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.

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Congressman Ryan Zinke testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 17.
CSPAN

If the Senate votes to confirm Representative Ryan Zinke as the next Interior Secretary, he will become the first Montanan to hold a cabinet level position. This first has many Montanans wondering, how does this work?

Job seekers with the U.S. Forest Service got a bit of good news today: the agency has been cleared to hire seasonal temporaries.

Seasonal temporaries could be considered the "face of the Forest Service" — they're trail maintenance workers, engineers, backcountry rangers, says Elizabeth Slown, spokesperson for the Northwest Region of the Forest Service.

Senator Jennifer Fielder (R) SD-7.
Mike Albans

A national government watchdog organization filed a lawsuit this morning against Montana. Campaign for Accountability is suing Sen. Jennifer Fielder, a Republican from Thompson Falls, and the State Legislative Services Division for allegedly failing to comply with a public records request.

Beauty of the Big Sky, U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree
U.S. Forest Service

A tree from northwest Montana will grace the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington next Christmas. The U.S. Forest Service has been supplying the capitol with trees for decades. Elizabeth Slown, spokesperson for the Northern Region of the Forest Service, says this year, the Kootenai National Forest has the honor.

About 25 members of the activist group Big Sky Rising protested outside Sen. Daines' Kalispell office Wednesday, Feb. 08 over the senator's role in silencing Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Nicky Ouellet

The chants of protesters and ralliers have become familiar sounds recently. Protests, pickets and rallies have been popping up across Montana cities ever since the election last November.

Rob Saldin, a professor of political science at the University of Montana, says the amount of political activism we’ve seen so far in Donald Trump’s presidency is unprecedented.

Senate Bill 215 would establish more rigorous permitting requirements for bottling plants that bottle at least 100 acre feet of water each year.
(PD)

Legislators will soon hear a bill that seeks to treat water bottling facilities with the same environmental scrutiny as other major factories and plants. Senate Bill 215 would establish more rigorous permitting requirements for bottling plants that bottle at least 100 acre feet of water each year.

Lee Neimark of Whitefish is the sixth Democrat to express interest in running for Ryan Zinke's seat in Congress.
Courtesy

A sixth Democrat has expressed intent to fill Montana’s House seat if Ryan Zinke is confirmed to lead the Interior Department under President Donald Trump. Nicky Ouellet reports.

Lee Neimark — or "Link,” as everyone in the Flathead Valley knows him — doesn’t have a background in politics, but says that’s an asset in today's political climate.

Congressman Ryan Zinke testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee January 17.
CSPAN

While Representative Ryan Zinke awaits a full Senate confirmation vote to become the next secretary of the Interior under Donald Trump’s Administration, many Montanans are left wondering when that vote will actually happen. That includes Senator Jon Tester.

"I've got a notion it will be next week, but remember my crystal ball is awful cloudy, and it could be few weeks out," Tester says.

Montana Artesian Water Company is seeking permits for a facility that would produce 1.2 billion bottles of water each year.
Nicky Ouellet

Opponents of a proposed water bottling plant outside of Kalispell held a meeting Wednesday night to update local residents on the status of permits relating to the plant.

The Montana Artesian Water Company’s plant would bottle, ship and sell nearly 192 million gallons - about 1.2 billion 12-ounce water bottles - of treated groundwater per year.

A map of lands in the Swan Forest Initiative
Lake County Conservation District

Backers of a proposal to transfer management of 60,000 acres of Flathead National Forest land to the state are making another plea for support after getting mostly negative feedback last month.

People in Swan Lake heard a proposal to transfer management of some National Forest land to the state in a question-and-answer session Dec. 7, 2016, in Swan Lake.
Nicky Ouellet

The public comment period on a proposal to transfer management of National Forest land to local control has been extended. The Swan Forest Initiative would transfer management of 60,000 acres of the Flathead National Forest to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation for the next 100 years.

For Esperanza Orozco-Charlo, a school trip to New York City last March was truly life changing.
Esperanza Orozco-Charlo

School field trips can be a time of wide-eyed wonderment, of seeing new people in new places, and maybe even seeing yourself with fresh eyes. But for Esperanza Orozco-Charlo, a school trip to New York City last March was truly life changing:

"I feel like I can make a story," Orozco-Charlo says. "I'm a girl who came from nothing. But when I go to New York, it’s like, 'oh my god, look at this girl, she came from Montana! What’s it like, what’s it like?'"

A legislative proposal to slap a $25 tax on out-of-state bicyclists visiting Montana turns out to be a big joke, but it's going over like a lead ballon.
PD

A proposal to connect existing bike paths in western Montana received widespread support at a meeting on the Flathead Reservation today. The big hurdle now is securing funding.

