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Montana news focused on the western side of the state. Montana politics, healthcare, wildlands, wildlife and wildfire.

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UM President Royce Engstrom speaks about UM's handling of sexual assaults at a July 10 press conference in Missoula, MT.
Eric Whitney - MTPR

The statement below was issued by Montana Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian Thursday, December 1 at 8:50 am. 

Christian issued an additional statement at 10:00 am, which is below as well.

We'll have more on this story later today.

 Ag. Group Says Trump Appointees Could Have 'Big Impact' On Farmers
(PD)

Montana grain growers should be keeping an eye on more than who President-elect Trump appoints as agriculture secretary. That’s what an industry expert told them at their conference in Great Falls Wednesday.

A 2016 report from a private data service, that says Montana has around 400,000 acres total in organic production - behind only California.
(PD)

Montana remains a leader in organic agriculture, and this week more than 200 organic farmers, buyers, suppliers and others are getting together in Kalispell to figure out how to take advantage of the growing markets nationwide for organic products.

Sen. Llew Jones (R) SD9
Montana Legislature

At a conference for farmers in Great Falls today, state lawmakers gave a preview of the budget fight to come in the upcoming legislative session.

Conrad Republican Llew Jones chairs Montana's Senate Finance Committee. He says he expects budget cuts to be the big issue during the 2017 legislative session:

Yellowstone Looks At Large Bison Cull To Trim Herds

Nov 30, 2016
Yellowstone Park has an estimated 5,500 bison, the highest number since at least 2000.
(PD)

Yellowstone National Park biologists say more than 900 wild bison would need to be killed or removed this winter to begin reducing the size of herds that spill into neighboring Montana.

Nov. 30 marks the end of open burning season in Montana.
Karl Nousiainen

Wednesday marks the end of open burning season in Montana. 

Montana’s outgoing Democratic School Superintendent, Denise Juneau describes the Every Student Succeeds Act as a more refined version of No Child Left Behind.
(PD)

The federal government this week released its final rules to help states improve their schools and narrow achievement gaps. In November, Montana released its first draft plan explaining how it will comply with those rules.

That means all the pieces are in place to succeed the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act, right? Not exactly:

Newspaper: Butte Citizens Have Lost Faith In Superfund Talks

Nov 29, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Confidential Superfund settlement negotiations to clean up a century's worth of mining waste in Butte need to be opened to the public because residents have lost faith that the U.S. government will protect their interests, an attorney for a Montana newspaper said Tuesday.

Dozens of fires burning in the Rocky Mountains in Montana were detected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite on the afternoon of August 19, 2003. In the image, fire locations have been marked in yellow. The fi
Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Last week a senior advisor to President-elect Trump said funding for NASA Earth sciences work should be cut dramatically, or just ended. Former Pennsylvania Congressman Robert Walker made those comments in the Guardian newspaper.

For perspective on what that would mean, Amy Martin talked to the chairman of the Earth Science Subcommittee for NASA’s Advisory Council. The chairman is Steve Running, who is a regent’s professor of ecology at the University of Montana. She asked Running if big cuts to NASA Earth sciences have been proposed in the past.

The day after the election, Jen Stebbins-Han's kids came home from school and posed a question that before this year, she says, she might have laughed off.

"My kids came home and asked us if their dad was going to be deported," she says. "I don't know where they heard that because it wasn't from us."

Stebbins-Han's husband is Korean-American. Jen is white. The couple has three young biracial kids.

"There is a part of me that's afraid because I don't know what somebody's going to do because they feel emboldened to be able to," she says.

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