Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Neptune aviation will offer charter flights between Missoula and Billings beginning in September 2015.
Courtesy Neptune Aviation

Missoula's Neptune Aviation may be best known for its red and white firefighting airtanker fleet, but it also operates a thriving passenger air charter service.

Starting September 3, the company is adding a new Montana route to its existing lineup; two round-trip flights per week between Missoula and Billings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Doctors and state officials Wednesday launched a new effort to fight the over-use of narcotic prescription drugs in Montana.
(PD)

Doctors and state officials Wednesday launched a new effort to fight the over-use of narcotic prescription drugs in Montana. The main focus of the campaign is a website called "Know your dose MT" that contains tools to help doctors and patients decide when painkillers like hydrocodone are appropriate, and how to spot signs of addiction.

Fire officials now believe that the Reynolds Creek Fire was human-caused.
Corin Cates-Carney

Authorities now believe that the fire burning in Glacier National Park was human-caused, and the National Park Service is turning to the public for help.

Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa)
Matt Lavin (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The story of noxious weeds is the classic love story gone wrong. You see that beautiful so-and-so across the room, you hang out for a while, decide to move in together. But then you realize they’ve taken over your home, replaced your favorite stuff with useless junk and now you can’t seem to break up.

Heavy equipment loading coal at the Decker Coal Company.
Courtesy USDA NRCS

New legislation introduced this week aims to ensure taxpayers get the full value of coal mined from public lands. Critics say coal companies are ripping off American taxpayers by not paying their fair share of royalty payments.

Kathy Schaefer, regional director of women's health for Providence shows one of the new labor and delivery rooms at St. Patrick hospital in Missoula.
Eric Whitney

Missoula’s St. Patrick hospital invited the media to see its new family maternity center that opens Monday. Women’s Health Director Kathy Schaefer showed off one of the hospital’s seven rooms where moms will deliver babies.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

The City of Missoula has hit a speed bump in its effort to take ownership of the city’s water system. 

The current owner, the Carlyle Group, is trying to sell Mountain Water Company of Missoula, and several other local water systems, to Liberty Utilities, a company that operates an assortment of water, electric and gas utilities around the country.

Tuesday attorneys from the City of Missoula pleaded with the state Public Service Commission to stop, or at least slow down the sale to Liberty, while the city pursues its own attempt to take over the water utility through condemnation. Attorney Scott Stearns, representing Missoula, says the city wants to start making repairs to the aging and leaky system.

Critics claim coal companies are not paying their fair share of coal royalties.
Flickr user Erin Kinney(CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

Critics say that for decades the coal industry has gamed the system to underpay its fair share of federal coal royalties. They say those alleged schemes have padded the bottom lines of coal companies while short-changing state and local governments of tens of millions of dollars.

Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-sun Road is set to open from the west entrance to Logan Pass.
Glacier National Park (CC-BY-2)

Glacier National Park officials say they’ll open more of the Going to the Sun Road from the west side Wednesday, over the top of Logan Pass.

Fire danger sign
BLM

Despite cooler, wet weather, stage-1 fire restrictions remain active for most of western Montana, including Missoula, Lake, Ravalli, Sanders, Granite, Powell, Flathead, and Lincoln counties. Restrictions apply to all private, state, and federal land in these counties.

Fire officials say the Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park is now 30 percent contained.
Jennifer McKee

Updates on wildfires burning in and around western Montana.

Map of Solenex Lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park
Courtesy Montana Wilderness Association

A federal judge has given Interior Secretary Sally Jewell three weeks to take action on a Louisiana company’s natural gas leases near Glacier National Park that have been held up for 29 years.

Smoke over St. Mary Lake, July 26, 2015.
inciweb

Glacier National Park’s St. Mary Visitor Center reopens this morning.

Fire officials say the Reynolds Creek Fire now stands at  over 3,200 acres with 30 percent containment.

The Reynolds Creek Fire seen shortly after it was discovered on July 21, 2015.
Inciweb

Updates on wildfires burning in and around western Montana.

No smoke is visible from the Apgar Lookout webcam on the west side of Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park

As news of the fire on the east side of Glacier National Park spreads, some visitors there are packing their bags and heading west, taking their tourism dollars with them.

Before the fire, the Park was on pace to pass last year’s record setting attendance number of 2.3 million.

Committee members tour a former operating room in the MDC's old medical wing, which is now used to house communications equipment.
Steve Jess

Earlier this year the Montana Legislature voted to close the Montana Developmental Center in Boulder and transition its roughly 60 clients to community based group homes. A committee of lawmakers and community members has been working out the details of the transition. Thursday that committee took a tour of the MDC campus in Boulder. This slideshow from MTPR Capitol Reporter Steve Jess shows some of the things the committee saw at MDC.

Corin Cates-Carney

There's a red flag fire weather warning in effect for the third day in a row for the east side of Glacier National Park today where the Reynolds Creek Fire continues to burn out of control.

Fire officials now believe that the Reynolds Creek Fire was human-caused.
Corin Cates-Carney

Lindsay Pilon and Kayla Stephens were among those evacuated from northeast Glacier Tuesday when the Reynolds Creek fire began burning through what is now estimated at 4,000 acres of dry timber.

