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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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To export coal, or not to export coal

Jul 30, 2013

Coal development generates money in Montana. Executive Director of the Montana Coal Council Bud Clinch said an average train carrying coal has about 120 cars, and represents about $30,000 of local, state, and federal taxes being paid.

He said Coal is worth continuing to invest in, it’s what Montana has, and the demand for it is not going away.

Firefighters report significant progress on the Firestone Flats fire burning about 6 miles outside of Arlee.
       The fire started Saturday afternoon and within hours blew up into a 700 acre incident.
       Fire information officer, Cindy Super, says the crews will continue to work around the clock to build line around that fire.  If they continue to make progress and conditions hold,  pending evacuations will come to an end at 5:00 Thursday afternoon.

Bev Yeager

You may have already seen them: new TV ads featuring a Montana high school rodeo athlete promoting tobacco-free rodeo.

Margaret Stratton

Natalie Brown's first novel "The Lovebird" is set first in southern California and then on the Crow reservation in Montana

Youpa Stein

Fire Information – Firestone Flats

Cause: Under Investigation

Detected: July 27, 2013

Location: Approximately 5 miles east northeast of Arlee, MT.

Size: 1,388 acres on Saturday, July 27 at 7:00 PM

Jurisdiction: Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes, Lake County Current Status: Today, Sunday, July 28th, the fire is listed at 0 percent containment. Fire activity was erratic and extreme yesterday resulting in multiple evacuations.

Teams on the ground and in the air are working to beat down the as-of-yet officially unnamed Jocko Canyon area fire near Arlee. Lolo National Forest spokesman Boyd Hartwig tells us it stands at 700 acres with Lolo Hotshots on the ground. A single engine air tanker and heavy air tanker is working from above.  The Seeley Lake Ranger district will be closing the Forest Service portion of Jocko road for public safety. Scattered evacuations along Jocko Road are complete for the time being. 

Lake County Sheriff's department spokeswoman, Karen Sargent, says 18 homes have been evacuated as a result of the Jocko Canyon fire. None of them - at least to her knowledge - have been lost or damaged.  Also the fire has not yet been officially named. More updates as we get them....

Jocko Canyon Fire

Jul 27, 2013
Edward O'Brien

A new wildfire burning in the Jocko Canyon area is throwing up a huge smoke plume easily visible from Missoula. A Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes Division of Fire dispatcher, identifying himself as Buttercup, says law enforcement has blocked roads from the reservation to Seeley Lake. The Jocko Canyon road is now blocked to traffic, as is the St Mary's Lake road. Buttercup says evacuation orders have been issued for homes in the Jocko Canyon.  Early estimates of the fire stood at 500 acres, but Buttercup tells us smoke was laying low making next to impossible to confirm that number.

Sally Mauk

Firefighters are feeling a lot better today about the 720-acre Mill Creek fire that broke out yesterday between Frenchtown and Missoula.

A retired Oregon corrections counselor, who also worked as a parole and probation officer, says America's war on drugs is an abject failure.
       Shelley Fox-Loken says states should have the authority to decide whether they want to legalize drugs that are now illegal. She predicts that responsibly legalizing drugs would result in decreased violent crime and drug use rates, while simultaneously  benefiting state coffers.
       Loken is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs.

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