Montana Public Radio

U.S. Department of Interior

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.

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.


July is the second month in a row that two federal agencies have failed to provide input on five bills that address missing and murdered indigenous people, effectively stalling the bills.

Advocates say peoples’ lives hang in the balance.

Missoula County Courthouse.
Cheri Trusler / Montana Public Radio

The federal government is awarding Montana $34 millon of PILT funding this year. That’s a 15-percent drop from last year’s record-high allocation.

PILT stands for 'Payment in Lieu of Taxes.' These are payments awarded to counties with federal lands that aren’t taxable by local governments.

Vanessa Fields, planning team leader for the National Bison Range, presenting at the public meeting in Polson May 1, 2019.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio


The latest step in a years-long process laying out the future of the National Bison Range Monday night dredged up questions of race and public land ownership that have lingered since a failed 2016 proposal to transfer the refuge to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. 

Former US Interior Boss Parlays Post Into Private Career

Apr 24, 2019
Former Interior secretary and Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

Corrected April 24, 2019

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is quickly parlaying his time in President Donald Trump's cabinet into a lucrative private career.

He's landed a more than $100,000-a-year post at a Nevada mining company and is pursuing involvement in natural gas exports that have surged under Trump, Zinke told The Associated Press Tuesday.

Jill Smail is the lead negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty for the U.S. State Department.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

U.S. and Canadian officials are holding closed door meetings Wednesday and Thursday in British Columbia on the Columbia River Treaty. Tribes across the Northwest hope the outcomes include their demands for a healthy environment. 

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Conservation groups are asking a federal judge to block the Trump administration from easing restrictions on energy companies that were meant to protect a struggling Western bird species.

Attorneys for Western Watersheds Project, Prairie Hills Audubon Society and two other groups made the request Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Boise, Idaho.

Judge: US Must Reconsider Climate Impacts Of Montana Mine

Feb 12, 2019
Coal train
(PD)

BILLLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. officials have again been faulted by a federal judge for failing to adequately consider the potential climate change effects of expanding a massive coal mine in the sagebrush-covered hills of southeastern Montana.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan recommended in a Monday ruling that the Interior Department be given 240 days to re-analyze the expansion.

Former US Interior Boss Takes Job At Investment Company

Jan 14, 2019
Ryan Zinke.
(PD)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has gotten a job with a private investment company after leaving the Trump administration amid unresolved ethics investigations.

North Carolina-based Artillery One said Monday that Zinke has been hired as managing director and will pursue investing opportunities in energy, financial technology and cybersecurity.

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