Northwest Digest

Posted: Friday, September 02, 2005

Body of Wyoming hiker recovered

FAIRBANKS - Rescuers have recovered the body of a Wyoming man who apparently died of exposure in the Alaska Range after losing his way while hiking with a friend.

Steven Lynch, 54, of Cody, Wyo., was wearing a cotton sweat shirt, jeans and a light rain jacket when he spent the night in chilly temperatures and rain over the weekend. Troopers and U.S. Air Force personnel recovered his body Tuesday afternoon about 50 miles southeast of Fairbanks.

Lynch, an experienced hunter, was carrying a 300 Winchester Magnum, according to Alaska State Trooper Michael Potter.

"He probably just planned to go out for a few hours from the camp," Potter said. "He was wearing all cotton, which is the worst fabric for cold, wet weather ... . The weather just got the best of him."

Temperatures in the area were hovering at about 40 degrees with rain, the trooper said.

"There was no snow on the ground, but snow had been up there in previous days and melted off," Potter said. "It was above freezing, but not by a lot."

Toxic chemicals halt housing development

FAIRBANKS - The discovery of cancer-causing chemicals has halted construction at the site of a planned $55 million housing development on Fort Wainwright, Army officials said.

Army officials cleared the 54-acre Taku Garden housing project of construction workers on Tuesday after soil testing revealed the presence of PCB, a hazardous chemical compound.

The level of PCB contamination in the area varied, but some soil samples showed "extremely high" levels, said Bob Hall, spokesman for the U.S. Army's Alaska garrison.

Army officials said they are still researching the scope of the contamination. Approximately 250 cubic yards of soil was originally excavated, most of which appears to be contaminated.

The contamination was discovered in late June when contractors breaking ground on the project reported a chemical odor in the soil.

The Army is studying aerial photos from the 1950s of since-demolished communications buildings in the area to locate the origin of the chemicals. Transformers used at those facilities could be the source of the PCBs. The chemical compound was used to insulate transformers and capacitors until it was banned in 1979, Hall said.

BIA sets hearings on casino proposal

WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Indian Affairs has scheduled five public hearings this month on a proposal by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to build a $300 million casino in Cascade Locks.

The hearings will be held Sept. 15 to Sept. 28 in Cascade Locks, Portland and Hood River, Ore., and Stevenson, Wash., as the agency prepares an environmental impact statement on the proposed casino in the scenic Columbia River Gorge.

Residents of Cascade Locks hope the casino will reverse an outgoing tide of businesses, people and services from the Columbia River town. And the tribes say the planned casino - just a 45-minute drive from Portland - would be a vast improvement over their present casino on a remote site on their reservation in Central Oregon.

The plan faces opposition from a coalition that represents a wide range of interests including environmentalists, fishing groups, gambling opponents and a tribe whose casino could lose business if one is built in Cascade Locks.

Governor, premier to discuss mine

KALISPELL, Mont. - Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and the premier of British Columbia plan to meet next week to discuss a number of boundary environmental issues, including controversial mining proposals just north of Glacier National Park.

"I'm sure they'll find they have a lot to talk about," Hal Harper, chief policy adviser to Schweitzer, said of the meeting planned Tuesday in the provincial capital of Victoria.

Schweitzer first pursued a meeting with Premier Gordon Campbell several months ago to talk about a proposed exploratory coal mine in the headwaters of the North Fork Flathead River. The location of the proposed mine is an area that has been under dispute by the two countries for decades, ever since coal mining was first proposed there in the late 1970s.

Downstream interests have long worried that industrial pollution could taint pristine Montana waters.

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