Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

A wildland firefighter with the Montana DNRC monitors flames burning in the interior of the Alex Camp Road Fire July 7, 2015.
BLM/Jonathan Moor

Firefighters are reporting progress on three fires burning in Montana.

As the Senate begins debating federal education policy, Montana Senator Jon Tester is trying to remove annual testing requirements from Washington, and Senator Steve Daines is seeking block grants of federal funding instead of money with specific strings attached.

The Senate is currently working on replacing the unpopular No Child Left Behind law, with one called “Every Child Achieves.”

Visitor center attendant Hugh Austin stands behind the information desk at the old Belton Train Station in West Glacier. The visitor center is staffed 1-5pm, 7 days a week, and will provide Glacier visitors information on activities around the Flathead.
Corin Cates-Carney

A new visitor information center in West Glacier opened Tuesday to show Glacier National Park visitors what else Montana has to offer.

The Whitefish, Bigfork and Columbia Falls Chambers of Commerce will join forces to share expenses and staff the center this summer.

Whitefish Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kevin Gartland says the Chambers' goal is to turn additional information about the Flathead Valley into a boost in the local economy.

A proposed ballot measure woul legalize recreational marijuana in Montana.
(PD)

A part-time sports reporter and medical marijuana patient from Glendive says legalizing pot for recreational use would be an economic boon for Montana.

Anthony Varriono has submitted a proposed ballot measure with the Secretary of State's office that would allow adults age 21 and older to possess limited amounts of pot.

Health centers like Missoula's Partnership Health Center hope Medicaid expansion will bring more financial certainty.
Josh Burnham

Montana’s legislature said yes to Medicaid expansion this spring, but the state’s expansion plan still needs approval by the federal government.

Today, the state made the details of its expansion plan public, and is giving the public 60 days to comment on the plan before sending it to the White House.

Residents of Bayview, ID are being asked to avoid their cell phones to allow for better firefighter communications.
(PD)

Many have abandoned their landline telephones for the convenience of cell phones. But local emergencies, like the 2,000-acre wildfire burning in Bayview, Idaho can expose the limitations of that technology.

Wetter, Cooler Weather Slows Montana Fires

Jul 7, 2015
Northern Side of The Glacier Rim Fire
Inciweb/MMendoza

Crews on the Glacier Rim Fire continue to maintain fire lines and remove hazardous snags around the fire's perimeter.

Monday, an additional water tender was brought in to help cool the south flank of the fire and re-establish fire lines after a "slop over" on July 4.

Ellen Blickhan, Fire Information Officer, says the weather has helped too.

The 1,500-acre Cape Horn Fire has prompted about 600 evacuations from a popular vacation area near Lake Pend Oreille. Six homes have burned and at least another 280 structures are threatened.

Glacier Rim Fire Update

Jul 6, 2015
A view of the Glacier Rim Fire from the air, July 5, 2015
Inciweb/LChute

The Glacier Rim fire south of Glacier National Park slopped over fire lines due to high winds on July fourth, but firefighters made progress yesterday thanks to cooler weather and higher humidity. The fire is now estimated at 100 acres in size, up from 85 acres last week. It's being called 70% contained, that’s up from the 50% containment figure given on Friday.

The storm destroyed some outbuildings on 66 Ranch outside of Havre
Courtesy Rylee Strauser

Thousands of Montanans had a 4th of July they won’t soon forget. A storm packing powerful winds, intense rain and large hail disrupted life  across the state’s northern tier last weekend. Some think tornadoes touched down, but meteorologists aren’t yet willing to go that far.

A roughly 300-mile stretch of northern Montana is still cleaning up after a powerful storm swept across the region this weekend.

Thunderstorms And Showers Possible Tuesday

Jul 6, 2015
National Weather Service, Missoula

Via National Weather Service, Missoula: Monday will be mostly quiet across the Northern Rockies, with the exception of a few afternoon thunderstorms from central Idaho to southwest Montana. More active weather is anticipated Tuesday, with showers and thunderstorms possible across a wide swath of central Idaho and western Montana. These storms will be capable of brief heavy rain, gusty winds, and frequent lightning strikes. In addition, a backdoor cool front will bring another round of breezy east winds across western Montana by Tuesday evening.

Art In The Woods Revitalizes A Town

Jul 5, 2015
Chérie Newman

Last weekend, a group of people from the town of Lincoln, Montana, held a celebration at Sculpture in the Wild, a park designed to celebrate their heritage with art. Sculpture in the Wild is the brainchild of Rick Dunkerly, a local resident and artisan knifemaker who serves as executive director for the organization.

"The goal is to invite artists in here to create artwork that responds to environmental and industrial heritage of the Blackfoot Valley," says Dunkerly.

A.J. Coulter guides fly fishing trips on rivers all around Montana. Recently, he’s been starting his trips earlier in the day to avoid angling in heat of the day so as to not catch unhealthy fish.
Corin Cates-Carney

Fish, and maybe you, are getting stressed out in this summer heat. But for fish, stress is made worse when, on top of trying to stay cool, they have to avoid eating a fly tied to a line.

In the heat wave of the past few weeks, guides and regulators have worked to protect fish during a time when fish are very vulnerable.

