April Ehrlich

April Ehrlich began freelancing for Jefferson Public Radio in the fall of 2016, and then officially joined the team as its Morning Edition Host and a Jefferson Exchange producer in August 2017.

She previously worked as a reporter for the Roseburg News-Review, where she covered city government and housing. Before that, she covered the oil and gas industry and local government on the Oregon-Idaho border.

April served a two-year stint with AmeriCorps, where she worked with nonprofits helping low-income communities in rural Oregon. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English at Cal-State University, Fullerton, where she worked as an editor for the campus paper.

When she is not at work or napping between shifts, April is likely hiking through nearby forests with a rambunctious border collie, or reading fiction at home with her two favorite cats.

 

Josephine County officials are again asking rural voters if they would like a publicly funded fire district. But this time, it’s in the form of an advisory question on the May 21 ballot.


Smoke-filled summers caused parts of southern Oregon to violate national air quality standards in 2017. Now the state is asking federal regulators to disregard those smoky days when calculating overall air quality measurements.


A rare salamander that only exists on the Oregon-California border is at the heart of a potential lawsuit against the federal government.

 


Wolf populations are increasing in Oregon, which makes a proposed wolf management plan released Monday all the more controversial. In fact, neither conservationists nor cattle owners are entirely happy with the proposal.


Coastal species that were once only seen in Baja, Mexico, are now showing up as far north as the Oregon coast. Scientists say the influx is unprecedented.

Snow levels on Mount Ashland last year were, for the lack of a better term, depressing. The ski resort was closed through much of the season because of weak snow levels.

But now, the mountain is booming. By the end of February, Southern Oregon’s snowpack was 115 percent of the normal. Oregon’s statewide snowpack was 120 percent of normal. Other areas even had averages reaching 200 percent of normal.

Outside the remote town of Elkton, Oregon, the Cisco family’s four small dogs are bundled in puffy jackets. So is the family of three elderly sisters and their niece. You can see their breath when they speak.

This week’s winter storm left thousands of Oregonians without electricity. Many residents in Douglas County didn’t have power for several days, and some will continue to lack power for several more.

Parts of the county got more than a foot of snow over the weekend, triggering a wave of blackouts. 

Pacific Power has restored power to most of its customers. But rural homes serviced by the local utility, Douglas Electric Company, could remain without power for several more days.

Layoffs and even bankruptcy have burdened Oregon newspapers this year, and it’s only February.

Adding to the list are the Ashland Daily Tidings and the Medford Mail Tribune, which lost five editorial positions this month.

Destructive wildfires along the California-Oregon border in recent years has the U.S. Forest Service pursuing projects to clear forests of burnt debris and trees that could feed future fires.

The Josephine County Sheriff's Office is looking for deputies, and it’s letting the world know through a flashy YouTube recruitment video.

To President Donald Trump, the government shutdown is a means to an end. But for millions of other Americans, it’s a threat to their food source or their housing.

Dawn Myers manages Oregon’s food stamp program. She says her department has been fielding calls from worried people.

“It’s a difficult time,” Myers said. “It’s always stressful for people when they’re unsure about receiving benefits.”

The Boy Scouts of America is now allowing girls into its program, and all-female troops are appearing around the country, including in Southern Oregon.

Ryan Schnobrich of Ashland has been in the Boy Scouts almost all his life. He’s part of the third generation of his family to achieve the top rank of Eagle Scout.

Now his daughter can carry on the tradition. He has helped form an all-female Boy Scout troop based in Ashland.

For Schnobrich, it’s not about Girl Scouts versus Boy Scouts. It’s about sharing the same childhood experiences he had with his daughter.

For the last few months Southern Oregonians have been awash in slick mailers, TV commercials and online ads about a Canadian energy company. But at first glance, you might not realize that they’re advertising a natural gas project.

The mailers are large and glossy. They show photos of people who could easily be your neighbors roasting marshmallows and camping down by the lake, or sitting on barstools at a nearby diner.

They say things like “we are your neighbors and friends” and “protecting Oregon’s natural beauty.”

The housing crunch across the West Coast has cities taking a closer look at their affordable housing programs or forming new ones. But the city of Ashland in Southern Oregon is considering changes to its decades-old program because of one condominium charging exorbitant management fees.

Ashland’s affordable housing program requires certain housing tracts to offer some affordable units. That helped one retired couple get into the Turrell Terrace Luxury condos in Ashland.

Despite winter storms, the National Park Service is not plowing roads or helping lost tourists due to the partial government shutdown. It’s created a dangerous situation for anyone choosing to venture into the snow.

