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Eclipse Fest 2023 permit approved by Klamath County Commissioners

CHILOQUIN, Ore. Despite myriad concerns expressed by Klamath County residents at a public hearing Wednesday, Sept. 20, Klamath County Commissioners Dave Henslee, Derrick DeGroot, and Kelley Minty approved the final permit for Eclipse Fest 2023 to move forward. The multi- day event is expected to attract upwards of 3,000 per day from Oct. 10-15 on a 175-acre parcel of private land in Fort Klamath. Event organizer Sara Irvine was on hand to answer any questions or concerns during the two-hour hearing.

Klamath Tribal Councilmember-at-Large Les Anderson, speaking on behalf of The Klamath Tribes, said, “From a natural cultural and our wildlife standpoint, we do have some concerns as we’re meeting with agencies and groups and law enforcement. We know that it’s going to be very taxing on the community.”

As for the Tribes, Anderson stated that they are committed to due diligence. “We’re working diligently with fire, EMS services, law enforcement to try to facilitate any way we can to police our properties, our Travel Center, as well as putting up some tents that are full of emergency services that are needed. Our fire department is working really hard with the Forest Service to try to meet those concerns.

Rowena Jackson, Klamath Tribes member and resident of Chiloquin spoke, expressing her concerns about the lateness of the hearing. “This meeting should have happened way in the beginning stages,” she said. “It is true; our people are always last to hear or be on board or be a part of anything in this county.”

Jackson also shared her concern about the lack of security at the event, citing Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons. “I want to know that there is 24/7 security,she said.

Klamath Tribes member Andrea Fernandez later spoke, addressing security concerns for the community of Chiloquin. In regards to sanitation, she stated that it is highly unrealistic to expect everything to be cleaned up and done by Oct. 20.”

Irvine reassured the public that there would be ample security. She said they hired private firms experienced in handling security for large events.

Directing a question to Klamath County Planning Director Erik Nobel, DeGroot asked, “If the event applicant is struggling with the gathering, and they don’t comply with the conditions that are outlined, what’s the penalty?”

“Truthfully,” replied Nobel, “I don’t know. If you know the code enforcement that we do on a regular basis, let’s say someone’s camping or someone has built a building, our code enforcement is structured for more compliance than enforcement. Let’s just get them into compliance. Truthfully, if they did this, I don’t know what I could do about it because by the time we would get done and we went through our process, it says, ‘You have 30 days to comply, the events over, and everyone’s gone.

Nobel acknowledged later in the hearing that people in opposition to the event would like some comfort about an insurance policy. “In places, we do not have a condition about the applicant supplying us that they do have proof of insurance,” he said.

The conditional insurance requirement shouldn’t be a problem, the Commissioners said.

Irvine stressed that festival-goers have signed waivers indicating that they will abide by the rules in place. Campfires will be prohibited in the space encompassing the events, and patrols will be carried out on the event premises to ensure no campfires are lit.

After hearing concerns from the public about water availability, the Commissioners stated that they would prefer water be trucked in rather than pumped from local wells. Although details on the logistics of transporting water remained unclear as of this writing.

The Commissioners also concurred with the public that 24-hour traffic control should be a requirement.