.

“Spring is a great time for whale watching because the gray whales are usually closer to shore on their return trip, typically around a mile or so out, and the weather can be better for viewing. But don’t forget your rain gear just in case,” said Park Ranger Peter McBride.

A map of volunteer-staffed sites is available online on the official event webpage: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=thingstodo.dsp_whaleWatching

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The Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 23-31. Visitors to the center can enjoy interactive whale exhibits and take in the panoramic ocean views. Binoculars are provided. Rangers from Oregon State Parks will also be on hand to answer questions about the whales.

All Whale Watch Week visitors are encouraged to dress for the weather, to bring binoculars and to follow beach safety guidelines such as remaining out of fenced areas, knowing the tide schedule and keeping an eye on the surf at all times. Go to https://visittheoregoncoast.com/beach-safety/ for a list of safety tips.

For more information about coast parks and campgrounds, visit oregonstateparks.org.

Visitors are encouraged to share their photos and videos from Spring Whale Watch on social media using #OregonStateParks and #ORWhaleWatch24.

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Oregon State Parks seeks approval for new, improved campsite reservation system

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Oregon State Parks seeks approval for new, improved campsite reservation system


The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department wants to create a new website where visitors reserve state park campsites. The cost? $13.35 million for five years.

If approved, the website could go live as early as late 2024 or early 2025, officials said.

“Visitors (would) notice a new website specific to Oregon State Parks with a new look, improved search functions, more visuals, greater accessibility and improved mobile compatibility,” OPRD spokeswoman Stefanie Knowlton said.

The state agency’s contract with website vendor ReserveAmerica.com expires in 2025 and could not be renewed. That opened up a competitive bidding process in 2023.

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For the next website, parks officials decided on a platform called Recreation Hub, designed to “modernize and simplify campground management,” according to the department.

The platform is owned and run by Conduent and Booz Allen Hamilton, a multinational corporation that also runs Recreation.gov, the federal government’s website for booking campsites and permits across the nation’s public lands.

OPRD will ask the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission for approval of the contract at a meeting April 23-24 in Cannon Beach. Public comments are open for the decision.

Knowlton said parks officials and visitors tested different platforms over a 10 month period and decided Recreation Hub “was the most intuitive and accessible option.”

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“Beyond improving tools available for visitors to make state park reservations, it will also offer agency staff reservation management, volunteer management, website content management, retail operations and visitor support features,” Knowlton said in an email.

Knowlton said the fee for booking a campsite — which currently sits at $8 per transaction — would not change in the short term.

However, she laid out that could be a possibility in the future.

“The $8 reservation fee has not changed in 15 years,” she said. “There is not a specific plan to change the fee, but leadership is discussing what amount makes sense for the future.”

The new website would cost $2.67 million per year. OPRD will ask to sign a five-year contract for $13.35 million.

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The previous website, ReserveAmerica, cost $2.1 million per year, Knowlton said, “but it did not include all the functions that the new site will.”

Knowlton said the cost of the website would be paid by reservation fees. If the reservation fees don’t cover the full cost of the website, additional funds would come from the agency’s budget.

Zach Urness has been an outdoors reporter in Oregon for 15 years and is host of the Explore Oregon Podcast. Urness is the author of “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on X at @ZachsORoutdoors.



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How former 5-star QB Dante Moore got back to Oregon football after one season at UCLA

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How former 5-star QB Dante Moore got back to Oregon football after one season at UCLA


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Dante Moore put himself back on Oregon’s radar with a phone call to Dan Lanning in December.

But the two didn’t talk football, at least not at first.

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The former UCLA quarterback, who was once committed to Lanning and the Ducks, reached out to the Oregon coach soon after entering the transfer portal when the 2023 regular season ended.

“I called him, really just checking up on life,” Moore said Thursday. “My mom, sadly, she had breast cancer and I was playing through that throughout the season. She got diagnosed with it during spring ball last year, so really, the first couple things he asked me was checking in on my mother.”

Moore’s mother has improved. His own prospects for personal growth seem to be trending in that same direction as well. 

The road to Oregon hasn’t been the most straight forward for Moore, a former five-star recruit in the class of 2023 who was ranked as the nation’s No. 2 overall player by ESPN and No. 3 overall by 247Sports.

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He was verbally committed to the Ducks throughout the fall of 2022 then flipped to the Bruins right before the start of the early signing period that December.

The Detroit native said his change of heart came after Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham was named head coach at Arizona State in November 2022.