The main entry roads to the lake are closed, but people can still strap on their skis and head into the park at their own risk. There was a severe weather warning as of Wednesday morning.

Sheila Powley owns the Whispering Pines Motel, one of the few businesses just outside the park.

The internet might seem to connect everyone, but there are still towns in Oregon and California that lack a broadband connection.

Starting next year, they can begin applying for federal dollars to help them get a network. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently launched ReConnect, a pilot program that will provide loans and grants to cities needing a broadband connection.

Temperatures are dipping into the low thirties in Southern Oregon, but many places don’t have warming centers where homeless people can find respite from cold. A member of a church in Grants Pass is trying to change that for his city.

Grants Pass doesn’t have an easily accessible homeless shelter. It also doesn’t have a warming center where people can seek temporary shelter from the cold.

Larry Sample manages community services at the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He plans on establishing a warming center in the church’s lower levels.

A land-use group says Oregon policymakers are dawdling on creating policies that better plan for wildfires. 1000 Friends of Oregon outlined suggested policy changes in a report released Monday.

Urban deer are rampant in many Oregon cities. They eat people’s gardens, chase people with dogs, and weave through traffic. But starting in January, some cities will have a chance to get deer kill permits from the state.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday is proposing rules for a pilot program allowing cities to kill deer. As they’re drafted, the rules largely put responsibility for running the program into the hands of cities.

The state of Oregon is suing Josephine County over smart meters.

Josephine County this fall passed an ordinance prohibiting Pacific Corp from charging customers higher rates for opting out of its smart meters program. The digital meters use wireless networks to send information to the company.

Pacific Corp — through its Oregon-based subsidiary Pacific Power — is charging customers an extra $36 a month for opting out. That’s because without the wireless network turned on, the company has to pay someone to read their meters.

After just two years on the job, Klamath Water Users Association president Scott White is stepping down.

The group represents irrigators’ interests in the Klamath Basin along the Oregon-California border.

Before joining the association in 2016, White was the Oregon official in charge of enforcing water rights in the basin.

During his tenure, the basin has faced water shortages and lawsuits between the interests of ranchers, farmers, and endangered fish. 

He says maneuvering through the different jurisdictions is “extremely complex.”

Native and indigenous women have cried out for decades against the high rates of violence inflicted against them. And this year, they’re getting louder: many are running for elective office, and others are pushing for policy changes.

Earlier this fall a major California winery canceled $4-million-worth of orders with Southern Oregon winegrowers over smoke taint. But what exactly is smoke taint?

Enologist Anita Oberholster of the University of California, Davis, Extension says it's what happens when a grape’s ripening skin absorbs fresh smoke, resulting in a flavor that’s like an old ashtray.

Except that it's not really a flavor.

“We say taste but it’s really a retronasal smell at the back of the throat,” Oberholster said. “But it feels like it is a taste.”

In an effort to keep illegal marijuana out of the black market, an Oregon state commission has assigned grant funds to help counties beef up patrols. Southern Oregon is getting most of those funds.

A good chunk of the illegal weed pouring out of Oregon is grown in rural areas with underfunded sheriff’s departments, including Josephine and Jackson counties. That’s why lawmakers passed a bill that would open up 1.5 million dollars to counties wanting extra law enforcement.

Dozens of wildfires are filling the West Coast skies with thick smoke. In Southern Oregon, unhealthy air has forced people to wear smoke-filtering masks almost every day for more than a month. It has become part of the norm.

But in recent weeks, people have gotten tired of wearing the plain white paper masks every day. Instead, they’re investing in nicer ones made of fabric, and some even have artsy designs.


Hundreds of Redding residents didn’t have much notice before they heard sirens blaring through their neighborhoods Thursday night, calling for immediate evacuations. People who left were snagged by traffic. If they tried to find a hotel, they were likely out of luck; most were booked solid clear down to Sacramento.

So they ended at an evacuation center, like the one at Shasta College. Cots covered the gym floors, and despite the midday noise, many evacuees slept solidly. They were exhausted. It was hot. And they didn’t know when they could return home, or if their home was left standing.

Wildfires are pouring smoke into the valleys of southern Oregon, making hazardous air that’s nearly unbreathable.

UPDATE: As of Sunday morning, the Klamathon fire has grown to 30,500 acres and is 25 percent contained. The fire continues to spread into the Klamath National Forest. 

Ten people are reported missing in the Siskiyou County area.

One Hornbrook resident has died, and one firefighter is hospitalized with severe burns, but he is expected to make a full recovery. The agencies didn't provide more information about the people who are missing or the person who has died.