Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Helena school officials are considering their next move in the wake of last week's defeat of a $70-million elementary school bond. Supporters say the measure would have funded badly-needed technology and infrastructure projects.

Opponents said it was too expensive and would have unfairly distributed funds.   

Fire Danger Very High In Missoula County

Jun 22, 2015
Fire danger sign
BLM

Missoula County interagency fire officials say fire danger is very high in Missoula County. Officials remind the public that burning by permit is closed and ask that people exercise caution with fire and anything that can produce sparks.

(PD)

Montana farmers will have to take the changing climate into account, even planting different species to accommodate warmer temperatures. That was part of the message delivered at a gathering in Great Falls Friday, sponsored by The Montana Farmers Union. 

Neptune Aviation air tanker on the Mountain Fire
Steve Whitby/Neptune Aviation

A contract dispute has created uncertainty and potential lost revenue for the companies that supply firefighting air tankers, including Missoula’s Neptune Aviation.

The conflict is over long-term contracts for jet engine, so-called "next generation" planes that bring more to the table than the Korean War-era prop-driven tankers firefighters have been using for decades.

Susan Cahill says she had over 400 regular patients that came to her for general family practice medicine.
Corin Cates-Carney

When Zachary Klundt broke into and vandalized All Families Healthcare in Kalispell, in March 2014, he destroyed the only clinic providing abortions in the Flathead Valley.

Now, over a year later, the clinic remains closed, and the building is now used to help people file taxes.

After a three day sentencing hearing, the case involving the vandalism and closing of the Flathead Valley’s only clinic to provide abortions came to an end today.

Twenty four year-old Zachary Klundt received a 20-year sentence with 15 years suspended for destroying All Families Healthcare clinic in Kalispell. Klundt will also pay the clinics’ owner, Susan Cahill and other victims over 600,000 dollars in restitution.

A powerful Senate committee Thursday increased funding for a public lands access program, but Montana's senators disagreed on the amount.

Fishing the North Fork of the Flathead
Flickr user: Minh-Kiet Callies (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana’s 21,000 miles of streams and rivers are open for free fishing this weekend in honor of father’s day.

Anyone with a fishing rod, resident or non-resident, can cast a line without a permit on June 20 & 21, as long as the angler follows posted regulations.

Greg Gianforte speaking to the Conrad, Montana Chamber of Commerce
Eric Whitney

Not everybody's summer road trip around Montana generates headlines at every stop, but Greg Gianforte's does, and Gianforte is not just anybody. He's been meeting with local chambers of commerce, like a group of about 10 people at the Sport Club restaurant in Shelby recently.

Bell & Jeff (CC-BY-2.0)

A bill to to expedite forest management activities on federal forests continues to pick up steam in Congress.

The "Resilient Federal Forests Act" passed out of the House Agriculture committee Wednesday.

Volunteers stand ready to check in the expected 600 visitors at this year's Project Homeless Connect in Kalispell
Corin Cates-Carney

 [Update - 06/18/15:  This is the 5th annual Project Homeless Connect in the Flathead, not the 6th year as we said in an earlier version of the story.]

Hundreds of people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless got some welcome assistance at the Flathead County Fairgrounds Wednesday.

Gov. Bullock was joined by tribal leaders from across Montana as he signed an executive order creating a state office of American Indian Health.
Courtesy Office of the Governor

The lifespan of Montana’s Native Americans is twenty years shorter, on average, than others in the state.  Montana Governor Steve Bullock is launching an effort to close that gap by finding and fixing the shortcomings of the health care system for the state’s Indian population.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

Missoula's mayor says he's glad a judge agrees with the city that public ownership of the local water utility is better than private ownership. But John Engen says there’s still a lot of work to be done , not the least of which is determining a fair price for Mountain Water Company.

National Weather Service, Missoula

Fire danger is now high in Missoula County, one month earlier than last year.

Officials with the Missoula County Fire Protection Association say unseasonably warm temperatures, lack of rain and persistent winds have prompted them to go straight from a low fire danger rating to high starting just after midnight tonight.

East Rosebud Trail map.
U.S. Forest Service, Custer-Gallatin National Forest

Montana’s Congressional delegation today introduced a bill to give Wild and Scenic River status to East Rosebud Creek, which drains the Absaroka-Beartooth range northwest of Red Lodge, Montana.

