Montana Public Radio

Kootenai River

The Cabinet-Yaak grizzly recovery zone is split by the Kootenai River. The Yaak lies to the north. The Cabinets to the south.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

A proposed land deal between the state and a nonprofit foundation could help connect an important piece of grizzly bear habitat between the Cabinet and Purcell mountains near the small town of Troy.

Sponges: These Aquatic Oddities Are At Home In Montana

Jan 5, 2020
Spongilla lacustris, a widspread freshwater sponge often found under logs and rocks in lakes.
Kirt L. Onthank (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Although many people associate these stone-like animals with the crystalline waters of the tropics, several species of sponges do occur in lakes and ponds across North America, including those of western Montana. 

The Cabinet-Yaak grizzly recovery zone is split by the Kootenai River. The Yaak lies to the north. The Cabinets to the south.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Three engines and several train cars derailed Wednesday evening along the Kootenai River near Bonners Ferry, in the Idaho panhandle near the Montana border. One of the locomotives is leaking an undisclosed amount of diesel into the river, which is a tributary of the Columbia River.

Coal. File photo.
Flickr user oatsy40 (CC-BY-2)

Pollution from British Columbia coal mining operations is making its way into Montana and Idaho’s Kootenai River. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study found high levels of selenium in mountain whitefish eggs and that could be impacting the species’ reproduction.

A line of Montana legislators at the U.S. State Department-hosted town hall meeting in Kalispell on March 20, 2019.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

More than 200 people Wednesday night came to a U.S. State Department-hosted town hall meeting in Kalispell meant to inform federal negotiations that could shape the future of an international watershed roughly the size of Texas.

Sen. Mike Cuffe (R) - Eureka
Montana Legislature

As negotiators from the United States and Canada consider tweaks to a longstanding treaty about the Columbia River system, Montana legislators are pushing for local water security and compensation.

The Columbia River Treaty outlines shared management of flood risk and hydropower generation along a river system that crisscrosses the international border. The United States, Canada and tribal nations are in the process of modernizing that agreement.

Sub-basin snow water equivalent - March 1, 2019.
NRCS Montana Snow Survey Staff

February bucked all expectations of warmer-than-average temperatures and below normal snowfall.

“One of the things that is unique about this job is things can turn around pretty quickly, so you end up eating crow more often than you’d like,” says Lucas Zukiewicz, a water supply specialist with the Bozeman-based Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Vital Ground Foundation and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative purchased this undeveloped subdivision near Troy, Montana as part of the Wild River Project.
Y2Y/Gem Visions Productions

Grizzlies in Northwest Montana are moving into areas they haven’t been seen in years, and Wednesday conservation organizations announced they’ve purchased a chunk of land near Troy that could help those bears continue to migrate and expand their territory.

The Vital Ground Foundation and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative say they have now purchased the majority of an undeveloped subdivision near the confluence of the Kootenai and Yaak rivers.

'Field Notes:' What's Wrong With Whitefish?

Dec 10, 2017
Mountain whitefish.
(PD)

I dipped my woven landing net into the frigid creek water and drew the fish towards my legs. It was winter and I was standing mid-calf deep in a favorite fishing spot outside Missoula. I knew the fish wasn’t a trout before I scooped it into my net.

An icy bank embraced the creek, and my breath rose before me, rhythmically billowing out my mouth and nostrils. The fish nonchalantly took one of the nymphs I had been sinking near the creek bottom, diving into the depths and pulling its weight into my fly line. I could feel its tail in the handle of my fly-rod, palpitating like an irregular heartbeat.

The Kootenai Bridge over Lake Koocanusa from the east bank.
David M. Carson (CC-BY-SA-4)

 Editor's note: We've corrected part of this story. Read below.

Coal mines in Canada have been sending a harmful heavy metal downstream to northwest Montana for years, but state, tribal, federal and Canadian agencies all have different standards for how much is too much. Those agencies are meeting this week, and speaking with the public to try to come up with common standards.

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