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Tribes seek more water

(AP) -- Members of three Northern California Indian tribes rallied outside a federal water agency office in Sacramento to demand more water be released from reservoirs to prevent the spread of a parasite among salmon returning to the Klamath River to spawn.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says Regional Director David Murillo met for an hour Tuesday with members of the Hoopa Valley, Yurok and Karuk tribes.

There was no indication the bureau was changing its plans to hold off any water releases until significant numbers of salmon begin to die.

But Murillo said in a statement they are closely watching the situation and meeting with interested parties.

The Klamath Basin is in a severe drought, which has forced cuts in irrigation for farms, as well as river levels for fish.

Hetch Hetchy suit

(AP) -- A nonprofit group in Fresno says a massive reservoir that serves more than 2 million people in the San Francisco Bay Area is harming endangered fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy and Reliability filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service this week arguing the park service has failed to ensure Hetch Hetchy reservoir doesn't negatively impact endangered species.

The group says Hetch Hetchy takes fresh water from the Delta, increasing its salinity and hurting endangered salmon, smelt and sturgeon.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that the nonprofit has ties to Fresno's Westlands Water District, which supplies farmers with irrigation water from the Delta.

Reno bike path

(AP) -- A regional boss for the Environmental Protection Agency is lauding the work of a Reno-area nonprofit building a 116-mile bicycle path that follows the Truckee River all the way from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake.

The Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway was one of eight organizations in the western U.S. the EPA named as 2013 winners of its “environmental champion” award.

EPA Southwest Administrator Jared Blumenfeld said Tuesday the group had an “incredible vision” to connect the two lakes with a bike trail traversing the “spectacular landscape.”

The effort that began in 2003 will be 75 percent complete when the newest section is scheduled to open Aug. 23 between Floriston and Farad, Calif.

The final gaps remain in the mountains between Truckee, Calif., and Verdi, and east of Reno near Sparks and Fernley.

Grand Canyon bid

(AP) -- A lucrative contract to operate some of the most iconic lodging and food locations at the Grand Canyon has been reopened for bidding in a process that will bring changes affecting the millions of people who visit the landmark each year.

The 15-year contract first went out for bid a year ago. But Grand Canyon Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said the park didn't receive any bids.

The new contract requires that the winning bidder expand patio dining at the historic El Tovar lodge.

It also calls on the winning bidder to demolish six outdated Maswik South lodge units and replace them with 90 standard rooms and 30 rooms with kitchenettes by 2017. In addition, rooms at the rustic Bright Angel lodge must be upgraded.

Bids are due in October, with the contract to be awarded in January, potentially bringing in nearly $1 billion in gross revenue over the next 15 years for the winning vendor.

Lowe's 2Q net

(AP) -- Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) second-quarter net income increased 10 percent, bolstered by improving weather.

The Mooresville, N.C., company earned $1.04 billion, or $1.04 per share, for the three months ended Aug. 1. A year earlier it earned $941 million, or 88 cents per share.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $16.6 billion from $15.71 billion.

Sales at stores open at least a year, a key indicator of a retailer's health, climbed 4.4 percent.

Solar installer stumbles

(Bloomberg) -- Real Goods Solar Inc. (Nasdaq: RGSE), a U.S. photovoltaic panel installer, fell to the lowest in almost a year after reporting a wider quarterly loss and replacing its chief executive officer as it focuses on residential rooftops.

Real Goods shares have declined 40 percent this year.

Real Goods promoted residential rooftop unit President Dennis Lacey to replace Kamyar Mofid as CEO in a shift away from money-losing commercial installations, the Louisville, Colo.-based company said.

“RGS is shifting its focus to exclusively drive sales in the residential market given 20 percent gross margin profile relative to negative results in the commercial sector,” Jeffrey Osborne, an analyst at Cowen & Co. in Boston said Wednesday.

For the second quarter, Real Goods reported its net loss widened to $21.4 million, or 46 cents a share, from $2.91 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier. Gross margin shrank to 11 percent from 23 percent, partly because of costs associated with its commercial rooftop segment.

Divesting REITs

(Bloomberg) -- UBS O'Connor LLC, the $5.6 billion hedge fund unit within Switzerland’s biggest bank, sold most of its stakes in U.S. real estate investment trusts during the second quarter after the companies delivered some of the highest stock-market returns in the past year.

O'Connor cut its holdings by more than $900 million, selling almost every type of REIT, including those backed by apartments, offices, mortgage bonds, campgrounds, cell-phone towers and hotels, according to a filing last week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Managers with more than $100 million in U.S. equities are required to file a form with the SEC.

The O'Connor filing showed the market value of its U.S. equities at $4.6 billion as of June 30, a $513 million reduction from the prior quarter. It still held more than $200 million of REITs, the filing shows.

REITs returned 15 percent in the first half of the year, according to the Bloomberg REIT Index, beating the 6.1 percent gain in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of large U.S. companies. Since June 30, REITs have advanced 2.4 percent through Tuesday, compared with a 1.1 percent increase in the S&P 500.

Carillion stops pursuit

(Bloomberg) -- Carillion Plc stopped pursuing a merger with Balfour Beatty Plc to form Britain's biggest builder after its increased offer was rejected.

Balfour Beatty turned down Carillion's advances, which would have formed a company with a market valuation of more than 3 billion pounds ($5 billion), several times since news of the talks was made public July 24.

Carillion on Tuesday made a new merger bid for Balfour Beatty, valuing it at 2.1 billion pounds. The offer would have given Balfour Beatty investors 58.3 percent of the new company and a cash dividend of 8.5 pence per Balfour Beatty share.

Cement in Britain

(Bloomberg) -- HeidelbergCement AG, operator of the Hanson cement brand in Britain, said a boom in U.K. housebuilding hasn't raised construction spending to pre-recession levels as investors still hesitate to build office blocks and shopping centers.

“Everyone gets very euphoric about the housing recovery, thinking that the U.K. construction industry has recovered,” Patrick O'Shea, head of the Hanson unit, said.

“It's still 20 percent below where it was at the peak, even with the housing and the infrastructure booms, which are both by-and-large government initiatives.”

“Commercial is the biggest sector at something like 20 billion pounds, but our projection for its growth rate from 2013 to 2017 is only 3 percent annually,” the executive said. In contrast, he predicts housing and infrastructure investment will average about 7 percent growth annually to 2017.

Rebuilding Travelodge buy

(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Goldentree Asset Management LP and Avenue Capital Group LLC, which acquired Travelodge Hotels Ltd. in a debt restructuring in 2012, agreed to buy 144 U.K. hotels leased to the company.

The deal is valued at about 500 million pounds ($830 million), the London-based Times reported Wednesday.

Travelodge is adding properties and renovating its buildings in an effort to improve profitability. “We are well on our way to building a new Travelodge,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Gowers said. “In the past 18 months we have invested 57 million pounds in modernizing our hotels, helping us attract more business customers.”

The budget-hotel chain, based in Thame, England, operates 500 hotels and 38,000 rooms in the U.K., Ireland and Spain, according to its website.

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