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In brief: U.S. 12 megaload faulted for blackout

Wed., April 13, 2011, midnight

LEWISTON – The heaviest truckload to ever travel across U.S. Highway 12 in North Idaho was blamed for knocking out power to more than 1,000 residents and delaying traffic longer than allowed by state transportation officials.

Idaho officials say the rig carrying Imperial Oil’s oversized shipment of refinery equipment clipped and snapped a guy wire for a high-voltage power line, setting off a chain reaction that shorted a power line and cut the electricity Monday night to 1,300 customers in the towns of Pierce and Wieppe.

The load was also blamed for snapping a tree branch and delaying traffic for an hour, three times longer than allowed under the state’s permit. The oil company was conducting a test trip for the equipment, which departed Lewiston on the first leg of a weeks-long journey across Idaho, through Montana, to the oil sands in southern Alberta.

The Idaho Transportation Department ordered the load to stay put at a turnout 12 miles west of Kooskia until the trucking contractor can file a report.

Meeting set for Trail of Coeur d’Alenes

The public is invited to a meeting Thursday of the commission that governs the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, which stretches 72 miles from Mullan to Plummer.

The meeting will start at 9 a.m. at the Heyburn State Park Visitor Center in Plummer.

An agreement between the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe establishes a partnership for the ownership, management and operation of the trail. Part of that called for a six-member commission to oversee trail management, a joint news release said.

Meetings are held twice per year.

For more information, call the tribe at (208) 686-1800 or the Department of Parks and Recreation at (208) 769-1511.

Stimson land swap plans under way

The U.S. Forest Service is working on a land exchange with Stimson Lumber Co. to protect wildlife habitat near Hope, Idaho.

The deal is expected to close this summer. The Idaho Panhandle National Forests will trade 995 acres for 922 acres of Stimson land.

Stimson’s land includes low elevation elk habitat, including winter range, travel corridors and calving grounds; grizzly bear habitat; and west slope cutthroat trout habitat. The Forest Service would trade land north of Bayview in the Three Sisters Peaks area and another parcel two miles west of Hoodoo Lake. The federal land doesn’t have public access and has lower quality wildlife habitat.

Forest Service spokesman Jason Kirchner said the trade is based on swapping parcels of equal values, which results in slightly more federal land exchanged. Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked on the deal.

Skull identified as that of missing man

CHEHALIS, Wash. – The skull found by a hiker March 26 near Mineral has been identified as from a Pierce County man who disappeared in 1985 with his girlfriend.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says Michael Lloyd Riemer was 36 when he and 21-year-old Diana Robertson were reported missing. Their 2-year-old daughter was found alone in a Spanaway store the same day.

Robertson’s remains were found in 1986 on an abandoned logging road within a mile of where the skull was found.

Lewis and Pierce County detectives are investigating.

Man sentenced in investment scheme

MEDFORD, Ore. – A southern Oregon man has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for bilking friends and family members out of retirement savings in an illegal scheme to develop land belonging to American Indian tribes in Montana.

Gilbert Birdinground Pugliano, of Medford, planned to buy and develop tribal land in Montana and return the profits to his investors, but he later found out his plan was illegal, the Mail Tribune reported.

Instead of returning the money he collected from clients, he used it to buy expensive cars and vacations.

Medford police said Pugliano, 32, has roots in an American Indian community in Montana, and it may have helped him convince victims that what he was doing was legitimate.

Cap proposed on accidental catches

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Federal regulators want a cap on king salmon accidentally caught by pollock trawlers in the Gulf of Alaska.

The limit is being proposed to help ailing sport and subsistence fishing in south-central Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.

The proposed cap of 22,500 salmon is less than half of last year’s bycatch. However, it is more than the eight-year average of 19,000 taken by commercial pollock fishermen.

Pollock, a low-cost whitefish, is used mostly to make fake crab and fish sticks.

The proposed cap is the mid-range number considered by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council at its meeting in Anchorage. Final action is expected at the council’s June meeting in Nome.

If approved, the change would go into effect in 2012.

“By and large, the majority of the comments I’ve received is that it’s time we did something,” said Duncan Fields, of Kodiak, one of six Alaskans on the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. “You can’t take large numbers of a species like chinook without any consequences.”


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