Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Emigrant Peak, near the area of the proposed mine exploration
Flickr user Sean Wolf (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0)

Caroline Byrd describes south-central Montana's scenic Emigrant Gulch in the Paradise Valley as Yellowstone National Park's "northern backdoor".

"It's got wildlife. It's got water. It's got scenic beauty and it's got real ecological importance for keeping the whole place knit together," says Byrd.

Byrd, the executive director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition says that's no place for a mine.

Cooler, wetter weather is forecast for July across the western U.S.
National Weather Service, Missoula

Persistent rain and cooler temperatures brought welcome relief to parts of parched western Montana this past weekend.

Fire managers say the rain has helped, but they’re also warning the public against letting its guard down.

Strong thunderstorms are possible in parts of western Montana today
National Weather Service, Missoula

Today will be an active thunderstorm day for the Northern Rockies, with a few storms capable of producing very heavy downpours, hail, frequent lightning, and gusty winds, according to the National Weather Service in Missoula. The best potential for strong storms will this afternoon/evening and stretch from Central Idaho through Southwest Montana. Those participating in outdoor activities this afternoon and evening should be prepared for quickly changing and inclement conditions.

Kate Davis

Meet Kate Davis, a Bitterroot Valley resident who has devoted her life to promoting wildlife conservation and habitat preservation for raptors.

Evening Newscast 07-10-15

Jul 10, 2015
MTPR Evening Newscast
Josh Burnham

The University of Montana campus police department has met federal requirements to improve its response to reports of sexual assault. U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter said today an independent reviewer determined that campus police met the goals of a May 2013 agreement by improving its policies, practices and training. That’s led to more reliable sexual assault investigations. He says they've also improved their communication with university officials and Missoula police.

A man who says he was raped while being held at a Montana jail is suing Jefferson County. Audemio Orozco-Ramirez filed the complaint Thursday in federal court arguing inadequate staffing, failure to respond to allegations of assault and general negligence caused serious harm and violated his due process rights.

Montana wildlife officials have tightened trapping regulations outside Yellowstone and Glacier national parks to reduce the chances that threatened Canada lynx will be accidentally caught. The changes include restrictions on the types of traps, snares and bait that can be used in special protection zones outside the parks.

Environmentalists say a Canadian company's request to explore for gold and other elements south of Livingston puts the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at risk. Lucky Minerals Incorporated wants to explore a 6-square-mile area for copper, molybdenum and gold in Emigrant Gulch in the Custer Gallatin National Forest and on private land nearby. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition says the exploration process itself would have significant environmental impacts.

Montanans now have more than 8,200 acres of new national forest land in the central part of the state. U.S. Forest Service officials and others celebrated the completion of the eight-year acquisition effort today at the state Capitol in Helena.

Missoula Art Museum
Josh Burnham - MTPR

The longtime curator of the Missoula Art Museum, Stephen Glueckert has retired, and Brandon Reintjes has taken over that role. The Montana native has been at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University for the last six years. I talked to him about his new role as we toured the Montana Triennial exhibit currently up at the Missoula Art Museum.

UM President Royce Engstrom speaks about UM's handling of sexual assaults at a July 10 press conference in Missoula, MT.
Eric Whitney - MTPR

The University of Montana Police Department has met federal requirements to improve its response to reports of sexual assault on campus.

The University agreed to the requirements two years ago, following a 2012 investigation into reports of sexual assaults at the school by the U.S. Departments of Justice, and Education.

Emigrant Peak, near a proposed mine exploration site.
Richard Reeve (CC-BY-SA-2)

Environmentalists say a Canadian company's request to explore for gold and other elements south of Livingston puts the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem at risk.

Lucky Minerals Incorporated wants to explore a six square-mile area for copper, molybdenum and gold in Emigrant Gulch in the Custer Gallatin National Forest and on private land nearby.

