Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

The Supreme Court will soon rule on whether states can ban same-sex marriage. Their decision could come as early as Thursday the 25th. This graphic shows how three possible outcomes would affect the laws in Montana and across the country.

Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial says Montanan’s culture of drinking is a learned behavior.
Corin Cates-Carney

Flathead County ranks among the highest in Montana in traffic deaths, behind Yellowstone County and ahead of Missoula County.

One hundred eighty four people died on Flathead County roads between 2004 and 2013.

National Weather Service, Missoula

The National Weather Service warns an intense and prolonged heat wave will bring dangerously hot temperatures to western Montana this weekend.

"I am not hesitant to use the word 'historic' for this event," Weather Service meteorologist Dan Zumpf explained.

James St. Goddard announced his candidacy for Montana's lone House seat Tuesday at the state capitol.
Steve Jess

The 2016 election is more than 16 months away, but the race for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House already has its first candidate.

James St. Goddard, a former Blackfeet Tribal Council member, announced he’s running for Congress as a Democrat.

One easy way to start an argument these days is to bring up climate change. Yet when several dozen farmers and researchers gathered to talk about it last Friday in Great Falls, there was virtually no argument. That’s because the group that sponsored the event, the Montana Farmers Union, accepts climate change as a fact and because the event, called Plowing Forward, was not focused on placing the blame for it, but rather on its effects, especially on agriculture.

Glacier National Park Entrance At St. Mary
Flicker user GlacierNPS (CC-BY-2.0)

After four years as the deputy superintendent of Glacier National Park, Kym Hall is leaving Montana.

Hall’s career in the National Park Service spans almost 29 years. She came to Glacier during a transition of leadership in the park, before Jeff Mow was named superintendent. She briefly served as acting superintendent of the park in 2013. She says in her mind Glacier will remain an important place.

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.

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