Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Eric Whitney

Yellowstone National Park's response to the death of Montana man while hiking in the park late last week is drawing criticism.

Yellowstone Responds To Bear Killing Policy Criticism

Aug 10, 2015
Eric Whitney

Yellowstone National Park posted the response below on its Facebook page after receiving criticism over after it said it plans to trap and kill the bear involved in the death of a hiker in the park late last week. The park says they captured a suspect bear in the area Friday. 

Coal Royalties Listening Tour Stops In Billings Tuesday

Aug 10, 2015
U.S. Geological Survey

The federal government’s controversial coal program is the subject of a public listening session in Billings Tuesday. It’s the first of four planned throughout the heart of American coal country. The Department of Interior is encouraging the public to enter the fray.

Yellowstone Seeking Grizzly Involved Montana Man's Death

Aug 8, 2015
Courtesy NPS

Preliminary results of the investigation into the recent death of a hiker in Yellowstone National Park show that the man was attacked by a grizzly bear. While the exact cause of death has not been determined, investigators have identified what appear to be defensive wounds on the victim’s forearms.

Bison and snowcoaches share the road (NPS Photo)
Courtesy National Park Service

Groups that once argued fiercely over motorized winter travel in Yellowstone National Park are now praising a new policy first tried out last winter. They’ll be talking over the Park’s winter management plan Monday morning.

An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of death of a Montana hiker found in the park Friday.
Flickr user lance_mountain (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Yellowstone National Park says An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of death of a Montana hiker found in the park Friday.

Uber Applies To Operate In Montana

Aug 7, 2015

Hailing a cab with the tap of a finger is becoming a reality for Montanans. A new set of rules approved by regulators Tuesday brings the state one step closer.

The Reynolds Creek Fire in Glacier National Park has subsided enough to allow the limited re-opening of the east side of Going-to-the-Sun-Road. The 18-mile stretch of road has been closed for about two and a half weeks.

Tourists at the Apgar Visitor Center
GlacierNPS (CC-BY-2)

Fire managers in Glacier National Park say the fire burning there neither grew yesterday, nor did the amount of fire line constructed around it. The fire remains estimated at just under 4,000 acres in size and 67 percent contained.

The Flathead Lake Biological Station's next director is James Elser. Elser is an internationally renowned freshwater ecologist with more than 220 publications in prestigious scientific journals.
Corin Cates-Carney

The Flathead Lake Biological Station’s new director, Jim Elser was introduced during a open house at the station on Wednesday.

The Flathead Lake Biological Station is one of oldest active biological stations in the United States, opened in 1899 to study freshwater biology.

The Forest Service is now spending over half of its budget on fighting fires.

The Forest Service says there has to be a change in how wildfire fighting is paid for. Here's why: The agency's total annual budget amounts to a bit over $5 billion. Now, for the first time in its history, just over half its budget is earmarked exclusively to fight fire.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Anyone living near the closed Columbia Falls Aluminum Company smelter has a chance Wednesday night to help the Environmental Protection Agency determine whether the plant belongs on the list of sites eligible for "Superfund" cleanup funds. The EPA is holding an open house starting at 7:00 Wednesday at the Columbia Falls City Hall.

Showing activity in the Rose Creek Drainage on the Reynolds Creek Fire.
Courtesy Inciweb

Fire managers in Glacier National Park are now feeling more confident in perimeter fire lines, allowing them to shift crews to removing hazards near Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The Park Service today said, "there is an expectation [Going-to-the-Sun Road] will reopen sometime during this summer season."

The Forest Service says it's now spending over half of its total budget suppressing wildfires. That's the first time that's happened in the agency's 110-year history.

Gov Bullock Addresses Native American Business Leaders In Billings

Aug 5, 2015

Montana’s reservation communities still are not enjoying the same economic benefits as the rest of the state.

Governor Steve Bullock told Native American business leaders meeting in Billings the state is doing what it can to address chronic unemployment and boost entrepreneurship.

Montana FWP is holding public hearings on bison management in the state.

Tuesday Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks begins a series of public hearings to gauge support for a publicly-managed bison herd. Whatever the state decides to do, FWP spokesman Tom Palmer says the interests of the livestock industry will be taken into account.

