Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

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.

The North Valley Food bank has served road kill since the 1980s.
Corin Cates-Carney

When the North Valley Food Bank in Whitefish opened its redesigned building in 2013, it became unique among Montana food banks. While other food banks around the state have programs for hunters to bring donations of wild game, North Valley Food Bank is alone in butchering road kill on site.

Solar panel installation.
Wayne National Forest (CC-BY-2)

Update 06/08/15: In an earlier version of this story we misattributed a quote from Sen. Pat Connell to Rep Tom Steenberg. The story has been updated to correct this error.

A panel of state lawmakers is looking into a renewable-energy issue that died in the 2015 legislature.

The eight-member, bi-partisan panel will spend most of its time looking into “net metering”, the technology that lets electricity users get paid for contributing excess power generated by their solar panels or wind turbines.

Edward O'Brien

Montana’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has only had one executive director since it was established in 1988, Scott Crichton. And now Scott Crichton is stepping down. He stopped by MTPR’s studios recently to talk about his 27 years as Executive Director of the Montana ACLU.

Photo Courtesy CUNY Law School

The Montana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has hired a new executive director. That position has been held by only one person since Montana’s ACLU hired him in 1988, Scott Crichton. Crichton is now retiring. He says the new director is a Missoula native.

Senator Daines' office

In a speech on the Senate floor last week, Montana Senator Steve Daines lambasted President Obama for what he says are huge increases in the price of health insurance in Montana, but he didn't get the facts exactly right.

Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2.0)

Congressman Ryan Zinke says federal forests don't have a fire problem as much as they have a land management problem.

Zinke, Montana's lone Representative in the U.S. House, introduced a forest management reform bill this week.

Montana’s insurance commissioner says she’s not surprised that health insurance companies are asking for rate increases next year of more than 20 to 30 percent. But, she says, those are just requests, and it’ll be at least a couple of months before the actual rates are known.

Rep. Ryan Zinke. File photo.
Eric Whitney

Congressman Ryan Zinke has introduced a forest management reform bill that he says would prevent unnecessary litigation, improve forest health and help prevent wildfires.

At least one Montana environmental organization says it would instead be a waste of federal tax dollars.

Glacier National Park officials fielded questions about the condition of the Going-to-the-Sun Road Wednesday night at a community meeting in Columbia Falls.

Superintendent Jeff Mow opened the evening with a joke about an apparent sign that must be on his back, to ask when the Going-to-the-Sun Road will open for the season.

One of the authors of a new plan to save the threatened bull Trout in Montana says that’s not an easy task, nor is measuring what it will take to get the fish off of the endangered species list.

"Some folks think it’s a simple, you cross the finish line and you’re there. That’s never quite the way it is."

Flickr user nataliej (CC-BY-NC)

The first part of June brought badly-needed rain to Montana, but it's barely making up for a particularly dry month of May.

The Vision Zero Initiative Vision Zero Initiative is aimed at preventing traffic accidents and deaths in dense traffic corridors.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2)

A new strike force will target organized crime that law enforcement  says continues to plague the Bakken oil patch.

According to Montana U.S. Attorney, Mike Cotter, those offenses range from drug and weapon trafficking to environmental and white-collar crimes.

Montana Students Compete In Energy Saving Competition

Jun 3, 2015
Missoula Sentinel’s Imagine Tomorrow teams pose at the Cougar statue on the campus of Washington State University where the competition was held the last weekend in May.
Denise Dowling

Some of the brightest young minds in the Northwest gathered in Pullman, Washington last weekend for a competition called Imagine Tomorrow.

Four hundred and twenty nine high school students from Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington are challenged to reduce the use of fossil fuels and promote clean, renewable energy.

Evening Newscast 06-02-15

Jun 2, 2015
MTPR Evening Newscast
Josh Burnham

On tonight's evening newscast: Northwestern Energy predicts electricity bills for its residential customers will decrease by $3.10 per month starting in July.

The city of Missoula has been awarded a $400,000 redevelopment grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Both of Montana’s U.S. Senators today voted in favor of reviving several anti-terrorism government surveillance programs, two days after many expired with the Patriot act of 2001.

A 62-year-old Australian is the Second Yellowstone National Park Visitor to be injured by a Bison This Year.

Another Tourist Injured By Yellowstone Bison

Jun 2, 2015
Bull bison in Yellowstone National Park
YellowstoneNPS-flickr (CC-BY-2.0)

A 62-year-old Australian is the second Yellowstone National Park visitor to be injured by a bison this year.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines signs the USA Freedom Act on behalf of the Senate
Courtesy photo

Both of Montana’s U.S. Senators today voted in favor of reviving several anti-terrorism government surveillance programs, two days after many expired with the Patriot act of 2001.

The remains of six veterans whose unclaimed remains were found at a Great Falls funeral home will be interred later this week.

They'll be laid to rest Friday at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery at Fort Harrison in Helena.

Rainbow Dam
Dan Boyce

Northwestern Energy predicts electricity bills for its residential customers will decrease by $3.10 per month starting in July.

Northwestern spokesman Butch Larcombe says a couple of different factors are at play.

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 Montana environmental group working on recovery of the threatened bull trout is critical of a new federal plan to save the fish.

"I guess I just don’t see this as being a holistic plan," says Arlene Montgomery.

William Neuheisel

Flathead Lake is a good two feet below full pool following this particularly dry spring in northwest Montana. Northwestern Energy, which manages Kerr Dam, has notified tribal and federal agencies that water levels are low which could affect outflows this summer. Kerr produces power, regulates the lake's water levels and several reservoirs.

Monday at the Montana Capitol the Legislature’s Water Policy Interim Committee raised questions about new federal clean water rules intended to give the Environmental Protection Agency a say in regulating many streams and ditches that are now the domain of state and local regulators. Montana lawmakers from both parties say they’re troubled by the new rules.

Marianne Wiest - Courtesy photo

Bozeman technology entrepreneur Greg Gianforte is asking Montanans who live out of state to come home, and to bring their high paying jobs with them.

He launched what he’s calling his “Bring our Families Back tour,” Monday visiting economic development agencies in northwest Montana to promote telecommuting as a way to drive up Montana’s average income and improve the economy.

Poplar pipeline crack
Courtesy Bridger Pipeline

Last week we reported that state wildlife biologists have not found any evidence of damage to fish species in the Yellowstone River downstream of the oil spill in January near Glendive. But Ryan Moehring, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service says that that doesn’t mean scientists are finished looking.

Two Medicaid Expansion Opponents Named To State Oversight Committee

May 29, 2015

Governor Steve Bullock and Legislative leaders named their picks for the 9-member panel that will oversee the roll-out of Medicaid coverage for Montana’s working poor. The oversight committee includes two opponents of Medicaid Expansion.

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