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Yellowstone Grizzlies Removed From Threatened Species List

Jul 31, 2017
More than a month after announcing grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are no longer threatened, the USFWS officially handed over management of the approximately 700 bears to wildlife officials in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
(PD)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. government lifted protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region on Monday, though it will be up to the courts to decide whether the revered and fearsome icon of the West stays off the threatened species list.

Aswan, the co-owner of Anne's Bakery in Missoula, removes khubz from their tandoor oven.
Rachel Cramer

Earlier this month, Iraq's prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, declared victory over Islamic State — or ISIS — in the city of Mosul after nine months of urban warfare. Almost one million people from Mosul have been displaced.

A brother and sister who fled that city and settled in Missoula four years ago are adapting to life as Americans. They’re making a living selling Iraqi flatbread in Montana, and marketing it to fit American tastes.

InciWeb

UPDATE 7:30 p.m.

The Mineral County Sheriff's Office has issued a Stage 3 evacuation order for residents along Verde Creek Road 450 due to the Sunrise Fire. This is the time to leave the area immediately and in an orderly fashion. The Red Cross Shelter at the Superior High School will be open if a need exists. People in Sunrise Creek, Quartz Flats, Quartz Creek and Verde Creek are now under an evacuation order. Residents of the Rivulet Area should be on the alert for fire activity.

Hundreds showed up to testify in Helena against cuts to Medicaid, July 27, 2017.
Eric Whitney

"These are no doubt difficult times."

That’s Sheila Hogan, the head of Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services Thursday. She was kicking off a hearing on a planned cut to how much the department will pay doctors, hospitals and other health workers who take care of people on Medicaid.

Yellowstone National Park is taking action against up to a dozen employees after an investigation found some female workers were subjected to sexual harassment and other problems.

Superintendent Dan Wenk says some of the employees could be fired while others could receive suspensions or counseling.

“Tell me an organization that’s almost 1,000 employees and find me one that doesn’t have issues about work place issues, find me one,” said Wenk. “I don’t think you will. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t improve it.”

New Evacuation For Sunrise Fire Near Superior

Jul 28, 2017
Firefighters loading up onto a helicopter on the Sunrise Fire.
Rand Snyder/Inciweb

The Mineral Country Sheriff issued a third evacuation order for areas around the Sunrise Fire late this morning. Residents were advised to immediately leave their homes.

It applies to residences in Quartz Creek. These homes now join an estimated 50 others in the Quartz Flats and Sunrise Creek areas, who were ordered to evacuate on Wednesday.

Weather, fuel, and topography all affect wildfire behavior—and changes in any one of them can greatly impact the way firefighters work the fire lines.

It’s up to incident meteorologists and fire behavior analysts to help firefighters understand the nature of the particular fire they are battling, and how best to contain it quickly and safely.

A helicopter working the Goat Creek Fire yesterday
InciWeb

Updated 2:10 pm

The Mineral County Sheriff's Office has issued a Stage 3 Evacuation Order for Quartz Creek. Occupants of the affected area are asked to leave immediately. This proactive order is being issued considering the fire creeping down towards Quartz Creek, winds predicted to increase this afternoon, and to allow occupants enough time vacate the area. 

Stage 3 Evacuation Order Area now includes:
Sunrise Creek
Quartz Flats
Quartz Creek

Stage 2 Evacuation Warning includes:
Verde Creek 

Demand For Wind Energy Workers Remains Bright

Jul 27, 2017

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects wind energy jobs to grow at a steady clip, in fact faster than average for all occupations. City College is helping train those workers for the renewable energy sector.

Sustainable Energy Instructor Francisco Saldivar says he believes Montanans have a leg up in the job pool.


The Lodgepole Complex of fires has burned more than a quarter-million acres of rangeland in eastern Montana. Hundreds of firefighters came from 34 states to battle the blaze. While it’s now almost fully contained, ranchers who live here are left with a landscape of scorched grass and scattered cattle.

Sand Springs on Highway 200 July 21, looking west-northwest through smoke from the Lodgepole Complex.
Chris Barth, BLM

The U.S. government has reversed its earlier decision to deny a request for aid to help pay for fighting Montana’s largest wildfire.

FEMA approved the state's grant application today to Montana Disaster and Emergency Services.

William Buck, who owns Shepherd's Way assisted living facility in Lewistown says planned cuts to Medicaid would be "devastating."
Eric Whitney

Hundreds of people packed an auditorium in Helena Thursday to protest planned cuts to Medicaid.

"This 3.47 percent cut is devastating," says William Buck, who owns Shepherd's Way assisted living facility in Lewistown.

Saskatchewan's CL215, or "super scooper," is decontaminated of potential invasive species after fighting the Bridge Coulee Fire on the east side of the continental divide.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana faces twin threats this summer: On land, crews are battling some of the biggest and most destructive fires in the country. In the water, officials are staving off the spread of invasive mussels that could cause millions of dollars of damage to hydropower dams and irrigation lines. These threats come together for wildland firefighters, who often use equipment that travels across the country and has the potential to carry invasive hitchhikers with it. But firefighters are tackling the potential contamination head on.

FWP has inspected more than 23,000 watercraft as part of its effort to keep the mussels, which can cause millions of dollars of damage to hydropower dams and irrigation systems, out of Montana’s waterways.
Katrin Frye

The latest sampling results testing Flathead Lake for invasive quagga and zebra mussels are in, "and I'm happy to tell you that we have no detections," says Jim Elser, director of the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station. Elser announced his lab’s latest data from samples taken in April.

