Montana Public Radio

Environment

Montana Environment News

Wildlands, wildlife, natural resources & environment news.

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.

Grizzly bear historic and current range.
Lisa Landenburger, USGS - Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. Public domain. Sources: IUCN, M. Proctor, Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.

At their peak, grizzly bears numbered more than 50,000 in the Lower 48. They roamed from the West Coast to the Great Plains, from northern Alaska to central Mexico. Facing threats from habitat loss, hunting and conflicts with people and livestock, their numbers dwindled to fewer than 1,000 in the lower 48 by the time the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was implemented in 1975. Today, managers say the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide populations have recovered and are ready for delisting. Here's a timeline of the management actions, court cases and notable events that have shaped grizzly bear recovery since their ESA listing through today.

A grizzly bear mother and cub in Yellowstone Park.
iStock

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday recommended continued federal protections for grizzlies in the continental U.S. Federal officials say the bears still face threats from human population growth and habitat loss. But the report doesn't rule out removing protections for bears in specific regions in the future.

Work to clean up two contaminated ponds bordering the Flathead River at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company Superfund site was completed earlier this month.

CFAC announced the cleanup and removal of the two percolation ponds at the now defunct aluminum smelter in a press release. Work wrapped up on March 19. The removal of the ponds means the Flathead River returns to its natural channel.

The state of Montana is adding extra cleanup measures at a former wood treatment plant turned Superfund site in Butte.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality on Monday released its reasons for pursuing more stringent environmental protection, among them that levels of the contaminant dioxin at the Montana Pole & Treating Plant fall short of current cleanup standards.

The Biden Administration continues its review of the federal oil and gas lease program during a freeze on new lease sales that recently drew protest from Montana political leadership.

The administration held a forum Thursday to hear from stakeholders as part of its program review.

The Department of Interior’s live forum drew around 600 viewers at its busiest, according to a ticker in the forum Zoom window.

Newly appointed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American person to hold the position, kicked off the event.

Lake Koocanusa
Darren Kirby (CC-BY-SA-3) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

British Columbia coal mining company Teck Resources has agreed to pay a $60 million fine for polluting rivers upstream of Lake Koocanusa.

The first application period for $10 million in transition funds is now open for workers and communities affected by last year’s closures at two of the Colstrip power plant’s four units.

Fourteen Republican attorneys general, including Montana’s, are protesting Pres. Joe Biden’s decision to cancel a border crossing permit vital to construction of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen in a letter to the president Tuesday urged Biden to reconsider the permit cancellation.

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