Montana Public Radio

U.S. Department of Interior

Sage grouse.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region (PD)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge has dealt another blow to the Trump administration's efforts to increase domestic oil and gas output from public lands, saying officials failed to protect habitat for a declining bird species when it issued energy leases on hundreds of square miles.

Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Matt Hogan, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Montana U.S. House Rep. Greg Gianforte listen to residents of the Rocky Mountain Front talk about conflict with grizzly bears, Oct 5, 2019.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be more involved in managing Rocky Mountain Front grizzly bear conflicts.

Keystone Pipeline pumping station in Nebraska.
Flickr user shannonpatrick17 http://bit.ly/2H4u5Kk (CC-BY-2) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration on Wednesday approved a right-of-way allowing the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline to be built across U.S. land, federal officials told The Associated Press, pushing the controversial $8 billion project closer to construction though court challenges still loom.

The U.S. House passed the National Defense Authorization Act today. That means the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana is halfway to federal recognition. But will the tribe’s land base include Hill 57?

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.


A U.S. government watchdog agency that works for Congress says taxpayers could potentially face hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs from abandoned oil and gas wells on public lands.

Sheep.
iStock

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt canceled a planned visit to Montana this week. Bernhardt had planned to meet with Montana ranchers and farmers about grizzly bear conflicts along the Rocky Mountain Front as part of his visit.

Grizzly bear. Stock photo.
iStock

The U.S. Department of the Interior recently changed how federal agencies will apply rules within the Endangered Species Act. The move raises questions about protections for established grizzly bear populations in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. MTPR's Aaron Bolton explains what the rules mean for uninhabited grizzly ecosystems, like the Bitterroot National Forest.

Grizzly bear at Swan Lake Flats in Yellowstone National Park.
Jim Peaco (PD)

The U.S. Interior Department announced changes Monday to how federal agencies will apply the Endangered Species Act (ESA). There is concern that the changes could affect Yellowstone grizzly bears' threatened status in the future.

The bears' status under the Endangered Species Act has been tied up in court for years.

A Nature Conservancy representative points out portions of the land that make up the Clearwater-Blackfoot Project in the Blackfoot Valley. January 2015.
Christopher B. Allen / Montana Public Radio

The U.S. Interior Department approved a plan to purchase 7,300 acres of former private timber lands northeast of Missoula. 

The former Plum Creek Timber company property was acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 2014. And now, as part of a deal several years in the works, that non-profit is selling it to the Bureau of Land management for $5.6 million.

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