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Sep 27, 2013 - The Associated Press

Refuge may open for hunting

LARAMIE -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to allow hunting on the Cokeville-Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in western Wyoming.

Project leader Tom Koerner says the agency's draft management plan is an important step toward allowing more public access to the refuge in Lincoln County.

He said that in addition to hunting, the agency is planning to allow fishing, wildlife viewing, photography, environmental education and interpretation at the refuge.

The agency is accepting public comment until Oct. 24 on its proposal.

Farmers arrested in listeria outbreak

DENVER -- The owners of a Colorado cantaloupe farm were arrested Thursday on charges stemming from a 2011 listeria epidemic that killed 33 people in one of the nation's deadliest outbreaks of foodborne illness.

Federal prosecutors said brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen were arrested on misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. Each man faces six counts.

They pleaded not guilty in federal court and were released on unsecured bonds. Trial is scheduled for Dec. 2.

Prosecutors said the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined the Jensens didn't adequately clean the cantaloupe.

Criminal charges in food poisoning cases are rare, said attorney William Marler, who represents many of the listeria victims in civil cases against Jensen Farms. Only four other people have faced such charges in the past decade, he said.

The FDA has said the melons likely were contaminated in Jensen Farms' packing house. It concluded that dirty water on a floor, and old, hard-to-clean equipment probably were to blame.

Bill OK'd to avert helium shortage

WASHINGTON -- Congress has moved to avert an impending shutdown of the federal helium reserve, a key supplier of the lighter-than-air gas used in a products ranging from party balloons to MRI machines.

The Federal Helium Program, which provides about 42 percent of the nation's helium from a storage site in Texas, was set to shut down Oct. 7 unless lawmakers intervened. Closing the reserve could cause a worldwide helium shortage.

The Senate unanimously approved a bill extending the helium reserve on Thursday, a day after the House approved the measure, also unanimously. The bill now goes to the president.

The measure includes a $329 million, one-year extension of a federal subsidy for timber-dependent counties, mostly in the West. Oregon would get $100 million.

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