MTPR

Nicky Ouellet

Flathead Valley Reporter

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter. Nicky returns to the Flathead Valley after wrapping up her graduate studies at the University of Montana's environmental science journalism program.

603-568-6155 or 406-730-2264

Ways to Connect

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

The Montana Legislature wrapped up the special session to fix the state’s overburdened budget early Thursday morning. Corin Cates-Carney has been covering the fast-paced developments all week. He’s here with us now to give us highlights from this week’s special session.

That green and brown gunk is a mix of algae, plankton and bits of genetic material that hold the answer to whether Flathead Lake has mussels in it. One sample comes from 9 meters deep, the other from the surface.
Nicky Ouellet

As state legislators return to Helena next week to try to balance the state budget, one of the programs facing deep cuts is tasked with protecting rivers and lakes in the Flathead Basin from invasive mussels. They may not be able to continue that work.

The Flathead Basin Commission was supposed to oversee a new pilot program next summer that would shore up protections against zebra and quagga mussels, invasive species that have caused millions of dollars of damage in infested states and changed lake ecosystems in ways we still don’t really understand.

Montana was invaded last summer. Not by land, not by air, but by water. A microscopic alien showed up in water samples from the Tiber Reservoir, opening the door to a wide range of potentially devastating impacts for Montana's fisheries, outdoor enthusiasts and industries.

What happens if Montana fails to stop the coming invasion of zebra and quagga mussels threatening the state's water bodies? MTPR's Nicky Ouellet looks into Montana's future (or one possible future) to see how the invasive mussels changed the Great Lakes region, and examines Montana's efforts to detect and prevent their spread.

The Whitefish strategic housing plan aims to keep rent and mortgage payments to less than 30 percent of household incomes.
Josh Burnham

Whitefish city counselors adopted an affordable house “roadmap” last night to tackle growing demand in the resort town.

Rent and mortgage rates have been outstripping average incomes in Whitefish for years, effectively forcing year-round workers, like teachers, cooks and firefighters, to look for housing outside the city where they work.

Downtown Whitefish, MT.
Josh Burnham

The Whitefish city council will hear the final draft of the city’s strategic housing plan at a regularly scheduled meeting tonight.

Pages