Edward O'Brien

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Cabin Fee Act
4:17 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Defense Spending Rider Caps Forest Service Cabin Lease Fees

Credit U.S. Forest Service Northern Region (CC-BY-2.0)

Sometimes the best things in life come from unexpected places. This was the case for Missoulian Dick Rothermel and his wife about 13 years ago when they stumbled across a modest cabin for sale on Seeley Lake-area Forest Service land.

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Senator-elect Steve Daines
5:32 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Daines Sounds Off On Cabin Fees, Cyber Attacks

Senator-elect Steve Daines met with a group of Montanans who own cabins on Forest Service land.They thanked Daines for a measure they say will allow them to keep those cherished cabins in their families.
Credit Edward O'Brien

A group of Montanans who own cabins on Forest Service land thanked Republican Senator-elect Steve Daines today for a measure they say will allow them to keep those cherished cabins in their families.

Some cabin fees spiked from $5,000 to $20,000 within just a few years.

The Cabin Fee Act establishes a predictable fee-setting system for at least 700 Montana cabin owners.

The bill was included in the lands and resources legislation recently approved by Congress as a rider on a Defense spending bill.

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Yellowstone Geyser App
3:10 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Wondering When Old Faithful Erupts Next? There's An App For That

Old Faithful Geyser
Credit Jim Peaco (CC-BY-2.0)

Yellowstone National Park officials hope a smartphone and tablet app sparks curiosity about science and the nation's park system.

The app called "NPS Yellowstone Geyers".

Park spokesman Al Nash says it helps users find out when Old Faithful and five other predictable geysers could erupt.

"We're looking to see how we can harness technology to help us better serve visitors."

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Public Lands Package
4:09 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Public Lands Compromise A 'Bittersweet Pill' For Some Environmentalists

Ranch along the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana.
Credit Flickr user SBebee

Dupuyer-area rancher, Karl Rappold, is thrilled that the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act has finally passed.

"My grandparents and my mom and dad took care of this place. the bears and wolves and everything else. This is a historic deal for me to see that my grandkids and their grandkids will hopefully have this same view and this same region will be protected so it will never change," says Rappold.  

Last week Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act which now awaits President Obama's signature.

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For Coverage Starting Jan. 1
4:38 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Enrollment Deadline For Affordable Care Act Approaching

Partnership Health Center, Missoula, MT
Credit Courtesy Partnership Health Center

An important deadline is fast approaching for those who want an Affordable Care Act health plan that takes effect on January first. Applicants must be enrolled by the end of business on Monday, December 15.

Those who've already signed up, but want to make last minute changes, face the same deadline.

Partnership Health Center's Sandra Mytty says she and her staff have helped lots of people in the Missoula area select policies.

"We're actually doing really well. Since we started we've helped over 350 people since November 15 and we're still going."

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SRS Funding
4:34 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Rural Counties Worry About Losing Federal Schools, Roads Funding

Credit Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

Officials in 33 Montana counties are keenly aware of what's not in the trillion dollar federal spending bill to keep government open: an extension of the Secure Rural Schools, or SRS program, that Montana counties have relied on since 2000.

SRS funding is stripped out of the spending bill the House has been considering this week.

The SRS program was helps pay down school bonds and also funds road maintenance projects.

Mineral County Commissioner Laurie Johnston has a blunt assessment of the situation.

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Coal & Climate Change
4:55 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Crow Nation Opposes President's Climate Plan

Much of the coal from the Crow Reservation gets shipped to power plants in other states.

Southeastern Montana's Crow Nation says President Obama’s pending climate plan would wreak economic havoc on the already-impoverished reservation.

Under the administration's proposal, states must reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is going up to bat for the Crow Nation. Fox says he's troubled by how the President is unilaterally guiding this climate proposal.

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Youth Incarceration
4:38 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Youth Incarceration Costly, Ineffective Says Justice Policy Institute

Credit Justice Policy Institute

A new analysis of youth incarceration says it costs Montana, on average, $175,000 annually to incarcerate a single non-violent youth offender.

The non-profit Justice Policy Institute says some violent young people simply must be incarcerated. However, executive director Marc Schindler says jailing non-violent youth is not only a waste of taxpayer money, it's a largely ineffective response to delinquency.

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Libby Health Risk Study
4:17 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Will EPA Study Clean Up Libby's Reputation?

"Popped" Vermiculite from Libby, Montana.
Credit Courtesy EPA

Libby Mayor Doug Roll hopes the Environmental Protection Agency's new health risk study could lead to an economic shot in the arm for the community.

Hundreds of local residents died and even more were sickened by asbestos contamination from a now-closed vermiculite mine and processing plant.

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Health Risk Assessment
4:11 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

EPA Says Libby Asbestos Cleanup Is Paying Off

Credit Courtesy Photo

The Environmental Protection Agency released a long awaited health risk study Monday that will help guide cleanup of more of the asbestos dust found in the Libby area.

Hundreds of Libby residents died, and even more were sickened by asbestos contamination from a now-closed W.R. Grace vermiculite mine and processing plant.

EPA says years of asbestos cleanup efforts are paying off in the northwest Montana town.

Dr. Deborah McKean is EPA toxicologist.

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