MTPR

public land

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Nicky Ouellet

The fate of over two dozen national monuments on federal land will be determined in just over a week. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will present his recommendations to President Donald Trump on August 24. They’ll outline which national monuments should be left alone, which should be scaled back, or perhaps even scrapped altogether.

Trump called the monument areas "a massive federal land grab" by previous administrations.

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
Bureau of Land Management

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will decide whether to shrink or eliminate 22 national monuments later this month. As Yellowstone Public Radio’s Brie Ripley reports, these monuments are significant money-makers for business owners across the West, who met in Helena and Great Falls Wednesday to discuss their concerns.

In Montana outdoor recreation generates nearly $6 billion in consumer spending annually, and supports over 60,000 jobs.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on Wednesday he won’t recommend any changes to the Upper Missouri River Breaks. It’s one of 27 national monuments under review by the secretary, who is now the target of a new ad campaign launched by a Montana-based sportsmen’s group.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to streamline the process for oil and gas development on federal lands. Zinke signed an order Thursday mandating Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sales be held in each state on at least a quarterly basis.

Zinke noted during a telephone press conference that under the Obama administration BLM fell far short of that legally-mandated limit.

Greg Gianforte during his swearing in to the U.S. House, Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
CSPAN

Congressman Greg Gianforte has been assigned to serve on two congressional committees — one focused on natural resources, and the other on government oversight. Republican Greg Gianforte announced his committee assignments on Wednesday.

As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Gianforte will help craft policy on a wide range of topics, including public lands, mining, wildlife and Indian country.

Montana's Flathead Valley from above.
Nicky Ouellet

From above, the northern Flathead Valley is a patchwork of yellow fields of canola, green tracts of grains and wandering curves of cerulean rivers. Heavily forested mountains erupt from the valley floor, some of them still scared by clear cut logging from decades ago.

"This area obviously has got multi-uses," says Bruce Gordon, a pilot for EcoFlight, a nonprofit based in Colorado that uses flyovers in small aircraft to advocate for protecting wildlands.

He’s in Whitefish this week to fly western governors over northwest Montana, to give them a visual as they talk this week about land management.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Nicky Ouellet

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says removing bureaucratic obstacles to development on federal land can create jobs and offer hope to nearby communities.

Zinke spoke Tuesday at the Western Governors' Association annual meeting in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana. He says the Interior Department and other land management agencies need to better cooperate, and hinted of major changes in store.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visited his hometown in Whitefish June, 27, 2017 to address the Western Governors Association.
Nicky Ouellet

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visited his hometown in Whitefish today to address the Western Governors Association.

Secretary Zinke is currently running a review of more than two dozen of the country’s largest National Monuments, including Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks, to determine whether the Monument designations should be revoked or reduced in size.

Upper Missouri River breaks.
BLM (PD)

When he returns to his hometown of Whitefish next week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be greeted by billboards and a media campaign urging him to leave the Missouri River Breaks alone. It’s one of two dozen national monuments he’s reviewing to eliminate or scale back protections.

Zinke is scheduled to address the Western Governors Association's annual conference Tuesday.

An informational sign at the entrance of the National Bison Range.
Josh Burnham

One month after pulling a proposal to transfer management of the National Bison Range to the tribes of the Flathead Reservation, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke yesterday made it official: Management will remain in the federal government’s hands.

Sally Mauk: Welcome to "Capitol Talk," our weekly political analysis program. I'm Sally Mauk And I'm joined by veteran capitol reporter Chuck Johnson and University of Montana political science professor Rob Saldin.

SM: And Rob two new polls show the House race between Greg Gianforte and Rob Quist is narrowing from double digits to within six to eight points with Gianforte still leading but is getting closer what's going on do you think?

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.
Bureau of Land Management

President Donald Trump signed an executive order today directing his Interior secretary to review the designation of dozens of national monuments on federal lands. Trump called the protection efforts "a massive federal land grab" by previous administrations.

Rob Quist.
Josh Burnham

Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist is traveling around Montana holding rallies where he emphasizes  his stand on protecting public lands. He's also been in the news for unpaid debts and tax liens on his property.

MTPR's Sally Mauk talks with the nominee about his positions on everything from gun rights to healthcare and what he thinks of President Trump.

Rob Quist, Democratic candidate for U.S. House speaks during a campaign rally in Missoula on March 22, 2017.
Josh Burnham

About 150 people came to a campaign event in Missoula today for U.S. House Candidate Rob Quist. The Democrat called it a "rally for public lands."

