MTPR

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Divers with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Montana FWP prepare to dive at Tiber Dam to look for adult zebra and/or quagga mussels, August 7, 2017.
Beth Saboe - MontanaPBS

An invasive mussel prevention plan is creating conflict between some recreational boaters and resource managers over access to Tiber Reservoir.

Tiber is the only lake in the state that’s tested positive for invasive mussels two years in a row.

Montana DNRC

State lawmakers are considering expanding Montana’s fire protection fee to all landowners in the state.

Flooding along Rock Creek, a tributary of the Clark Fork River, near Clinton, MT, June 4, 2017.
Josh Burnham

An advisory council to the governor is considering a change to Montana's law on predicting drought conditions, following the historic 2017 fire season that caught state officials by surprise.

This time last year, Governor Steve Bullock’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee did not expect drought to be an issue for Montana in the warmer months of 2017. The committee sent their annual report to the governor last April when streamflows were high and spring rain was falling.

Panelists at the Montana Water Summit in Helena, MT, March 7, 2018. From the left: Leon Szeptycki, Marco Maneta, Patty Gude, John Tubbs.
Nicky Ouellet

More than 300 people from across Montana met in Helena this week to talk about big changes the state is seeing in water —  from when it falls, to how and where it’s used, to the way Montanans value it.

The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation hosted Montana’s first Water Summit, which Chief Earl Old Person of the Blackfeet Tribe kicked off with a blessing.

The trail to Piper Creek falls within the bounds of the proposed Swan Forest Initiative’s conservation forest.
Nicky Ouellet

For more than half a decade, the Lake County Conservation District has been working on a proposal to transfer management of 60,000 acres from the Flathead National Forest to the state for the next 100 years.

Site of the the proposed Montana Artesian Water Company bottling plant near Creston, MT.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

A company that wants to open a water bottling plant outside Kalispell was given a water right permit by the state Friday.

Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has granted Creston-based Montana Artesian Water Company’s permit to pump 710 acre-feet per year from the Flathead Valley’s deep aquifer.

USGS

State budget cuts mean that ranchers, recreation businesses and conservationists who rely on accurate information about water in Montana are facing new challenges.

That green and brown gunk is a mix of algae, plankton and bits of genetic material that hold the answer to whether Flathead Lake has mussels in it. One sample comes from 9 meters deep, the other from the surface.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Thursday announced it detected additional evidence of invasive mussels in one eastern Montana reservoir last summer. The detection raises a few red flags.

FWP found microscopic invasive baby mussels in Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs for the first time in the fall of 2016. But the state agency and its partners didn’t find any last summer.

That green and brown gunk is a mix of algae, plankton and bits of genetic material that hold the answer to whether Flathead Lake has mussels in it. One sample comes from 9 meters deep, the other from the surface.
Nicky Ouellet

As state legislators return to Helena next week to try to balance the state budget, one of the programs facing deep cuts is tasked with protecting rivers and lakes in the Flathead Basin from invasive mussels. They may not be able to continue that work.

The Flathead Basin Commission was supposed to oversee a new pilot program next summer that would shore up protections against zebra and quagga mussels, invasive species that have caused millions of dollars of damage in infested states and changed lake ecosystems in ways we still don’t really understand.

Ali Ulwelling from the Montana DNRC guides Whitefish-area homeowners through the process of assessing a home for fire preparedness.
Nicky Ouellet

At sunset, the forest west of Whitefish is more golden than green, the needles of western larches catching the last rays of sunlight. The glowing trees look like they’re on fire. Even now, with snow on the forecast, folks who live deep in this forest, like Ben Duvall, are still thinking about wildfire.

Duvall is the fire chief for Big Mountain Fire and Rescue, and last week, he hosted two-dozen neighbors, kids and dogs to talk about creating a fire adapted community; basically, making their neighborhood ready to withstand fire moving through it without much help from firefighters.

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