MTPR

Eric Whitney

News Director

Eric Whitney is the news director for Montana Public Radio.

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The Beeskove Fire approximately six miles north of Missoula on Friday, July 26, 2019
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

Updated 8:30 p.m. July 27, 2019

The Lewis & Clark County Sheriff has ordered more evacuations due to the North Hills Fire near Helena. American Bar and Eldorado Heights Subdivision are now included in the evacuation order. The Sheriff's Office says the fire is descending on Black Sandy Loop and they want to be prepared in case the fire jumps the river.

Rainbow trout and brown trout.
iStock

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is proposing to remove non-native trout species in Cooney Creek, a tributary of the upper Swan River in northwest Montana, in an effort to boost native westslope cutthroat and bull trout populations.

FWP manages these species as “species of conservation concern.” Bull trout are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Tanya Gersh (R) and lawyer David Dinielli talk with reporters after a July 11, 2019 federal court hearing in Gersh's lawsuit against neo-Nazi website publisher Andrew Anglin.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

An emotional Tanya Gersh testified for more than an hour in federal court in Missoula Thursday in her lawsuit against neo-Nazi website publisher Andrew Anglin.

Gersh is the Whitefish realtor who was targeted by Anglin, who told readers of his website, The Daily Stormer, to unleash a “troll storm” against her, her family and the small local Jewish community.

Montana Dept. of Justice

"The Missing Endangered Persons Advisory for James Rose has been canceled. He has been safely located. Missoula Police Department thanks you for your assistance."

Kassidy Geehan speaks at the Reach Higher Summit in Helena, June 2019. Geehan was able to enroll in college after getting scholarship help from last year's summit.
Jon Ebelt, Montana DPHHS

Life isn’t easy for kids in foster care. They’re often separated from their parents for reasons they don’t understand, and can bounce around a lot through different foster homes and schools. That can make it tough for them to go to college. The state health department has an annual event to help foster kids succeed as adults. Montana Public Radio’s Eric Whitney met one young woman the event really worked for.

CORRECTION: The orginal draft of this story said this bill would remove wilderness study designation to some public lands. The bill does not address wilderness study areas. 

For the third time in three years, Sen. Jon Tester held a rally for a bill he’s sponsoring to expand federally designated wilderness in northwest Montana, and allow some snowmobile and mountain bike use on public lands in the area.

About two hundred people packed the Kettlehouse Brewing taproom in Bonner over the noon hour to hear Tester speak at an event hosted by the Montana Wilderness Association. They’re all hoping this is the year the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act passes.

Billings Clinic in Billings, MT.
Courtesy Billings Clinic

The federal government’s big, new effort to allow veterans to use their VA health benefits to pay for healthcare from private doctors, clinics and hospitals launched Thursday. But the last effort went so badly in Montana that many are worried that the private sector won’t want to participate. That doesn’t appear to be happening, but the whole deal is still very much in pencil here.

Alcohol, drug and suicide (combined) deaths per 100,000 people in 2017.
National Center for Health Statistics, CDC

Montana’s state health department has received a $2.1 million grant for a game for school kids. Zoe Barnard with the department explains.

The lobby of the Veterans Administration hospital at Ft Harrison in Helena
Eric Whitney

In one week Veterans are supposed to get improved access to healthcare in the private sector via the Mission Act, which Montana Senator Jon Tester wrote. But there are still some big unanswered questions about whether it will work.

The Mission Act is Congress’ second attempt since 2014 to make it easier for vets to use their benefits to pay for healthcare in the private sector if nearby VA facilities don’t offer what they need, or if they’d have to wait weeks to get it.

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