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SEATTLE, WA

State halts salmon farm permits after fish escape 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has directed the Department of Ecology to put on hold any new permits for net pens after thousands of Atlantic salmon escaped into Puget Sound earlier this month from a damaged salmon farm. 

It's not yet clear how many non-native Atlantic salmon escaped into Puget Sound from Canada-based Cooke Aquaculture's salmon farm off Cypress Island. Officials say the pens held about 305,000 fish. 

Inslee said the company must stop additional escapes, recover escaped fish and compensate those working to capture the escaped fish.

Washington has the largest marine finfish aquaculture industry in the U.S. with farms producing about 17 million pounds of Atlantic salmon each year, according to the state. 

MORRILTON, AK

Task force recommends deadline for herbicide use 

 An Arkansas task force has recommended limiting the in-crop use of the dicamba herbicide by April 15, which is after plants emerge from the soil. 

A task force member and farmer said the ag community was giving itself a "black eye" by using a product that is harming trees and gardens well away from crops and fields. 

The state implemented an emergency, 120-day ban on the sale and use of the herbicide after a wave of complaints about the damage to vegetables as well as vegetation susceptible to the herbicide. 

PENDLETON, OR

Mega-dairy owner caught in prostitution sting 

The owner of a controversial mega-dairy in Boardman, OR, has been arrested on charges of patronizing a prostitute and possessing methamphetamine. 

Lost Valley Farm owner Greg te Velde was arrested during a sting in Kennewick, WA. The Benton County Jail website says he was booked Aug. 19 and is free on bail. 

Lost Valley Farm general manager Travis Love said in a written statement that the company takes the allegations seriously, but can't comment. 

Oregon regulators approved the 30,000-cow dairy farm in March, turning aside complaints from a coalition of health and environmental groups. 

BILLINGS, MT

Montana wildlife reserve buys 46,000-acre ranch 

A sprawling central Montana nature reserve has purchased a 46,000-acre ranch bordering a federal refuge as it advances toward its goal of establishing a Connecticut-sized park where bison and other wildlife can roam freely. 

The American Prairie Reserve announced it had purchased the Two Crow Ranch about an hour north of Lewistown for an undisclosed sum. The deal brings the amount of land under the group's control to more than 399,000 acres.

Cattle grazing will continue at the Two Crow Ranch for at least the 18 months, Reserve President Sean Garrity said. There will be public access for camping, biking, horseback riding and other recreational activities, he said. 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Farmer fined $1.1M for plowing wetlands 

A California farmer will pay $1.1 million for plowing federally protected wetlands and streams, the U.S. Justice Department said, closing a years long legal battle that made him a rallying figure for critics of environmental regulation. 

The case began after John Duarte bought fallow land within federally protected wetlands and streams in 2012, and paid a contractor to deep till it, or rip it. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cited Duarte.

A federal court found against Duarte last year, saying the wetlands that Duarte tilled hadn't been plowed for at least 24 years. 

Duarte's lawyers argued that he was simply a farmer plowing a wheat field, and they said the seasonal wetlands survived the tilling. 

ENTERPRISE, OR

Authorities kill wolf following cattle attacks 

Oregon wildlife officials have killed a fourth member of a wolf pack in the northeast part of the state. 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife tells the Capital Press that officials killed the wolf in Wallowa County following attacks on cattle. The agency says the most recent wolf killed was a non-breeding female, and that the pack now has six adult wolves remaining and at least three pups. Two other wolves in neighboring packs were also killed for livestock attacks.

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