August 16, 2011 in Region

NW today: Trout face climate change troubles

Compiled from wire reports

What’s news in the Northwest today:

BOISE — A study by fisheries researchers concludes that climate change might cut the West’s trout habitat in half over the next 70 years. The Idaho Statesman reports the study was published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Trout Unlimited’s Seth Wenger and U.S. Forest Service biologist Dan Isaak were among 11 researchers who found, among other things, that cutthroat habitat could dwindle between 33 percent and 58 percent. That’s after the range of cutthroat habitat has already shrunk by more than 85 percent due to competition from non-native species like rainbow trout and brook trout. Two subspecies have already gone extinct. Isaak said he knows there will be skeptics but defends the foundations of the research. The climate predictions are based on 10 of the 20 climate models developed independently worldwide that all show the world is getting warmer. “The climate models have been right for 30 years and they are getting better all the time,” Isaak said. The study concludes warmer winters are causing more winter floods that wash away the gravel that holds brook and brown trout eggs.

Oregon state trooper jailed on shooting charge

ALBANY, Ore. — An Oregon State Police sergeant has been accused of firing a round through the door of his house in Albany, leading to a standoff with officers. The Albany Democrat-Herald reports that 41-year-old Corey John Simons faces charges of reckless endangering and unlawful use of a weapon. Albany police say they went to Simons’ house Sunday night after an acquaintance called them saying Simons was depressed and she feared he might harm himself. When police arrived, they heard a shot and called for reinforcements. About three hours later, Simons, alone in the house, gave up. Police say he was taken to the hospital for mental evaluation, jailed and then released. A State Police spokesman said today that Simons is on paid leave, and the agency would do an internal investigation.

Port Angeles Border Patrol supervisor not bored

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — The Port Angeles Border Patrol supervising agent says there’s plenty of important work for agents: watching for terrorists, drug smugglers and illegal aliens on the Olympic Peninsula. Agent Jose Romero told a Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday there’s no reason for anyone to be bored. The Peninsula Daily News reports Romero did not mention agent Christian Sanchez by name. Sanchez told an open government group in Washington, D.C., last month that the Port Angeles station was a “black hole” where many of the 40 agents had so little to do they sometimes passed time by driving around the peninsula — something they called the “Baja 500.” The Border Patrol says Sanchez is still employed and the agency is investigating his allegations.

Athol-area community has arsenic in drinking water

ATHOL — Tests of a small North Idaho community water system showed arsenic at levels about nine times what the federal government allows, prompting residents to drink bottled water. The Coeur d’Alene Press reports a test two months ago showed naturally occurring arsenic in the Lynnwood Estates Water Association well near Athol reached 91 parts per billion. The federal limit is 10 ppb. Arsenic is a potent poison. The well serves 18 homes. Since then, the arsenic level has plummeted, but it’s still above the federal limit. Some Department of Environmental Quality officials speculate the spike was a seasonal occurrence. One resident, Bill Campbell, said he’s drinking bottled water — and considering a lawsuit. Association officials considered installing water filters inside homes, but they are expensive at $180 every six months.

Trucker charged in fatal N. Idaho head-on crash

BOISE — A Washington state trucker faces a felony vehicular manslaughter charge in North Idaho, where police say he lost control of his tractor-trailer last winter and struck the car of a 27-year-old Montana woman who later died of her injuries. Court records show a preliminary hearing for Yuriy Kushniruk, of Vancouver, Wash., has been scheduled for Aug. 30 in Idaho’s Shoshone County. Police say Kushniruk was traveling too fast for road conditions on Jan. 6 when he lost control of his truck and went over the center median on Interstate 90 near Wallace and struck a car head-on. The driver of the car, Kate Cummings of Missoula, died of her injuries six days after the crash. KPAX-TV first reported Kushniruk was being charged in Idaho.

Child psychiatrist faces child pornography charges

BILLINGS — A Billings child and adolescent psychiatrist plans to plead guilty to a federal charge of possessing child pornography in exchange for a lighter sentence. The Billings Gazette reports that Dr. James Peak previously told investigators that he had a collection of child porn. Peak was suspended from Billings Clinic, where he was one of four practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists, when officials there learned of the investigation. Peak will plead guilty to one count of possession of child pornography, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court on Monday. The crime normally carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But the plea deal calls for the prosecutor to recommend a lesser sentence because of Peak’s “extraordinary acceptance of responsibility.” The agreement also would require Peak to register as a sex offender. Peak’s attorney declined to comment, as did U.S. Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jessica Fehr. A judge must approve the agreement, though a hearing has not yet been set.

