MTPR

Flathead Lake

View from Polson beach area overlooking southern Flathead Lake. Smoke obscures the northern Mission Mountains on the afternoon of August 23, 2016.
Nicky Ouellet

A man who allegedly posed as a U.S. Coast Guard officer and attempted to pull over boats on Flathead Lake will make his first court appearance Wednesday in Lake County Justice Court.

Ryan Lowden of Polson will be charged with three felony counts of impersonating a public official.

Phil Matson collects a water sample from Flathead Lake for use in e-DNA testing for quagga and zebra mussels.
Nicky Ouellet

Wherever you go, you leave behind a tiny trace of yourself, a fingerprint even smaller than a cell that says you were here. Every organism does this, including the invasive quagga and zebra mussels the state is trying to keep out of Montana. This summer, a team of scientists in the Flathead Valley is using cutting-edge technology to detect the mussels’ genetic fingerprints sooner. They say early detection may offer the only hope for eradicating the mussels if they do get here.

Flathead Lake near Polson, MT.
P.J. Johnson (CC-BY-ND-2)

Boaters in the Flathead Basin may see some significant changes next season. A new set of regulations aimed at preventing the spread of invasive mussels next year are now being drafted.

The proposed regulations would require all boats to be inspected before they launch, set up a sticker for boats that only launch in Flathead and Swan Lakes, and establish annual fees to fund the program.

Part of the collapsed deck at the Glacier Presbyterian Camp near Lakeside, MT.
Nicky Ouellet

Two of the people who were critically injured when a deck collapsed at a church camp on the west side of Flathead Lake Saturday are now classified as in good condition at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected elevated levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.
Nicky Ouellet

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified two compounds in the mysterious oily sheen detected along the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers earlier this month.

Volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds were previously detected in samples taken from water pooled along the shoreline at Somers Bay.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected elevated levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.
Nicky Ouellet

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected low levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.

In a statement, the EPA says it still has not determined the cause of the sheen that was first reported early last week and expects final, validated sampling results next week.

The sheen on Flathead Lake near Somers was first reported to the EPA earlier this week. Thursday, BNSF took steps to contain it. A BNSF representative told MTPR Thursday that early field indicators suggest the sheen comes from a natural organic source.
Nicky Ouellet

BNSF Railway says that, as a precautionary measure, it has removed material from the shore of Flathead Lake near Somers that has a mysterious, oily sheen. The company thinks the sheen's origin is biological, not man-made.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected elevated levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.
Nicky Ouellet

BNSF railway and the Environmental Protection Agency are both waiting on sampling results to determine the source of the unidentified sheen on Flathead Lake in Somers. They expect those results back by Monday.

Flathead Lake. Flathead County Commissioners are considering a proposal to regulate short-term housing rentals outside of incorporated towns.
William Neuheisel (CC-BY-2)

The Environmental Protection Agency and BNSF Railway are responding to an unidentified sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake. 

Jim Elser, director of the Flathead Biological Research Station, answers questions at a public meeting on aquatic invasive mussels.
Nicky Ouellet

Zebra and quagga mussels are aquatic invasive species, quick to colonize and very difficult to get rid of. They’ve caused millions of dollars of damage since they started popping up in Great Lake states in the 1980s, and they have a lot of people in the Flathead Valley concerned right now.

Quagga mussels cover an outboard motor at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
National Parks Service (PD)

Even one confirmed detection of quagga or zebra mussels could have devastating economic and environmental consequence for the Flathead Reservation. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are mounting a campaign to prevent that from happening.

Assistant Director Tom Bansak leads a tour through research laboratories at the University of Montana's Flathead Lake Biological Station on Wednesday.
Nicky Ouellet

The new director of the Flathead Lake Biological Station says the station is poised to become the leading freshwater research station in the country.

Jim Elser can’t physically contain his excitement at being put in charge of the station, which he showed off at its annual open house Wednesday.

New bicycle campsights are coming to four Montana State Parks.
Flickr User Lily Monster (CC-BY-NC-2)

Today Montana State Parks announced plans to construct group bicycle campsites at four state parks in western Montana.

Grizzly bear
Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PD)

Three grizzly bears died on northwest Montana highways last week. As bears search for food before bunking down for the winter, wildlife officials caution drivers to watch out for bears feasting on roadkill.

Sponges: These Aquatic Oddities Call Montana Home

Sep 20, 2015
Spongilla lacustris, a widspread freshwater sponge often found under logs and rocks in lakes.
Kirt L. Onthank (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Although many people associate these stone-like animals with the crystalline waters of the tropics, several species of sponges do occur in lakes and ponds across North America, including those of western Montana. 

Lycogala epidendrum, also known as "wolf's milk slime".
Benny Mazur (CC-BY-2.0)

Slime molds are stubbornly mysterious. They are usually lumped in with fungi, but exhibit several traits ordinarily attributed to animals. One of these stands out above the others: slime molds travel.

The Flathead Lake Biological Station's next director is James Elser. Elser is an internationally renowned freshwater ecologist with more than 220 publications in prestigious scientific journals.
Corin Cates-Carney

The Flathead Lake Biological Station’s new director, Jim Elser was introduced during a open house at the station on Wednesday.

The Flathead Lake Biological Station is one of oldest active biological stations in the United States, opened in 1899 to study freshwater biology.

Flathead Lake Biological Station research boat, Jessie-B.
Courtesy Flathead Lake Biological Station

Researchers at the Flathead Lake Biological Station are studying how climate change may affect the lake’s chemistry and temperature. Corin Cates-Carney reports from a research presentation at the station Thursday night.

The bullet point is Flathead Lake is an extremely complex body of water; and it’s changing.

One of the authors of a new plan to save the threatened bull Trout in Montana says that’s not an easy task, nor is measuring what it will take to get the fish off of the endangered species list.

"Some folks think it’s a simple, you cross the finish line and you’re there. That’s never quite the way it is."

Environmental Groups Sue For Inadequate Bull Trout Protection
Joel Sartore National Geographic & Wade Fredenberg USFWS (CC-BY-2.0)

A Montana environmental group working on recovery of the threatened bull trout is critical of a new federal plan to save the fish.

"I guess I just don’t see this as being a holistic plan," says Arlene Montgomery.

Flathead Lake. Flathead County Commissioners are considering a proposal to regulate short-term housing rentals outside of incorporated towns.
William Neuheisel (CC-BY-2)

Flathead Lake is a good two feet below full pool following this particularly dry spring in northwest Montana. Northwestern Energy, which manages Kerr Dam, has notified tribal and federal agencies that water levels are low which could affect outflows this summer. Kerr produces power, regulates the lake's water levels and several reservoirs.

Corin Cates-Carney

I’m Corin Cates-Carney at the tenth annual pond skip at the Whitefish Mountain Resort.

A large pool waits for skiers and snowboards at the bottom of the mountainside runway. The goal is to skip across the icy water, dressed in costume, with prizes awarded to those who make it, and those who don’t, but fail in style.

CSKT Natural Resources Department

A Stevensville man is $10,000 richer because of a 10-inch fish he caught in Flathead Lake.

Every spring and fall since 2002 the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes holds the Mack Days fishing tournament, offering lots of prizes to anglers. The tribes do it to help reduce the number of non-native Mackinaws, or lake trout in the lake, because they’re crowding out native fish like Bull trout and West Slope cutthroats.

Sundance watch out, competition from... Polson?

Jan 22, 2014
FLIC

Last year the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest, or FLIC showed more than thirty films from new and emerging filmmakers. 2014 marks FLICs second year, and the number of films has more than doubled to seventy-nine.