Montana Public Radio

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Water bottle.
(PD)

The second day of testimony in Kalispell today regarding a permit for a proposed water bottling plant in the Flathead Valley saw mostly expert witnesses.

Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is holding the hearings, and will determine whether to allow Lew Weaver’s Montana Artesian Water Company to draw up to 710 acre feet of water a year.

Decision On Swan Forest Initiative Due Thursday

Sep 13, 2017
A map of lands in the Swan Forest Initiative
Lake County Conservation District

There’s a decision coming up on a proposal to have the state of Montana take over management of some federal lands.

The Lake County Conservation District board will decide tomorrow whether to move forward with state management of some Flathead National Forest land in the Swan Valley.

People in Swan Lake heard a proposal to transfer management of some National Forest land to the state in a question-and-answer session Dec. 7, 2016, in Swan Lake, MT.
Nicky Ouellet

There’s a deadline for public comments coming up on a proposal to have the state take over management of a section of National Forest land. The comment period ends Thursday.

The Lake County Conservation District wants the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to manage a 60,000-acre swath of the Flathead National Forest, and use timber sales on it to help fund local conservation efforts.

This massive Black Hawk chopper is on loan from the Montana National Guard as part of the resource-sharing enabled by a state of fire emergency declared by Governor Steve Bullock last month.
Nicky Ouellet

In the past week alone, firefighters in northwest Montana attacked more than 40 small wildfires, and there’s no end in sight for this summer’s active fire season. But, firefighters are about to get some big help.

"That is the Black Hawk coming in right there," says Wyatt Frampton.

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“This has been a difficult year," Democratic Governor Steve Bullock says. "By some estimates our fire seasons are now about 78 days longer than they were two decades ago.”
Credit Nate Hegyi / YPR

State climatologist Kelsey Jencso says what folks are seeing this summer -- extreme fires, sudden droughts, snowpacks melting quickly -- may be a vision of Montana’s future.

Montana DNRC helicopter used to fight wildfires.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

A few miles north of Lincoln, wildfires are burning more than 9,000 acres along steep slopes full of thick brush and snags.

Matt Conklin is a Forest Service incident commander. He says these fires are among the few that escaped initial attacks to put them out.

Malinda Goldhirsch makes the initial attack on a fire near her home that started due to downed powerlines Thursday night.
Libby Goldhirsch

The dry thunderstorm that swept through the Flathead area last night set off dozens of spot fires, left about 5,000 houses without power for hours and previews what’s to come this weekend as a new weather front moves in.

Malinda Goldhirsch lives in Whitefish and got a firsthand taste of the powerful storm while watching TV with her family.

The Lodgepole Complex Fire is nearly 100 percent contained, and now work is shifting to rehabilitate the impacted land.

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Mark Bostrum distributes money to impacted wildfire areas as the administrator of conservation and resource development.

Be smart, don't fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire. No amount of video or photos are worth the consequences.
U.S. Forest Service

Aerial firefighting operations on the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake had to be shut down for a few minutes today due to a civilian drone.

This fire season there have already been more than 18 public drone incursions, most of which resulted in the temporary shutdown of aerial firefighting efforts.

July Fire file photo courtesy of InciWeb
InciWeb

Update: 6:30 p.m. 07/10/17

Tribal officials have increased the fire danger to “Extreme” on the west side of the Flathead Indian Reservation and “Very High” on the east side.

Fire managers for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes write in a press release that fine, dead fuels are drying out across the reservation. They add human behavior, such as tossing cigarette butts onto dry grass, leaving campfires unattended, lighting fireworks, burning debris and driving through dry grasses, has caused multiple grass fires across the Northern Rockies over the past week.

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