“As a quarterback, your OC needs to be your best friend,” said Moore, who added that he and Will Stein — Dillingham’s replacement at Oregon — did hastily attempt to build a relationship but ultimately he chose to sign with UCLA and play for coach Chip Kelly.

Dante Moore plays through mistakes at UCLA

Moore, who the Bruins listed as 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, played in nine games and made five starts for UCLA last season. He completed 114-of-213 passes (53.5%) for 1,610 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

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He started his career by throwing for 615 yards, seven TDs and one interception in his first three games as the Bruins opened 3-0. 

Then came a brutal stretch for the freshman. In consecutive games against then-No. 11 Utah, then-No. 13 Washington State and then-15 Oregon State, he threw for 689 yards, three TDs, six interceptions and was sacked 16 times. 

He also had an interception returned for a touchdown in each of those games.

“It was kind of like my freshman year of high school,” Moore said. “I remember my freshman year of high school I threw 12 picks and I was like ‘Damn, what are you doing?’ But at the end of senior year I threw two picks. And the end of the day, it’s about development. College football is hard.”

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Once the season ended, Moore said there was a sense around the program that changes were coming and sure enough, in early February, Kelly departed Westwood for Ohio State to the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator. 

Moore was long gone by then, having transferred to Oregon in mid-December.

“When I hit the portal … I kind of knew where I was going already,” Moore said. “(Lanning) just checked up on me, laughed, joked around, got a visit out here and I knew it was time to get back out.”

Dante Moore learning from Dillon Gabriel

Before Moore transferred, the Ducks had already signed Oklahoma transfer Dillon Gabriel, a sixth-year senior and veteran of 49 career starts who enters 2024 tied for fourth in NCAA history in career total touchdowns (152), seventh in total yards (15,925), eighth in passing yards (14,865) and eighth in passing touchdowns (125).

Gabriel is the presumptive one-year replacement for Bo Nix, the 2023 Heisman Trophy finalist who led the Ducks to 12-2 record and Fiesta Bowl victory. 

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“You know, DG, he’s been in college football for quite some time now,” Moore said. “Really, when I first got here, no cold shoulder, no bad blood at all, I’m just thankful to be around him. He’s taught me many things and I ask him many questions.”

Moore said he is competing with Gabriel every day and thrilled to be in the Oregon locker room, even if it took an extra year to get there.

Still, he said he has no regrets about his journey to Eugene.

“I was just blessed to even play college football at 18 years old as a true freshman,” Moore said. “Learned a lot, made a lot of mistakes, but at the end of the day, all I can do is just learn.”

Follow Chris Hansen on X @chansen_RG or email at chansen@registerguard.com

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Rep. Levy: $2.5 million in grants now available to Oregon school districts for wireless panic alarms – KTVZ

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Rep. Levy: $2.5 million in grants now available to Oregon school districts for wireless panic alarms – KTVZ


BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Oregon Department of Education’s School Safety and Emergency Management program opened up applications Thursday for school districts to apply for the Wireless Panic Alarm Grant. Rep. Emerson Levy (D-Central Oregon) secured funding for the school safety improvements during the 2023 legislative session.

“We can all sleep better tonight knowing our tax dollars are going to this common-sense approach to enhancing our emergency procedures in and around our school campuses,” said Rep. Levy in a news release. “From a student needing an EpiPen to a natural disaster or man-made emergency, this funding will give our school districts the ability to community more efficiently and effectively within the school campus and with first responders. In an emergency, every second counts.” 

In 2023, Rep. Levy introduced Alyssa’s Law (HB 3101) to require school districts in Oregon to install silent panic alarm systems in their schools. While Levy said the bill didn’t pass during the legislative session due to the record-long Senate Republican walkouts, SSEM was given money for the grant program in a budget bill (House Bill 5014).

As outlined by the Oregon Department of Education, the Wireless Panic Alarm Grant is open to School districts that provide services to students during the regular school year. Applicants may request grant funds for every school building used by students during the school year. School districts will be reimbursed $2,000 per school in their district.

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Districts that wish to apply or have questions can visit ODE’s SSEM website or email ODE.SSEM@ode.oregon.gov to request a link for an application.

Alyssa’s Law as Levy introduced it is named in memory of Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old student who tragically lost her life during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2017. The law requiring schools to install silent panic alarm systems has passed in six states, and Levy plans to reintroduce that legislation in 2025 to improve safety in all Oregon schools.

“Thank you to the Oregon Department of Education, our first responders, and the school districts all around Oregon who worked with us to make sure these grants can be applied quickly and seamlessly. I look forward to continuing to work on this in the future,” said Levy.



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