Montana Public Radio

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

State and federal experts braced Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte at his annual fire briefing Wednesday for a potentially severe stretch of wildfires this year.

Gianforte said he’s been hearing from eastern Montana farmers and ranchers worried about the lack of rain heading into summer.

“All signs point to above normal fire activity in Montana this summer,” Gianforte said.

Meteorologist Colleen Haskell with the Northern Rockies Coordination Center said 600 mostly human caused wildfires have burned roughly 32,000 acres across Montana since January.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — President Joe Biden's nominee to oversee vast expanses of public land in the U.S. West was criticized Tuesday by Republicans over her past involvement in partisan politics as a longtime Democratic aide and environmentalist.

President Joe Biden has nominated Tracy Stone-Manning of Missoula, Mont., to direct the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management. She will oversee roughly a quarter-billion acres of federally owned land in Western states.

'Capitol Talk' is MTPR's weekly legislative analysis program.
Montana Public Radio

COVID leads to the cancellation of floor sessions at the Legislature as the Republican leaders are in a subpoena standoff with the state Supreme Court. All this as a bill to ban abortion dies in the Senate, the governor tries to prohibit "vaccine passports" and a Montanan may become the next head of the Bureau of Land Management.

Listen now on Capitol Talk with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

A Montanan is reportedly expected to be President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management. Several news outlets, including E&E News and the Associated Press, report the administration’s decision to nominate Missoula’s Tracy Stone-Manning to the post.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Friday that the state awarded $4.5 million to 14 forest projects meant to bolster the timber industry, restore forest health and reduce wildfire risk.

The projects funded fall under the Montana Forest Action Plan, a new document that will guide forestry in the state for the next decade.

PD

Federal agencies are figuring out how to treat masks on public land in the wake of Gov. Greg Gianforte’s repeal of Montana’s statewide mask mandate.

President Biden issued a national mandate for masks on federal lands and in federal buildings on January 20. Just over three weeks later, Gov. Gianforte lifted Montana’s mask mandate — although masks are still required in some counties and cities, and in state-owned buildings. 

An informational sign at the entrance of the National Bison Range near Moiese, MT.
Josh Burnham

The U.S. Interior Department Friday signed an order that will start the transfer of the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

A woman stands in a stream fly fishing
PD

Critics say a U.S. Department of Interior order issued earlier this week guts a federal program that uses money from oil and gas drilling to buy land for recreation and conservation.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) received full funding of $900 million per year for the first time in its half-century history when the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law in early August.

A federal judge in Montana has ousted President Trump's top public lands official.

The ruling blocks William Perry Pendley from continuing to serve as the temporary head of the Bureau of Land Management, a post he has held for more than a year.

The judge ruled in response to a lawsuit filed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock who argued it's illegal for Pendley to lead the agency because he had never been confirmed by the Senate.

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