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Sun, Oct 01, 2023

Oregon Civil Air Patrol Wing Aids Army Corps of Engineers

Of Skyhawks and Full-Bird Colonels

Newly-installed commanders of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Portland District conducted an aerial survey of the dams and reservoirs of Oregon’s Willamette Valley during a 15 September 2023 flight operated by the Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP) Oregon Wing.

CAP Colonel Brian Bishop served as mission pilot for the flight with Colonel Dale Caswell, Jr., Army Corps district commander; and his deputy commander, Lieutenant Colonel Katie Werback; along with the district’s operations project manager, Erick Petersen.

Colonel Caswell took command of the Portland District in July 2023 and sought from the onset of his tenure to better understand the Willamette Valley system mission.

Mr. Petersen stated: “The flight gave [Colonel] Caswell a better understanding of the Portland District geography assets. This, along with topography of our area of responsibility and proximity of our assets to infrastructure and communities, was also helpful to the colonel.”

In a memo to the Oregon Wing, Mr. Petersen set forth: “The mission of the survey was to orient Caswell and Werback to the system of Willamette Valley dams and reservoirs, developed between 1939 and 1969, to manage flood risk for communities on the Willamette River and its tributaries. The system is comprised of 13 dams and reservoirs and prevents about $2-billion in damages due to flooding on an average annual basis.”

Petersen added: “This pre-flood season flyover was a great opportunity to review changes on the landscape since the 2020 wildfires that hit the McKenzie and North Santiam sub-basins particularly hard. The fires changed the hydrology affecting system reservoirs and basin flood risks. … Seeing the effects of the fires from the air helped facilitate a better understanding of the changes to the context of our mission.”

Notwithstanding heavy wildfire smoke that kept the CAP aircraft out of the McKenzie basin, Colonel Caswell and his entourage got what Petersen called “a great view of most of the system’s dams and reservoirs.”

“We will find an opportunity to get back in the air and see the McKenzie basin as well, when the current fires and smoke subsides,” Petersen asserted, adding: “It was the easiest flight venture I’ve undertaken in my 35-years with USACE, and produced a very successful day.”

Mr. Petersen concluded: “Civil Air Patrol has a unique mission and is an incredibly supportive partner, enabling us to easily get out and see a different view of our area of responsibility. We’re thankful for the opportunity we had on Sept. 15th and look forward to continuing partnering in the future.”

FMI: www.usace.army.mil


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