Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

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.

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.

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