Widespread thunderstorms for western Montana.
National Weather Service

Air quality in much of western Montana improved Friday as winds from the south pushed smoke into northwest Montana and Canada. Storms expected through early next week should mitigate smoke impacts in places where rain falls.

Montana Folk Festival
Courtesy photo

George Everett, executive director of the Montana Folk Festival joins Michael Marsolek to preview the 2015 festival. The festival runs from July 10-12 in Butte, Montana.

The Montana Folk Festival features multiple stages with continuous live performances by some of the best traditional performers in the nation, including Montana's finest, some of the region's best traditional artists, ethnic and festival foods, a lively family area, and folklife demonstrations and workshops that focus on a new theme each year that highlights Montana's heritage.

Stage 2 Fire restrictions go into effect across northwestern Montana Thursday at 1:00 a.m.
Josh Burnham

Firefighters made good progress on two fires burning in Montana, and discovered a new fire near Phillipsburg.

U.S. Capitol building.
Flickr user Tim McKee (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

The U.S. House has passed legislation designed to improve the health of national forests by scaling back the environmental reviews that go into some timber projects, and making it harder to file lawsuits that delay thinning projects.

Montana Republican Ryan Zinke is co-sponsoring the bill.

Lower Two Medicine Lake and Sinopah Mountain at sunset.
flickr user Ryan McKee (CC-BY-ND-2.0)

The Blackfeet Tribe has withdrawn from talks with the U.S. Government over natural gas drilling leases on land considered sacred by the Blackfeet people.

Louisiana company Solenex holds drilling leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Billings businessman Steve Zabawa believes marijuana is a scourge that ruins lives.

Zabawa’s drafted a proposed initiative for the 2016 ballot that states all drugs illegal under federal law would also be illegal under Montana law. That would also include the cultivation, possession and use of marijuana, including medical marijuana.

A wildland firefighter with the Montana DNRC monitors flames burning in the interior of the Alex Camp Road Fire July 7, 2015.
BLM/Jonathan Moor

Firefighters are reporting progress on three fires burning in Montana.

As the Senate begins debating federal education policy, Montana Senator Jon Tester is trying to remove annual testing requirements from Washington, and Senator Steve Daines is seeking block grants of federal funding instead of money with specific strings attached.

The Senate is currently working on replacing the unpopular No Child Left Behind law, with one called “Every Child Achieves.”

Visitor center attendant Hugh Austin stands behind the information desk at the old Belton Train Station in West Glacier. The visitor center is staffed 1-5pm, 7 days a week, and will provide Glacier visitors information on activities around the Flathead.
Corin Cates-Carney

A new visitor information center in West Glacier opened Tuesday to show Glacier National Park visitors what else Montana has to offer.

The Whitefish, Bigfork and Columbia Falls Chambers of Commerce will join forces to share expenses and staff the center this summer.

Whitefish Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kevin Gartland says the Chambers' goal is to turn additional information about the Flathead Valley into a boost in the local economy.

A proposed ballot measure woul legalize recreational marijuana in Montana.

A part-time sports reporter and medical marijuana patient from Glendive says legalizing pot for recreational use would be an economic boon for Montana.

Anthony Varriono has submitted a proposed ballot measure with the Secretary of State's office that would allow adults age 21 and older to possess limited amounts of pot.

Health centers like Missoula's Partnership Health Center hope Medicaid expansion will bring more financial certainty.
Josh Burnham

Montana’s legislature said yes to Medicaid expansion this spring, but the state’s expansion plan still needs approval by the federal government.

Today, the state made the details of its expansion plan public, and is giving the public 60 days to comment on the plan before sending it to the White House.

Residents of Bayview, ID are being asked to avoid their cell phones to allow for better firefighter communications.

Many have abandoned their landline telephones for the convenience of cell phones. But local emergencies, like the 2,000-acre wildfire burning in Bayview, Idaho can expose the limitations of that technology.

