Montana Public Radio

Environment

Montana news covering wildlife, public lands, natural resources and more.

This culvert and forebay pictured on May 28, 2019 are part of Butte's stormwater capture and treatment system, which will be expanded and completed in the  Superfund cleanup plan.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

A final deal signed by a federal judge this week outlining cleanup of century old mining waste in Butte means there’s going to be a flurry of work happening in the center of town. 

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon on Wednesday gave his final stamp of approval to an overarching Superfund cleanup deal for the Butte Hill and its headwater streams below.

Flathead Lake Biological Station research boat, Jessie-B.
Courtesy Flathead Lake Biological Station

The University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station will study how tribal efforts to suppress non-native lake trout populations are possibly shifting the buildup of toxins in other fish species. The project is part of an inaugural wave of federal funding announced Wednesday for projects along the Columbia River Basin.

  • Republican Sen. Steve Daines, whose state depends heavily on fossil fuel revenues, says Montana needs to balance environmental protection with an energy economy.
  • A task force is expected to unveil a report soon to Gov. Steve Bullock, Montana’s Democratic Senate candidate, on proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Both candidates portray themselves as Montana’s best hope for preserving the state’s outdoor culture in this closely watched, high stakes Senate race.

Montana Gov.

Montana is getting ready to green light the proposed expansion of a waste-holding pond at a mine in south central Montana.

A citizen committee appointed by Gov. Steve Bullock finalized a report on how the state should manage grizzly bears last week. They envisioned a future with fully recovered populations of grizzlies in Montana, but could not agree on what that future looks like, in particular when it comes to hunting.

Montana Bill Would Make Hunting And Fishing A Constitutional Right
Flickr User Jeff Noble (CC-BY-2)

Montana is changing how it handles the animals harvested in CWD management zones this hunting season, and hunters will now be able to move deer, elk and moose carcasses across management zone borders.

Meant to simplify the rules aimed at preventing CWD’s spread, the change shifts the responsibility of properly disposing of animal remains onto hunters.

US Wildlife Agency Seeks To Carve Out Areas From Protections

Sep 4, 2020
Lesser prairie chicken.
CC-BY-2 https://www.flickr.com/photos/larry1732/

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Trump administration proposal released Friday would allow the government to deny habitat protections for endangered animals and plants in areas that would see greater economic benefits from being developed — a change critics said could open lands to more energy development and other activities.

A federal agency proposed granting superfund status to an area of Billings, Mont. contaminated by dry cleaning chemicals.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Sept. 1 announced it’ll recommend a roughly 855 acre area in Billings be added to the National Priorities List as a federal Superfund site.

Officials say the plume could affect around 1,100 structures in central and downtown Billings.

EPA project manager Roger Hoogerheide says if the site wins federal superfund status the agency will conduct indoor air investigations.

Map of the proposed Mid-Swan project area, which stretches from just south of Swan Lake to Condon, MT.
Flathead National Forest

The Flathead National Forest released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement last week, moving one step closer to finalizing a 15-year logging and fire mitigation project in the Swan Valley. But critics say the Mid-Swan project, which covers an area larger than Flathead Lake, violates federal law due to the project's lack of specificity.

Libby Superfund map.
US Environmental Protection Agency

A proposed agreement charging BNSF Railway Company with the operation and maintenance of the Libby Asbestos Superfund unit running along its tracks was announced Tuesday by federal and state officials.

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