Montana Public Radio

U.S. Department of the Interior

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.

Methane flaring.
WildEarth Guardians (CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

Tuesday, two states announced they’re suing the Trump administration just hours after it announced sweeping rollbacks of Obama-era regulations on methane pollution from oil and gas production.

Attorneys general from California and New Mexico filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in California over the rule revision just hours after it was announced by the U.S. Interior Department.

Yellowstone Park Superintendent Dan Wenk on the front step of the superintendent's residence in Yellowstone.
Jacob W. Frank/NPS

Yellowstone National Park’s departing superintendent says he can’t quite shake the feeling that he is being punished for disagreeing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke about bison management. He held a press conference about his departure Thursday.

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

The federal government’s most recent sage grouse public comment period wrapped up Thursday.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed tweaking conservation plans that were hammered out back in 2015. That’s unnerved some of the people and groups who were involved in that process.

Montana Tribe Can't Account For $14.5 Million

Jun 25, 2018
Crow Tribe.
Josh Burnham / MTPR

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana's Crow Indian Tribe has been unable to account for $14.5 million it received for transportation programs, marking the second time in less than two years the tribe has been faulted for its handling of federal grant money, government investigators disclosed Monday.

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