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Lake Koocanusa
Darren Kirby (CC-BY-SA-3)

The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new modeling framework for collection and analysis of selenium data in Lake Koocanusa.

The framework is designed to organize data collected by different agencies using different protocols, with a long-term goal of helping managers develop a common water quality standard for selenium levels in Lake Koocanusa, which straddles the international border.

Powder river coal mine.
U.S. Geological Survey

The nomination of a new regulator of surface mines in the United States is receiving praise from pro-coal groups in Montana but criticism from environmental groups in the state.

President Trump nominated Steve Gardner Thursday for the position of Director of the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement.

The Kootenai Bridge over Lake Koocanusa from the east bank.
David M. Carson (CC-BY-SA-4)

 Editor's note: We've corrected part of this story. Read below.

Coal mines in Canada have been sending a harmful heavy metal downstream to northwest Montana for years, but state, tribal, federal and Canadian agencies all have different standards for how much is too much. Those agencies are meeting this week, and speaking with the public to try to come up with common standards.

Lake Koocanusa
Darren Kirby (CC-BY-SA-3)

A group that tracks water quality in northwest Montana is holding meetings this week about potential contamination in Lake Koocanusa and nearby rivers.

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“This has been a difficult year," Democratic Governor Steve Bullock says. "By some estimates our fire seasons are now about 78 days longer than they were two decades ago.”
Credit Nate Hegyi / YPR

State climatologist Kelsey Jencso says what folks are seeing this summer -- extreme fires, sudden droughts, snowpacks melting quickly -- may be a vision of Montana’s future.

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