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Out & About: National forests hurdle language barrier

OUTSPOKEN – A pilot “on demand” phone interpretation service to enhance public service to non-native English speakers has been announced by the Pacific Northwest Region of the USDA Forest Service for its offices in Oregon and Washington.

“We are committed to improving public access to Forest Service programs to foster respectful and inclusive interactions with the people and communities we serve,” said Jim Peña, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester in Portland.

“We want to ensure everyone has access to the information they need to fully participate.”

The new phone service offers language interpretation at Forest Service offices, visitor centers and in the outdoors when phone service is available throughout national forests in Washington and Oregon.

Visitors will be asked to identify their language, and Forest Service staff will call an interpretation specialist.

The pilot contract held with TransPerfect provides interpretation for 170 languages. Call data will be assessed to determine the need for future services.

The services already is being used in the private sector, including businesses such as banks.

Approximately one in five people nationwide have limited English proficiency, the Forest Service says.

The Pacific Northwest Region consists of 16 national forests, 59 district offices, a national scenic area, and a national grassland. These management units comprise 24.7 million acres in Oregon and Washington and employ about 3,550 employees.

So far, there’s no word – in any language – when this service will be available region-wide.

Shuttle service starts for Little Spokane River

OUTPADDLE – The Little Spokane River shuttle service for paddlers has resumed this summer with an expanded season that started on Saturday and runs Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., through Sept. 5.

The shuttle is operated by Spokane Parks and Recreation Department to reunite river paddlers with their vehicles.

The van will run between the Nine Mile take-out and the St. George’s put-in. Cost: $8 per person. Vehicles parked at either of the access points must have a Discover Pass.

Register for shuttles at spokaneparks.org.

Info: 363-5418.

Glacier Park shuttle starts

OUTRIDE – Glacier National Park’s free shuttle system that provides shuttle services along the Going-to-the-Sun Road opened this week and runs through Sept. 7.

 The shuttle is a boon to hikers.

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The basketball court at the McCarthey Athletic Center is photographed before an NCAA college basketball game between Gonzaga and BYU, Feb. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) (Young Kwak / AP Photo)

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