The two young women live and work in West Glacier and were leading family friends on an overnight trip.

Montana Developmental Center
Dan Boyce

Since the Montana Legislature voted earlier this year to close the Montana Developmental Center in Boulder and transition its roughly 60 clients to community based group homes, a committee of lawmakers and community members has been working out the details of the transition. Thursday that committee took a tour of the MDC campus in Boulder.

The Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier Park has burned 4,000 acres since Tuesday July 21.
Corin-Cates-Carney

The Reynolds Creek Fire, burning on the northeast side of Glacier National Park is still not contained but  has not grown significantly today.

The sky over St. Mary Lake is gray with smoke and the air hums with helicopters. At last estimate the Reynolds Creek fire six miles east of Logan Pass is burning 4,000 acres.

States Could Lose Federal Highway Funds Without Congressional Fix

Jul 23, 2015
If Congress fails to act by July 31, the federal government won’t have the ability to process transportation funding payments that were promised to states.
(PD)

The clock is ticking again toward the expiration of the current federal transportation funding bill. This week, the Senate agreed to debate a long-term funding bill. If Congress fails to act by July 31, the federal government won’t have the ability to process transportation funding payments that were promised to states.

File photo of fire fighters building fire line.
BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

The Cabin Gulch Fire east of Townsend is still being called 15 percent contained, although Public Information Officer Mariah Leuschen says the percentage will be greater when fire officials update numbers this evening.

Smoke from the Reynolds Creek Fire as seen from St. Mary visitor's center.
Glacier National Park

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag fire weather warning for the east side of Glacier National Park today from noon to 9:00 p.m., meaning high winds and low humidity, with temperatures in the 70s.

Cabin Gulch Fire 07-22-15
Courtesy Inciweb

From Front Street in Townsend, it’s hard to tell there’s a fire, except for the occasional fire engine and the unusual traffic around the Forest Service Office. But drive a few miles out of town on highway 12, and you soon find a landscape dominated by blackened and smoldering trees. No flames are visible from the highway, but Forest Service public information officer Marvin Carpenter says only a fraction of the fire has been put out.

Evening Newscast 07-22-15

Jul 22, 2015
MTPR Evening Newscast
Josh Burnham

It’s been a busy day for firefighters in central and western Montana today. The fire burning on the east side of Glacier National Park is now estimated at 2,000 acres, and a mandatory evacuation order has been issued the west shore of lower St. Mary Lake, according to the Glacier County Sheriff's department. People on the lake's east side are being told to prepare for possible evacuation. Going-to-the-Sun road remains closed from St. Mary to the Big Bend on the west side. Most of Glacier National Park is open however.

East of Townsend, the Cabin Gulch Fire has burned an estimated at 2,500 acres and is threatening structures. Evacuation warnings are in-place between Cabin Gulch Road and Skidway campground.

In the Bitterroot mountains, The lightning-caused Rock Point Fire, has burned 120 acres on the Idaho side of the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness. It’s burning in steep, that makes it challenging for firefighters to access. A helicopter has been dropping water on the fire and will fly equipment in for fire crews. The fire hasn't prompted any closures, and no structures are currently threatened. Smoke from the fire may impact the Lake Como and Lost Horse areas.

The Cabin Gulch Fire continues to burn outside of Helena, growing to 2,500 acres today. Dozens of residents were evacuated Tuesday night.

A lot of people know about the Berkeley Pit in Butte, but not many know about another significant pollution challenge in the Mining City. It’s called the Parrot Plume, and there’s controversy over whether it needs to be cleaned up, and if so, who would pay for it.

The Reynolds Creek Fire seen from Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park
Courtesy Jan von Lehe

Updated 5:20 p.m. In addition to the 2,000 acre Reynolds Creek fire in Glacier National Park, at least two other wildfires are burning in western Montana, including the 2,500 acre Cabin Gulch fire on the Helena National Forest, and the 163 acre Rock Point fire on the Bitterroot National Forest.

The fire has forced the closure of Going-to-the-Sun Road from St. Mary to Big Bend.
Corin Cates-Carney

Updated 07/22/15, 5:25 p.m. Glacier National Park officials are reporting strong winds and extreme fire behavior on the east side of the park at this hour. Outside the park, a mandatory evacuation order has been issued for the west shore of lower St. Mary Lake, according to the Glacier County Sheriff's department. People on the lake's east side are being told to prepare for possible evacuation.

Breweries Help Montana Manufacturing Growth Surpass National Rate

Jul 22, 2015
Big Sky Brewery, Missoula Montana.
Kelli Whithorn (CC-BY-2)

Employment in Montana’s manufacturing sector is outpacing those same jobs nationally. That’s according to the latest annual report from the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center based at Montana State University.

The center’s director, Paddy Fleming, says there are many reasons behind that employment growth.

A wildfire has closed the road from St. Mary to Logan pass in Glacier National Park.
Flickr user photommo (CC-BY-ND)

Update 9:50 p.m.: The Flathead Beacon is reporting that the fire has grown to 1,000 acres in five hours, forcing the evacuation of Rising Sun Campground and Rising Sun Motor Inn.

A type 2 incident team has been ordered, and a fire information phone line has been established at (406) 732-7791.

Pages