News Stories Mon., Dec. 18, 2017

LOS ANGELES (AP) — While crews got a break from slightly calmer winds on the lines of the enormous blaze threatening Santa Barbara County, much of the rest of Southern California was buffeted by powerful gusts that increased the wildfire risk across the region. Some 8,000 firefighters are deployed to the Thomas Fire, which still threatens 18,000 homes. Officials say the blaze is on course to become the largest wildfire in California’s modern history.

Seattle (AP) – Washington state officials have canceled the lease of a salmon farm where more than 160,000 adult Atlantic salmon escaped into the Puget Sound last summer. The Seattle Times reports in a story on Sunday that Public Lands State Commissioner Hilary Franz says the decision is final with no room for negotiation. Franz says the Washington Department of Natural Resources will work with Cooke Aquaculture Pacific and other state agencies to complete an orderly shutdown and removal of the farm. The farm currently holds about 700,000 Atlantic salmon.

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians has created its own electric utility to serve its expanding casino-hotel complex in Airway Heights. The move will help the tribe reduce its monthly power bill at Northern Quest Resort and Casino and chart is own economic destiny, officials said last week. Kalispel Tribe Utilities is organized as a public utility district. It purchases wholesale power from the federal Bonneville Power Administration, sets its rates and delivers the electricity. The utility will be a business recruitment tool for the tribe, which will be able to offer competitive rates and power generated mostly from hydroelectric dams along the Columbia River and its tributaries. The Kalispels are the 12th U.S. tribe to operate its own utility, and the fourth tribe in the Northwest.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Peter DeFazio announced Friday that the Coquille Indian Tribe of Southwest Oregon will receive a Federal Transit Administration grant of $200,000 through the Tribal Transit Program to expand their transportation services. The Coquille tribe’s project is one of 36 transit projects in 19 states to receive funding through FTA’s Tribal Transit Program this year, and, the only one in Oregon.