Montana Public Radio

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Montana's Flathead Valley from above.
Nicky Ouellet

State officials are encouraging Flathead Valley residents to take care of any debris burning before Sunday.

On July 1, no debris burning is allowed in Flathead and Northern Lake Counties.

Montana's Flathead Valley from above.
Nicky Ouellet

The Flathead Basin Commission is redefining its role protecting water quality in northwest Montana, after legislators gutted its funding last November and its executive director was fired in February.

The Commission spent much of Wednesday reinventing itself.

Firefighters and fire truck.
BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana has just over $4 million in its firefighting reserve fund at the start of what’s expected to be ripe conditions for a substantial fire season. That means the state is significantly short of having the cash on hand needed cover the costs of even an average season. 

But Governor Steve Bullock says fire suppression won’t be limited this season, despite depleted funding reserves.

A firefighter stands in front of flames from a wildfire. Stock photo.
(PD)


This year’s fire season is off to a slow start, but it could ramp up in July. That’s according an update Montana’s State Forester gave to state lawmakers Wednesday.

An oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers, MT, May 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

A group tasked by the legislature to protect water quality in the Flathead Valley is in jeopardy after its funding was cut during Montana’s special legislative session in November and its executive director was terminated in February.

On Wednesday the Flathead Basin Commission will meet in Pablo and reassess its future.

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.

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