Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Montana Schools are getting half a million dollars in federal grant money to improve math and science instruction.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau says a chunk of those funds will go to math programs on the Flathead Reservation. Juneau’s office says over the past five years American Indians’ rate of proficiency in math and science is 30 percent lower than white Montanans.

The actress Loretta Swit — best known for her role as Major “Hotlips” Houlihan in the popular TV show M.A.S.H. — is in Missoula. She’s here for a screening of “Never The Same” — a film about American prisoners of Imperial Japan during World War II. The screening coincides with an exhibit at the Montana Museum of Art & Culture that features pieces by Montana artist Ben Steele.

Brian Maxfield is a wildlife conservation biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. And he's a bit of a voyeur.

Back in the spring, Maxfield strapped transmitters to about a dozen greater sage grouse in northeastern Utah. His goal? To spy on them.

Each bird’s every move is now a mosaic of color-coded dots on a clipboard he keeps in his pickup. Today, he’s honing in on the blue dot. And he’s worried.

Missoula County Sheriff
Sean Robb

Until this week the Missoula County Sheriff's office hadn't had an increase in sworn officers in 30 years.
That changed today with the swearing-in of four new deputies, raising the department's total number of deputies to 51.

Blood sugar test

A study of government health surveys finds half of all U.S. adults now have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Kevin and Marti Murphy and their children at their home in Colstrip.
Amy Martin

Kevin Murphy has worked at the Rosebud coal mine for 15 years, running a bulldozer which works in tandem with a dragline – a machine as big as a ship with a giant boom that extends 300 feet up into the air. The dragline perches on the lip of an open pit, scraping away hundreds of feet of rocky soil to reveal the black seam of compressed prehistoric peat that humans have been burning for fuel for millennia.

State of Montana

The outcomes of dozens of infant death court cases are now in question, as investigations continue into the work of a former Montana medical examiner.

At least eleven people in eight Montana counties have tested positive for salmonella poisoning believed to be linked to cucumbers.

Update: since this story was first published, the CDC has confirmed that contaminated cucumbers have been found in 27 states, including Montana.  

A grizzly bear visiting a wire hair snag station near Glacier National Park.
Flickr user GlacierNPS (PD)

The Alberta government designated The Castle Special Place as a Provincial Park and Wildland Provincial Park after more than 40 years of pressure from local advocates and community members. Michael Jamison of the National Park Conservation Association says this land protection has impacts for the entire Crown of the Continent ecosystem.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For September 4, 2015

Sep 4, 2015
A helicopter drops water on a fire in the Holter Complex.

Montana firefighters are using this cool, wet weather to continue making gains on area wildfires. Northern Rockies Coordinating Group spokeswoman Paula Short says the cold front's a big help, but there's still so much fire out there that the season won't come to an end overnight.

William Marcus

Montana’s proposed rules for political campaigns need rewriting. That was the opinion of several public interest groups that testified during two days of public hearings Wednesday and Thursday at the state capitol. The rules proposed by Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, define when a public interest group qualifies as a "political committee".

Members of the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation hear comments on proposed drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine area in Choteau, MT Sept. 2, 2015
Corin Cates-Carney

The federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation held a meeting in Choteau Wednesday evening on proposed drilling on U.S. Forest Service land in the Badger-Two Medicine area. The council is trying to understand how and if the exploration for natural gas can comply with the National Historic Preservation Act.

Wildland Firefighters working on fire line on the West Fork Fish Creek Fire.

Montana wildfire roundup for September 3, 2015.

STEM Education And More

Sep 2, 2015
Jackie Yamanaka

As the Baby Boom generation starts to retire in big numbers, Montana is facing a potential shortage of skilled workers.

Efforts to fill jobs being vacated by retirees start in elementary school.

At first glance, Mr. Marquis’ classroom may seem chaotic. Take a closer look and you’ll find students standing at tables with plastic tubs filled with wires, wheels, joy sticks, and various small parts, and they’re consulting their tablets.