Liquor profits top $50 million for first time in Idaho

BOISE — Idaho posted a $50.1 million profit from liquor sales last year, as people paid more per bottle and as the agency that sells booze to Idaho trimmed staff. Idaho State Liquor Division head Jeff Anderson told the Idaho Statesman that liquor sale revenues in fiscal year 2011 were $144 million. Though the figure hasn’t been audited, it compares with $46 million in profits and $137.6 million in revenue in 2010. Anderson says Idaho’s lower liquor prices may have lured more cross-border customers from Washington, but since the agency doesn’t track where its customers live it can’t quantify the impact. The Legislature told the agency to trim personnel costs, resulting in what Anderson called “a small reduction in force.” Cities, counties and courts get the lion’s share of liquor division profits.

Agency urges safety review at Hanford plant

RICHLAND — An independent nuclear safety agency is urging the Energy Department to take a closer look at the safety culture at the Hanford vitrification plant — the $12 billion facility being built to turn high-level radioactive waste into glass logs for long-term storage. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board sent the DOE a letter, made public Monday, urging the department to take another look at union grievances and review the way a whistle-blower was handled. The department says it takes the advice seriously and promotes a robust safety culture. The Tri-City Herald reports vit plant workers were told Monday they would be surveyed to provide data for a nationwide review of the Energy Department’s safety culture.

Cubs owner pans Boise’s minor league baseball park

BOISE — The owner of the Chicago Cubs says the baseball stadium in Boise that hosts his Class-A team is not up to the standards of other minor league ballparks in the organization. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts toured Memorial Stadium Monday along with others who support building a new ballpark in the area. Ricketts says the Boise Hawks stadium is cramped, outdated and lacks the amenities found in many other minor league parks nationwide. The stadium was built in 1989 with $2.3 million in private money. Supporters of building a new stadium are pushing to raise money and public backing for a sports and entertainment complex that would house the Hawks and other events. While Ricketts supports a new stadium, he did not offer any money Monday to pay for it.

Plane crash victims were student, instructor

BUTTE — Authorities say the two Butte men who died in a single-engine plane crash were an aviation student and his instructor. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mike Fergus confirmed to the Montana Standard that those two men were the only people aboard the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk when it crashed Monday morning five miles west of Butte. It was not immediately known which man was piloting the plane. Their names have not yet been released. The plane is registered to J.J. Aviation, an airplane rental and flight instruction school based in Butte. The two-seater is designed for flight training and general aviation. FAA and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were at the site of the crash on Monday evening.

Helena man hospitalized after police use stun gun

HELENA — A 41-year-old Helena man has been hospitalized after authorities used a stun gun twice to subdue him. A hospital spokeswoman told the Independent Record that Roger Chandler was in serious condition Monday. Lewis and Clark County sheriff’s deputies and Montana Highway Patrol officers were responding to a report of a man acting violently at a residence. They tried to talk the man out of a camper next to the home, then used a Taser when he burst through the door. Sheriff Leo Dutton said Chandler continued to be combative after the first shot, so he was stunned again and restrained. Chandler became unresponsive after eight minutes and was taken to the hospital. Dutton said the officers responded appropriately and that he suspected a substance caused Chandler’s erratic behavior.

Oregon mother gets probation in home circumcision

PORTLAND — An Oregon woman who tried to circumcise her 3-month-old son at home after reading the Old Testament and watching YouTube videos has been sentenced to five years of probation. Keemonta Peterson pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal mistreatment. The 30-year-old Portland woman must also undergo mental health treatment. Peterson called 911 and the boy was rushed to a hospital last October after her botched effort left the infant bleeding uncontrollably. A prosecutor said the boy has fully recovered. The Oregonian reports the boy and his three siblings are in the state’s care, although Peterson can see them under supervision. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Eric Bergstrom told Peterson on Monday that “the reality is you love your children and had absolutely no intent to harm your child.”

Bighorn sheep transplants proposed for Montana

BILLINGS — Montana wildlife officials are proposing to transplant bighorn sheep into three areas in the southwestern portion of the state as part of an effort to restore the animals to their historical habitat. If the proposal is approved by the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission, bighorn sheep would be captured from other sites in Montana and moved to release sites possibly as soon as this winter. The areas that would receive sheep are the Bull Mountains near Whitehall, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, and Doherty Mountain, which is just north of the caverns. Officials said the three areas could support 200 to 300 sheep. A public comment period on the proposal is open through Sept. 12.

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