Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Missoula City-County Health Department

Wildfire smoke was almost bearable in some western Montana communities yesterday, but that's about to change.

The Missoula City-County Health Department says winds that have kept the smoke at bay for the past 24 hours or so are expected to shift to the west today. That could blow lots more smoke to the east.

In other words, there's a massive amount of smoke just over the mountains in Idaho and it's headed into Montana. That means air quality is going to quickly deteriorate. 

MDT: Safer Roads Require Drivers To Reject High-Risk Behavior

Aug 19, 2015
The Vision Zero Initiative Vision Zero Initiative is aimed at preventing traffic accidents and deaths in dense traffic corridors.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2)

Montana transportation officials say they are taking steps to make the state’s highways safer. MDT Director Mike Tooley says there’s a role for motorists to improve highway safety. As Jackie Yamanaka reports, that means drivers need to reject high-risk behavior.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 18, 2015

Aug 18, 2015
The Bear Creek Fire burning along Spotted Bear River Road, August 14, 2015.
Inciweb

A roundup of the biggest fires burning in western Montana August 18, 2015.

Stage 2 Fire restrictions go into effect across northwestern Montana Thursday at 1:00 a.m.
Josh Burnham

Greater restrictions on burning will go into effect later this week as fire danger increases in Northwest Montana. The Stage 2 fire restrictions will go into effect all across northwest Montana at 1:00 a.m. Thursday.

Gov. Steve Bullock speaks about the benefits of the Montana University System Research Initiative, Tuesday, August 18, 2015 on the UM campus.
Edward O'Brien

Two University of Montana programs will share over $3.5 million in state research funds. UM's traumatic brain injury and water quality monitoring programs are among the first to benefit from the "Montana University System Research Initiative". That's a $15 million program that passed out of the last session of the Montana legislature.

Bozeman software entrepreneur Greg Gianforte Monday filed paperwork to establish an exploratory committee that could lead to running for Governor. An exploratory committee filing allows a candidate to begin raising money to fund a campaign. MTPR News Director Eric Whitney sat down with Gianforte Tuesday for this interview.

Greg Gianforte filed papers today paving the way for a Montana Gubernatorial run.
Rowebotz (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Montana businessman Greg Gianforte Monday filed paperwork to establish an exploratory committee that could lead to running for Governor.   An exploratory committee filing allows a candidate to begin raising money to fund a campaign.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 17, 2015

Aug 17, 2015
The Marston Fire Lookout on the Kootenai National Forest was wrapped up as a precaution against encroaching flames.
Inciweb

So many wildfires are burning across Montana that Governor Bullock has declared a fire emergency, and the Montana National Guard has been tapped to join the firefighting efforts. Here's a roundup of some of the largest fires burning in western Montana today.

Montana air quality map.
Montana DNRC

Generally hazy and smoky conditions with only temporary relief could be with us for quite some time given all the wildfires burning in Washington, Idaho and Montana.

The state of Montana's air quality meteorologist, Kristen Martin explains what those air quality ratings mean, and how air quality is measured.

Smoke from the Marston Fire, buring in Lincoln County.
Inciweb

Several dozen Montana National Guard members are getting ready to join the statewide firefighting effort - and they could soon be joined by active-duty troops. Governor Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency on Sunday, allowing state resources including the National Guard to be mobilized.

Courtesy Photo

NOTE: This post has been edited on 8/19 to clarify information about disenrollment from Medicaid related to not engaging in work or job training programs. 

Montana is holding public meetings this week to get input on its Medicaid expansion plans.

As the state prepares to ask the federal government to accept its version of Medicaid expansion, one critic of the proposal wants to make sure the state is telling the whole story.

Steve Jess

Montana Democrats re-elected their party leadership and heard pep talks about the coming election at their party convention over the weekend in Bozeman. 

Governor Declares Fire Emergency In Montana

Aug 16, 2015
MT DNRC

Citing active wildfires and extreme fire danger across the state, Governor Steve Bullock has issued an executive order declaring a fire emergency in Montana. “Montana is facing extreme fire conditions. This declaration will provide additional resources to the brave men and women fighting these fires,” Bullock said of the declaration. 

A night-time view of the Soda Fire 40 miles SW of Boise, ID.
Inciweb

Even more fires have broken out across the border in the Panhandle National Forest in Idaho. Jason Kirschner, public information officer for the Panhandle in Couer d’Alene, talks about the nearly 50 fires burning in Idaho.

22 new fires have started in the Flathead National Forest Since August 11, 2015.
Josh Burnham

Since August 11, there have been 22 new fire starts in the Flathead National Forest. At present there are no road or trail closures and no structures are threatened. Of the 22 fires, four are declared out.

The largest fires are the Addition Creek, Late Creek and Bear Creek fires - currently at 135 acres on the Spotted Bear Ranger District.

