MTPR

Columbia Falls Montana

Nicky Ouellet

Flathead County Commissioners today took a step towards legalizing and regulating short-term housing rentals outside of incorporated towns. Vacation rentals by owner, or VRBOs, are currently illegal outside of Kalispell, Columbia Falls and Whitefish, but people are doing it anyway.

Commissioner Pam Holmquist voted in favor of a resolution to change county regulations, which passed on a 2-1 vote.

“We're just trying to help the VRBO individuals and the community have a voice in this,” says Holmquist.

An escalating trade war brewing between the United States and Canada could save timber mills in Montana, but at the cost of over 1,000 jobs north of the border in British Columbia.
(PD)

Lumber industry workers in Montana gathered in the capitol this afternoon to update the governor on the health of their businesses amidst a trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada.

Outside of th CFAC Superfund Site in Columbia Falls.
Nicky Ouellet

Shannon Stringer has an opinion that’s not entirely popular in Columbia Falls.

“I do. I've gotten into heated discussions with other people in the community, including fellow co-workers, that are totally opposite,” he said.

Stringer thinks it’s a good thing that the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company was listed as a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency last September.

The Environmental Protection Agency designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site in September 2016.
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The company responsible for cleanup at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company Superfund site released results of their site evaluation on Thursday. 

The evaluation confirms that groundwater beneath the former aluminum smelter facility has elevated levels of cyanide, fluoride and other contaminants, leached from legacy landfills used from 1955 until 1980. The studies also indicate that the contamination is not moving toward wells used for drinking water in nearby neighborhoods.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Courtesy EPA

There’s some good news in the latest sampling for contaminants at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company site on the Flathead River. That’s according to Mike Cirian with the Environmental Protection Agency.

"There wasn’t anything out there that we didn’t expect, and there's no urgent or emergency type responses needed at this time," Cirian says.

Gianforte talks with Brian Friess of Kalispell during a campaign stop in Columbia Falls, Montana Nov. 4, 2016.
Nicky Ouellet

Candidates are hitting multiple campaign stops each day in the final sprint to the election. Flathead Valley reporter Nicky Ouellet caught up with Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte in Columbia Falls this morning.

The Environmental Protection Agency designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site in September 2016.
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Local businesses got an update today on the cleanup at the former Columbia Falls aluminum plant. The plant was listed as a superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency last month.

The Environmental Protection Agency designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site in September 2016.
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The Environmental Protection Agency today designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site.

Swiss commodities firm Glencore announced the former smelter would be permanently shuttered back in the spring of 2015.

Weyerhaeuser closed its lumber and plywood mills in Columbia Falls last week.
Eric Whitney

A job at the lumber mills in Columbia Falls was supposed to be the kind of job you’d have forever. But forever came to an end last Friday, when the Weyerhaeuser Company sawed its last logs at its lumber and plywood mills in the industrial heart of the Flathead Valley. The mills had been open since the late 1940s.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock announces the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative at Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake Montana August 16, 2016..
Corin Cates-Carney

In June, Montana’s Democratic Governor Steve Bullock was elected chairman of the Western Governors' Association. The WGA is made up of 14 Republicans, six Democrats and two independents.

Tuesday, Bullock announced that he’s launching a new WGA initiative. He’s calling it the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

PD

Senator Jon Tester is meeting with local community and business leaders in Columbia Falls Friday to discuss job training for workers impacted by impending timber mill closures.

Weyerhaeuser closed its lumber and plywood mills in Columbia Falls last week.
Eric Whitney

Wednesday’s announcement that Weyerhaeuser will close its Columbia Falls lumber and plywood mills, along with its administrative offices, brought an avalanche of reaction -- none of it good.

Weyerhaeuser closed its lumber and plywood mills in Columbia Falls last week.
Eric Whitney

One of the world's largest private owners of timberlands is shutting down two mills in Columbia Falls later this year.

The Weyerhaeuser Company announced the closure of its lumber mill and plywood mill today.

More showers and thunderstorms are expected this afternoon and evening in NW Montana. The potential for further runoff exists in and around Glacier National Park.
National Weather Service Missoula

  Flood waters are receding in some parts of northwest Montana. Snowmelt, however, continues to create problems in other areas.