Emily Proctor

The Arlee Celebration continues for the 117th year this weekend with ceremonial and traditional gatherings of Native Americans. On Thursday, rows of cars were parked and campers were there to enjoy a food, face painting, teepees and dancing.

But there’s also science.

Celebrating Passage Of The Northern Cheyenne Lands Act

Jul 2, 2015

Montana Senator Steve Daines will be in Lame Deer Thursday night to celebrate the passage of the Northern Cheyenne Lands Act. The federal legislation passed last December gives the tribe more control over its land base, natural resources, and trust funds.

Missoula's North Hills and Mount Jumbo
Josh Burnham (All rights reserved)

The Missoula Rural Fire District has an extra fire engine on duty over the 4th of July weekend, in part because of what happened in 2006. District Chief Bill Colwell remembers sitting on his father’s deck that year, watching some local kids shoot off fireworks near Mount Jumbo.

Fireworks Bans Spread Across Western Montana

Jul 2, 2015
Fireworks
(PD)

Fireworks bans are spreading across western Montana in the face of hot, dry weather, and high fire danger.

The City of Whitefish has canceled its 4th of July public fireworks display, citing a fire weather watch for Saturday, issued by the National Weather Service. The Weather Service says to expect high temperatures, low humidifies and gusty winds from the Flathead Valley, through Missoula to south of Dillon. Communities included in the fire weather watch include Eureka, Libby, Polson, Seeley Lake, Hamilton and Butte.

The Federal Highway Trust Fund helps pay for road construction and repairs.
(PD)

Highway funding will likely be near the top of the Congressional agenda when business resumes after the holiday break. That's because the Highway Trust Fund will run out of money late this month or early next.

Rep. Ryan Zinke. File photo.
Eric Whitney

Montana's Representative in the U.S. House says a wildfire burning near Glacier National Park shows why comprehensive forest management reform is needed. Republican Ryan Zinke yesterday visited with crews fighting the 85-acre Glacier Rim Fire.

Bonnie Clincher Red Elk.
Courtesy Fort Peck Journal

One of Montana’s most prominent Native American reporters has passed away.

Public Domain

A panel of prominent scientists are meeting in Bozeman to talk about controlling brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone area, It’s the start of a year-long process to evaluate options for trying to control the disease.

Sen. Daines at Chessman Reservoir with federal, state and local forest officials.
Steve Jess

Steve Jess is on the road, a few miles south of Helena, trailing a convoy carrying Senator Steve Daines and an assortment of local officials. They travel down about 20 miles of dirt road and the occasional cattle guard to a site just yards from the Chessman reservoir, where many of the surrounding hills bear the corpses of lodgepole pines killed by the mountain pine beetle.

Anthony J. Preite retires as the USDA's state director of rural development.
Courtesy photo

A man who’s had a big role in growing Montana’s economy for nearly 50 years is stepping down. Anthony Preite has been involved in rural economic development here since 1968, and last week he retired as state director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sen. Daines and other officials on a tour of the Tenmile watershed.
Steve Jess

Montana Senator Steve Daines toured a beetle-infested area of the Helena National Forest Tuesday, and praised a joint federal-state effort to reduce fire danger. 

Whitefish Lake. 75% of the municipal water supply for Whitefish comes from Haskill Basin. In the summer, when that supply runs low, the city pumps and treats water from Whitefish Lake.
Katrin Frye

Starting July 1, Whitefish's resort tax will increase 1 percent as a result of a vote of city taxpayers last April. Corin Cates-Carney spoke with the town’s Mayor about the need for the tax bump.

File photo of fire fighters building fire line.
BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

At least seven new lighting-caused fires on the Bitterroot National Forest are small and manageable thanks to quick initial attack by fire crews.

Forest spokesman Tod McKay says thunderstorms produced 175 confirmed lighting strikes in the Bitterroot and Missoula areas Monday night.

Fireworks
Flickr user Michael Cramer (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Counties across western Montana today imposed Stage One fire restrictions effective this Friday morning at 12:01 a.m.

The restrictions come along with a ban on fireworks on all public and private land in Missoula, Ravalli, and Lake, and Lincoln counties. Flathead County commissioners will vote Thursday on a county-wide fireworks ban.

Fire Danger 'Extreme' In Missoula County

Jun 30, 2015
Stage 2 Fire restrictions go into effect across northwestern Montana Thursday at 1:00 a.m.
Josh Burnham

Officials have bumped the fire danger rating to "extreme" in Missoula County following a record-breaking heat wave and forecasts calling for hot, dry conditions to continue through the holiday weekend.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox
MT DOJ

Montana and twelve other states sued the federal government Monday to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from enacting a new rule extending the Clean Water Act to small streams and wetlands.

State Attorney General Tim Fox says the Obama administration went too far by asserting control over waterways that belong to the states.

Fire Near Glacier Park Has Burned 80 Acres

Jun 29, 2015
North Fork of the Flathead River
U.S. Forest Service

A human-caused fire that started over the weekend just outside Glacier National Park has burned 80 acres and started eight spot fires inside the Park. Officials are calling the Glacier Rim Fire 25% contained.

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