Montana Developmental Center
Dan Boyce

Monday in Helena, an appointed committee began preparations to close the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) and put its clients into community-based treatment. The panel is also being asked to deal with sinking employee morale.

Neptune Aviation next-generation air tanker.
Jonah Curtin/Neptune Aviation

The U.S. Forest Service could have fewer firefighting air tankers than it originally planned for this fire season. The agency hoped to contract for up to seven more so-called "next generation" jet-powered firefighting air tankers. But two out-of-state air tanker companies filed protests over how the agency solicited aircraft contractors.

Eric Whitney

An attempt to strip a bonding provision from a new forest management bill failed Thursday on Capitol Hill.

The bill, co-authored by Montana Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke, would require people who aren’t part of collaborative timber projects to post a bond before they could sue over over the projects.

Eggs
(PD)

Across the U.S. the bird flu outbreak has caused big egg price increases, higher demands, and even egg rations. But in Montana, egg producers aren’t seeing similar changes.

Tribal wildlife biologists lethally removed these two female yearling grizzly bears from the St. Ignatius area after conflicts with livestock.
Courtesy CSKT Natural Resources Department

Tribal wildlife biologists lethally removed two female yearling grizzly bears from the St. Ignatius area on Tuesday.

Biologists saw one of the yearlings chasing livestock. Similar reports have been noted around St. Ignatius.

National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow welcomes the Janssen family as the honorary 100 millionth visitor in park history. National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow welcomes the Janssen family as the honorary 100 millionth visitor in park history.
Corin Cates-Carney

Glacier National park marked another attendance milestone Thursday morning as the 100 millionth visitor in park history drove through the west entrance.

Mountain Lion in the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC-BY-2.0)

Anyone who’s ever hunted mountain lions will tell you that finding just one cougar in the wild is hard. Imagine trying to count all the mountain lions in Montana….that’s a lot harder.

Going To The Sun Road To Open Partially June 11

Jun 10, 2015
Plow crews work their way up Going-to-the-Sun Road in April 2015
Flickr user: GlacierNPS (CC-BY-2.0)

Glacier National Park officials now say they anticipate allowing cars to access Logan Pass from the west side starting on the morning of Thursday, June 11, with a portion of the road being one-lane until June 19.

But they say Going-to-the-Sun road won’t be open from the east side until June 19th.

Colstrip power plant
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a rule meant to reduce haze from coal burned in Montana.

Environmentalists were critical that rule wasn’t strong enough and hope it will be revised and strengthened. Meanwhile, the coal industry is calling the ruling a victory.

Chérie Newman

In 2008, Michael FitzGerald was a Web developer in Missoula who didn’t like his job. He was also a writer with an MFA in fiction. But whenever he tried to send his stories out to literary journals, magazines and potential publishers he ran into problems.

Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Chief of Law Enforcement Tim Barkell at Tuesday's press conference in Anaconda, MT.
Steve Jess

This week, people in the community of Deer Lodge, population 3,000, are trying to come to grips with a great crime, and a great loss. 

Chief Tim Barkell with the Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Police says they got a call Sunday morning from a man described only as an “acquaintance” of Michael Augustine Bournes, saying that Bournes had  just killed his wife and three children, and planned to take his own life.

Forest Service Predicts Above-Average Fire Season For Western U.S.

Jun 9, 2015
File photo of fire fighters building fire line.
BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

The Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior and the U.S. Forest Service chief expect above average wildfire activity this year, especially across the Western U.S.

The three held a telephone briefing with reporters yesterday afternoon on the upcoming 2015 wildfire season.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks game wardens are seeking information on a black bear poached just south of St. Regis. 

The bear was shot and killed with a rifle sometime between May 31 and June 3 about four miles up the south Fork of Little Joe Creek.

Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park
flickr: GlacierNPS (CC-BY-2)

A new visitor center will open in West Glacier this summer to encourage more tourists to visit the communities surrounding Glacier National Park. 

Whitefish Chamber of Commerce is taking the lead on the new visitor center, which is set to open July 1. Executive Director Kevin Gartland says this project is all about tapping into the pool of visitors during Glacier’s peak summer months, July and August.

F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber in Columbia Falls, MT
Eric Whitney

Montana's congressional delegation agrees on at least one issue; too many of our timber stands are sickly, overgrown, and fire-prone. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, and Congressman Ryan Zinke say it's time to reform how we manage our National Forests.

Michael Garrity of the Helena-based environmental group, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, doesn't trust any of them to lead that charge.

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