Steady rain will continue for much of northwest Montana today. Many locations have already seen significant rainfall in the past 36 hours, with common amounts in the 2-3 inch range.
National Weather Service Missoula

Persistent rainfall is creating flooding headaches in northwest Montana. A washed-out culvert just north of Apgar closed a portion of Going-To-The-Sun Road early Monday. That was just one of several heavy rain-related problems reported in northwest Montana.

Hundreds of Montana timber workers will keep their jobs in mills in Evergreen and Columbia Falls, this after forest products giants Plum Creek Timber and Weyerhaeuser consummated their merger today.

Salvation Army Major Steve Svenson holds a Liberty Head Double Eagle donated to the Salvation Army in Columbia Falls.
Courtesy Steve Svenson

A Good Samaritan’s generous donation came at the perfect time for the Flathead Valley Salvation Army.

Someone recently put a valuable gold coin in one of the organization’s signature red kettles at the Smith’s grocery store in Columbia Falls.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The Columbia Falls Aluminum Company (CFAC) reached a deal with the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday to begin investigating cleanup options for the former aluminum smelter. CFAC officials hope their work will be good enough to avoid a Superfund listing.

The Environmental Protection Agency today designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site.
Corin Cates-Carney

The Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement today about the clean-up of the Columbia Falls Aluminum Plant. 

The Environmental Protection Agency today designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site.
Corin Cates-Carney

The Columbia Falls Aluminum Company, or CFAC, closed its doors permanently this spring after the plant hadn’t fully operated since 2009.

Now, the company, private contractors, the Environmental Protection Agency and members of the community are talking about how to begin to cleaning up the old aluminum plant, where cyanide, fluoride and other metals have been detected in the soil.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

An open house on the process of cleaning up the shutdown Columbia Falls Aluminum plant happens Thursday evening.

The Columba Falls Aluminum Company, or CFAC, permanently closed this spring after the plant hadn’t fully operated since 2009. CFAC is in talks with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about how to begin cleanup.

Plum Creek Timber's Columbia Falls fiberboard plant
Katrin Frye

A Columbia Falls fiberboard production line will open a bit later than expected after a small explosion and fire shut it down late last week.

Plum Creek Timber's Columbia Falls fiberboard plant
Katrin Frye

No lives were lost, no one was injured and no one will be laid off. That from Plum Creek Timber Company officials in response to yesterday's small explosion and fire at its medium-density fiberboard plant in Columbia Falls.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Anyone living near the closed Columbia Falls Aluminum Company smelter has a chance Wednesday night to help the Environmental Protection Agency determine whether the plant belongs on the list of sites eligible for "Superfund" cleanup funds. The EPA is holding an open house starting at 7:00 Wednesday at the Columbia Falls City Hall.

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.

Fire Near Glacier Park Has Burned 80 Acres

Jun 29, 2015
Flathead NatioFlathead National Forest to update forest plan, seeks public inputnal Forest To Update Forest Plan
U.S. Forest Service

A human-caused fire that started over the weekend just outside Glacier National Park has burned 80 acres and started eight spot fires inside the Park. Officials are calling the Glacier Rim Fire 25% contained.

Two Mills In Columbia Falls To Close This Year
Corin Cates-Carney

A young company in Columbia Falls is finding success in developing new construction material, and they’ve just received a federal grant to help push that success to the next stage.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The Environmental Protection Agency now formally proposes adding the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company to the National Superfund List.

That makes the former smelter eligible for additional study and cleanup resources.

Cyanide, fluoride and various metals have been detected in soils, surface ponds and groundwater at the now-closed Columbia Falls smelter. That's why city manager, Susan Nicosia, supports the EPA's proposal to add the site to its priorities list.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

Columbia Falls may know by autumn whether the now-closed aluminum smelter there will become a Superfund site.

Last Tuesday the owners of the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced the smelter is permanently closing.

The next day the Environmental Protection Agency notified Governor Steve Bullock it proposes to add the plant to its priority list of industrial sites that should be cleaned.

Columbia Falls Aluminum Company
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

To many Columbia Falls residents the full closure of the local aluminum smelter was more a matter of when than if.

That question was answered with certainty this week when Columbia Falls Aluminum Company announced that it's permanently shuttering the plant.

Local real estate agent Bill Dakin say this development was a long time coming.

"This announcement, finally, an honest announcement that this plant will never refine aluminum again, is kind of a new day here."

Pages