Montana Public Radio

Nicky Ouellet

Yellowstone Public Radio News Director

Nicky Ouellet is the  Yellowstone Public Radio news director and MTPR's former Flathead-area reporter.

603-568-6155 or 406-730-2264

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Sign reading 'temporarily closed dut to coronavirus pandemic'.

Gov. Steve Bullock and health officials today asked Montanans to stay home as COVID-19 numbers flare across the state. The plea comes as the disease rises to the fourth leading cause of death in Montana and ahead of a holiday season that health experts expect will make matters worse.

The 2020 election is over in Montana. Who won, what do the results say about Montana, and where are we headed?

In this final episode of Shared State, Montana Public Radio News Director Corin Cates-Carney, Yellowstone Public Radio News Director Nicky Oullet, and Montana Free Press Executive Director John Adams break down the results of Tuesday’s election. Listen now on Shared State.

Air quality is rated as “moderate” in much of central and eastern Montana today. Smoke from wildfires burning in western Montana, Idaho and California has been hanging over the region this week, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s Fire and Smoke map. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality advises unusually sensitive people to consider limiting prolonged outdoor activity when air quality is rated “moderate.”

Air Quality is listed as “Moderate” and “Good” across western Montana this afternoon. That’s according to the Department of Environmental Quality. Smoke continues to blow into the state from massive wildfires burning in California. Fires burning in Idaho and Montana are also adding to the haze, according to modeling on the AIRPACT Map from Washington State University.

Smoke from California wildfires continues blanketing Montana and degrading its air quality. By mid-afternoon Tuesday 10 cities reported air quality that was "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups."

Various fire restrictions blanket at least half of Montana as a heat wave tightens its grip across the northern Rockies. Hot temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds have prompted Red Flag Warnings for portions of Central and North Central Montana through Monday evening. That means critical fire weather conditions are, or will soon, occur.

The Bear Creek Fire near Lemhi, ID burned actively overnight, growing to an estimated 4,200 acres.

Three large air tankers dropped retardant along the southern portion of the fire line this morning in preparation of a burnout operation scheduled for tonight. An update to Inciweb says the retardant drop is meant to increase the longevity of the fire line and helps ground crews hold the line in lighter fuels.

The Bear Creek Fire near Lemhi, ID was mapped last night, doubling the size estimate to nearly 4,000 acres and zero percent contained. The fire is sending smoke across southwest and central Montana. Officials expect extreme fire behavior to continue today.

Bureau of Land Management lands southeast of Salmon along the Montana state line are closed, as is a section of the Continental Divide Trail.

A man wearing a COVID-19 mask.

The big coronavirus news in the Treasure State this week is the new mask mandate, and that testing for anyone not showing COVID-19 symptoms is about to hit a big pause.

Corin Cates-Carney and Nicky Ouellet walk you through this week's developments, including when and where the mask mandate applies.

A newly formed group in southeast Montana is drumming up support to add and improve river access, camping and roads along more than 160 miles of the Yellowstone River.

The Lower Yellowstone River Coalition formed earlier this year to support economic development and expand tourism along the river corridor east of Billings.