Montana Public Radio

Edward O'Brien


Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.

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A closeup satellite image shows a thick layer of wildfire smoke covering Idaho and Montana, September 4, 2017.

Three Montana counties: Lewis & Clark, Ravalli and Lincoln, rank nationally among the 25 counties most polluted by short-term or year-round particle air pollution. That’s according to a new American Lung Association report that says wildfires are the main culprit

Primm Meadows in the Blackfoot Valley on the Lolo National Forest.
Josh Burnham

State and volunteer fire crews are planning a series of prescribed burns in the Blackfoot Valley this spring to reduce the risk of more severe wildfires.

A Montanan is reportedly expected to be President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management. Several news outlets, including E&E News and the Associated Press, report the administration’s decision to nominate Missoula’s Tracy Stone-Manning to the post.

John Smith, Leo Smith and Jolen Brink 4 days after Leo was discharged from the NICU in early May 2020. Leo weighed just over 4 lbs.
Courtesy Nick Cote

Last April, John Smith and Jolene Brink were a young Missoula couple navigating a high-risk birth in the opening days of an international pandemic. Their lives have significantly changed since then. Now the two are left pondering family life in a post-pandemic world.

Leo Marlay Smith had his first birthday late last month, celebrating with grandparents over FaceTime. It's said that a first birthday party is less for the baby and more for the recognition of significant milestones: survival, growth and change. 

Hantavirus infographic
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

State health officials confirm Montana’s first hantavirus infection of the year recently sickened a Richland County resident. 

The adult male fell ill working out of state where he faced an occupational exposure to mice. He was hospitalized but now recovering at home. 

Montana’s congressional delegation wasted no time in reacting to President Joe Biden’s newly announced gun control measures.

President Joe Biden Thursday ordered a half-dozen executive actions aimed at addressing what he calls an "epidemic and an international embarrassment" of gun violence in America. Biden’s announcement follows several mass shootings across the U.S. in recent weeks.

A prescribed underburn in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area near Missoula in the fall of 2019.
Lolo National Forest

A prescribed burn is responsible for a large plume of smoke in Pattee Canyon just outside Missoula Thursday.

"We don’t want anyone to be alarmed," Lolo National Forest spokesperson Kate Jerman says. "It is part of the Pattee Canyon maintenance project which is an ongoing project in that area working to reduce hazardous fuels in areas nearby Missoula."

Glacier National Park is implementing a ticketed entry system for visitors wanting to use Going-To-The-Sun-Road this season between West Glacier and St. Mary.

Park officials had been considering the idea in the wake of record visitation in recent years. This summer officials anticipate one of the park’s busiest seasons ever. Officials say a ticketed entry system offers visitors increased certainty they’ll be able to enter the park, and could eliminate the need for closures at the park’s west entrance.

State lawmakers have passed a measure creating a Bitterroot Valley Community College District.

The joint resolution triggers a process to transition Hamilton’s Bitterroot College UM — currently an appendage of the University of Montana — into an independent, locally controlled community college.

Montana’s lone U.S. congressman has joined other conservative lawmakers in signing a pledge to not request earmark spending projects. This comes after Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives ended a decade-long ban on earmarks, or congressionally directed spending.