MTPR

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Residual smoke from the previous day's underburn operations north of the Main Rattlesnake Trailhead near Missoula, MT, Oct. 17, 2019.
Lolo National Forest

It’s fall and that means it’s prescribed fire season in Montana. Wildland managers are now intentionally setting fires to reduce forest fuel buildup or to restore native vegetation.

Two prescribed wildfire operations just north of Missoula produced dense smoke that degraded air quality to unhealthy levels Wednesday night into Thursday morning. As weather forecasters predicted though, a cold front pushed into the region Thursday afternoon, increasing winds which helped dissipate the smoke.


The Bureau of Land Management last week announced an increase to drilling permit fees on public lands. The fee increases directed by the U.S. Congress also apply to some mineral cost recovery for oil and gas developers.

A recent report from a pair of environmental advocacy groups says a third of the public lands leased for oil and gas development came with a price tag of $2 per acre or less.

Solenex well site is the last remaining oil lease in Badger-Two-Medicine.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Wilderness advocates and a Texas oil company agreed Tuesday to end an oil and gas lease on land considered sacred to the Blackfeet Nation. The settlement permanently removes all but one of the development leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality opened a 30-day public comment period Tuesday for a proposed major revision at Spring Creek Coal Mine in southeast Montana. The revision could allow about 72 million tons of coal to be mined.

During Sen. Steve Daines’ stops in Missoula and Kalispell Monday, he was asked whether he supports the Bureau of Land Management's acting Director, William Perry Pendley. Pendley’s past support for the sale of public lands concerns many, but Daines called that concern “overblown.” 

Map of Solenex Lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park
Courtesy Montana Wilderness Association

A newly appointed Bureau of Land Management official needs to recuse himself from decisions related to the Badger-Two Medicine area because he has a conflict of interest. That's according to according to the environmental group Earthjustice.

Wild horses at the Britton Springs holding facility near the Montana-Wyoming border just days before their new owners picked them up at an event in September 2015..
Blair Koch / Yellowstone Public Radio

A wild horse and burro adoption event in Hamilton this weekend was postponed following the deaths of two horses.

One horse died, and another was euthanized Thursday after showing signs of severe colic and endotoxemia.

The Blackfoot River near Belmont Creek.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-NC) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

13,000 acres of land in the lower Blackfoot watershed may become public.

Tuesday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released an environmental assessment on a proposal to do that in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy. A 30-day public comment period to evaluate the impacts of acquiring the land is now open.


A conservation group says the Bureau of Land Management is abandoning an option that would preserve 200,000 acres in Central Montana with wilderness characteristics.

The BLM says that’s not true, and that its new draft management plan for its lands in the area will strike a balance between development and other uses.

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