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Thursday: Plane Wreck Found, Kootenai Logging Halted, Oil Skimmer

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today, authorities found four bodies inside the wreckage of a small plane Wednesday on a rugged hillside in northwestern Montana, bringing a tragic end to a 2½-day search for a group of friends who went out for an afternoon sightseeing trip and never returned. Cafe Kandahar Chef Andy Blanton is raising funds to aid Gulf fishermen affected by the oil spill there. Many contractors around the Flathead, previously accustomed to building high-end homes, are reinventing themselves doing renovations and other smaller scale work. A federal judge has blocked three logging projects in the Kootenai National Forest over claims they would harm the area’s endangered grizzly bear population. And Wild Bill Schneider weighs in on a ballot measure to eliminate certain outfitter licenses.

Campers will be able to make reservations at up to 21 of Montana’s 54 state parks beginning next spring. Two severe storms dropping golf ball- and baseball-size hail moved through the Bozeman area Wednesday, knocking out power to more than a thousand customers and damaging buildings, vehicles and trees. With hurricane-whipped waves pushing more oil onto the Gulf of Mexico’s once-white beaches, the government pinned its latest cleanup hopes Wednesday on a huge new piece of equipment: the world’s largest oil-skimming vessel. A Flathead County Deputy Attorney intends to swim the length of Flathead Lake to raise money for a 9-year-old girl with leukemia. Alcohol is too easy for kids to get and the sanctions against underage drinking are basically meaningless, a group of teenagers told lawmakers here Wednesday. Officers in Montana and six other states are increasing enforcement efforts along 1,500 miles of Interstate 94 over the holiday weekend.

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