Two orphaned Yellowstone grizzly cubs will be going to the Toledo Zoo.
Flickr user Carl Berger (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

The two cubs of a Montana grizzly bear that killed a hiker in Yellowstone National Park are going to an Ohio zoo.

Morning Newscast 08-14-15

Aug 14, 2015
MTPR Morning Newscast
Josh Burnham

On today's morning newscast: Yellowstone National Park officials euthanized a female grizzly bear today yesterday after DNA tests confirmed it attacked and killed a hiker last week. Park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett says the grizzly bear was killed because it had eaten part of the Montana man's body and hid the rest, suggesting that it was not just defending its young.

A northwest Ohio zoo, meanwhile, will take the two cubs of that bear that was killed yesterday. Toledo's The Blade newspaper reports the Toledo Zoo already was planning a brown bear exhibit and agreed to take the female cubs.

A fire north of Lincoln in the Helena National Forest has burned about a square mile and prompted evacuations, but no homes are immediately threatened.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Scotty Brown Fire, seen on August 11, 2015.
Inciweb

A Type-II incident management team has taken over command on the Thompson Fire burning in Glacier National Park about 15 miles east of the the West Glacier entrance. The fire started August 9, and has already burned an estimated 14,900 acres as of Thursday morning. The Thompson fire is 0 percent contained at this time.

Sen. Tester: Iran Agreement A Step In The Right Direction

Aug 13, 2015

Senator Jon Tester announced Wednesday he will support the Iran nuclear agreement when it comes before lawmakers. He says he came to that decision after personally reading the proposed agreement, talking with experts, and listening to Montanans.

Luke Robinson, National Weather Service Meteorologist
Edward O'Brien

The National Weather Service says western Montana may face another widespread and powerful storm system this week. Cleanup continues from Monday's storm that left a path of destruction in its wake and thousands without power for days. Edward O'Brien visited the NWS offices in Missoula to talk with Meteorologist Luke Robinson about Friday's forecast.

Northwestern energy says power for all Missoulians should be back in service tonight.
Sue Ginn

Northwestern Energy says its remaining Missoula customers without power should be back in service by late tonight. That includes residents of the city's South Hills, Linda Vista and Miller Creek neighborhoods. Thousands of residents have been without power since a destructive and powerful thunderstorm toppled trees and powerlines on Monday night.

Yellowstone Kills Bear Involved In Fatal Attack

Aug 13, 2015
YellowstoneNPS (CC-BY-2.0)

Yellowstone Park Officials have killed the adult bear implicated in the fatal attack on Lance Crosby. A Monday autopsy concluded that Lance Crosby was killed by a bear. DNA analysis confirmed that the adult bear captured at the scene of the attack was involved in the fatal mauling. Park officials say the decision to kill the bear was influenced by the fact that the bear partially consumed the body and cached it for later.

An autopsy has confirmed that a grizzly bear was responsible for the death of a hiker in Yellowstone National Park late last week. And, a second bear cub related to the incident has now been captured.

Fifteen miles outside the town of Lincoln, members of several "constitutionalist" groups including the "Oath Keepers" say they’ve helped prevent a confrontation between several miners and the U.S. Forest Service. The Lincoln County Sheriff contends there was no risk of a confrontation to start with.

Glacier Park's habitat has been shaped by fires like the Thompson Fire, seen here Tuesday, August 11, 2015.
Courtesy Tony Bynum Photography

The Thompson Fire in southwest Glacier National Park only started Sunday, but quickly blew up to eclipse the other big fire that’s been burning in the park since July 21. Flathead Reporter Corin Cates-Carney reports on fire’s role in creating the habitat in Glacier National Park.

Northwestern Energy has restored power to thousands  more Missoulians in the past 24 hours, but thousands more are still without electricity after Monday’s powerful storm.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 12, 2015

Aug 12, 2015
The Sucker Creek Fire seen on August, 11, 2015.
Inciweb

The full length of Going to the Sun road is now open at night. Glacier National Park today said that the night closure on the east side of the road has been lifted, but urged visitors to be careful as firefighters and equipment are still using the road.

Voices For, Against Coal Royalty Reform Heard In Billings

Aug 12, 2015
Commenters line up to speak during a Billings meeting on coal royalty reforms, Tuesday, August 11.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

An overflow crowd packed the Montana/Dakota’s BLM state office in Billings to speak on the federal coal program Tuesday. The agency is seeking comment on possible changes to make sure it’s obtaining the full economic value for the mining of federal coal. Comments ranged from whether the government is getting enough revenue, to climate change, to the "war on coal."

Hail and thunderstorms are possible in western Montana Friday.
National Weather Service, Missoula

The National Weather Service in Missoula is warning of another round of strong thunderstorms in western Montana Friday, with the possibility of hail and strong winds.

Pages