Quist addressed the crowd on a warm, sunny afternoon, wearing his usual cowboy hat:

Sen. Tester hears constituent concerns at Helena town hall, March 17, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester was in Helena Friday afternoon for an in-person town hall. You can listen to the full meeting at the bottom of this post.

Tester spoke for a little over an hour to a friendly crowd of 200 people at Helena Middle School. Town halls nationwide have become confrontational events for many members of Congress. Recently, Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines has taken heat for not meeting face-to-face with constituents back home. He hosted a so-called “tele-town hall” two weeks ago, which he says allows him to interact with more Montanans because people don't have to travel to participate in them.

Glacier National Park entrance sign.
Flickr user photommo (CC-BY-ND)

President Donald Trump Thursday proposed a 12 percent cut to the Interior Department's 2018 budget. And national park advocates like Phil Francis are not happy about it:

"It's what I call pretty pictures with music," says producer Daniel Dauterive. "It's designed to be a nice break from the world. We're not trying to teach you anything ... we're just saying this is a great park, and here's some great music, enjoy a half hour of letting go of the real world."

"Ninety percent of this program is showcasing what the vast majority of people don't get to see about Yellowstone," says Scott Billadeau, who composed and played the music for this movie.

Learn more from behind the scenes of "Yellowstone in Four Seasons" with producer Daniel Dauterive and musician Scott Billadeau on this episode of "Front Row Center."

Montana's Republican Senator Steve Daines held what he called a “tele-town hall meeting” Wednesday night. His political opponents have been strongly criticizing him for not holding any face to face meetings where he takes questions from the public.

Senator Daines says telephone conference calls like last night's allow him to interact with more Montanans because people don't have to travel to participate in them. He said that 10,000 to 25,000 people typically participate in his calls.

A group founded by a state representative claimed on social media that he was threatened during a committee hearing at the Capitol Monday. But others at the same hearing say they heard no threats.

Citizens for Balanced Use posted on Facebook Monday night that Representative Kerry White, a Bozeman Republican, was threatened by environmentalists during a public comment period on a resolution he proposed.

A birds-eye view looking north into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Josh Burnham

At a ranch near Seeley Lake Wednesday, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced he is introducing the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. The bill would protect nearly 80,000 acres of wilderness and develop a comprehensive trail plan to provide recreationists with access to the Lolo National Forest. This would include opening some areas to snowmobiling and protecting access for mountain biking.

Glacier National Park Entrance At St. Mary
Flicker user GlacierNPS (CC-BY-2.0)

The National Park Service learned yesterday that seasonal employees for the agency have been deemed exempt from a federal hiring freeze. 

Bill Aims To Address Checkerboard Lands, Make Public Lands Accessible

Feb 20, 2017
A map showing checkerboard land ownership near August, MT.
Montana State Library

Hard to access public lands have become a hot topic lawmakers are trying to solve at the Montana legislature. Senate Bill 262 would allow complaints of closed roads to go through county commissioners to determine whether or not certain roads are being closed unlawfully. The bill aims to address the issue of checkerboard lands, which wedge public lands between private lands making them hard to get to.

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.

Sen. Jon Tester
U.S. Senate

Montana Senator Jon Tester met with President Donald Trump at the White House today. Tester, a Democrat, characterized the meeting as a ‘productive conversation’.

Public lands advocates flooded the state capitol this week and won a victory against privatization in Congress. What's fueling their increased intensity of late? With Ryan Zinke as Interior secretary, is development on public lands a bigger threat than privatization?

Faced with a revenue shortfall and an unwillingness to raise taxes, Montana's University System and other state agencies are preparing for some painful funding cuts.

And the Legislature spent time this week debating a ban on Sharia law in Montana courts. Find out why in this episode of "Capitol Talk".

Public lands supporters packed into the Capitol in Helena, Monday, Jan. 30, 2017.
Michael Siebert - UM Legislative News Service

The annual rally in support of keeping public lands publicly-owned at the state capitol today filled the building's rotunda with chanting supporters.

Organized by the Montana Wilderness Association, the event is intended to show solidarity among many different types of public lands users against efforts to sell or transfer federal public lands, or give management authority over them, to states or private entities.

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.

The candidates for Montana’s lone seat in the U.S. House today both sought to make news out of their positions on control of federal public lands.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-NC-2)

The Montana Wilderness Association is hoping a rally on Monday will send a message to the state’s elected officials.

Kayje Booker is the Association’s State Policy Director:

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