Several groups voiced concerns today about proposed new rules that govern Montana political campaigns.

The Solenex well site in the Badger-Two Medicine
Corin Cates-Carney

John Murray, the Blackfeet Tribe’s historic preservation officer says the Badger-Two Medicine is sacred land. As he walks through the tall dry grass here, he refuses to give life to the idea that this land will be disturbed in search of natural gas.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For September 2, 2015

Sep 2, 2015

Information from We will update this post as more information becomes available today.

West Fork Fish Creek Fire:
Some evacuees from the West Fork Fish Creek fire southwest of Alberton are being allowed back into their homes this afternoon.
"The evacuations along Fish Creek have moved from Cache Creek drainage, and they’ve moved north up to Surveyor Creek," says Breanna Thomasson, fire information officer.

Montana's construction sector is making gains, but still isn't back to pre-recession levels.

Montana's construction industry has come a long way in the past few years, but University of Montana economist Patrick Barkey says the industry is still feeling the effects of The Great Recession.

Jonathan Motl is rewriting the rules for politics in Montana. That might sound like hyperbole, but it’s not.  The state's Commissioner of Political Practices has come out with a top-to-bottom rewrite of the rules that candidates, parties, and political committees must follow, partly because of Senate Bill 289, the so-called “dark money” bill passed by the state legislature this year.

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

Wednesday brings another round in the decades-long fight over whether to allow energy development on U.S. Forest Service land in the Badger-Two Medicine area just south of the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.


In general it’s been another fairly quiet day for wildfires in Montana, with cooler temperatures and higher humidities in the northwest.

But, between Helena and Great Falls, Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reported an active fire day on fires near Holter Lake.

A proposed initiative would allow Montana public school employees to carry concealed weapons in school.
Flickr user Ibro Palic (CC-BY-NC-2)

Signature gathering soon begins for a proposal to allow public school employees with a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon in school. Initiative-175 has cleared the necessary legal hurdles to appear on the 2016 ballot if sponsor Chet Billi can get the necessary number of signatures.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For August 31, 2015

Aug 31, 2015
Burned area in the interior of the West Fork Fish Creek Fire.

In general, wildfires in western Montana calmed over the weekend, thanks to cooler weather and even a little rain, but other fires grew, and some new ones popped up.

Volunteers look after a canine evacuee at the makeshift shelter in Browning.
Courtesy Lewis & Clark Humane Society

When authorities Saturday ordered the residents of Heart Butte to evacuate in the face of an approaching wildfire, Gina Wiest decided to help some of those who were being forced out of their homes. The Red Cross had already set up a shelter for the people, but Wiest, executive director of the Lewis and Clark Humane Society, knew there was no shelter for the animals.

New Montana Immunization Requirements In Effect This School-Year

Kids going back to school this fall may first need to visit the doctor’s office to comply with new immunization requirements.

Eric Whitney

The U.S. Forest Service team leading the attack on the West Fork Fish Creek Fire southwest of Alberton had a public information meeting in Alberton last night, and more than 200 people came. So many people came, they had to open the big garage doors at the fire station to accommodate the crowd.


The following information is from the federal government's InciWeb wesite, full post is here.

Eric Whitney

The following information was posted to at 8:55 a.m. Sunday, August 30 to the federal government's InciWeb site.

An evacuation notice has been issued for fewer than 20 residents of Lower Granite Lake Road, Granite Creek Road, Willow Road, Prospect Creek Road, Winchester Drive and Granite Lake Road. Officials ask all residents to be out of their homes by 1:00 p.m. today, August 29, 2015.

Air quality is poor across Montana due to wildfires burning in the western U.S.
Montana DEQ

Smoke levels across most of Montana spiked today, with air quality readings reaching "Very Unhealthy" in several locations, including Missoula, Great Falls, and the Flathead Valley; and reaching the highest warning level, "Hazardous" in Hamilton.

Meteorologist Kristen Martin with Montana Department of Environmental Quality says the smoke could get even worse before it starts to get better over the weekend.