MTPR

Ryan Zinke

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.

The Trump administration is repealing an Obama-era rule that forced energy companies to pay more royalties on fossil fuels. Coal producers call it a return to fairness, but environmental groups say the repeal allows companies to continue exploiting a decades-old loophole.

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.

Glacier National Park recently reopened Lake McDonald to some motorboat users, following a months-long quarantine to keep invasive mussels out of the lake.
Nicky Ouellet

This summer one tiny-shelled invertebrate has dominated the conversation about keeping non-native species out of Montana.

Since zebra and quagga mussel larvae were detected in Tiber Reservoir last summer, local, state, tribal and federal agencies have scrambled to enact programs and policies to keep the mussels out of Montana’s waterways.

A Forest Service helicopter near Missoula, MT.
Lane Lamoreaux (PD)

The State of Montana’s fleet of firefighting helicopters remains unable to to fight some fires on federal land, and Wednesday a state legislative council asked for action. It’s been a years-long struggle.

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.

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.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to turn over grizzly bear management to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by late July. The states plan to allow limited bear hunts outside park boundaries.
Flickr user Nathan Rupert (CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

The Interior Department Thursday said it will lift Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park region.

Those protections have been in place for more than 40 years.

For the first time in more than four decades, the Yellowstone grizzly bear is set to lose its federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Citing a rebound in the bear's population, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its intention Thursday to end these protections and return oversight of the animal's status to the state level.

The agency says the rule to remove the grizzly from the endangered species list will be published "in coming days" and "will take effect 30 days after publication."

Greg Gianforte
Courtesy Gianforte campaign

Montana’s Secretary of State certified the results of the May 25 special election today, naming Greg Gianforte Montana’s next congressman. Gianforte will be  sworn in as Montana’s next congressman Wednesday,  June 21 in the U.S. Capitol.

The Service is drafting comprehensive conservation plans, or CCPs, and accompanying environmental analyses for two areas: one for the National Bison Range, and a separate CCP for the rest of the units within the refuge complex.
Mike Albans

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in Polson and Kalispell this week, seeking public input on a pair of management plans for wildlife refuges in northwest Montana.

Greater sage grouse. The Department of Interior announced it's decision today not to recommend endangered species protections for the bird.
USFWS (CC-BY-2)

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said today he is ordering a review of federal efforts to conserve the imperiled sage grouse. Zinke says he wants to ensure that officials in 11 Western states where the bird lives are fully consulted.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox was considered a possible contender in the 2018 senate race, after Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke accepted the position of Interior Secretary.
Courtesy Montana DOJ

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox today confirmed reports that he will not run for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018. Despite courtship from national Republican leaders, Fox says he will not campaign for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Jon Tester.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is updating the bison range’s comprehensive conservation plan and accompanying environmental impact statement.
(PD)

Two federal scoping meetings are scheduled to help shape future management options for the National Bison Range at Moiese. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is updating the bison range’s comprehensive conservation plan and accompanying environmental impact statement. 

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.

A coal mine on the Crow Reservation was the first stop for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Montana.

After Air Force Two landed, Pence climbed into a waiting vehicle and went directly to the Crow Reservation.


Vice President Mike Pence and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are scheduled to visit a coal mine on the Crow Reservation Friday. The Trump Administration has voiced its support for the coal industry, but spokesmen for the industry and an environmental organization aren’t certain what can be done to help that ailing energy source.

Methane flaring.
WildEarth Guardians (CC-BY-ND-ND-2)

The U.S. Senate could not muster enough votes Wednesday to undo rules designed to reduce methane pollution.

Senators voted 51-49 Wednesday against an attempt to eliminate an Obama-era rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production facilities on federal and tribal lands.

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.

During a campaign rally in Hamilton, MT April 21, Donald Trump Jr. told his father's supporters, many wearing  red ‘Make America Great Again Hats’, that if they liked Trump, they'd like Greg Gianforte, a software entrepreneur from Bozeman.
Corin Cates-Carney

Republican U.S. House Candidate Greg Gianforte welcomed the son of the president of the United States to a stage at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds today, raising money and support from a cheering crowd. Gianforte's team and other volunteers say around 600 supporters turned out.

Donald Trump Jr. compared Greg Gianforte to this father during the rally in Hamilton, tapping into a still moving wave of conservative support left over from the November election.

USFWS Reopens Public Comment On Future Of National Bison Range
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2)

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has halted a proposal to transfer the National Bison Range into tribal control.

In an email to the Missoulian, Secretary Zinke says he is committed to not selling or transferring public lands, but hopes the tribes will, "play a pivotal role in our discussions about the best path forward."

The Northern Cheyenne tribe, along with a coalition of conservation groups, sued the Trump administration Wednesday for lifting a moratorium on coal leases on public lands.

The southeastern Montana tribe filed the lawsuit in response to Interior Secretary Zinke’s decision to lift the moratorium on coal leasing.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Wednesday signed orders implementing measures President Trump wants to take to roll back restrictions on fossil fuel production.

The 14-month old Obama-era moratorium on new coal leases on federal land ended Wednesday with the stroke of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s pen.

Republican Greg Gianforte won Montana’s special election May 25, 2017.
Rowebotz (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte took to the airwaves Tuesday morning to, in a way, reintroduce himself to Montana voters:

The chairman of Montana’s Little Shell tribe is not fazed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s remarks to a U.S. Senate committee earlier this week.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke acknowledges that the agency he now oversees, "unfortunately, has not always stood shoulder to shoulder with the tribes and communities it represents." 

But Zinke met with the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee this week to help identify Native American-related priorities for the new Trump administration. It's a job that will likely pull him and his staff in many different directions, because as Zinke puts it, "Tribes are not monolithic":

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