MTPR

Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

In 1949, 13 smokejumpers died in Mann Gulch after being overtaken by fire.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Seventy years ago today, an 18-man smokejumper crew jumped out of a plane into the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness northeast of Helena. Within hours of the jump the crew was overrun by the fire they were sent to stop, and most of the men died.

MTPR's Corin Cates-Carney looks back at the Mann Gulch tragedy, which lead the U.S. Forest Service — for the first time — to approach wildfire as a science.

Despite the government shutdown, U.S. Forest Service supervisors last week signed a new management plan for the Flathead National Forest, along with amendments that standardize grizzly bear management for the Lolo, Kootenai and Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forests.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit To Block Montana Forest Project

Dec 10, 2018
The U.S. Forest Service will be able to continue with its tree-thinning project in the Elkhorn Mountains.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2.0) / MTPR

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block a tree-thinning project in the Elkhorn Mountains near Helena.

U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen on Monday rejected arguments by Native Ecosystems Council and Montana Ecosystem Defense Council that the project conflicts with the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest plan and needs deeper environmental analysis.

Solenex Well Site, Badger-Two-Medicine.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

The Trump administration filed in federal appeals court Tuesday to block oil and gas drilling near Glacier National Park on land considered sacred to the Blackfeet Nation.

The U.S. Department of Interior led by Secretary Ryan Zinke is contesting an energy development lease just south of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. It and others in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest were voided in the final days of the Obama administration, but reinstated by a federal judge this September.

Solenex Well Site, Badger-Two-Medicine.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

A federal judge has reinstated an oil and gas lease on land in northwestern Montana considered sacred to some Native American tribes.

The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest has extended the public comment period for its draft forest plan. That plan will guide the Forest’s land use decisions for the next 15 years.

Forest spokesperson Kathy Bushnell says the original 90-day comment period was extended by one full month.


  A couple of commercial guide and outfitter permits that have been dormant for several years are being re-activated on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Tree burned by Glacier's Howe Ridge fire
National Park Service/Inciweb

Update: 5:50 p.m.

The Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park that destroyed a set of historic cabins over the weekend continues to grow. Wednesday night, an infrared flight measured the fire perimeter at 3,500 acres, a growth of roughly 900-acres from two days ago.

Bear food storage sign from a campground in the Kootenai National Forest.
Josh Burnham


There are new “food storage orders” on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, and that means forest users will face new citations for improper handling of animal attractants.

The Helena - Lewis and Clark National Forest released its new draft forest plan last week. It's a significant milestone. Montanans can now weigh-in on the master plan that will guide the forest's land use decisions for the next 15 years.

The Helena - Lewis and Clark is currently governed by a pair of 32-year-old forest plans.

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