Regulators Clear The Way For Uber & Lyft In Montana

Aug 4, 2015
Montana regulators Tuesday approved new rules to let rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft serve Montanans.
Flickr user Adam Fagan (CC-BY-NC-SA-2)

Montana regulators Tuesday approved new rules to let rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft serve Montanans.

A Senate bill passed last spring spurred the Public Service Commission to pass regulations for a new class of license. The bill no longer allows taxi and limousine operators to block competitors.

Critics of the Clean Power Plan worry about its impacts on coal development and jobs.

News reports are saying that President Obama’s Clean Power Plan has set new targets for Montana that are twice as large as those floated last year in a draft of the plan. But the head of Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality, Tom Livers, says it’s still unclear to him what exactly the new thresholds are.

A buffalo jump at First Peoples Buffalo Jump, formerly known as Ulm Pishkun
Flickr user Baggis (CC-BY-NC-2)

The National Park Service this week designated four new historic landmarks and First Peoples Buffalo Jump south of Great Falls is one of them.

Montana State Park's Sara Scott says it's one of the oldest and biggest buffalo jumps in North America.

State wildlife officials are investigating a Moose poaching near Kalispell.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Weston Oedekoven says we’ve entered a time of the year when some hunters are getting a little antsy.

The plan the White House unveiled today to reduce carbon dioxide emissions nationwide is meeting with strong and broad criticism in Montana.

The Beavertail Hill Fire started next to I-90, and burned uphill before being contained.
Courtesy Montana DNRC

The Reynolds Creek Fire burning six miles east of Logan Pass is 67 percent contained and burning just under 4,000 acres. The fire grew slightly on Saturday due to high winds but its growth was smothered Sunday with heavy smoke.

Gov. Steve Bullock. File Photo
Christopher B. Allen

Governor Steve Bullock issued the following statement on the Clean Power Plan President Obama announced today:

A 2014 decision from the U.S. FWS says the proposed Montanore mine is not likely to harm the threatened bull trout.
Joel Sartore National Geographic & Wade Fredenberg USFWS (CC-BY-2.0)

A copper and silver mine for northwest Montana appears one step closer to approval and this worries Mary Costello.

EPA: Clean Power Plan Benefits Montana

Aug 3, 2015

Below is a press release issued by the White House this morning. We'll have more on this story later today.

FACT SHEET: A Cleaner, More Efficient Power Sector In Montana

We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged. By taking action now to combat climate change, including developing homegrown clean energy and cutting energy waste, we can help protect our kids’ health, cut carbon pollution, and begin to slow the effects of climate change so we leave a cleaner, safer environment for future generations.

View of a treated ponderosa pine plot in 2009, twenty-five years after selection cutting and prescribed burning.
Courtesy Carl Fiedler

A new book about ponderosa pine trees, written by a pair of Montana forest researchers, offers insight into past mistakes and current policies.

Pockets of unburned fuel in the interior of the Reynolds Creek fire burned actively Friday, July 31.

It’s been an active day on the fire burning on the east side of Glacier National Park. There’s been significant smoke in the area this afternoon. Fire information officer Shauna Hartman explains why.

Medicare Turns 50 But Big Challenges Await

Jul 31, 2015
Harry Truman's application for Medicare
Courtesy of Truman Library

Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, has come a long way since its creation in 1965 when nearly half of all seniors were uninsured. Now, the program covers 55 million people, providing insurance to one in six Americans. With that in mind, Medicare faces a host of challenges in the decades to come. Here’s a look at some of them.

Five Challenges Facing Medicaid At 50

Jul 31, 2015
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill creating Medicare and Medicaid at the library of former President Harry Truman, who was in attendance, on July 30, 1965.
Courtesy of Truman Library

A “sleeper” provision when Congress created Medicare in 1965 to cover health care for seniors, Medicaid now provides coverage to nearly one in four Americans, at an annual cost of more than $500 billion. Today, it is the workhorse of the U.S. health system, covering nearly half of all births, one-third of children and two-thirds of people in nursing homes.

Alan Kirk, mine permitting manager, and Bob Jacko, vice president of operations for Tintina show plans for the Black Butte Mine.
Steve Jess

About 50 miles east of Helena, in White Sulphur Springs, residents are weighing the benefits that a new copper mine could bring to their community: about 200 new jobs along with millions of dollars to spur business growth. Opponents of the mine say Montana risks losing something even more valuable, one of its last unspoiled rivers.