Montana Public Radio

U.S. Department of Interior

Skiers and snowshoers hike behind a closed gate in Glacier National Park, Dec. 2018.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

An unprecedented move by the National Park Service could free up millions of dollars for staffing and cleaning-up trash and restrooms at Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks during the partial federal government shutdown.

Zinke: Park Visitors Should 'Grab a trash bag'

Jan 4, 2019
Former Interior secretary and Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — 10:50 a.m.: Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says National Park visitors should "grab a trash bag and take some trash out" as garbage bins at some parks overflow during the government shutdown.

A looming partial U.S. government shutdown at midnight tonight means uncertainty for the more than 13,000 federal workers in Montana.

The federal government is the second largest single employer in Montana, making up about 3 percent of the state’s workforce. Their payroll accounts for about $1.4 billion in personal income here.

The 2017 order by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that lifted the Obama-era moratorium on federal coal leasing.
Department of the Interior

A federal judge in Great Falls Thursday heard arguments over whether the Trump administration lawfully lifted a ban on coal leasing federal lands.

The Department of the Interior lifted the Obama-era moratorium on federal coal leasing in early 2017, fulfilling Trump’s campaign promise to end the so-called war on coal.

Kate Vandemoer presents on the “People’s Compact,” a proposed alternative to the CSKT Water Compact in Kalispell on Dec. 10, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet / MTPR

Supporters of an alternative proposal to settle water rights claims on and around the Flathead Reservation have released a framework for what they would like to see in federal legislation. Meanwhile, their proposal is drawing condemnation and curiosity across the state.

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Trump administration moved forward Thursday with plans to ease restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling, mining and other activities across millions of acres in the American West that were put in place to protect an imperiled bird species.

Land management documents released by the U.S. Interior Department show the administration intends to open more public lands to leasing and allow waivers for drilling to encroach into the habitat of greater sage grouse.

Pronghorn antelope at the National Bison Range.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-2)

A new federal grant will give scientists a closer peek into secrets held by southwestern Montana’s pronghorn antelope.

The Madison Valley supports one of southwest Montana’s largest wintering populations of pronghorn antelope.

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

The Trump administration filed in federal appeals court Tuesday to block oil and gas drilling near Glacier National Park on land considered sacred to the Blackfeet Nation.

The U.S. Department of Interior led by Secretary Ryan Zinke is contesting an energy development lease just south of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. It and others in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest were voided in the final days of the Obama administration, but reinstated by a federal judge this September.

In Montana's Paradise Valley, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signs an order extending an Obama administration ban on new mining in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park by 20 years, October 8, 2018.
Corin Cates-Carney

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order yesterday extending an Obama administration ban on new mining in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park by 20 years.

Zinke stood with this back to the Absarkoa Mountain Range, the peaks half hidden in clouds hanging low over the Paradise Valley, as he said some places should not be mined, even though he describes himself as “a pro-mining guy”.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Courtesy Ryan Zinke

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has scheduled a visit next week to Montana, where he's expected to finalize a proposal to block new mining claims on the forested public lands just outside Yellowstone National Park.

Zinke, a former Montana congressman, plans to sign documents and make a "major announcement" about conservation on Monday in the Paradise Valley area, Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift said Thursday.

Swift declined to give further details except to say it was an issue Zinke had been working on for years.

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