Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

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.

The Reynolds Creek Fire forced the evacuation of backcountry hikers in Glacier National Park.
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.

Montana’s Public Service Commission this morning voted to sue Century Link after rural customers complained of spotty telephone service.
Eric Whitney

Tuesday some rural Montana residents convinced the state’s Public Service Commission to do something about what one of them calls their "crappy phone service."

"Sometimes it doesn’t work. For instance, I run a small business out of my home, and I can run it with an answering machine….," says Ellis Misner, who lives near Craig between Helena and Great Falls.

Life on a reservation can tend toward a pattern of wounds difficult to mend by young natives.

15-year-olds Kianna Finley and Gabby Houle live on the Flathead reservation. They say at times they are surrounded by a discouraging way of living - one of substance abuse and loss.

Sunburst Sensors, LLC - 2014

A Missoula company has won $1.5 million in X-Prize money for developing a pair of sensors to measure ocean acidification.

Sunburst Sensors was awarded the prize Monday for developing sensors won competitions for accuracy and affordability.

Sage Grouse
USFWS Mountain Prairie (CC-BY-2)

Governor Steve Bullock Monday signed on to a joint state and federal plan to provide incentives for farmers and ranchers to preserve sage grouse habitat on their land. The chicken-sized wild bird is in decline and could be listed as an endangered species this fall.

Arial photo of the Salmond Ranch area
Flickr User Sam Bebee (CC-BY-2)

Hunters, a wildlife group and the Bullock administration are hailing the settlement of a decades-old road dispute west of Choteau, MT that restores public access to about 50,000 acres of public land along the Rocky Mountain Front.

When you hear the word “baseball,” Montana is not the first place that comes to mind. But there are stories here. And now, thanks to Skylar Browning and Jeremy Watterson, those stories have been exhumed from historical archives and published in a book titled Montana Baseball History.

The deadline passed this week for Flathead Valley residents who want to earn a Bachelors of Arts degree in elementary education without leaving the area. The partnership between FVCC and the University of Montana means students can study at FVCC but their coursework and degree will come from the University of Montana.

The U.S. Senate this week passed an update to the "No Child Left Behind" education law. The "Every Child Achieves Act" is the first education reform measure to clear the Senate in over 13 years.

Senator Jon Tester says a forest management reform bill co-sponsored by Montana Republican Ryan Zinke that recently passed in the U.S House will have a tougher time in the Senate.
PD

Senator Jon Tester says a forest management reform bill co-sponsored by Montana Republican Ryan Zinke that recently passed in the U.S. House will have a tougher time in the Senate. The bill scales back environmental reviews for some timber projects, and makes it harder to file lawsuits that delay thinning projects.

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