The proposed 34-mile multi-use path would follow U.S. 93 from its intersection with Interstate 90 to St. Ignatius.

Crown of the Continent Choir singing "Dear Mr. President."
Nicky Ouellet

It’s been a rough few weeks for many people living in the Flathead Valley. First, several families and businesses faced a barrage of hate-filled, anti-Semitic phone calls and messages. Then, a group of neo-Nazis threatened an armed march against the city of Whitefish.

Bison and the National Bison Range.
Josh Burnham-cc-by-2.0

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it’s assessing future management plans for the National Bison Range, including transferring control to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).

Philip Haney addresses a packed house at an ACT For America event in Polson Montana, Nov. 2, 2016.
Nicky Ouellet

A local chapter of a national organization that promotes greater scrutiny of Muslims in the name of national security laid out its goals for the year this weekend.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is seeking comment on whether fishers deserve ESA protection.
(PD)

The Fish and Wildlife Service is revisiting whether fishers warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.

On Friday the Service announced it is seeking comment on the status of the fisher - a member of the weasel family - in its distinct northern Rocky Mountain population for potential listing as a threatened or endangered species.

Montana’s congressional delegation is seeking to overturn federal mandates for driver's licenses. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester and Representative Ryan Zinke announced on Thursday they’ve introduced legislation that would repeal the Real ID Act of 2005.

Josh Burnham

If you’re wondering how repealing the Affordable Care Act will impact Montana, Indian country is a good place to look.

To Native healthcare leaders, Obamacare provides a great opportunity to create jobs.

Montana Supreme Court Temporarily Halts 'Marsy's Law'
(PD)

Lake County Commissioners are asking Montana’s legislature to withdraw from an agreement that lets the state prosecute felonies for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Whitefish, MT rail depot.
Flickr user Roy Luck (CC-BY-2)

The neo-Nazi website proposing an armed march through Whitefish on Martin Luther King Day now says it's postponing its planned demonstration, after failing to submit a complete event permit application earlier this week.

Libby superfund map.
US Environmental Protection Agency

People living in Libby and Troy have until the end of March to contact the Environmental Protection Agency to have their houses checked for asbestos contamination for free. The EPA issued a "last call" notice Monday.

People gathered in Whitefish's Depot Park for a "Love Not Hate" Rally Saturday, January 7, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

City managers in Whitefish say they’ve received an application for a special event permit from a neo-Nazi website. But, it’s incomplete.

A few weeks ago, the Daily Stormer proposed an armed march against Jewish families and businesses in Whitefish in January.

Seal of the Chippewa Cree Tribes
Josh Burnham

Authorities say it is now safe for people living on the Rocky Boy's Reservation to drink their tap water again. The Environmental Protection Agency lifted a boil order today.

Whitefish residents held a "love not hate" rally January 7, 2017 in response to calls from a neo-Nazi website to target locals with anti-Semitic online harassment.
Nicky Ouellet

Temperatures were in the single digits Saturday morning in Whitefish, but that didn’t stop a few hundred people from flooding the streets downtown for a block party. With the ski hill as a backdrop, Jessica Loti Leferrier addressed a bundled-up crowd milling around heat lamps and spilling onto snowbanks.

"The extremist groups that have been making all the news do not represent us," she said.

Stanton Mountain in Glacier National Park.
Jacob W. Frank/NPS (PD)

Authorities have identified the Kalispell man who died yesterday from injuries sustained in an avalanche while backcountry skiing in Glacier National Park. Thirty-six-year-old Ben Parsons was an accomplished endurance athlete, a firefighter in Whitefish and a youth mentor at Ridge Mountain Academy.

Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial addressing the Glacier Country Pachyderm Club in Kalispell Friday
Nicky Ouellet

Whitefish Chief of Police Bill Dial says he’s doubtful a threatened armed march through Whitefish will actually happen.

A neo-Nazi website is calling for the march on Martin Luther King Day.

Whitefish, MT rail depot.
Flickr user Roy Luck (CC-BY-2)

A group in Whitefish is hosting a so-called "Love Not Hate" rally Saturday, January 7. Organizers are calling the event a stand against oppression.

City commissioners in Great Falls passed a resolution Tuesday supporting the city and citizens of Whitefish.

Flickr user, Harold (cc-by-2.0)

The so-called Quiet Waters Initiative — a slew of proposals that could redefine recreation on some Montana rivers and streams — rocked the boat at the first of several public hearings this week hosted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The agency is taking comment on nearly 30 proposed regulation changes that would limit horsepower, set seasonal restrictions and outright ban motorized watercraft along some rivers and stream segments that feed into the Clark Fork, Flathead, Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers.

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