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More than a hundred personnel were added to the Observation fire since yesterday. A total of 526 people are fighting the fire, including the crews of eight aircraft, 21 fire engines, 15 bulldozers and 7 water trucks. 

A Forest Service press release says the fire was most active yesterday near Hayes Creek and Camas Creek, (click here for a map) threatening the retardant line on the northeast side of the fire. Helicopters started dropping less water and more retardant. 

Voters this November will decide the future of traps and snares on Montana’s public lands. A proposal to end commercial and recreational trapping on Montana’s public lands will appear on November’s ballot.
Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks

Voters this November will decide the future of traps and snares on Montana’s public lands. A proposal to end commercial and recreational trapping on Montana’s public lands will appear on November’s ballot.

An arial view of the Pole and Fine fires burning southwest of Ennis.
Beaverhad-Deerlodge National Forest

Fire officials say they expect the thousand-acre Observation fire southwest of Hamilton to continue spreading, because the fire is moving west into “rugged, inaccessible terrain.” There’s a public meeting about the fire tonight at 7:00 at the community center in Darby.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for a breezy and mostly dry July 4 weekend.
National Weather Service

As early wildfires spark up around the state, Montanans need to be extra careful celebrating this Fourth of July weekend.

Flathead Area Fire Managers are predicting a "normal" fire season.
BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

Fire managers in the Flathead Valley are predicting a normal summer in terms of wildland fires. They outlined those predictions at a meeting at the Office of Emergency Services in Kalispell today. "Normal" still means crews from several agencies will probably respond to a few hundred fires in northwest Montana this season.

Signs abound in Yellowstone warning of the dangers of approaching wildlife too closely.
Eric Whitney

The summer tourist season is just now getting into full swing, and already there have been two fatal accidents at Yellowstone National Park. There's also been at least one severe burn in one of the park's geyser basins, and people around the world have heard about the tourists who put a baby bison calf in the back of their car in May. I asked Dan Wenk, the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, what's going on.

A Calbag Resources sign at an October 2015 meeting shows some of the work in progress at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company.
Corin Cates-Carney

Last week, the Department of Environmental Quality approved a plan to remove hazardous waste at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company in preparation for the plant’s demolition.

Judge James Manley today ruled the portion of the water compact unconstitutional that protects members of a yet-to-be-created water compact board from being sued.
Flickr user Brad Smith (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes were encouraged by the first U.S. Senate hearing of their water compact settlement with the State of Montana. Senator Jon Tester introduced the legislation to Congress last month.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have scheduled a public meeting on the proposed transfer of the National Bison Range.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2)

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have scheduled a public meeting on the proposed transfer of the National Bison Range.

Missoula County Sheriff Deputies are warning residents of Horseback Ridge near Missoula to prepare for evacuation in case the fire burning in the area grows.
PD

Missoula County Sheriff deputies today warned residents of Horseback Ridge near Missoula to prepare for evacuation, after a new wildfire was discovered Thursday afternoon. It’s located at Blue Mountain on the southwest side of Missoula.

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