“You picked a great day to visit,” said Chiloquin City Councilor Robert Cowie to the group of Eastern Region managers gathered at Chiloquin City Hall on a crisp, clear, sunny February afternoon.
The DEQ team traveled from The Dalles, Bend and Klamath Falls to meet leaders from the Klamath Tribes and City of Chiloquin to discuss local environmental concerns.
“We’re intentionally spending time in communities where DEQ doesn’t have permanent offices,” said Shannon Davis, Eastern Region administrator. “Our work is to protect Oregon’s air, land and water, and I want us to center people and communities in that work. Regional staff spend lots of time working directly with local communities while doing inspections or providing technical assistance—I’d like our regional management team to also continue building local relationships so we can better support our staff and the communities we serve.”
DEQ’s first stop was the Klamath Tribes administrative offices in Chiloquin. Tribal Chairman Clayton Dumont, councilors Rose Treetop and Les Anderson, and several tribal staff members met with the DEQ team to discuss water quality issues, including fish habitat restoration projects, private drinking water well testing, groundwater contamination prevention, and hazardous materials spill response.
“The Tribes generously shared their space and time, and I am immensely grateful for this opportunity,” said Davis.
The DEQ team then headed over to Chiloquin City Hall to meet with Mayor Julie Bettles, city council members Cowie and Gunga Hescock and several city staff and consultants.
The group discussed site cleanup and redevelopment plans for historic buildings in the downtown area. The city has been working with DEQ to assess and clean up historic contamination, asbestos, lead paint, and underground fuel storage tanks at the old HIRVI Building, Markwardt Brothers Garage, Breen Hotel and Modoc Motors.
Redevelopment plans for these spaces are still in the early stages, but potential future uses may include an indoor-outdoor farmer’s market, maker space, youth community space or business space.
The group also hosted a community drop-in session at city hall, where DEQ received feedback on the need for a household hazardous waste drop-off day in the area. And they discussed the city’s future site plans for updated drinking water and wastewater systems, which are both aging and in need of upgrades.
“We’re working on a lot right now,” said Cowie. “We’re planning for the next hundred years.”
Local tip: Next time you’re in Chiloquin, be sure to visit the Two Rivers Art Gallery inside the Chiloquin Community Center to view amazing art and support local artists and crafters.
—Laura Gleim, public affairs specialist, email@example.com, 503-577-3697