Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

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.

Montana officials are prepared for a worse-than-average fire season, after a light snowpack and an unusually warm June have left much of the state in, or near, a state of drought. The Governor's Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee Wednesday heard reports from about a dozen experts from different agencies around the state.

Montana FWP is seeking public comment on proposed guidelines for reducing elk populations.
PD

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public comment on proposed guidelines to establish additional elk hunting seasons, called "shoulder seasons". Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Quentin Kujala says they’d be used as a tool to reduce elk populations.

Lake Como on a fall day.
U.S. Forest Service Northern Region (CC-BY-2)

The Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor has signed-off on a project to thin over 2,200 acres on the Darby Ranger District between Lake Como and Lost Horse Canyon.

Montana Drought Map
U.S. Drought Monitor

Farmers and ranchers in 24 Montana counties can apply for financial assistance, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wednesday declared them disaster areas. The counties, all in the western half of the state, suffered from"severe" or "extreme" drought during the growing season. Jayson O’Neill with the Montana Department of Agriculture says more counties might be added as the summer wears on.

Smokejumpers before a jump in 1968. Jim Phillips is first from the left.
Courtesy Jim Phillips

Helena's Jim Phillips clearly remembers the hot, dry, stormy summer of 1967. Wildfires were popping up across the west that year. That also happened to be Phillips' first year as a smokejumper.

Now, Phillips is organizing the 75th anniversary reunion for the smokejumper program. He spoke with MTPR's Edward O'Brien about the reunion, and the work smokejumpers do.

Showering after swimming in a lake or reservoir can help remove mites that cause swimmer's itch.
(PD)

Some swimmers got an unpleasant surprise after taking a dip in the Willow Creek reservoir east of Great Falls recently. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports several people developed a case of "swimmer’s itch", which can be anything from a minor annoyance to a major problem if scratching it leads to a bacterial infection.

Emigrant Peak, near the area of the proposed mine exploration
Flickr user Sean Wolf (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0)

Caroline Byrd describes south-central Montana's scenic Emigrant Gulch in the Paradise Valley as Yellowstone National Park's "northern backdoor".

"It's got wildlife. It's got water. It's got scenic beauty and it's got real ecological importance for keeping the whole place knit together," says Byrd.

Byrd, the executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition says that's no place for a mine.

Cooler, wetter weather is forecast for July across the western U.S.
National Weather Service, Missoula

Persistent rain and cooler temperatures brought welcome relief to parts of parched western Montana this past weekend.

Fire managers say the rain has helped, but they’re also warning the public against letting its guard down.

Strong thunderstorms are possible in parts of western Montana today
National Weather Service, Missoula

Today will be an active thunderstorm day for the Northern Rockies, with a few storms capable of producing very heavy downpours, hail, frequent lightning, and gusty winds, according to the National Weather Service in Missoula. The best potential for strong storms will this afternoon/evening and stretch from Central Idaho through Southwest Montana. Those participating in outdoor activities this afternoon and evening should be prepared for quickly changing and inclement conditions.

Kate Davis

Meet Kate Davis, a Bitterroot Valley resident who has devoted her life to promoting wildlife conservation and habitat preservation for raptors.

Evening Newscast 07-10-15

Jul 10, 2015
MTPR Evening Newscast
Josh Burnham

The University of Montana campus police department has met federal requirements to improve its response to reports of sexual assault. U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter said today an independent reviewer determined that campus police met the goals of a May 2013 agreement by improving its policies, practices and training. That’s led to more reliable sexual assault investigations. He says they've also improved their communication with university officials and Missoula police.

A man who says he was raped while being held at a Montana jail is suing Jefferson County. Audemio Orozco-Ramirez filed the complaint Thursday in federal court arguing inadequate staffing, failure to respond to allegations of assault and general negligence caused serious harm and violated his due process rights.

Montana wildlife officials have tightened trapping regulations outside Yellowstone and Glacier national parks to reduce the chances that threatened Canada lynx will be accidentally caught. The changes include restrictions on the types of traps, snares and bait that can be used in special protection zones outside the parks.

Environmentalists say a Canadian company's request to explore for gold and other elements south of Livingston puts the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at risk. Lucky Minerals Incorporated wants to explore a 6-square-mile area for copper, molybdenum and gold in Emigrant Gulch in the Custer Gallatin National Forest and on private land nearby. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition says the exploration process itself would have significant environmental impacts.

Montanans now have more than 8,200 acres of new national forest land in the central part of the state. U.S. Forest Service officials and others celebrated the completion of the eight-year acquisition effort today at the state Capitol in Helena.

Missoula Art Museum
Josh Burnham - MTPR

The longtime curator of the Missoula Art Museum, Stephen Glueckert has retired, and Brandon Reintjes has taken over that role. The Montana native has been at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University for the last six years. I talked to him about his new role as we toured the Montana Triennial exhibit currently up at the Missoula Art Museum.


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 University of Montana Police Department has met federal requirements to improve its response to reports of sexual assault on campus.

The University agreed to the requirements two years ago, following a 2012 investigation into reports of sexual assaults at the school by the U.S. Departments of Justice, and Education.

Emigrant Peak, near a proposed mine exploration site.
Richard Reeve (CC-BY-SA-2)

Environmentalists say a Canadian company's request to explore for gold and other elements south of Livingston puts the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at risk.

Lucky Minerals Incorporated wants to explore a six square-mile area for copper, molybdenum and gold in Emigrant Gulch in the Custer Gallatin National Forest and on private land nearby.

Widespread thunderstorms for western Montana.
National Weather Service

Air quality in much of western Montana improved Friday as winds from the south pushed smoke into northwest Montana and Canada. Storms expected through early next week should mitigate smoke impacts in places where rain falls.

Montana Folk Festival
Courtesy photo

George Everett, executive director of the Montana Folk Festival joins Michael Marsolek to preview the 2015 festival. The festival runs from July 10-12 in Butte, Montana.

The Montana Folk Festival features multiple stages with continuous live performances by some of the best traditional performers in the nation, including Montana's finest, some of the region's best traditional artists, ethnic and festival foods, a lively family area, and folklife demonstrations and workshops that focus on a new theme each year that highlights Montana's heritage.

Wildfire danger sign.
Josh Burnham

Firefighters made good progress on two fires burning in Montana, and discovered a new fire near Phillipsburg.

U.S. Capitol building.
Flickr user Tim McKee (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The U.S. House has passed legislation designed to improve the health of national forests by scaling back the environmental reviews that go into some timber projects, and making it harder to file lawsuits that delay thinning projects.

Montana Republican Ryan Zinke is co-sponsoring the bill.

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