Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, May 24 2012 at 4:21 PM, Updated: Thu, May 24 2012 at 4:37 PM
A Klamath Falls subdivision that is contaminated with asbestos may also hold some important links to the past. A cultural resource survey is now underway at North Ridge Estates.
Perry Chocktoot's ancient ancestors may have called North Ridge Estates 'home'...
"This is extremely culturally significant out here - extremely." Chocktoot notes that archeologists are now combing the area for evidence. "You're going to find lithic scatters, you're going to find house pits, and like I said, in the vaulted and lofted areas, you're going to find spiritual areas."
The site is also contaminated.
Asbestos wasn't properly disposed of when a former Marine base was torn down. And now, just a few of the 39 homes that were built in the area are occupied.
But, Denise Baker-Kircher of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that North Ridge is now in line for 20 million dollars in federal funding for clean up...
"If all things go well, we'll be able to start moving dirt in May of 2013. The clean up would take three years to do."
But, Chocktoot notes that clean up could be delayed if significant archeological finds are made...
"I'm really, really hoping that we don't find anything in these areas, that this asbestos has been buried on." Chocktoot adds that the job is now a balance to preserve human health, and human history. "For us, we have to work together to try to clean this up. This poses a threat to all of the general public."
And making the area safe for future generations...while honoring its past.
Tribal officials caution that unauthorized artifact hunting is illegal. Extra patrols of North Ridge Estates are being made while the cultural survey is conducted.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.