InciWeb

Updated 1:00 p.m.

On the Sunrise Fire between Alberton and Superior: Yesterday at about 6:00 pm the Mineral County Sheriff moved both Quartz Flats and Sunrise communities into a stage 3 evacuation. A stage 3 evacuation means that the residents in those areas need to leave the area immediately. Additionally, the Sheriff moved the Verde Creek residents into stage 2, which means that those residents need to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Today at about 11:00 am, the Lolo National Forest issued A stage 1 evacuation notice for the Rivulet area. Stage 1 means to stay alert and keep informed of the fire.

Fire camp sunset on the Sunrise Fire 7/24/17
InciWeb

Yesterday at about 6:00 pm the Mineral County Sheriff moved both Quartz Flats and Sunrise communities into a stage 3 evacuation. A stage 3 evacuation means that the residents in those areas need to leave the area immediately. Additionally, the Sheriff moved the Verde Creek residents into stage 2, which means that those residents need to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

Today at about 11:00 am, the Lolo National Forest issued A stage 1 evacuation notice for the Rivulet area. Stage 1 means to stay alert and keep informed of the fire.

The three biggest health insurance companies in Montana met with state insurance commissioner Matt Rosendale Wednesday to explain their price increases for 2018.

Montana Wildfire Roundup For July 26, 2017

Jul 26, 2017
A pyrocumulus cloud spotted over the Lolo Peak fire, July 26, 2017.
Saxon Holbrook

The Mineral County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order for residents of Sunrise and Quartz Flats due to the 2,700 acre Sunrise Fire. Authorities ask that people leave the area immediately and in an orderly fashion.

Residents in Quartz Creek remain under a stage two evacuation warning. These residents should to be ready to leave at a moment's notice

Flathead Lake near Polson, MT.
P.J. Johnson (CC-BY-ND-2)

Lake County is updating its growth policy plan this summer. Tuesday, county planners hosted the last of five public meetings to hear what local residents think should be addressed in the plan due later this fall.

The county hosted a slew of open houses over the past two weeks to hear what local residents think about development, land use and protecting natural and cultural resources as Lake County continues to grow.

Jade Johnson at work in a UM chemistry lab.
Courtesy Matt Roberts

While Native Americans may be underrepresented in the "hard sciences," Jade Johnson would argue that now, more than ever, Native scientists are needed to make sure environmental issues don’t get swept under the rug or forgotten.

Johnson, a member of Navajo Nation, is an undergraduate chemistry student at San Diego State University. This summer, she’s doing research at the University of Montana. It’s not the first time she’s done something like this.

The nation’s biggest wildfire may be fully contained within a week.

According to Rick Connell, incident commander for the Lodgepole Complex fire in eastern Montana, everything is “looking pretty good.”

Sand Springs on Highway 200 July 21, looking west-northwest through smoke from the Lodgepole Complex.
Chris Barth, BLM

Updated 6:30 p.m.

Crews tackling the Lolo Peak fire have switched from hand tools to heavy logging equipment to quicken the construction of a control line in the highway 12 corridor. Public Information Officer Mike Cole says the roughly 1000-acre fire in the Selway Bitteroot Wilderness is expected to eventually move down slope and this line will create a barrier for homes abutting national forest land.

Sen. Jon Tester.
PD

Montana’s senators on Tuesday took opposite votes on whether to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Glacier National Park recently reopened Lake McDonald to some motorboat users, following a months-long quarantine to keep invasive mussels out of the lake.
Nicky Ouellet

This summer one tiny-shelled invertebrate has dominated the conversation about keeping non-native species out of Montana.

Since zebra and quagga mussel larvae were detected in Tiber Reservoir last summer, local, state, tribal and federal agencies have scrambled to enact programs and policies to keep the mussels out of Montana’s waterways.

A retardant drop on the Lodgepole Complex, July 23, 2017.
Inciweb

The Garfield County Sheriff is lifting the evacuations for property owners in the Lodgepole Complex Fire area. That’s thanks to more favorable weather conditions that have allowed firefighters from 34 states to make some progress on trying to contain the massive 390 square mile fire.

Brie Ripley interviews YPR reporter Nate Hegyi who is onsite at the Lodgepole Complex fire, the largest wildfire in the country at 353 sq. miles.

The Goat Creek Fire from St. Mary Peak Sunday
Rob Saldin

Updated 4:10 pm

In Lolo tonight, there’s a public meeting at Lolo Elementary at 7 p.m. about the Lolo Peak fire. Another meeting on the fire is scheduled for the same time Tuesday at Stevensville High School.

A satellite photo showing the Lodgepole complex fires in Montana.
NASA

On Sunday, Governor Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency in Montana because of wildfires. MTPR's Eric Whitney spoke to him Monday afternoon about what that means on the ground.

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

An automatic state budget cut could pull tens of millions of dollars out of the state firefighting fund as early as Tuesday.

During the legislative session earlier this year state lawmakers approved a bill that triggers budget cuts based on how much revenue is coming in.

Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte came by the YPR studio visit about his first three weeks on the job.  Gianforte was elected in a special May election to fill the vacancy when President Donald Trump tapped then-Congressman Ryan Zinke to become his U.S. Interior Secretary.

In conversation with YPR's Jackie Yamanaka, Gianforte explains he was required to vote on issues immediately.

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