Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, July 23, 2007

Salmon donated to Dillingham schools

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ANCHORAGE - The three schools in the town of Dillingham sit on the edge of the world's most productive sockeye salmon fishery, but they are depending on the generosity of local fishermen to be able to serve the healthy fish to students.

The schools can't afford to serve locally caught salmon, said food service manager Patty Luckhurst, so fishermen are donating 8,000 lbs. of kings and sockeyes to be served as school lunch.

Fishing representatives decided to pitch in after Luckhurst told a state Board of Fisheries meeting this winter that schools were serving cheaper, farmed trout.

"It's really always bothered me - here we sit on the best wild salmon in the world and our kids aren't being fed that," she said.

The Peter Pan Seafoods processing plant is turning the donated fish into 4,000 pounds of fillets, said Luckhurst.

The fillets are probably worth about $15,000, said Gayle Janzow, a plant representative.

"It's sad the schools resorted to farmed fish when you have this wonderful renewable resource right out the back door," she said. "We wanted to do our part and provide for our community."

Schools will not sell the trout this year, saving schools about $12,000 this year, Luckhurst said.

Weekly helpings of salmon will go to about 350 students, she said.

"I'm tickled to death," Luckhurst said. "My freezer's oozing."

Search for climbers yields stash of gear

PORTLAND, Ore. - Searchers looking for the bodies of two Mount Hood climbers found a stash of equipment Saturday they said confirms the climbers' plans to make a rapid ascent to the summit.

In December, searchers said they believed the climbers had "gone light," leaving behind equipment so they could climb faster and returning to it on the way back.

Saturday morning, searchers found a pack, maps, a sleeping bag and other gear in an A-frame shelter at about 5,500 feet.

The equipment was "hidden back in a cubbyhole underneath some plywood sheets," said search spokesman Devon Wells, a fire officer and member of the Crag Rats mountain rescue organization.

Three climbers died after they made it to the top of Mount Hood at 11,239 feet.

The body of Kelly James, 48, of Dallas, was airlifted from a snow cave near the summit. The bodies of Brian Hall, 37, also from Dallas, and Jerry "Nikko" Cooke, 36, of New York City were not found.

Wildfires threaten U.S. Air Force range

BOISE, Idaho - A wildfire in southern Idaho that grew by an estimated 200 square miles in 24 hours threatened facilities at a U.S. Air Force training range on Sunday, fire officials said.

The lightning-caused Murphy Complex of fires covered about 800 square miles and was burning less than a mile from a training range of Mountain Home Air Force Base. The Saylor Creek range is used by pilots before heading to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Officials with the base's security and fire departments on Sunday declined to comment about what type of facilities, if any, were at risk or how vulnerable they might be.

Chuck Dickson, an information officer for the fire, said tracking and radar facilities were at risk, but was not sure what else was on the range.

"When a fire moves as quickly as this one does, pushed by the wind, it creates a very hot heat front," Dickson said. "That will impact even steel structures quite easily."

The fire was about 5 percent contained, Dickson said, and mandatory evacuations remained in effect for the tiny towns of Murphy Hot Springs, Idaho, and Jarbidge, Nev.

Ranches in the area were also threatened, a lot of grazing area had been lost, and cattle likely had died in the fast-moving blaze, he said. He didn't have an estimate of how many cattle were on grazing allotments within the fire's perimeter.

About 7,500 residents in the sparsely populated region were threatened by the fire, but no one has been seriously injured, Dickson said.

Oregon firefighters gain control of blazes

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon firefighters are in for some rest and perhaps reassignments in the next few days as cooler, moister weather over much of the state helped contain wildfires.

Fire managers said they were making progress on most of the 13 fires or combinations of fires reported burning on about 300,000 acres.

There were a few exceptions:

• In the far northeast corner of the state, the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center reported that a complex of fires had grown east of the Imnaha River. The acreage of the fire had risen to 27,000 acres.

• In the center part of the state, near Monument, firefighters said a number of fires caused by lightning had merged into a 44,000-acre fire that was still growing.

• South of that, near Burns, firefighters said a small but vigorous blaze of about 250 acres had added itself to the long-running Egley complex of fires that two weeks ago appeared to threaten residences in town.

Roger Peterson, spokesman for the fire coordinating center, said the size of the forces at other fires would begin to wither as workers got to their duty limits - they're entitled to 48 hours at home after two weeks in the heat and dirt of the fire lines.

"To be able to get a couple of days off is pretty darn nice," Peterson said.

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