Wetter, Cooler Weather Slows Montana Fires

Jul 7, 2015
Northern Side of The Glacier Rim Fire

Crews on the Glacier Rim Fire continue to maintain fire lines and remove hazardous snags around the fire's perimeter.

Monday, an additional water tender was brought in to help cool the south flank of the fire and re-establish fire lines after a "slop over" on July 4.

Ellen Blickhan, Fire Information Officer, says the weather has helped too.

The 1,500-acre Cape Horn Fire has prompted about 600 evacuations from a popular vacation area near Lake Pend Oreille. Six homes have burned and at least another 280 structures are threatened.

Glacier Rim Fire Update

Jul 6, 2015
A view of the Glacier Rim Fire from the air, July 5, 2015

The Glacier Rim fire south of Glacier National Park slopped over fire lines due to high winds on July fourth, but firefighters made progress yesterday thanks to cooler weather and higher humidity. The fire is now estimated at 100 acres in size, up from 85 acres last week. It's being called 70% contained, that’s up from the 50% containment figure given on Friday.

The storm destroyed some outbuildings on 66 Ranch outside of Havre
Courtesy Rylee Strauser

Thousands of Montanans had a 4th of July they won’t soon forget. A storm packing powerful winds, intense rain and large hail disrupted life  across the state’s northern tier last weekend. Some think tornadoes touched down, but meteorologists aren’t yet willing to go that far.

A roughly 300-mile stretch of northern Montana is still cleaning up after a powerful storm swept across the region this weekend.

Thunderstorms And Showers Possible Tuesday

Jul 6, 2015
National Weather Service, Missoula

Via National Weather Service, Missoula: Monday will be mostly quiet across the Northern Rockies, with the exception of a few afternoon thunderstorms from central Idaho to southwest Montana. More active weather is anticipated Tuesday, with showers and thunderstorms possible across a wide swath of central Idaho and western Montana. These storms will be capable of brief heavy rain, gusty winds, and frequent lightning strikes. In addition, a backdoor cool front will bring another round of breezy east winds across western Montana by Tuesday evening.

Art In The Woods Revitalizes A Town

Jul 5, 2015
Chérie Newman

Last weekend, a group of people from the town of Lincoln, Montana, held a celebration at Sculpture in the Wild, a park designed to celebrate their heritage with art. Sculpture in the Wild is the brainchild of Rick Dunkerly, a local resident and artisan knifemaker who serves as executive director for the organization.

"The goal is to invite artists in here to create artwork that responds to environmental and industrial heritage of the Blackfoot Valley," says Dunkerly.

A.J. Coulter guides fly fishing trips on rivers all around Montana. Recently, he’s been starting his trips earlier in the day to avoid angling in heat of the day so as to not catch unhealthy fish.
Corin Cates-Carney

Fish, and maybe you, are getting stressed out in this summer heat. But for fish, stress is made worse when, on top of trying to stay cool, they have to avoid eating a fly tied to a line.

In the heat wave of the past few weeks, guides and regulators have worked to protect fish during a time when fish are very vulnerable.

Emily Proctor

The Arlee Celebration continues for the 117th year this weekend with ceremonial and traditional gatherings of Native Americans. On Thursday, rows of cars were parked and campers were there to enjoy a food, face painting, teepees and dancing.

But there’s also science.

Celebrating Passage Of The Northern Cheyenne Lands Act

Jul 2, 2015

Montana Senator Steve Daines will be in Lame Deer Thursday night to celebrate the passage of the Northern Cheyenne Lands Act. The federal legislation passed last December gives the tribe more control over its land base, natural resources, and trust funds.

Missoula's North Hills and Mount Jumbo
Josh Burnham (All rights reserved)

The Missoula Rural Fire District has an extra fire engine on duty over the 4th of July weekend, in part because of what happened in 2006. District Chief Bill Colwell remembers sitting on his father’s deck that year, watching some local kids shoot off fireworks near Mount Jumbo.