Understanding snowpack accumulation in Oregon is important to assessing the potential water availability for consumption and irrigation during the coming months. This is because historically, snowpack is our reservoir — releasing water as it melts through the summer and fall.

We have already seen a consistent drop in snowpack. At Crater Lake, for example, data collected since the 1930s exhibit a steady decade-by-decade decline. Projections for the future are for this pattern to continue. Indeed, by late century, the region may experience only 10 percent of its historical snowpack accumulation.

Looking at current patterns of snowpack indicate whether the historical trend is continuing, and what this summer is likely to bring.

Oregon's SNOTEL snowpack updates can be found at the National Resources Conservation Service website. The latest report, released April 6, reveals an interesting pattern: Through the 12 inland basins listed, all but two are at or below 75 percent of long-term median trends for snow water equivalent. The combined Rogue/Umpqua value is 67 percent. Only the Willamette and Lower Deschutes are in the 90 percent or greater range.

Combining this information with the dropping Columbia Plateau aquifer suggests that water shortages induced by climate change are not far away. — Alan Journet, co-facilitator, Southern Oregon Climate Action Network

I am writing with concerns regarding Mountain View Paving. This company has not been an asphalt paving company since 1963; it was an aggregate company that is now making asphalt. I am concerned for all the citizens of the Rogue Valley, but especially those closest to this company in Talent.

We are bombarded with noise, stench and pollution. This company is in a rural residential zone and does not even pay taxes comparable to what every homeowner in our area pays. It is time for the bureaucratic red tape to stop and for the county commissioners to find a more suitable site for this company.

I understand the importance of jobs and competitive rates; however, moving this company should be a priority of the county. I ask the county commissioners to protect and serve the citizens of Jackson County along with the environment that Oregon is noted for. — Lupe Walker, Talent

I chose to work in the mental health specialty because I can't think of a more distressing illness than one of the mind.

Brain alterations caused by these multiple diseases leave many sufferers with a flawed ability to reason or to effectively cope. Family members are hurt by the unpredictable behaviors of their loved one, and are often in fear of the imminent danger to which many of these sufferers are exposed. Communities of people label these victims as "lazy" or "bothersome," not understanding that behaviors they are judging are actually signs of various mental diseases, as classic as the sign of pain found in many cancers.

I am honored to serve this population of people. My experiences with them have taught me, as a general philosophy, to withhold judgment, as I am not the one in their shoes. It has taught me to be grateful for what I have rather than to entertain self pity because I don't have a grand house, an expensive vehicle and the adventures of world travels. My family is warm and safe every moment, and has futures that are bright. I am, indeed, blessed. — Julie Carstensen, registered nurse, White City

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